What is Chapstick Made of and Why Does it Work?

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It’s the middle of winter and between the dry, biting wind outside and heaters inside, your lips are chapped. Like most people, you’ve probably gone through lots of Chapstick, but have you ever wondered why it works? Let’s take a look at the chemistry of lip balm.

Chapstick is made mostly of wax, with camphor, petrolatum and menthol mixed in for that tingly, slight-numbing feeling. What keeps your lips moist is the wax. By creating a waterproof layer over your lips, wax prevents too much moisture from evaporating. There are certain brands of lip balm that actually dry out your lips, causing you to use more and more over time.

While most brands of lip balm aren’t chemically addicting, they can be psychologically addicting. We all know or know of someone who obsessively puts on Chapstick throughout the day. To not fall into this cycle, make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Staying hydrated on the inside is just as effective, if not more effective, than using Chapstick. 

For people who are allergic to Chapstick, the most hypoallergenic product to use as a substitute is petroleum jelly. Make sure to purchase the non-scented kind and apply it to your lips when you’re sleeping at night. If you live somewhere up North, you know that your lips dry out the most at night. Another option is to buy a humidifier for your bedroom so you’re less reliant on lip balm.

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