Lip Balm and SPF

A friend of G&G, Kim, recently asked me about lip balms in general, our lip balms and her search for the perfect lip balm that is green, reasonably priced and has an SPF. Kim mentioned that she has very dry lips and that finding a lip balm that could keep her lips moisturized was an issue. She was also concerned about sunscreen in her lip balm because Kim is very fair.

The first part of our convo went something like this: Kim…first of all, make sure that whatever product you are buying doesn’t have petrolatum (aka: petroleum jelly, Vaseline, etc.) in it. I once read that the average woman eats about six-pounds of lipstick a year. It’s bound to happen what with all the lip-licking one does…but do you really want to be eating six pounds of gasoline by-product? Make sure your lip products only have ingredients in them that you don’t mind ingesting, because you will! The other bad thing about petroleum jelly is that it actually inhibits your skin from providing its own moisture which is why you constantly need to reapply it. (see our blog on ingredients to avoid for more on this.)

Secondly, I told Kim that I too have very dry lips and in my personal experience, the lip balms that work best for me are the ones that contain beeswax mixed with some sort of plant oils. I have yet to find a vegan lip balm that works for me (and believe me, I’ve tried a ton and will keep looking.) I think that beeswax gives lip balms more staying power which gives the emollients time to work their way into your skin.

Thirdly, the jury is out on the value of SPF in lip balm. I spoke to a lip balm manufacturer with whom I work and I asked him why his fantabulous lip balm does not have SPF. He said that the first reason is that their product has jojoba oil in it which is a natural sunscreen. Although this is information I have long known, I have not been able to find the scientific reasons. If you are an SPF freak like me (I ALWAYS wear sunscreen) you know that there are two types of sunscreens: chemical and particle.

Chemical sunscreens are the ones I avoid with the long names that you have no idea what they are. I don’t understand how they work personally. Particle sunscreens act like physical shields that reflect light (easy enough to understand) and they are made up usually of zinc oxide or titanium oxide. We only use products that have particle sunscreens. One caveat, there is disagreement over the dangers of “micronized” particle sunscreens. The basic argument is that the great thing about particle sunscreens is that they sit ON your skin and are not absorbed. However, no one likes to look like a pasty ghost and so “micronized” zinc and titanium oxides have become more popular because they blend into your skin more. Concerns have been raised that if the particles are too small they get absorbed into the skin in amounts that are not healthy for humans. I’ll keep you updated on this, but just keep this in mind. The more blendable the particle sunscreen, the more likely you might be absorbing some of it.

I don’t get where jojoba oil falls in terms of being a chemical or particle sunscreen but I’m assuming it’s a chemical sunscreen, however, since it’s just jojoba oil it’s not toxic. I also don’t know the SPF of jojoba. I’m working on getting this information from a jojoba expert. Back to my lip balm guy…he also said that they don’t want to add any chemical OR particle sunscreens to their lip balm because they don’t think people should eat that stuff. Given what I said about 6-pounds a year, I think that makes sense too.

Any of the four lip balms we carry are very emollient. Chicken Poop and Magic Touch Diaper and Lip Balm (good for babies butt AND lips) have jojoba oil in them (and therefore natural SPF.) Magic Touch is vegan.

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