My Lips Were Chapped, Dry & Picked Raw — Until This Balm Came To My Rescue
My childhood smells of a medicated lip balm—musky, slightly honeyed, with a hint of camphor not unlike a Vick's VapoRub. I've been a lip picker since, well, forever, so the sunny-yellow tin (you know the one) is practically the emblem of my upbringing.
In other words: I'm no stranger to lip balm. And now, because of my job, I test quite a lot of them. Rarely will you ever find me heading to bed without a lip mask glossing my pout. The issue was not getting me on board with lip care—who doesn't want their lips to feel soft and supple?—it was finding a daily staple that actually put in the work. See, those thick, occlusive, healing ointments have their place (and certainly are needed from time to time). But I was looking for a hydrating balm that I could rely on for regular use, feeding my lips moisture and nutrients for the long run.
Allow me to introduce you to my new everyday staple.
My lips: Dry and perennially chapped.
I'm fully aware of how harmful lip picking can be down the road: The thin skin is especially delicate and prone to scarring, discoloration, and the like—despite knowing this down to my skin-care-smitten core, lip picking is a difficult habit to kick, and a common one at that.
"Picking is a self-regulating behavior—it stimulates us when we are bored or sedentary (watching TV, at the computer, talking on the phone) and calms us when we are overstimulated (whether by negative emotions or stress, or positive excitement)," says Jennifer Raikes, executive director of the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors about picking your cuticles. I'd consider myself a member of both clubs—for me, it's a mindless and stress-induced instinct—and it only gets worse during the winter when my lips are even more prone to chapping.
Of course, part of the solution is to monitor my picking habits and manage those feelings of stress (I'm working on it), but keeping my lips aptly hydrated is another very crucial step. Those dry flecks of skin are what make the picking so satisfying, after all. Without much to tear at, I feel less inclined to stick to the skin-prodding habit; it's easier to find other methods to keep my hands busy without any stray bits of skin taunting my fingertips.
That brings me to another dilemma: Truly hydrating the lips takes a special kind of formula, one that I had yet to find. Many of the standard lip balms I test include cooling ingredients—like menthol, camphor, and peppermint—for a soothing sensation, but these can evaporate quickly and lead to more dryness down the road. Similarly, salves that only include humectants (which effectively draw water into your thirsty lips) can easily evaporate without any occlusives to trap in the moisture, which also leaves your lips drier than they were before.
A winning lip balm needs an array of humectants, emollients, and occlusives—so it can pull in water, build up the skin barrier, and trap in all that precious moisture—without any potential irritants for sensitive lips. And mindbodygreen's lip balm trumps on all fronts. Hyaluronic acid helps plump the lips with moisture, like how a dry sponge instantly rises underwater; we chose sodium hyaluronate (a salt form of HA), as it has a low molecular weight and can penetrate even deeper into the skin.
For the emollients, you'll find shea and cocoa seed butters to smooth out any cracked, rough areas. There's moringa seed oil to feed your skin barrier with antioxidants and fatty acids, thus keeping the lips supple. And, finally, sunflower seed wax provides a protective barrier over the skin without a too-sticky texture. Not only is it a high-quality vegan alternative to beeswax, but sunflower seed wax also leaves a very slight glaze on your pout for the perfect satin-like finish.
When I uncap the tube and glide it on, it smooths on oh-so-effortlessly. Our beauty director Alexandra Engler described the application like "wrapping yourself in a cashmere blanket," and honestly? I couldn't agree more: It's like this lip balm has a luxurious thread count of 1,000.
But back to the million-dollar question: Does it work? Since testing this balm, my lips feel comfortable and nourished—and without any irresistible flakes for me to tear off, I've noticed my picking habit actually start to ebb. This lack of self-surgery coupled with the balm's natural skin-softening abilities have allowed my lips to truly heal. Never before has the skin felt so plush, supple, and even.
I still carry a lip balm with me at all times (let the childhood emblems live on), but instead of that original yellow tin, mindbodygreen's sleek white tube has become my go-to staple. The application is so good, I've developed a tendency to continuously reapply throughout the day, just to revel in that buttery slip. Take it from me: There are worse skin care habits to have.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.