Lip balm or lip salve is a wax-like substance applied topically to the lips of the mouth to relieve chapped or dry lips, angular cheilitis, stomatitis, or cold sores. Lip balm often contains beeswax or carnauba wax, camphor, cetyl alcohol, lanolin, paraffin, and petrolatum, among other ingredients. Some varieties contain dyes, flavor, fragrance, menthol, phenol, salicylic acid, and sunscreens.
The primary purpose of lip balm is to provide an occlusive layer on the lip surface to seal moisture in lips and protect them from external exposure. Dry air, cold temperatures, and wind all have a drying effect on skin by drawing moisture away from the body. Lips are particularly vulnerable because the skin is so thin, and thus they are often the first to present signs of dryness. Occlusive materials like waxes and petroleum jelly prevent moisture loss and maintain lip comfort while flavorants, colorants, sunscreens, and various medicaments can provide additional, specific benefits.
Lip balm can be applied where a finger is used to apply it to the lips, or in a lipstick-style tube from which it can be applied directly.
Lip balm was first marketed in the 1880s by the creator of ChapStick, Charles Browne Fleet,[unreliable source?] though its origins are commonly traced to earwax, which was used as lip balm prior to that.[unreliable source?]
Holly Phillips suggests that certain types of lip balm can be addictive or contain ingredients that actually cause drying. Lip balm manufacturers sometimes state in their FAQs that there is nothing addictive in their products or that all ingredients are listed and approved by the FDA. Snopes found the claim that there are substances in Carmex that are irritants necessitating reapplication, such as ground glass, to be false.
- "ChapStick Classics". Wyeth. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- "Medicated Lip Balm". Blistex. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- "Original Carmex Jar". Carma Laboratories. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- "Lip balm". Patriot Brands. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
- "The History of Chapstick - The History of Carmex". About.com. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
- "Softer Lips This Winter". About.com. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- "Avoiding Lip Balm Addiction". CBS. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
- Blistex FAQ
- Carmex FAQ
- Lip Balm entry on snopes.com