Lip balm or lip salve is a wax-like substance applied topically to the lips of the mouth to moisturize and 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, 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.
- Baby Lips by Maybelline
- Burt's Bees
- Lip Smacker
- Panama Jack
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.
- "The History of Chapstick - The History of Carmex". About.com. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
- "European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases 30, 8 (2011) 997-1004". Centre national de la recherche scientifique (cnrs.fr). Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- "Avoiding Lip Balm Addiction". CBS. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
- Lip Balm entry on snopes.com