Lip balm is a staple product for many of us. Something we apply, and reapply many times over the course of a day.
I keep tubes scattered everywhere, so I never have far to reach when I want to reapply… purse, nightstand, glove compartment, kitchen drawer… you get the idea!
Did you know that many common lip balms contain several endocrine disruptors (parabens, BHT, and chemical sunscreens), coal tar dyes linked to cancer, artificial fragrance and flavor, and petroleum-derived oils that can lock it all in?
Like anything else that goes on my body, I want my lip balm to be natural and pure… free of any potentially harmful chemicals.
When looking for a natural lip balm, we all want something that will moisturize and protect, but without using potentially harmful chemicals. The skin on your lips is thin, so ingredients can absorb into the blood stream more easily than other areas. Throughout a normal day, you are likely to consume some of your lip balm through eating or licking your lips.
Keep reading to learn the top 6 ingredients to avoid, compare the ingredients in common lip balms, and recommendations for natural lip balms you will love.
1. PARABENS (methylparaben, butylparaben, more):
Parabens are known to interfere with hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity (moreCampaign For Safe Cosmetics). Parabens may also interfere with male reproductive functions. In a surprising recent study, methylparaben was found to block the breast cancer drug tamoxifen (more).
2. SYNTHETIC COLOR & DYES (FD&C Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 & 6, Red 33):
Derived from coal tar, FD&C color pigments contain heavy metal salts that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation. Animal studies have shown almost all FD &C colors to be carcinogenic.
3. BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene):
BHT has been show to mimic estrogen (endocrine disruptor). Is is linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, and a possible carcinogen.
4. FRAGRANCE and FLAVOR:
When you see “fragrance” or “flavor” on a label, read it as “hidden chemicals.” A major loophole in FDA’s federal law allows manufacturers include nearly any ingredient in their products under the name “fragrance” without actually listing the chemical. Independent testing has found high levels of phthalates hiding under the label fragrance. Phthalates are potent hormone disruptors linked to pre-term births, reproductive system birth defects in boys, decreased sperm counts in men, reduced female fertility, and a worsening of allergy and asthma symptoms.
5. CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS (Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Avobenzone, Padimate O)
Chemical sunscreens, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone system. The most common chemical sunscreen, Oxybenzone, has been shown acts like estrogen in the body, alter sperm production in animals, and is associated with endometriosis in women. If you want sun protection in your lip balm, look for ones with Zinc Oxide as the active ingredient. Read more about chemical sunscreens here.
6. PETROLATUM (petroleum jelly, mineral oil):
In recent years the safety of petrolatum (petroleum jelly) in cosmetics has come into question. Because petrolatum is derived from petroleum (oil), it needs to be refined, and some refining methods use toxic compounds. If the petroleum jelly becomes contaminated during the manufacturing process, possible PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and other carcinogenic agents may get into the jelly. PAHs are considered potentially carcinogenic and have links to breast cancer. Any traces of PAHs are supposed to be removed at the end of the refining process. The European Union requires that the full refining history of a product be known and that the manufacturer be able to show that the “substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen.” No such requirements are in place in the US. Another concern with petrolatum is that it creates an airtight barrier on the skin, not allowing for normal “breathing”. This can act as a penetration enhancer, and if your lip balm contains any of the questionable ingredients listed above, absorption into the bloodstream will be increased.
By avoiding these 6 ingredients, you can dramatically decrease the amount of chemicals you put on (and end up in!) your body.
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