How safe is that lip balm you’re applying several times a day? Read on to learn more about six potentially harmful ingredients that are commonly found in lip balm.
Unsurprisingly, this cousin of gasoline isn’t great for your body. Also known as petroleum jelly, it creates an airtight cover over whatever you apply it to, which means your lips aren’t getting any air — and you’re locking in potentially harmful bacteria.
The stringent, chemically dependent process by which petroleum is refined to create petrolatum also produces toxins. Contaminated petroleum jelly may contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, for example, which have been linked to breast cancer.
Unless you stick to clean skincare and beauty products, roughly 75 to 90% of the products in your bathroom contain these hormone disruptors that have the power to act like estrogen. When it comes to parabens, the biggest culprits are lip balms aimed at kids and pre-teens and tinted lip balms.
Because parabens act like estrogen, they have been linked to increased risk of melanoma and breast cancer in women. They’re also potentially dangerous to men. Studies have shown a link between parabens and both reduced testosterone and lower sperm levels.
3. BHA and BHT
This pair of preservatives may help your lip balm hold up year after year, but they’ve also caused cancer in lab rats. Surprisingly, they often appear in the ingredient lists of many “clean” lip balms. If you want a truly clean Chapstick, look for lip balms that use Vitamin E instead.
4. Alcohol, Menthol, Phenol and Salicylic Acid
If you’ve ever applied lip balm only to be convinced that your lips are actually drier than when you began, you’re not losing your mind. These four ingredients all dry out your lips. They might also cause your lips to sting or tingle.
So why add drying agents to lip balm? They exfoliate. The thing is, there are other ways to ditch the dry skin on your lips that don’t use harsh chemicals that irritate your skin and leave it wide open to environmental toxins. Any scrub that contains an exfoliation agent, such as sugar, and a nourishing agent, such as honey, will get the job done.
You probably don’t know exactly what ingredients make up the fragrance in your favorite scented lip balm. The thing is, virtually nobody does. Companies aren’t required by the FDA to disclose what components they use to create the fragrances in their products.
According to the International Fragrance Association, more than 3,000 different materials are used in the production of fragrances. A variety of them have been linked to health problems including allergies, reproductive issues and cancer.
In short, when you see “fragrance” or “parfum” listed in a lip balm’s ingredients, that means that — good or bad — a mystery concoction was used to give your favorite fall lip balm that hint of pumpkin spice. Instead of playing ingredient roulette, opt for lip balms that derive their fragrance or flavor from all-natural, food-grade ingredients and essential oils.
6. Synthetic Dyes
Tinted lip balms are wildly popular because they do double-duty: They moisturize your lips while adding a pop of color to your overall look. The problem is that many of these tinted balms get their color from man-made colorants that come from coal-tar or heavy metals. Others, particularly red dyes, get their hue from dead bugs. No matter how you slice it — or smash it, in the case of those tiny insect corpses — fake color is bad news for your health.
When it comes to healthy skin care, a good general rule to follow is this: If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t rub it all over your skin. Before you buy that balm, read the label. All of our personal care products are hand-made in the Hawkes Bay with only natural, safe ingredients :)