Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Lip Balm Lessons August 1, 2011

Can’t live without your lip balm?  Turns out there is a scientific reason for that.  And what exactly is lip balm made of that makes it do what it does?  This post will attempt to answer those questions.


Lip Balm Basics


First created at the turn of the 20th century by Dr. Charles Fleet, all lip balms share the same purpose – to moisturize and protect the lips.  Lip balms vary in formulation but typical ingredients include petroleum, shea butter, lanolin, and natural oils in order to prevent water loss from the lips.  Some lip balms contain ingredients like menthol and camphor which feel tingly when applied; these ingredients are actually mildly antiseptic and help soothe chapped and irritated lips.

One little tip – according to Dr. Amy Wechsler in her book The Mind-Beauty Connection (page 116) you should avoid lip balms with the ingredient phenol (Blistex, for example, has that ingredient) since phenol strips the top layer off your lips which then just dries your lips out instead of protecting them.

Lastly, during the day you want to make sure that your lip balm has spf in it.  Our lips do not naturally have any sun protection in them so you always need to protect your lips from the sun with spf protection.

Two of my favorite lip balms are:  Glo Mint Balm (with spf 15) and Dermalogica’s Renewal Lip Complex.  My go to nighttime lip moisturizer is Aquaphor Healing Ointment – it’s cheap and really works.


Is Lip Balm Really Addictive?


Ever feel like you can’t live without your lip product?  Do you feel the overwhelming need to reapply your lip balm continually throughout the day?  It turns out that there is a scientific reason behind this feeling.  The website The Beauty Brains does a great job at explaining this issue:

Skin signals for new cells

Skin is a very complicated organ with multiple layers. The top layer, the stratum corneum, consists mainly of dead, dried up cells. As those cells die and flake off, they send a signal to a deeper layer skin (called the basal layer) to produce fresh skin cells. This is a very simplified description of the process called cellular turnover. (Contrary to what you might have thought, “cellular turnover” does NOT refer to switching your mobile phone plan.)

Lip balm slows down the signal

When you apply lip balm, you’re creating a barrier layer that prevents, or at least retards, the evaporation of moisture from the inner layers of skin. Since the top layer isn’t drying and flaking off as much, the basal layer never gets the signal to produce new cells.

Your skin has to catch up

But when you stop using the lip balm, all of a sudden your lips dry out and your basal layer has to hurry up and start producing new cells. But since your lips already feel dry again, you add more lip balm which once again tells the basal layer “hey, everything’s fine up here on the surface – we don’t need any more new skin cells.”

The cycle repeats

But of course, once that application of lip balm has worn off and there are no new plump, moist skin cells to replace the ones that are drying out, your lips feel dry again and you have to add more lip balm. Etc. etc. etc. Get the picture? That’s why you feel addicted to lip balm – you’ve “trained” you body to rely on it!


Sources and Further Reading:




Fab New Cheap Lip Products May 16, 2011

After reading a glowing review from Paula Begoun* of N.Y.C.’s Smooch Proof 16HR Lip Stain I decided that I just had to try this product.    So far I’ve bought this lip product is two different colors – smooch proof and champagne stain.  The champagne stain color is very close to my natural lip color so I find that I use it almost every day to enhance my natural lip color and give it a little more punch.  The smooch proof color goes on a more intense pink/red shade.  You can play around with the intensity of the color by how hard you press on your lips as you apply it.  Wielding the lip stain like a pen produces a darker color, but you can also glide the product across your lips and then smudge it with your fingers.  Consider applying sheer gloss on top.  The color does fade as the day goes on, contrary to the claims by the manufacturer, and as you eat and drink, but you are still left with some color on your lips at the end of the day which is pretty incredible for a $5 product.  I have to say that I am very impressed with this $5 product and am glad I tried it.

My other new fave lip product is Mint Balm from Glominerals.  This is a very hydrating lip balm that also has spf 15 (yea!!) and feels minty and cool on your lips.  You can use it under or over your favorite lip product.  Now it costs $12.50 and, of course, you may wonder why I am calling this a cheap lip product.  I definitely think it is cheap for the amount of product you get for $12.50.  The tube is HUGE!  Even if you use this product multiple times during the day I can’t imagine that you use it up in less than 8 or 9 months.  Everyone needs a lip product with spf in it; I recommend trying Mint Balm.

*  By the way, Paula Begoun’s Beautypedia, which used to cost money to access, is now free.  You can easily read all her reviews now.


My New Favorite Lip Product May 7, 2010

I’m always on the look out for great lip products since I have dry lips all year round.  Until I discovered Dermalogica Renewal Lip Complex recently my two favorite lip products were Aquaphor Healing Ointment (the small tube) and Neosporin Overnight Renewal Therapy.  Now I still like both of those products for use in the evening since they are thick  and hydrating.  Unlike the Dermalogica product the primary ingredient in each of those two products is petrolatum which is known for its healing and protective qualities and can be a great ingredient for lips.  On the other hand, the Dermalogica product has cocoa butter, castor seed oil, wheat germ oil, and even Vitamin E (which is a great antioxidant) in it in addition to a polypeptide which is anti-aging.  But my main concern with a lip product is – how long does it last?  Well the Dermalogica products lasts for a long time making it my new favorite.  As anyone who has read this blog knows – I want all my products to have spf in them so I am disappointed that this does not.  So after applying this lip product in the morning I apply an additional lip product with spf in it on top in order to get proper sun protection for my lips during the day.

You can buy Dermalogica Renewal Lip Complex through Ulta.  Check out the online reviews; I’m not the only one who loves this product.

*Please note I get no compensation whatsoever for recommending products.  I just recommend them because I like them.*


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