My youth smelled like Vick’s VapoRub, a medicated lip balm that was musky, somewhat honeyed, and had a tinge of camphor. I’ve been a lip picker since the beginning of time, so the sunny-yellow tin (you know the one) is essentially a symbol of my upbringing.
To put it another way, I’m not a stranger to lip balm. And now, as part of my employment, I am required to test a large number of them. You’ll rarely find me going to bed without a lip mask glistening on my lips. It wasn’t so much getting me on board with lip care—who doesn’t want smooth, supple lips?—as it was finding a formula that actually worked rather than just coating the skin in a jelly-doughnut glaze. I have discovered a balm that is so effective that all other treatments pale in comparison. Allow me to introduce you to a new essential in my daily routine.
My lips are always chapped and dry.
Despite knowing how damaging lip picking may be down the road—the thin skin is very delicate and prone to scarring, discolouration, and the like—lip picking is a difficult habit to break, and a prevalent one at that.
Picking your cuticles is a self-regulating behaviour that stimulates us when we are bored or sedentary (watching TV, at the computer, on the phone) and calms us when we are overstimulated (whether by negative emotions or stress, or positive excitement), according to Jennifer Raikes, executive director of the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors. I’m a member of both clubs—a it’s mindless, stress-induced impulse for me—and it only gets worse throughout the winter, when my lips are more prone to chapping.
Of course, part of the solution is to keep track of my picking habits and manage my stress levels (which I’m working on), but keeping my lips well moisturised is also essential. After all, it’s those dry specks of skin that make plucking so pleasurable. I’m less likely to continue prodding my skin now that there’s nothing to tear at; it’s easier to find other ways to keep my hands occupied without any stray bits of skin tantalising my fingertips.
That brings me to another conundrum: truly moisturising the lips necessitates a unique formula, which I had yet to discover. For a calming sensation, several of the lip treatments I test include cooling substances like menthol, camphor, and peppermint, but they can dissipate fast and lead to increased dryness in the long run. Similarly, without any occlusives to hold in the moisture, salves that simply contain humectants (which effectively suck water into your parched lips) can readily evaporate, leaving your lips drier than before.
A good lip balm should contain a variety of humectants, emollients, and occlusives to draw in water, build up the skin barrier, and lock in all that moisture without causing irritation to sensitive lips. And mindbodygreen’s lip balm wins on every level. We picked sodium hyaluronate (a salt version of HA) because it has a low molecular weight and can penetrate even deeper into the skin. Hyaluronic acid helps plump the lips with moisture, similar to how a dry sponge rises rapidly underwater.
Shea and cocoa seed butters are used as emollients to smooth out any cracked or rough regions. Moringa seed oil provides antioxidants and fatty acids to your skin barrier, keeping your lips moist. Finally, sunflower seed wax creates a protective layer over the skin that isn’t too sticky. Not only is sunflower seed wax a high-quality vegan alternative to beeswax, but it also leaves a thin shine on your pout for a satin-like finish.
It glides on effortlessly when I uncap the tube and glide it on. Alexandra Engler, our beauty director, compared the application to “folding yourself in a cashmere blanket,” and who can blame her? I completely agree: It’s as though this lip balm had a thousand thread count.
But let’s return to the million-dollar question: Does it work? My lips have felt comfortable and nourished since using this balm, and without any irresistible flakes to peel off, I’ve observed that my picking habit has begun to fade. My lips have actually healed thanks to the lack of self-surgery and the balm’s natural skin-softening abilities. Never before has the skin felt as soft, supple, and even as it does now.