What’s in My Lip Balm? The Ugly Truth

What’s in My Lip Balm? The Ugly Truth

Everyone gets dry, chapped lips from time to time. We have a serious lip balm obsession in my house. For years, I picked up a tube here and there, paying no attention to what was in it. We would grab it at the drugstore, in checkout lanes at the grocery store, or toss one on the counter when we are paying for our gas. To be honest, I looked at the flavor and nothing more.

But what is really in it? How could I not pay attention to what we slather on? I’ve learned that many of us do not pay attention to the number of chemicals we are laying right on our lips. Its kind of frustrating that we have to look so closely to what companies are allowed to create in so-called “all-natural” balms. We are ingesting it through our skin, inhaling it as it sits on our mouth, and essentially, we eat some of it naturally when eating food or by licking our lips.

Once I began my own organic skincare company and started to research more of what we put in on our bodies, I was shocked to learn not only what I was using, but also what I allowed my family to use. I had no idea that what we were using was actually toxins.

Lip Balm Ingredients to Look Out For:


Parabens, a hot-button topic in the cosmetic world, are usually one of the first ingredients we discover in lip balms. They’re found as fragrances or flavors in many low-quality lip balms, especially ones marketed towards younger customers. Lip balm ‘tints’, often found in the beauty aisle, are also big culprits for synthetic fragrances that are meant to make the product more ‘tasty’.


Petrolatum, also known as petroleum jelly or mineral oil, is derived from petroleum. Since the process of producing petrolatum often requires the use of synthetic chemicals, the odds of petrolatum becoming contaminated by these toxins are relatively high.

Synthetic Colors

Popular in tinted balms or simply added for visual appeal, synthetic dyes are best to avoid. These no-no colorants are often sourced from heavy metals or coal-tar, a byproduct of our friend above: petroleum. And considering that many common red dyes come from crushed bug carcasses, we’ll take a hard pass.


Another no-no is BHA, used as a preservative in many cosmetics. It’s been shown to have carcinogenic effects in test animals, making it pretty risky for use on your skin or lips. Keep a close eye out for this one (and it’s cousin BHT) – they’re even featured on ingredient lists of some of the ‘healthier’ lip balms, too. Let’s be honest, who wants a carcinogen on their lips?


Lanolin aka wool grease is a build-up that accumulates in sheep’s oil-soaked coat, that hasn’t been cut for a full year. Imagine never showering and living in a steamy room. The greasy build-up in your hair and on your body would be pretty disgusting, right? Now, imagine a sheep in a heavy wool coat going through a similar no-bathing experience. The greasy substance that builds up in the sheep’s coat is lanolin and it’s extracted when the wool is removed from the sheep. The lanolin must be purified to remove dirt, sweat, dust, pollen, fecal matter and pesticides. After the refining process is complete lanolin is added to cosmetics, skin care products and lip care products. Finally, unsuspecting consumers pay to smear the wool grease on their faces.

There are other reasons why you may want to stay away from lanolin:

  • Although lanolin is listed as an approved substance by the EPA, multiple studies have found lanolin samples to contain several types of pesticide residues, some that could accumulate in fat tissue, and some could accumulate in the milk of breast-feeding women. Yes, there are pesticides in lanolin. In the United States,  a total limit of 40 ppm (or mg/kg) total pesticides was set for lanolin for general use, with no individual component limit greater than 10 ppm.
  • Lanolin can also be an allergen. If you or your child has an allergy to wool, do not use lanolin-based cream. Always check with your doctor to verify if a lanolin-based cream is safe for you and your baby.

So What Do These Toxins Do To Our Bodies?

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) Butylated compounds are mainly used as a preservative in lip balms. Health concerns linked to these chemicals include endocrine disruption, organ-system toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer and respiratory irritation. Can I just say that those health concerns are effects of just one or two ingredients — BHA and BHT. There are numerous amounts of other toxic ingredients in many commercial lip balms.

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The Ugly Truth

Many commercial lip balms and glosses contain heavy metals such as lead. Some of these chemicals are nasty. Cadmium, for example, is a carcinogen that has been found in breast cancer biopsies and shown to cause cancer cells to multiply in lab experiments. Metals are often used in mineral dyes, which give lipstick its pigment, and are also often found in soil and groundwater. “Cadmium is a very common contaminant in soil,” says Sharima Rasanayagam, a scientist at the Breast Cancer Fund. “What’s concerning is that consumers don’t know they’re in the lip products.” Ummm….yes, very concerning!

Federally regulated agencies aren’t really regulating what goes into our products here in America. So we have to become more aware of what we are using and advocate for our own health.

The European Union has banned many petroleum jelly products, and experts are concerned they could be linked to cancer. Even popular brands that claim to be “all-natural” really aren’t natural at all.

Go grab your tube of lip balm and see what is in it.

woman with orange petaled flower on her lips

A Breath of Fresh Air

Here is the list of ingredients in our coconut organic lip balm …are you ready?

  1. Organic Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil
  2. Organic Beeswax
  3. Organic, Non-GMO, Fair Trade, African Shea Butter

That’s it. Three all-natural ingredients. And guess what? It works wonders and with no chemicals. Many companies don’t want you to know you can buy truly organic and all-natural lip balms locally or even make it yourself.

Instead of using potentially hazardous preservatives in our lip balms, we use coconut oil to moisturize and organic beeswax as it has antibacterial properties that help to keep things clean and reduces risks of contamination. The organic African Shea butter we use is known to not only lock in moisture for sore lips but also has natural anti-aging properties due to the vitamin K in it. Who wants their lips to have more elasticity? Me too!

Trust me when I say, if I knew years ago what I know now, I would have started this business at Rae Soap Company a long time ago. There is nothing I love more than educating consumers that we can take charge of our health and do it at affordable prices. You can purchase a tube of our lip balm  for just $2.50 and not only will your lips thank you, but it’s very easy on the wallet for an organic lip balm.

Taking back our health naturally, one step at a time!

-XO, Rae Soap Co.


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MMN Wellness Blogger-Teri Socia

Teri Rae Socia

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