Two types of lip balm to avoid when protecting lips from cold weather

2 Types Of Lip Balm You Should Never Use Because They Actually Make Your Lips So Dry

December 20, 2022 by GEORGIA DODD


Harsh winter weather can wreak havoc on the skin. It dries out your hands, nails, and hair (read about how to combat dry winter skin!)–and it can also take a toll on your lips. It can be easy to neglect our lips in the winter. According to the Cleveland Clinic, chapped lips, medically known as “chelitis,” is an acute and prolonged inflammation of the lips. And if you’ve ever experienced chronically dry lips, you know that it can be extremely painful. While a little bit of dryness is inevitable, you don’t want your lips to be completely vulnerable to the elements. That’s where a good lip balm comes in handy. But the bleeding, dryness, and generally chapped appearance that you’re struggling with in the winter may actually be the fault of many of the ingredients present in bad lip balms.

In particular, there are two types of lip balms you should avoid because instead of hydrating your lips, they’re actually making them dryer: balms with hardening ingredients and balms with dirty ingredients. Hardening ingredients include paraffin or beeswax while dirty ingredients are anything with excess chemicals like parabens or petroleum.

To learn more about the downsides to these products, we spoke with makeup artist Mary Winkenwerder about hardening and dirty ingredients in lip balms. She told us that, especially in the winter, ingredients like petroleum and paraffin dry out your lips. Find out more below!

Person touching dry lips.


Lip balms with hardening ingredients

You may be tempted to reach for lip balms with beeswax or paraffin like Burt’s Bees or Badger Balm because you’ve heard that they are the best at protecting your lips from environmental factors like wind, cold, and sun damage. However, that’s not always the case.

But before we get into the dangers of these ingredients, what are beeswax and paraffin? Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honey bees, and, paraffin is a white or colorless soft, solid wax made from saturated hydrocarbons. Both of these waxes have many other uses like lubrication, electrical insulation, crayon wax, and candle wax. 

“Paraffin and beeswax are ingredients used to bind traditional stick lip balm and help it keep its shape. A high concentration of these ingredients in any lip product causes the product to become hard,” Winkenwerder says. “Rubbing a hard surface onto chapped or weathered lips in need of care can cause further damage to the lips. While these types of lip balms may have essential therapeutic ingredients, they do not offer the creamy core binding ingredient that makes them capable of working into the skin.”

While beeswax and paraffin create a physical barrier to prevent water loss, they may actually cause more damage if your lips are especially chapped or sensitive. So, just be careful that you aren’t overapplying balms with hardening ingredients or they may worsen cracked lips (tips for getting rid of chapped lips may surprise you!).

Person with chapped lips.


Lip balms with dirty ingredients

The skin on your lips is one of the thinnest, most exposed surfaces on your body. Whatever you put on your lips can be absorbed through your skin and into your bloodstream. That’s why it’s so important to avoid lip balms with dirty ingredients.

“Some lip balms are made with ingredients that are not clean. Excess parabens and other long-term problem-causing preservatives are among them,” Winkenwerder notes. “Some lip balms are created with petroleum products. Some of these petroleum bases are not refined, making them a non-therapeutic ingredient that may worsen the condition of lips in need of care.”

According to the Environmental Working Group, EWG, parabens are a group of man-made chemicals that are used as artificial preservatives in cosmetic and body care products. They prevent mold and bacteria growth so products can last longer. Recently, parabens were found in the cells of breast cancer patients and can cause changes in cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid, and immune function. The risk of allergiesobesity, and infertility has also been associated with the use of parabens. And when you put them on your lips, they could make dryness worse.

Petroleum jelly, on the other hand, is a gel-like byproduct of petroleum which is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons. It was originally promoted as a topical ointment for its healing properties. When properly refined, petroleum jelly is said to have no side effects. But petrolatum is often not fully refined in the US, which means it can be contaminated with toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which will worsen your lip’s conditions and clog pores. Winkenwerder recommends using lip balm brands with refined petroleum jellies like Vaseline or Aquaphor.

Just remember that fragrance formulations are considered a “trade secret” and therefore protected from disclosure–even to regulators or manufacturers. So, companies don’t have to tell you about all the hidden chemicals they added to make your lip balm smell or taste good. These synthetic fragrances not only dry out your lips but can trigger skin conditions like eczema and increase your risk of diseases such as asthma and lung cancer.

Healthy and hydrating lip balms

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it’s important you take care of it! While there are many types of lip balms that are harmful to your lips, Winkenwerder recommends lip oils and lip serums as healthy alternatives.

Lip oils are made with natural oils that nourish and hydrate the lips. They have a consistency somewhere between a lip gloss and a lip balm. They add a glossy shine to your lips and can be worn alone, under lipstick, or on top of lipstick to protect the lips from cracking and dryness.

“Lip oils penetrate the surface of the lips quickly and address care issues. Sometimes these formulas are small amounts of therapeutic ingredients set in a core or base oil that binds well with a proprietary blend. They keep lips plump to their full natural potential (cosmetic) while addressing care issues,” she says.

Unlike lip gloss, lip serums offer relief from irritations and provide deep hydration while helping with discoloration. Some lip serums are hygienic botanical formulas that are always better than the parabens and petroleum found in many lip balms. Although one issue is that a lot of lip serums do not provide surface protection from open elements.

“Serum lip ‘balm’ formulas often work quickly into the lips without leaving residue on the surface of the lips. They keep lips plump to their full natural potential (cosmetic) while addressing care issues,” Winkenwerder says.

The good news is that there are plenty of natural, organic-based lip balms on the beauty market that contain no harmful chemicals and won’t dry out your lips. Winkenwerder says if all else fails: always check the ingredients. And be sure not to overapply. Applying once or twice a day should be enough to keep your lips hydrated and healthy. Your lips will thank you!

Author: Georgia Dodd, Editorial Assistant

Georgia Dodd is a New York-based editorial assistant at SheFinds Media. When she’s not covering the latest in wellness, beauty, fashion, and celebrity news for SheFinds, she spends her time reading sci-fi books, trying new foods, and listening to a true crime podcast. You can reach Georgia at


These Are The Absolute Best Lip Balms (P.S. You Can Buy Them All On Amazon!)

October 8, 2019 by JEANINE EDWARDS


Let’s be honest: dry, cracking, chapped lips are the. worst. Just the thought of being without my favorite lip balm sends a shiver down my spine.

That’s why it still amazes me when I encounter people who complain about chapped lips. I can’t live without my lip balm; how do they do it?!

If you’re one of those people who simply hasn’t found the one–the one lip balm of your dreams, that is–let’s fix that. Below, we’re sharing four of the absolute best lip balms… ever. We suggest you try them all until you find the one you love.

The Best Lip Balms

Shoppers Choice:

Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm

Highlights: Affordable; made with 100% natural ingredients; formulated with responsibly sourced ingredients

“I have been using this for well over a decade. I’ve tried many many other lip balms and treatments but continue to go back to this, my holy grail! It has a thick consistency and stays on much longer than others. The refreshing peppermint is soothing when my lips are cracked and painful. This multipack is the best value I have found. I keep one in my bathroom, bedroom, purse and kitchen. I use it every single night before going to bed and wake up with improved lips. They get very chapped during the winters. Can’t be without it!” – hall626

Buy from Amazon >>

Editor’s Picks:

Neova Cu3 Lip Repair with Copper Peptide Complex

Highlights: Nourishes and protects lips from sun, cold and wind exposure; suitable for all skin types; made by a research based, patent-protected, photodamage correcting skincare brand

“I never thought I’d be a person that spends $26 on lip balm, but this one is just that good. I have pretty full lips and they used to peel and chap constantly. Then I started using this lip balm and my lips were healed almost instantly. Now, not only do my lips never peel, but they’re also so soft and smooth. I do not leave home without this lip balm. I swear by it.” – Jeanine (Read more about why I love this lip balm here.)

Buy from Amazon >>

Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1

Highlights: Infused with squalane, aloe vera and vitamin E; under $10

“My favorite lip balm is Kiehl’s Lip Balm # 1. It keeps my lips soft and never dries them out. I keep them stashed everywhere–my purse, my desk, my car.” – Justine

Buy from Amazon >>

Buy from Nordstrom >>

Dr. Bronner’s – Organic Lip Balm

Highlights: USDA organic and fair trade ingredients only; made with organic jojoba, avocado and hemp oil for extra moisturization; can be used to heal dry hands, feet, cuticles, chapped chins and cheeks

“I think I’ll use this lip balm for the rest of my life, I literally buy the 6-packs on Amazon so I’m never out, and I keep them all over the place: at my desk, in every purse, my coat pocket, my boyfriend’s house, everywhere! It’s not waxy, so it doesn’t feel like it’s just “locking in” whatever moisture may already be in my lips, it’s actually just hydrating them! I prefer the flavorless one but the peppermint is great too!” – Morgan

Buy from Amazon >>

Buy from Target >>

Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm

Highlights: Moisturizing and volumizing; enriched with a rare combination of peptides and sea fern algae to plump the lips; made with avocado, mongongo, and marula oils to moisturize, replenish, hydrate and soften lips

“Drunk Elephant is one of my favorite skincare brands, so it’s no surprise that their lip balm is an essential for keeping my lips moisturized.”  – Alisha

Buy from Amazon >>

Buy from Sephora >>

SheFinds receives commissions for purchases made through the links in this post.

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