A No-Regrets Lip Protectant, Balm, or Gloss
October 21, 2010 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Dear reader: What's a lip balm good for biking that won't hurt my lips over time?

I've recently started biking to/fro work and recreationally at lunch and on the weekends. The first day out I biked about 10 miles and my lips were badly wind-chapped for several days after. (I'm in Boston.) Even after just a short ride out I can feel mild chapping start up. My lips are totally normal/"average", and I drink lots of water, but I'd like to find a chap-preventing lip balm that I can apply ~3 times per day before rides that:
a) won't make my lips shrivel up into peeling layers 30 minutes after I apply it (the story of me and Chapstick)
b) relatedly, I won't get addicted to (ie your lips baseline' health becomes worse after repeated use) if I step up use (like before bed)
c) goes on without mess, without needing a tissue to wipe my finger.
d) won't break the bank. even the piggy bank. drugstore availability.
e) durability/lastingness - must not absorb/vanish quickly (more of a problem with glosses)
f) sunblock would be nice.

I have searched several threads on here, but the comments are full of personal recommendations without mention of qualifications.

What have you got for me that has withstood similar tests?

Extra credit question: Are wax- and petroleum-based balms more likely to cause shriveling and/or addiction?
posted by mostlybecky to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I like:
-Burt's Bees beeswax lip balm
-Blistex Complete Moisture (one in the darker blue tube, I've tried some of the other Blistex and didn't like it)

I think the Blistex feels nicer, but I think the Burt's Bees would be less likely to make you dependent on using it as it is less moisture-giving and more protection-providing.
posted by Diplodocus at 12:15 PM on October 21, 2010

I like Blistex Lip Infusion.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:15 PM on October 21, 2010

I was going to come in here and say stay away from Blistex, as for me the instant I stop using it, my lips would become 100x worse than before I ever used it at all, and I was going to recommend the black sticks of chapstick (not medicated or flavored or anything), as they basically just put a layer of protection on your lips, but apparently that didn't work for you. What type of chapstick were you using? My experience has led me to stay very far away from any "medicated" chapsticks.

Maybe Burt's Bees chapstick? Though I'm not a big fan of the flavor on them, I prefer my chapstick to be flavorless.
posted by Grither at 12:16 PM on October 21, 2010

Sorry, I see you wanted to see more qualifications. For my recommendation, my qualifications are using them everyday for 6+ months while I was on accutane as a teenager (a medication that makes your lips EXTREMELY dry as a side effect).
posted by Diplodocus at 12:16 PM on October 21, 2010

Have you tried Burt's Bees lip balms (there's the standard peppermint one, a honey one, and then some other ones like mango butter [my favorite])? They are beeswax-based with natural oils (rather than petroleum-based, blech), last a long time, and although they feel kind of thick/sticky at first, after you get used to the more substantial consistency, they feel a lot more normal and don't end up drying lips out. I also really like Alba lip balms--same deal but a little less thick going on.
posted by so_gracefully at 12:17 PM on October 21, 2010

I liked the Chicken Poop outdoor stick.

My current favorite is Chicago Honey Co-op's lip balm. All natural ingredients, goes on smooth and I haven't had any moisture sucking problems. The only shot against it is it isn't SPF.
posted by bibliogrrl at 12:19 PM on October 21, 2010

Best answer: You never really need a tissue to wipe your finger- just rub the extra little bit of lip balm remaining on your finger into some dry skin on your body. For instance: knuckles, web of skin between thumb and index finger, elbow, ankle bone, cuticles.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:25 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's lanolin that causes lip balm "addiction." Most of the Burt's Bee lip products have lanolin. Personally, I like Badger Balm.
posted by lunalaguna at 12:27 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

For qualifications, Badger Balm lasts like crazy, and their sunscreens have consistently been rated some of the best performing. Also, I have seen Badger Balm at CVS and Walgreen's.
posted by lunalaguna at 12:31 PM on October 21, 2010

Best answer: Chapstick and many Burt's Bees lip balms, being mainly wax, are only occlusives: they cover the lips but don't penetrate or really protect. You need something with oils and essential fatty acids. Shea butter is great, and it's pretty cheap to get a larger tub to have some around for hands and lips. Other ingredients to look for: hemp oil, avocado oil, cocoa butter, etc.

For drugstore availability, there should be some at "regular" stores, but I have the best luck at natural foods coops and places like Whole Foods. The kind that I get, like, eight of (because I keep losing them) is made by Dr. Bronner's (yes, that Dr. Bronner -- I think they bought the original company that made them) and is great for the value. I like the naked and the orange ginger the best. Trillium Organics also makes a nice shea butter in various fragrances. It gets a little melty if it's in your pocket all the time, but that's no big thang.

Badger Lip Balm seems to make a similar product with sunblock.

Peppermint anything (as much as I used to love my Softlips) can be very irritating to tender, broken skin, so I would avoid it.
posted by Madamina at 12:32 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

+1 for Burt's Bees. I absolutely LOVE it. Does no harm to my lips...all natural ingredients.
I pick at my lips a lot...habit..stress..who knows. But, this is the best lip balm that I've used when it comes to 1) alleviating the pain of chapped lips, 2) healing them, and 3) protecting them from future problems.

(select Beeswax Lip Balm)
posted by Yunani at 12:54 PM on October 21, 2010

I like Weleda lip balm

I used to like Burts Bees, until I found this stuff. It is great.
posted by chocolatetiara at 12:58 PM on October 21, 2010

I'm a recent convert to Nivea Lip Care. It's not at all waxy like most all traditional lip balms, and just feels amazing on my lips. There are several varieties, and I think all of them have some SPF, then there is one with 30 SPF.
posted by kimdog at 1:00 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's another for Badger Balm, specifically their cocoa butter line and their SPF 15 balm. The SPF stuff meets all your requirements (except perhaps d, but I think they're getting more drug-store distribution lately and they're certainly stocked at Whole Foods and other health-food-type stores).

I've used a lot of lip balms over the years and I've found that most of them irritate my lips. That even goes for hippie-dippie balms like Burt's Bees. Even "natural" ingredients can be irritants -- yeah, I'm lookin' at you, peppermint. I suppose some people like the irritants, since they can make your lips look plumper and redder, but I personally hate having to reapply my lip balm every six minutes.

Badger Balm is simply great -- effective, long-lasting, non-addictive, non-irritating, and smells and tastes delicious.
posted by ourobouros at 1:07 PM on October 21, 2010

I use Trader Johann's Virtuoso Lip Balm from Trader Joe's.

Let me explain why.

I've played trumpet for nearly 35 years and a decent lip balm is a necessity in cold areas. I tried Chapstick when I was young and found that even kept in your pocket, it doesn't spread all that easily and it contains lanolin which makes your lips swell a tiny bit. I found that I couldn't play nearly as well after applying Chapstick earlier.

The TJ's balm doesn't do this. I can play immediately after applying it.

It's a mix that is somewhat soft and spreads wonderfully when kept in your pocket. The sunscreen ingredients are PABA free (some people have trouble with Padimate O, especially on lips).

I find the spearmint flavor to be unobtrusive, and Mrs. Plinth quite enjoys it second hand.

In sum:
  • goes on easy
  • works
  • decent ingredients
  • doesn't interfere with trumpet
  • encourages nookie

posted by plinth at 1:15 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Burt's Bees works for me for biking in cold, windy winters.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on October 21, 2010

burt's bees is pretty good, but nothing's worked as well for me as kiehl's lip balm #1. it's a bit pricey but totally worth it: goes on easy, not too greasy, lasts a long time, doesn't screw your lips up if you don't use it for a while, has spf. there's a slightly more expensive version that's 2pf 15, and one that has flavors (i love the cranberry best). punch a hole in the bit at the bottom, put some string in it and you can keep it around your neck when you bike or on a key ring. my lips are always perfectly kissable, even in the dead of winter.
posted by lia at 1:30 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I use Lizard Lips. SPF 22, comes in a tube, nice ingredients, goes on easy. Got mine at the local Big Chain Drugstore.

It matches all of your requirements, with the possible exception of (e) - I simply haven't spent enough time in the wind and rain to know. It is cheap, though, and effective enough that only once or twice daily application has done wonders for what were bloody, peeling lips. Nor have I noticed any "withdrawal" signs.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 1:51 PM on October 21, 2010

I think lia meant to link here, though I hope she has fun on her train trip!
posted by rachaelfaith at 1:57 PM on October 21, 2010

eeep, thanks for the catch, rachaelfaith!
posted by lia at 2:05 PM on October 21, 2010

I fully recommend Comfort Stick. I must disclaim that I actually make the stuff on my stove! If you would send me a metafilter message, I will send you a free sample because anyone who tries it, loves it. It is available at Comfortstick.com.

Unlike some others here, I believe the Chapstick "addiction" is caused by camphor which initially soothes the lips but then actually leaves them dryer than before the balm was applied, causing you to need more and more product. . The problem with lanolin is that it is derived from sheep and so if you have a wool sensitivity, you may also have problems with lanolin.

My Comfort Sticks are hypo-allergenic and have pure ingredients. It is a combination of pure organic cocoabutter and other emollients. It relieves and heals dry skin anywhere on the body and it is not addictive.

I am sorry I had to post; I am passionate about this issue. There is nothing else like Comfort Stick. If you apply it at night, you will be "cured" in the morning!
posted by nancymc8 at 2:05 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's the deal on ingredients:

Waxes are fine -they are what hold the balm together and gives it texture. Beeswax is fine/great.

Petroleum-based balms are bad. Avoid. They are what I find causes 'addiction'. Carmex also has chemically exfoliating ingredients, great for clearing up existing chapping but not what you want in the long run.

You want something with good moisturizing oils - cocoa butter is a favorite of mine, but others (shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc...)

In fact, (this is waht I do) melting down oils and some beeswax on your stove is the hands down easiest thing ever. So if you go through it fast, try that. I love my balms - start here if you're interested.

Castor oil makes a balm into a gloss that I find lasts pretty long. So add that too if you like.

Brands? I've heard great things about crazy rumors. Chaptastic(now defunct but a good resource) loves them. But that's not local either.

Etsy is awesome for lip balm. Again, not local. But ah-ma-zing balms on there.

Locally? I think that eos (sphere shaped) balm at walgreens and places is petroleum-free and made with the sorts of oils I like, but I've never tried it.
posted by R a c h e l at 3:53 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I stand by Scab Dab by Zum. You can put this on everything from chapped lips to mild burns. I often use it like a natural alternative to Neosporin - it doesn't numb the area, but heals it very quickly.

It contains: Certified Organic Sunflower Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Certified Organic Rosehip Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Shea Butter, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Balsam Peru and other Essential Oils, and Certified Organic Extracts of Calendula, Asparagus, Gotu Kola and Passion Fruit.
posted by DisreputableDog at 4:40 PM on October 21, 2010

I have allergies that often result in me breathing through my mouth during the night and waking up with chapped lips. I happened to have some Burt's Bees Lifeguard's Choice Lip Balm around for some reason, and used that. It goes on thick and your lips will look a weird purplish-white shade, but it lasts. Not sure about "addictive" properties.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:55 PM on October 21, 2010

I've just started using Yes to Carrots (SPF 15; no lanolin, no vitamin E--the latter two are both common causes of contact dermatitis according to my dermatologist and the ADA--that's the best I can do on qualifications). There's another hippie brand that is similar and has SPF 8. CVS is a good source for this kind of thing if they have CVS where you are.
posted by wintersweet at 5:05 PM on October 21, 2010

Just came in to mention/nth Nivea's lip care line. I really like it.
posted by asciident at 8:06 PM on October 21, 2010

Best answer: The biggest difference I've seen comes from remembering not to lick my lips. No matter what lip balm I use, if I'm licking my lips a lot, they end up chapped.
posted by lorimt at 8:36 PM on October 21, 2010

I have a ton of allergies and so can't use things like Badger and Burt's. There's a line from Chapstick called 100% Naturals, that while initially might look like it's cashing in on the natural cosmetics craze, contains mainly oils and waxes, with a little bit of vitamin E added. It doesn't have any sunscreen. It can easily be found at Target and drugstores like Walgreen's. Sometimes I go days without using it, and when I do use it, it usually lasts a 3-4 hours at least.

I don't bike but I do hike and walk to work, so I'm out in the weather a lot. It's not Boston weather tho.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:46 PM on October 21, 2010

I'm a lip balm addict, and, though I like Burt's Bees, I love Lip Rescue from Desert Essence.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:51 AM on October 22, 2010

Blistex. Esp if your lips are already a bit cracked and chapped.
posted by poissonrouge at 9:25 AM on October 23, 2010

Response by poster: I came back to say how ridiculously awesome cocoa butter Badger Balm has turned out to be. I would have NEVER discovered this miracle had I not asked...thank you guys! I truly encourage everyone to try it. I also have tried and like Burt's Bees since asking, although if I put it on before the bike ride to work at 9 and then reapply around 11 or something, my lips do shrivel a bit and threaten to peel. Most of the time it's fine to apply once a day, and certainly is better than Chapstick. But I have had zero problems with Badger Balm, I can apply however often I want. It's a fat ol' tube of yellow stuff, though, so sometimes when I over-enthusiastically apply (it's absurdly delicious), I get a faint yellow ring around my lips.

Also, it shows a badger waving a magic wand. Isn't that enough? :)
posted by mostlybecky at 3:04 PM on December 6, 2010

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