Together with the eyelids, the lips are the thinnest part of our facial skin and need extra attention. Lip care is even more important for those whose lips are particularly sensitive to certain ingredients and external aggressors, which can result in painful allergic reactions when using inappropriate lip products.
The search for a holy grail lip balm that is not only moisturising, but also safe for sensitive lips is a difficult one, but you’ve got us! We have gathered here everything you need to know about lip balms for sensitive lips: from how to tell if your lips are sensitive, what ingredients to avoid, to the best sensitive skin-friendly lip balms that you should try right now.
Signs that your lips are sensitive
If you are reading this article, chances are you are already experiencing one or more of the following symptoms of sensitive lips:
- tingling or burning sensation
The degree to which you experience one or more of the above symptoms depends on how sensitive your lips are and how strong the trigger is.
Lip balms for sensitive lips: causes of lip sensitivity
The lips are among the thinnest part of our skin, with only three to five cellular layers compared to 16 layers in other parts of our body. The outer layer itself, scientifically known as the stratum corneum, is also extremely thin, making it softer and also more vulnerable to external aggressors.
Another reason lips are more sensitive is the lack of sebaceous glands, which produce sebum to moisturise the skin. Without sebum, the lips are more likely to be dry and chapped.
Lip sensitivity can be categorised into two types, depending on whether the trigger is external irritants or allergens.
Irritant contact cheilitis
Irritant contact cheilitis is caused by external irritants such as cosmetics, environmental factors, or the physical act of lip licking and peeling.
Exposure to extreme weather conditions such as coldness, heat, wind, low humidity for a prolonged period of time can draw moisture away from the lips and result in dryness and flakiness.
Allergic contact cheilitis
Allergic contact cheilitis is caused by a hypersensitivity reaction to an allergen and usually leads to lip inflammation. Common allergens include lip cosmetics (lipstick, lip balms, etc.), medications, oral hygiene products and food.
Lip balms for sensitive lips: what ingredients should you look out for?
Many people with sensitive lips turn to lip balms as a quick solution for lip dryness. However, sometimes ingredients in lip balms can worsen the conditions, making the lips dryer or causing allergic reactions.
Different people with have different triggering ingredients, however, some of the more common allergens and triggering ingredients in lip balms include:
- petroleum jelly
- mineral oils
This is not to say that you need to avoid all lip balms containing any of the above ingredients. You might have allergic reactions to some of them while being completely fine with others. That’s why it’s important to find out what triggers reactions in your lips so you know exactly which products to avoid.
Lip balms for sensitive lips: recommendations
1. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy
If you are a fan of First Aid Beauty’s best selling moisturiser Ultra Repair Cream, you will most likely love this lip balm. it is infused with the same effective healing and moisturising properties to repair dry, chapped lips, with a semi-matte finish that makes it wearable under lipstick.
The lip balm is formulated without potential triggering ingredients such as mineral oil, alcohol, artificial fragrance, parabens and petrolatum. It has also been allergy-tested to be suitable for sensitive skin.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy retails for SGD20, available at Sephora.
2. La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Levres
Sensitive lips often have a weakened epidermis, the outer layer that protects them from environmental damage. That’s why the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Levres is particularly suitable for those with sensitive lips as it aims to sooth, protect and repair the lips’ epidermis.
It contains 5% Panthenol to draw in moisture from the environment and MP-lipids to repair the lips’ natural barrier to prevent moisture loss.
As with all La Roche-Posay products, the Cicaplast Levres is allergy-tested and safe for sensitive skin.
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Levres retails for SGD16.90, available at Guardian.
3. L’Occitane Shea Ultra Rich Lip Balm
L’Occitane is well-loved for their intensely moisturising shea butter products and the Shea Ultra Rich Lip Balm is no exception. Enriched with 10% shea butter, this lip balm not only feels luxurious but actually penetrates your lips to nourish them from the inside.
Shea butter also acts as an effective occlusive to seal in the moisture and prevent your lips from drying out under harsh weather conditions such as outdoor heat, wind or air-conditioned environments.
L’Occitane Shea Ultra Rich Lip Balm retails for SGD16, available at all L’Occitane stores islandwide.
4. Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1
Just as its name suggests, Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 is one of the brand’s best-sellers since 1969 and its popularity is no accident.
Its trio of powerhouse ingredients include squalane, an antioxidant that strengthens the lip’s moisture barrier, lanolin to soften and heal damaged skin, as well as vitamin E to provide anti-ageing properties to your lips.
This classic lip balm is free of sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, mineral oil and contains less than one percent of synthetic fragrances.
Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 retails for SGD17, available at all Kiehl’s stores islandwide.
5. Eau Thermale Avenè Cold Cream Lip Balm
Cold Cream is Avenè’s product line specially formulated for sensitive skin to repair the hydrolipidic film that protect the skin against external aggressors.
The Cold Cream Lip Balm contains the unique Avène Thermal Spring Water to provide an instant boost of hydration, beeswax to soften and nourish the lips, as well as pharmaceutical-grade mineral oils to lock in the moisture.
Eau Thermale Avenè Cold Cream Lip Balm retails for SGD18.30, available at Watsons.
6. Eucerin pH5 Lip Active
With a gentle yet effective formula and sun protection of SPF15, Eucerin pH5 Lip Active is a sensitive-skin girl’s best friend. Key ingredients include vitamin E to protect the lips against free radical damage, and panthenol to soften the lips while alleviating redness and irritation.
The fragrance-free formula makes it ideal for sensitive lips as well as people with perfume allergies.
Eucerin pH5 Lip Active retails for SGD9.90, available at Guardian.
7. Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm
Treat your lips to a mini spa session every time you apply this Hydra-Essentiel Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm from Clarins.
Formulated with the unique combination of Blue Lotus Wax and cocoa extract to sooth and nourish damaged lips, this intensely moisturising lip balm instantly plump up your lips and keep them soft all day long.
Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm retails for SGD36, available at all Clarins stores islandwide.
8. Sebamed Lip Defence SPF30
At just SGD7.40, this affordable lip balm from Sebamed packs a powerful punch with three levels of protection for your lips. Jojoba oil softens and nourishes the lips, vitamin E and chamomile extract prevent free radical damage, and lastly, SPF30 provides sun protection.
The lip balm is also dermatologically and clinically tested for sensitive skin.
9. QV Lip Balm
Those with sensitive and eczema-prone skin perhaps are no stranger to QV’s range of body care products specifically formulated for this finicky skin type. But did you know they had a lip balm, too?
This fuss-free yet effective lip balm provides dry, sensitive lips with long-lasting moisture as well as broad spectrum SPF30 protection from sun exposure.
It is also free of fragrance, colour, lanolin, PABA and propylene glycol so as to avoid irritating or causing allergic reactions to your lips.
QV Lip Balm retails for SGD7.45, available at Watsons.
10. Smith’s Rosebud Salve
Most of us are familiar with the classic Rosebud Salve that comes in a tin. Now you can get the same moisturising and healing formula in a convenient tube.
This balm is a multipurpose moisturiser, so you can use it on your lips as well as elbows or knees to relieve dryness.
It is formulated without potentially triggering ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes and mineral oils so it’s less likely to cause inflammation or irritation to sensitive lips.
Rosebud Salve retails for SGD9.87, available on Amazon.
11. Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm
If you are looking for a lip balm made from natural ingredients, this Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm is the one for you! Infused with a trio of ultra nourishing butters: Kokum, Shea and Cocoa, this lip balm is clinically proven to offer four hours of long-lasting moisturisation.
This lip balm is free of parabens, phthlates, petrochemicals, added fragrances and flavours. It is also clinically tested to be hypoallergenic.
Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm retails for SGD11, available at Sephora.
12. Lanolips 101 Oilment
Some people opt to avoid petroleum-based lip balms as their sensitive lips react badly to this occlusive ingredient. If you are one of them, you might want to give the Lanolips 101 Oilment a try.
Instead of petroleum jelly, this cult classic lip balm uses ultra-medical grade lanolin to repair the lips’ natural barrier and soften dry, chapped lips.
You can also use this on cuticles, elbows, dry skin patches and as nipple cream for nursing mothers.
Lanolips 101 Oilment retails for SGD24, available on Shopee.
13. Supergoop! Shine On Lip Screen SPF50
Harsh sunlight is one of sensitive lips’ worst enemies. That’s why you will need this Supergoop! Shine On Lip Screen SPF50 if you will be spending an extended amount of time under the sun, such as during beach holidays.
Offering one of the highest broad spectrum SPF protection among all the lip balms on the market, this lip balm will protect your lips against damage from both UVA and UVB such as sunburn, sun spots and even skin cancer.
Supergoop! Shine On Lip Screen SPF50 retails for SGD32, available at Sephora.
14. Bioderma Atoderm Levres Moisturising Stick
Bioderma is another French brand with products formulated to be effective yet gentle on sensitive skin. The Bioderma Atoderm Levres Moisturising Stick is ultra moisturising with shea butter and avocado oil to nourish and soften the lips while laminaria (seaweed extract) repairs the lips’ protective barrier.
It is formulated without parabens, allergens and preservatives, suitable for sensitive skin.
15. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Advanced Therapy
If you are looking for a sensitive skin-friendly lip balm that does more than just moisturising, the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Advanced Therapy is the one for you.
Besides sugar that acts as a natural humectant to draw in moisture, this lip balm contains sea fennel to smooth out lip wrinkles and orange extract to fight against free radical damage. The hyaluronic acid in the formula keeps your lips plump and hydrated, suitable to be used both as an overnight treatment and underneath lipstick during the day.
Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Advanced Therapy retails for SGD39, available at Sephora.
16. Caudalie Lip Conditioner
The Caudalie Lip Conditioner is the ultimate lip care solution for anyone looking for a natural lip balm free of harmful chemicals. It is formulated with 99% naturally-derived ingredients, and is free of parabens, phenoxyethanol, phthalates or mineral oils, like all of Caudalie’s products.
The key ingredients are nourishing grape seed oil and grape polyphenols to provide antioxidant benefits to the lips, keeping them soft and supple while preventing premature signs of ageing.
Caudalie Lip Conditioner retails for SGD , available at Sephora.