Lip balm

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Homemade lip balms

Lip balm or lip salve is a wax-like substance applied topically 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.

Lip balm was first marketed in the 1880s by Charles Browne Fleet,[2][unreliable source?] though its origins may be traced to earwax.[3] More than 40 years prior to the commercial introduction of lip balm by Fleet, 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."[4]

In 2019, the global lip balm market was valued at US$660 mln. The market is predicted to grow at a rate of 7.3% within the next five years and is likely to reach US$1010 mln by 2024.[5]

Types of lip balms[edit]

The lip balms are divided into different types by their ingredients:[6]

  • UV filter lip balm. This type of lip balm can be applied all the year round, especially in summer or when staying in a place with an increased solar activity (e.g. mountain ski resorts).
  • Nourishing lip balm. This type works best in winter.
  • Moisturizing lip balm. If you apply this lip balm in winter, your lips can be cracked because the balm is too quick to be absorbed. This type of lip balm is good for dry lips. Moisturizing lip balm can be worn year round.
  • Medicated lip balm. It should be applied with care. It acts as a softening and antiseptic medication.
  • Tinted lip balm. You can wear tinted lip balm year round.

Production Technology[edit]

Production technology for lip balms includes the following stages:[7]

  • Raw material is checked for its quality (cosmetic products must comply with the strict safety standards)
  • Ingredients are dosed, melted, mixed (this stage involves special equipment and facilities)
  • This mixture is treated in a vacuum (this is the stage when the bubbles are removed from the lipstick)
  • The mixture is crystallized (it takes about 48 hours)
  • The mixture is melted
  • The mixture is shaped (it is cut into pieces which are shaped as required)
  • It is packaged (the lipstick is packed into a casing)

Notable brands[edit]


Some physicians have suggested that certain types of lip balm can be addictive or contain ingredients that actually cause drying.[8] 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.[9]

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%).[10] The European Food Safety Authority sees MOAH and polyaromatics as possibly carcinogenic.[10] Based on the results, Stiftung Warentest warns not to use Vaseline or any product that is based on mineral oils for lip care.


  1. ^ "Candelilla Wax vs Beeswax vs Carnauba". Retrieved 2021-11-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "The History of Chapstick - The History of Carmex". Retrieved 2010-06-30.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Lydia Maria Francis Child (1833). The American Frugal Housewife. S.S. & W. Wood. pp. 116.
  5. ^ "Lip Balm Market Size 2021". Archived from the original on 2021-11-10. Retrieved 2021-11-10.
  6. ^ "Types of lip balms. How to choose the right lip balm?". Retrieved 2021-11-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Cosmetic Process: Lipstick Synthesis". Retrieved 2021-11-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Avoiding Lip Balm Addiction". CBS. Archived from the original on 26 January 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  9. ^ Lip Balm entry on
  10. ^ a b Warentest, Stiftung. "Mineralöle in Kosmetika – Kritische Stoffe in Cremes, Lippenpflegeprodukten und Vaseline".