When it comes to lip balm, people have pretty strong opinions. There are the die-hard Chapstick devotees, those who prefer to have tinted lip balms for a more prominent pout, and those whose fave flave is peppermint. I hate to break it to those who fall in the last camp, but minty-flavored lip moisturizers might be sabotaging your best efforts at a smooth pout.
“Menthol has a cooling effect on the skin which is why many people enjoy the feel of it in their skin-care products,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. He’s right—so many people I know always opt for minty flavors on their lips or that “cooling” option, which is basically code for “this has menthol in it.”
“The lips are extremely sensitive. Menthol can lead to irritation of the skin with disruption of the skin barrier, as well as inflammation,” says Dr. Zeichner.
“The lips are extremely sensitive. Menthol can lead to irritation of the skin with disruption of the skin barrier, as well as inflammation,” says Dr. Zeichner. “In the end this can lead to more dryness, creating a vicious cycle where you feel the need to apply more of the product. I personally recommend that my patients avoid menthol-containing products altogether.”
Although it feels like that cooling, tingling sensation is doing something beneficial—perhaps even powerful—to your lips, it’s actually sacrificing the outer layer that protects them from the outside elements. And when it comes to compromised winter skin, you want to repair and replenish with nourishing ingredients such as rich oils and even shea butters. So there you have it: Keep that mint flavor reserved for your toothpaste and vegan ice cream.
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