Understanding lips and the various problems that can occur is important, but it’s also very important to understand how to care for your lips.
If you are having any lip problems, you should consult your dentist, dermatologist or physician for advice. But, as with most things, the best approach to any lip problems is to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Since dryness can contribute to the cracking and chapping of lips, applying a lip balm or salve and staying hydrated are ways to prevent or counteract these effects. There are a variety of compounds that are effective. A common one is petrolatum. Other effective natural compounds include cocoa butter, beeswax, lanolin, and shea butter. The primary function of all these compounds is to seal the natural moisture in the lips, thereby preventing them from drying out.
Another common cause of lip damage is exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, i.e. sunburn. Protecting your lips from the sun with compounds that block the sun or absorb the harmful rays is an important aspect if lip care.
Common Lip Balm Ingredients
The term lip balm is commonly used to describe preparations that are applied to the lips. However, balm is an older term used to describe aromatic (scented) ointments. An ointment is a semi-solid preparation (usually containing a medicine or an active ingredient) applied externally as a healing remedy or to soothe an irritation.
Below are some common lip balm ingredients.
• Cocoa butter
• Shea butter
• Vegetable oils (olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil)
Prevent Solar Damage
• Zinc oxide
• Titanium oxide
The above compounds are white. They physically block the sun’s rays, shading the lip tissue underneath.
These chemicals are clear. They absorb the harmful rays of the sun. The ability to block or absorb the sun’s rays, thereby preventing solar/ultraviolet damage, is an important component of many skin care products, including lip balms. Scientists use the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) value as one measure of a product’s effectiveness against harmful ultraviolet rays. Sunscreens with an SPF value greater than 15 and labeled “Broad Spectrum”—meaning protection against both UVA and UVB rays—help reduce the risk of skin cancer, early skin aging, as well as sunburn. A generous amount of sunscreen should be applied to your lips at least 15 minutes before sun exposure, and the same amount should be reapplied at least every two hours. In addition to frequently applying sunscreens to your lips, you can best protect your lips by limiting your time in the sun, especially from 10a.m.-2p.m., and wearing hats.
• Butters (cocoa butter, aloe butter, shea butter, vegetable oils)
• Vitamin E
In addition to preventing lips from drying, these ingredients also provide a lubricating effect, thereby keeping the lips flexible.
Smooth Chapped Lips/Remove Dead Skin
• Salicylic acid (loosens the keratin layer and allows the chaps to fall off)
Cosmetic or Aesthetic Ingredients
• Coloring agents
• Essential oils and fragrances (Essential oils are oils from plants like mint, lavender, or eucalyptus trees that have a good essence, a good smell.)