Love your lips but aren’t feeling the love in return? You’re not alone!
Often, I see clients who are experiencing small comedones (clogged pores, otherwise known as blackheads or whiteheads) on the lips, vermillion border of the lips and just below the corners of the mouth on either side. This does not have to happen and with a little fine-tuning of products, this issue can be removed from your list of skin troubles pretty quickly.
Lip balms, tinted balms, lip sticks, glosses, and other products for the lips can be a wonderful addition to your skincare, beauty and sun care regimen for your lips. However, if they have comedogenic ingredients in them (pore-clogging ingredients), they will likely lead to congestion in the skin of the lips and lower corners. Why, you ask? Well, in the ingredient world, there are some good, some bad, and some that are right in the middle.
Beeswax, lanolin, and petrolatum are all in the “bad” category of ingredients when it comes to lip products. Sure, for lip balms you need some amount of beeswax to give the balm (in stick form) some solidity, but if you apply your lip balm and your lips have a waxy feel to them (where you can’t just slide the back and forth), chances are that it is too much. Same goes for lanolin. On the flip side, if you apply your lip balm and your lips are nice and slippery, you may be on the right track IF the slipperiness comes from ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter (or most butters really), and other oils rather than petrolatum. The main issue here is that beeswax, lanolin, and petrolatum really do nothing to offer hydration in the long run. What they do offer is occlusion, which is fine in the short term if you have an injury to the lips and need to keep the skin protected from bacteria, dirt, etc. Otherwise, they just cover your lips in goo and create a cycle of dependence on them for what “feels” like moisture, but really is not. Additionally, all that goo, which is sticky, accumulates on the surface and will eventually clog a pore. Your body simply cannot absorb beeswax, lanolin, or petrolatum and so it sits, accumulates and eventually clogs.
How do you know if a lip product is good for your lips or not? Well, there is the lip-slip test for one, in which you apply the balm and see if your lips are then sticky (like a Chapstick brand lip balm, or Burt’s Bee’s) or slippery, like an oil. If it’s sticky, bin it. The second is that once you discover if it slippery, you want to read the ingredient deck and see if the slipperiness if from petroleum based products or from oils or butters. If it is from petrolatum, bin it. If it is from oils or butters, check to see which ones. Not all oils and butters are created equal and some can be quite comedogenic (flax/linseed oil and avocado oil for example). If it has comedogenic ingredients (see the blog “My Poor Pores” on my website), bin it. If it doesn’t, this may be your new lip balm! Hurray!!!
A few other things to avoid, but not because of their comedogenicity, are camphor and menthol in a lip balm (think Carmex, Blistex). Both are designed to dry up cold sores, in lip products anyway. Continual use will definitely lead to dry lips when the balm is not applied, and really, dry lips even under the balm. If you are experiencing a cold sore, a lip balm with Lysine (and anti-viral amino acid) and a natural sun protectant such as Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide would be a much more beneficial balm. The lysine will help the cold sore go away faster and in some cases, if used regularly, can prevent the cold sore from popping up in the first place. The sun protectants help to prevent them from getting worse from sun exposure in a gentle, non chemical, non-toxic way.
Don’t despair though! I have done the research and I have a few favorites which I am happy to share!
-Jane Iredale “Lip Drink” is my all time favorite lip balm AND it offers natural sun protection as well.
-Dr. Bronner’s organic lip balms are also my favorites, as they don’t clog your pores either, but they do not have sun protection. I would stay away from the Peppermint one however, if you are experiencing dry lips already. You can always switch to that flavor once your lips are all hydrated and happy again.
-For those who suffer from cold sores, MyChelle’s “Love Your Lips” balms are fantastic and have lysine and natural sun protectants. This last one and the Jane Iredale Lip Drink are great for athletes as they both hydrate and protect, but I wouldn’t overuse the Mychelle lip balm because it does have a bit much beeswax in it for my tastes. You could always alternate between that and one of the other’s to keep your lips happy and hydrated.
Stop by sometime and ask for a sample of the Jane Iredale Lip Drink! You’ll love it and your lips will want to kiss you for it, if only that were physically possible. ;o)
Best wishes and happy lips to all!