The Real Reason Your Lip Balm Is Making Your Lips Drier

The fine layers of skin covering our lips are particularly susceptible to dryness and breakage. According to Rapid City Medical Center, while other areas of the body contain oil glands to self-hydrate, our lips do not, leaving us vulnerable to chapped lips due to water loss. The purpose of lip balm is to prevent this painful dryness from occurring through the use of hydrating ingredients such as shea butter or petroleum jelly (via WebMD). Additional ingredients include wax, which serves as an adhesive to keep the balm firmly in place on our lips.

Cheilitis, otherwise known as chapped lips, most often develops as a result of environmental factors such as excessive sun exposure or allergens, as well as hot or cold weather changes (via Cleveland Clinic). Chapped lips can affect both adults and children and can be exacerbated by frequent licking of the lips with one's tongue.

Because chapped lips can be painful, lip balm seems like a logical solution to the problem, but certain lip balms may be making the problem go from bad to worse.

Avoid lip balms with these ingredients

Although lip balms are intended to hydrate the lips, the moisture from the product eventually evaporates, further drying out our lips (via Live Science).

Additionally, dermatologist Melissa Piliang explains that certain ingredients in lip balm can be more dehydrating than they are hydrating, stating, "Lip balms containing ingredients like phenol, menthol and salicylic acid actually make your lips drier" (via Cleveland Clinic). This can lead to repeated product application, which assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University Dr. Leah Jacob describes to Live Science as "a vicious cycle."

Not only that, but lip balms with scented additives can be additionally damaging, with Dr. Jacob citing peppermint flavors in particular. These kinds of scented or flavored ingredients can contribute to further dryness or even prompt allergic reactions in those with allergies (via Cleveland Clinic).

Choosing a lip balm with preventative moisturizing ingredients will help keep lips adequately hydrated and relieved of discomfort. Experts at the Cleveland Clinic suggest choosing lip balms made with petroleum jelly, as well as products containing an SPF of 30 or more to help keep lips protected from sun exposure. Choosing lip balms with these ingredients will be helpful in preventing ongoing chapped lips.