When Is a Lip Balm Not Just a Lip Balm?

When Is a Lip Balm Not Just a Lip Balm?

By Ingrid Wood

Who doesn’t love a lip balm? Men, women, adults, kids, rock stars… In fact, most of us probably have a collection of balms – in our desk drawer, handbag, golf bag, in the car, in pockets – that too from a variety of brands. 

But how do you know you’re giving your lips the best care? It boils down to the ingredients. Ever feel like you are constantly reapplying lip balm and your lips just don’t feel better – or feel even drier? That could be because your balm only contains humectants – substances that hydrate the skin by attracting water molecules like a magnet – and no occlusives, which are moisturising agents that create a physical barrier to lock the moisture in the skin, or emollients which soften and soothe. A good lip balm should include humectants (like hyaluronic acid and glycerin), occlusives (like beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil) and emollients (like squalene, mineral oil, vitamin E, and petrolatum).

Keep in mind that lips have no defensive membrane to protect them, no sweat glands or sebaceous (oil) glands. The skin on your lips is also very thin so moisture evaporates easily, which is why lips dry out so often if they are not protected. Always wear lip balm with SPF if you are spending time outdoors in the sun, snow, water or wind. If your lips are extremely chapped, gently exfoliate them using the softest toothbrush or mix a teaspoon of honey with two teaspoons of sugar, massage the mixture into your lips and leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing off. 

And then there’s the reason you are treating your lips in the first place: are you looking to hydrate, soothe, smooth or plump? These are some of our favourite multi-tasking lip treatments:

Sothys Lip Plumping Serum (R1150)

Best for: Those who are looking for an anti-ageing treatment to soften lines around the mouth and plump the lips. If you’re not keen on hyaluronic acid injections, this is the gentle route, which is inspired by lipofilling techniques. 

Key ingredients: Kombucha extract to reduce wrinkles and plump the skin; hyaluronic acid complex which acts like ‘filling spheres’ to plump the lips with moisture from within; and tripeptides which help repair the skin’s support structure.


Sisley Nutritive Lip Balm (R1150)

Best for: Immediate soothing and repairing. It has a deliciously creamy texture which offers instant relief, so is ideal for very dry or chapped lips, while also having a plumping effect.

Key ingredients: Restoring kokum butter; nourishing mango butter and shea oil; plum kernel oil to strengthen the skin barrier; jojoba oil for comfort; an antioxidant blend of sweet white lupin oil and wheat germ oil concentrate; and Padina pavonica extract to moisturise and plump.


Filorga Nutri Filler Lips 3 in1 Nutri Plumping Balm (R469)

Best for: Anyone who prefers an all-in-one solution that will repair, nourish, brighten, plump and protect. It has an oil-plus-balm texture (non-sticky) and comes with a flexible silicone applicator.

Key ingredients: Ricin and soya oils, and shea butter to soothe and nourish; a pro-collagen peptide which gives the plumping effect; and a combination of revitalising and radiance-boosting active ingredients to revive the natural lip colour.

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