The top 7 harmful ingredients to avoid further drying your chapped lips

The dog days of summer are coming to a close. Autumn is on its way, bringing with it cozy sweaters, cold weather and, for many of us...chapped lips. 

The dryness of Autumn and Winter months means many of us to reach for lip balms more frequently. But have you ever wondered what's actually in your lip balm? 

Like all cosmetics, many lip balms are laden with hidden chemicals. So today, let's look at the ingredients to avoid and the ones to look for when choosing your next lip product - as well as other nourishing products to hydrate your entire face. Cleaning up your lip balm collection in favour of organic skin care is a great self care choice. 

So let's dive in!

Titanium dioxide

What is titanium dioxide?

Titanium dioxide is an inorganic compound. It is inert, meaning it is not chemically reactive. Titanium dioxide is white in colour and is used widely, including in mineral SPF. It absorbs UV radiation - both UVA and UVB - so it does not contact your skin.

Why is it bad for your lips?

While titanium dioxide is safe for use on the skin for sun protection, some research suggests it is not safe to ingest. That's why you should avoid this ingredient in your lip balm. Even though you're not eating your lip balm (well... we sure hope you're not!), ingesting titanium dioxide over a long period is potentially dangerous. The research here is inconclusive - it's a better-safe-than-sorry suggestion! 

If you do want sun protection in your lip balm, choose one with non-nano zinc oxide instead. Heck, we'll even say go ahead and use a chemical sunscreen if you have to - anything that protects lips is better than nothing! 

Petroleum jelly

Why is it bad for your lips?

Petroleum jelly, also called petrolatum, is best known under the brand name Vaseline. 

What makes petroleum jelly bad for your lips is not the ingredient itself but its high potential for contamination that happens during the refining process.

The other notable thing about petrolatum is that it does not moisturize lips. It sits on top, which acts as a barrier to protect lips but does not help hydrate them. 

There are great alternatives to petrolatum to lock in moisture through slugging, which can be done all over the face, including the lip area. 

alcohol-free toner with vitamin C


Why is it bad for your lips?

Alcohol is bad for your lips because it is drying. 

Yes, you heard that correctly. Alcohol causes dry skin. For this reason, the beauty industry has also seen the end of alcohol in toners

Lip products with alcohol cause dry lips. This makes you reach for more of the product, making the problem worse. 

You get the picture: it's a vicious cycle. 

Alcohol also causes more damage to irritated lips i.e. cracked or broken skin. In addition, in some lip products, it is combined with other ingredients to exfoliate the outer layers of the skin, leaving lips drier and more sensitive to environmental factors.


What are Parabens?

Parabens are preservatives. In fact, parabens are the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetics. 

Preservatives are used to give a product a "shelf life"; in other words, to ensure that bacteria does not grow. 

Why is it bad for your lips?

Parabens are potential endocrine disruptors. This means they interact negatively with the body's hormones. This is why many people avoid parabens in all cosmetic products. 

So why is it bad for your lips specifically? 

Well, lip balm is used close to your mouth, so in addition to absorption, there's a risk of ingestion. 

Phenol, Menthol & Salicylic Acid

What is Phenol?

Phenol is an organic compound. On its own, it is toxic. But it is available for safe use in products like mouthwash. 

In lip products, it is used to give your lips a "tingling" sensation. 

Why is it bad for your lips?

Like alcohol, phenol exfoliates the outer layer of the lip skin, which causes irritation. 

What is Menthol?

Menthol is added to lip balms for its cooling effect. 

Why is it bad for your lips?

Unfortunately, menthol is a big culprit for causing contact dermatitis. For this reason, it is one of the most important tips balm ingredients to avoid. 

What is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid (SA) is a beta hydroxy acid - or as it is more affectionately known - a BHA. This is a gentle chemical exfoliant, meaning it removes dead skin cells to avoid build-up. 

Why is it bad for your lips?

Salicylic acid changes the skin's pH. On delicate lips, this quickly leads to dehydration. 

SA isn't all bad. Rather than a leave-on treatment, it works best in a cleanser. Check out this blog on how to use salicylic acid to properly wash your face.

What should you put on your lips instead?

There are lots of rich and nourishing ingredients to choose from to choose the best lip balm. A few of our favourites are:

  • Hemp Seed Oil - absorbs effectively to deliver deep hydration as well as a boost of omega 3 and 6
  • Hemp Roots - full of friedelin to soothe lip irritation and redness caused by dry and dehydrated skin
  • Cocoa Butter smooths and softens lips over time; its high-fat content and essential fatty acids provide a rich and protective treatment
  • Shea Butter is full of vitamin E and provides both moisture and protection

Pucker up!

When we know better, we choose better. Choosing the right beauty products is all about understanding ingredient lists. Armed with this information, you'll know exactly which lip balms are for you and which ones should be left on the shelf. 

Avoid lip balms with drying ingredients like alcohol and phenol. And steer clear of lip balms that irritate with ingredients such as menthol and titanium dioxide. Lastly, skip anything with synthetic flavors or fragrances. 

You (and your lips) deserve the best. 

You Are Loved.



Jennifer Grant with Hemp Roots


Author Bio: Jennifer is the president and founder of empyri.  Jennifer’s passion for formulation and product development was set ablaze in 2019, when she incorporated the healing power of cannabis roots into her long-standing three-step skin care system. Armed with scientific evidence on the actives in cannabis roots and seeds, a clean and conscious brand was born. Using her masters degree in bio-chemical engineering, Jennifer is forging a path to ...READ FULL BIO