Lip balm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Homemade lip balms

Lip balm or lip salve is a wax-like substance applied typically to the lips 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 sunscreen.


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 flavorings, colorants, sunscreens, and various medicaments can provide additional, specific benefits. Lip balms are produced from bee wax and natural candelilla and carnauba waxes.[1]

Lip balm can be applied by a finger to the lips, or in a lipstick-style tube from which it can be applied directly.

In 2022, the global lip balm market was valued at US$732.76 mln. The market is predicted to grow at a rate of 9.28% within the next five years and is likely to reach US$1247.74 mln by 2027.[2]


Production for lip balms includes the following stages:[3]

  • Raw materials are checked for its quality (cosmetic products must comply with strict safety standards)
  • The ingredients are dosed, melted, and mixed (this stage involves special equipment)
  • This mixture is treated in a vacuum to remove bubbles
  • The mixture is crystallized for about 48 hours
  • The mixture is then remelted
  • The mixture is cut into pieces which are shaped as required
  • The lip balm is packaged into a casing


Early lip balms[edit]

Since 40 BC, the Egyptians made treatment for lip care, which was made with a mixture of beeswax, olive oil, and animal fat.[4]

United States[edit]

In the 1800s, Lydia Maria Child recommended earwax as a treatment for cracked lips in her highly-popular book, The American Frugal Housewife. Child observed that, "Those who are troubled with cracked lips have found this earwax remedy successful when others have failed. It is one of those sorts of cures, which are very likely to be laughed at; but I know of its having produced very beneficial results."[5] The invention of the lip balm was first formally invented in the 1880s by physician Charles Brown Fleet[6] though its origins may be traced to earwax.[7] Fleet later named his lip balm product "ChapStick".[8]

In 1872, chemist Robert Chesebrough discovered and sampled a new petroleum jelly, initially describing it as a "natural, waxy ingredient, rich in minerals from deep within the earth" which could be used as a solution for skin repair. He then distributed his product under the name "Wonder Jelly" before shortly changing it to "Vaseline".[9]

In the early 1880s, Charles Brown Fleet created ChapStick.[8] However, due to the lack of sales, Fleet sold his formula and rights to ChapStick to John Morton in 1912 for $5, who saw the marketing potential in the brand.[4] After making the purchase, Morton commissioned Frank Wright, Jr. to create a design for the logo of ChapStick for $15 in 1936.[4] In 1972, ChapStick tubes concealing hidden microphones were used during the Watergate scandal.[10]

In 1937, Alfred Woelbing created Carmex to treat cold sores in Milwaukee, though the occurrence of World War 2 would slow the production and sales due to the lack of lanolin. In 1980, Carmex underwent a product change by converting its packaging into squeezable tubes.[11]

In 1973, Bonne Bell created the first flavored lip balm and marketed the company as Lip Smackers. The company would later collaborate on various different-flavored lip balms including Dr. Pepper in 1975, The Wrigley Company in 2004, and The Coca-Cola Company in 2006. Bonne Bell also collaborated with Disney to produce lip balms with various princess characters in 2010.[12]

In 1991, Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby created their first beeswax based lip balm solution through their company, Burt's Bees.[13] In 2020, it was reported that Burt's Bees had used 50 percent of recycled material to package various products and that 100 percent of the products were recyclable.[14]

In 2011, Evolution of Smooth (or commonly known as EOS) created a spherical-shaped lip balm as well as describing its 95% organic ingredients.[4]

Cannabis infused lip balms[edit]

With the gradual legalization of cannabis in the United States, some companies have produced lip balms containing doses of THC or CBD oil. The lip balms were infused with a low dosage of THC in order to prevent the occurrence of any psychoactive or related effect. Wax is a type of lip balm composed of hash oil which has the strength of dozens of cannabis joints.[15]

Notable brands[edit]



According to a report, professor Brad Rohu states that it is natural for the lips to feel dry.[16] The exposure to environments with cold, dry, or windy weather can directly cause the chapping of the lips as well as behaviors such as lip licking or mouth breathing.[17] These factors may directly contribute to an increased amount of lip balm usage. According to dermatologist Amy Derick, those who have expressed dependencies on lip balm have developed a desire of how the lips feel after application. She also mentions that the variety of lip balm flavor may also directly cause lip balm dependency as a person may want to lick their lips to taste the flavor, which may consequentially remove the lip balm coating from the lips. This may also leave saliva on the lips which can dry up and make the lips feel even more dry than they initially were.[18]

Addictive ingredients[edit]

Some physicians have suggested that certain types of lip balm can be addictive or contain ingredients that actually cause drying,[19] though, it has been debated by many professionals. 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.[20] However, some experts such as dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey state that some ingredients in lip balm directly causes sensitive lip skin which may lead to addiction.[21] Dermatology professor Marcia Driscoll also adds onto this argument by stating that aroma ingredients found in flavored or scented lip balms have the potential to irritate skin.[22]

Effects on lip barrier[edit]

The human lips have an inadequate capability of holding moisture as well as an imperfect lip barrier function.[23] The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology performed a study in order to determine whether consistent use of lip balm would enhance the overall quality of the lips. The study used 32 female participants within the ages of 20 to 40 years and the participants had mild to moderate dried lips without any history of health-related complications. The participants underwent a procedure in which no lip treatment was provided on the first 3 days, then 2 weeks of consistent lip balm usage, and then a period of no treatment for 3 days. The study determined the quality of the lips based on the physical details and appearance throughout the study. The study showed a direct improvement of the physical details of the lips except for lip cracking during the second week of treatment and after the period of no treatment. The study also showed that hydration of the lips lasted for approximately 8 hours after usage and the lip balm improved the lip barrier function despite discontinued usage. The study concluded that lip balms assist the hydration of the lips which consequentially improves the lip barrier function and the quality.[24] This study was completely funded by Burt's Bees, a lip balm company.

Mineral oil[edit]

In 2015, German consumer watchdog Stiftung Warentest analyzed cosmetics containing mineral oils. After developing a new detection method they found high concentrations of Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOAH) and even polyaromatics in products containing mineral oils with Vaseline products containing the most MOAH of all tested cosmetics (up to 9%).[25] The European Food Safety Authority sees MOAH and polyaromatics as possibly carcinogenic.[25] Based on the results, Stiftung Warentest warns not to use Vaseline or any product that is based on mineral oils for lip care.

Lip balm market[edit]

United States[edit]

In 2019, a research report conducted by the Statista Research Department concluded that ChapStick was the leading lip balm brand in the United States with an approximate unit sale of 55.8 million. Carmex was the second leading brand with approximately 35.2 million units sold and Burt's Bees being the third leading brand with approximately 32.3 million units sold.[26]

Lip balm sales in the United States[26]
Brand Unit sales (in millions)
Aquaphor 4.1
Blistex 23.9
Burt's Bees 32.3
Carmex 35.2
ChapStick 55.8
ChapStick Classic 9
ChapStick Total Hydration 6.5
EOS 9.2
Private Label 7.1
Vaseline Lip Therapy 13



Beezin' is a trend dating back to 2013 in which a person applies Burt's Bees brand lip balm onto the eyelids.[27] The practice is done in order to feel a sensation of being high or drunk, and even to increase the desired effects of alcohol and other substances.[28] In 2022, Beezin' became a viral trend on the social media platform TikTok.[29] Some ingredients, including peppermint oil, are known to be eye irritants which can cause an unintentional inflammatory response which may require treatment and may also cause dermatitis on the eyelids.[30]


  1. ^ "Candelilla Wax vs Beeswax vs Carnauba". 3 April 2021. Retrieved 2021-11-10.[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ "Lip Balm Market Growing at CAGR of 9.28%, Industry Analysis by Size, Emerging Technologies, Trends, Strategies Projection till 2027" (Press release). 360 Market Updates. 27 November 2022.
  3. ^ "Cosmetic Process: Lipstick Synthesis". Archived from the original on 2023-12-11. Retrieved 2023-12-11.
  4. ^ a b c d Atkinson, Nathalie (June 12, 2014). "Secret gloss: A brief history of lip balm, from earwax to Clorox". National Post. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
  5. ^ Lydia Maria Francis Child (1833). The American Frugal Housewife. S.S. & W. Wood. pp. 116.
  6. ^ "The History of Chapstick - The History of Carmex". Archived from the original on March 15, 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
  7. ^ Schwaab, M; Gurr, A; Neumann, A; Dazert, S; Minovi, A (2011). "Human antimicrobial proteins in ear wax". European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases. 30 (8): 997–1004. doi:10.1007/s10096-011-1185-2. PMID 21298458. S2CID 20731975.
  8. ^ a b "2 Popular Lip Balms and How They Were Created". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2022-10-09.
  9. ^ "History". Retrieved 2022-10-09.
  10. ^ Tracy, Kathleen (2007). The Watergate Scandal. Mitchell Lane Publishers. ISBN 978-1-58415-470-9. OCLC 62089809.[page needed]
  11. ^ "About Us". Carmex. 2022-06-20. Retrieved 2022-10-09.
  12. ^ "Our History". Lip Smacker. Retrieved 2022-10-09.
  13. ^ "Burt's Bees | Burt's Bees History | Burt's Bees". Retrieved 2022-10-09.
  14. ^ Manso, James (16 February 2021). "Burt's Bees Releases Sustainability Impact, Goals Report". WWD. p. 17. ProQuest 2527608662.
  15. ^ Milhorn, H. Thomas (2018). "Cannabis Dependence". Substance Use Disorders. pp. 131–141. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-63040-3_9. ISBN 978-3-319-63039-7.
  16. ^ Sander, Staci Ann (1 February 2003). "Help for a lip balm junkie. (Real-Life Beauty with Bobbi Brown)". Prevention. 55 (2): 100–101. Gale A99818231.
  17. ^ Scott, John (January 2009). "Lip balm". Foods Matter. p. 17. ProQuest 214041705.
  18. ^ Cardellino, Carly (1 April 2009). "Addicted to lip balm? What keeps you chained to your favorite lube--plus, does natural deodorant really work?". Shape. 28 (8): 68–69. Gale A196055444.
  19. ^ "Avoiding Lip Balm Addiction". CBS. Archived from the original on 26 January 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  20. ^ Mikkelson, David (28 May 2011). "Carmex Addiction". Snopes.
  21. ^ Bailey, Cynthia. "Do I Have Sensitive Skin? Find out with Dr. Bailey". Dr. Bailey Skin Care.[self-published source?]
  22. ^ Scott, John (January 2009). "Hair spray". Foods Matter. p. 17. ProQuest 214036218.
  23. ^ Trookman, Nathan S.; Rizer, Ronald L.; Ford, Rosanne; Mehta, Rahul; Gotz, Vincent (December 2009). "Clinical assessment of a combination lip treatment to restore moisturization and fullness". The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2 (12): 44–48. PMC 2923945. PMID 20725584.
  24. ^ "Effects of treatment with a natural lip balm on lip barrier function". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 72 (5): AB23. May 2015. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2015.02.103.
  25. ^ a b "Mineralöle in Kosmetika: Kritische Stoffe in Cremes, Lippenpflegeprodukten und Vaseline" [Critical substances in creams, lip care products and Vaseline]. Stiftung Warentest (in German). 26 May 2015.
  26. ^ a b "Lip balm/treatment brand unit sales U.S. 2019". Statista. Retrieved 2022-10-09.
  27. ^ "What is beezin'? (It involves lip balm and eyelids) - New York News". 2014-10-06. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  28. ^ Singh, Maanvi (2014-05-20). "Beezin' May Be Bogus, But Other Dopey Teen Fads Can Bite Back". NPR. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  29. ^ "Wait, why are people putting Burt's Bees on their eyelids on TikTok?". UK. 2022-12-07. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  30. ^ "'Beezin': teens applying lip balm to eyelids to experience buzz". Optometry Times. Retrieved 2022-12-11.