Lip balm is one of those products that is critical to have on hand at all times, particularly during the colder months. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a bedside balm, a desk balm, and individual balms in every bag you own so that you’re covered whenever chapped lips may strike (which, at this time of year, is pretty much a guarantee). But having just any lip balm at the ready isn’t enough to combat those dry-lipped pinches—according to dermatologists, you’ve gotta have the right product in order to ensure you’re giving those lips the love they need.
The one ingredient they say you should be looking for in a lip balm? Beeswax, or, for a vegan option, petroleum jelly. “They both retain and lock in moisture,” says Howard Sobel, MD, a New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin Rx, who dubs these the absolute “best ingredients” for chapped lips. Both are occlusives, which means that they seal in any hydration in your lips and keep it from evaporating.
While you’re in the process of perusing your labels, there’s also one ingredient you should avoid: menthol. The minty-flavored stuff may offer a nice cooling effect to your kisser, but in the process of doing that it actually winds up drying them out, thus doing the exact opposite of what you want a lip balm to do. You know how sometimes after you apply your balm, you suddenly want more, more, more of it, and can’t stop putting it on? Well, that’s menthol’s fault.
For a few options that will leave your lips feeling anything but thirsty, shop our picks spiked with the best ingredients for chapped lips below.
The OG beeswax balm, this two-pack ensures that you’ll have one to keep by your bed and one in your bag for hydrated lips at all times.
For a fancier beeswax option that comes in all kinds of flavors, Glossier’s skin salve is one of my personal favorite picks (the birthday cake tube is with me at all times). Some are clear while others are tinted, offering an option for every type of lip balm personality.
There’s a reason why this stuff has stood the test of time since its creation in 1892. It’s got hydrating ingredients, for sure (thanks, petroleum), but also leaves lips with the perfect natural-looking shine and subtle wash of color for hours on end.
If your lips need a little extra love, opt for this Ultra Repair Intensive Lip Balm. It’s ultra-concentrated with beeswax, plus colloidal oatmeal and honey, to hydrate, nourish, and protect all at the same time.
Fun fact: this is the magic number of times per day you should be swiping on a balm. And if you’re looking for a lip healing product that also offers a bit of shine, check out the one that we deemed the “perfect gloss” on the market.
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