Having chapped lips is one of life’s most unpleasant experiences. So whether you’re providing daily care to avoid chapped lips, or going through the misery of remedying chapped lips, you need to provide your lips with moisturizing nutrients and an organic lip balm is ideal to do just that. There are many lip balms on the market, potentially providing more confusion than choice. One says natural, one doesn’t, one apparently has the endorsement of Suzy Q. Cartoon-Character, another is available in a taco-seasoned, fudge ripple flavor. Where should you start? It’s important that you don’t get lost and sold on attractive labels and novelty packaging in lieu of being educated on what to look for in a lip balm product, what to be aware of, and understanding the topic from all angles. This goes beyond the ulcer-producing decision of strawberry flavored or cherry flavored. The real questions focus on topics like what are its organic certification? Was it developed under cruelty-free conditions? Is it vegan, handmade, and American made? Does it contain chemicals or petroleum products? Is the packaging recyclable? And, does it contain ingredients shown to be effective?
It’s Going On Your Lips – Organic is Essential
The cosmetic industry generally regulates itself which means you need to be on the ball and do your own research so you’re aware of the toxic ingredients. Synthetic balms may include alcohol, manufactured waxes, petrochemicals, artificial skin softeners, silicon dioxide, and other manufactured chemicals. Avoid products with artificial colors and flavors. Natural fruit and floral extracts are better providers of flavor and color. Extracts from eucalyptus, mint, rosemary or thyme can provide herbal essences. One tip is to watch for fragrances and artificial coloring ingredients noted with numbers, this is a clue the product may not be organic. First and foremost, purity and quality are your most important factors in choosing all health products, lip balm is no exception.
True Nutrition and Protection
Organic lip balm products are void of the chemical compounds found in synthetic lip balms so the ingredient blend is able to provide 100% benefit with no detracting aspects. Natural ingredients include beeswax, cocoa butter, Jojoba oil, shea butter and aloe vera. Antioxidants in the form of Vitamin E and C are common, as is olive oil.  Cocoa butter provides moisturizing effects and fragrant notes. Aloe vera has had extraordinarily long internal and external applications for a range of therapeutic benefits; as a lip balm ingredient it’s essential. Aloe vera penetrates skin to improve hydration and has been shown by multiple studies to help speed recovery of skin wounds. While this has consumer applications, such as with lip balm, these properties of aloe vera may extend further and hold positive potential for promoting natural recovery after surgery.    This gives credence to what has long been anecdotally known about aloe vera. The base for all this ties, perhaps, to inquiries performed by The Department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Cosmetology at the University in Belgrade, Serbia, which published research in 2011 noting that gel from aloe is believed to stimulate skin and assist in new cell growth. 
Protection Against the Sun
Some lip balms also offer sun protection. Zinc oxide is typically added for this and is an ingredient found in many sunscreen products. Zinc oxide is a substance that may have an all new set of considerations, the effect of nano particles. Research on this is still early because nano technology is still relatively recent, however multiple researchers and institutions have called for and begun looking at the effect of nano particles on the human body. The toxicity potential is under question because nano particles have such an almost incomprehensibly small size that they may be able to pass into the body directly through the skin.  
Some studies have pointed to the potential of post-exposure application of olive oil to neutralize effects of UVB exposure.  This effect was concluded in research conducted at the Kobe School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology in 2000. Mice which were exposed to UVB radiation and then received an olive oil topical application. The article went as far as to say, “results suggest that daily topical use of super virgin olive oil after sun bathing may delay and reduce UV-induced skin cancer development in human skin.” 
All these considerations may sound like a lot to consider but the reality is that choosing lip balm can be as easy a process as it should be! Be smart, pay attention to what you’re selecting, and be aware. If you have a suggestion or find a brand you like, let us know in the comments!
– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
- Viola P, Viola M. Virgin olive oil as a fundamental nutritional component and skin protector. Clin Dermatol. 2009 Mar-Apr;27(2):159-65. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2008.01.008.
- Dat AD, Poon F, Pham KB, Doust J. Aloe vera for treating acute and chronic wounds. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Feb 15;2:CD008762. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008762.pub2. Review.
- Takzare N, Hosseini MJ, Hasanzadeh G, Mortazavi H, Takzare A, Habibi P. Influence of Aloe Vera gel on dermal wound healing process in rat. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2009 Jan;19(1):73-7. doi: 10.1080/15376510802442444.
- Mendonça FA, Passarini Junior JR, Esquisatto MA, Mendonça JS, Franchini CC, Santos GM. Effects of the application of Aloe vera (L.) and microcurrent on the healing of wounds surgically induced in Wistar rats. Acta Cir Bras. 2009 Mar-Apr;24(2):150-5.
- Korać RR, Khambholja KM. Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jul;5(10):164-73. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.91114.
- Kimura E, Todo H, Sugibayashi K. [Safety and skin penetration of nanoparticles]. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2012;132(3):319-24. Review. Japanese.
- Dhanirama D, Gronow J, Voulvoulis N. Cosmetics as a potential source of environmental contamination in the UK. Environ Technol. 2012 Jul-Aug;33(13-15):1597-608.
- Budiyanto A, Ahmed NU, Wu A, Bito T, Nikaido O, Osawa T, Ueda M, Ichihashi M. Protective effect of topically applied olive oil against photocarcinogenesis following UVB exposure of mice. Carcinogenesis. 2000 Nov;21(11):2085-90.
- Ichihashi M, Ahmed NU, Budiyanto A, Wu A, Bito T, Ueda M, Osawa T. Preventive effect of antioxidant on ultraviolet-induced skin cancer in mice. J Dermatol Sci. 2000 Mar;23 Suppl 1:S45-50.