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Is your lip balm making your chapped lips worse?

The best way to keep your lips moist in winter is to moisturize frequently with healing ointments like Vaseline or Aquaphor, one expert recommends. Chapsticks are better in warmer weather.

While balms and chapsticks can temporarily soothe irritated lips, they often have chemicals such as flavors, fragrance and preservatives that may cause further irritation, one dermatologist warns.
While balms and chapsticks can temporarily soothe irritated lips, they often have chemicals such as flavors, fragrance and preservatives that may cause further irritation, one dermatologist warns.
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Chapped-lip season is here, which means you’ve likely been reaching for your favorite chapstick.

But not all lip balms are made the same. Some can even make a dry lip situation worse, experts say.

“Lips do not have oil glands like the rest of our skin and the skin is thinner,” says Dr. Caroline Robinson, a dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology. “For this reason, the skin on our lips tends to be drier and more sensitive.”

She recommends avoiding ingredients like methanol, alcohols and fragrance to prevent potential irritation.

Dr. Samer Jaber, a dermatologist at Washington Square Dermatology in New York, saus. “While balms and chapsticks can temporarily soothe irritated lips, they often have chemicals that may cause further irritation... flavors, fragrance and preservatives that can dry and irritate your lips.”

He also recommends avoiding salicylic acid, menthol and camphor when your lips are dry, as those ingredients can also irritate lips.

A rule of thumb from the American Academy of Dermatology is, “if your lips burn, sting or tingle after using a lip product, stop using that product.”

So what should you use?

“The best way to keep your lips moist in the winter is to moisturize frequently with thick, healing ointments,” Jaber says. “I always recommend using thicker moisturizing ointments like Vaseline or Aquaphor in colder weather. Lighter lip moisturizers like balms or Chapstick are generally better-suited for warmer, more humid months, when lips are less prone to drying and cracking.”

He recommends looking for lip balms with these ingredients: petrolatum (also called petroleum jelly), mineral oil, lanolin, honey, beeswax, shea butter and glycerin.

But for those with sensitive skin skin allergies, a “plain 100% petrolatum ointment is ideal,” he says.

Robinson agrees that fragrance-free lip products with petrolatum, glycerin, dimethicone, ceramides or shea butter are the way to go.

“It is also very important to protect your lips from the sun using a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher,” Robinson says. “oth of these steps can help combat dry, rough and cracked lips in the winter.”

She says it’s safe to reapply a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic lip balm throughout the day. In fact, she recommends this for “persistently dry lips.”

It doesn’t hurt to change things up, though.

“It is always a good idea to rotate your lip products because the skin on our lips changes with each season and with age,” she says.

Licking your lips just makes them worse.

“When your lips feel dry, it may feel natural to wet them by licking them, but this can worsen the problem,” according to the dermatology academy.

Skip lip gloss and lipstick when your lips are dry. “That can worsen your dryness and irritation,” Jaber says.

Read more at usatoday.com