Does Chapstick Make Your Lips More Chapped?

Sounds crazy right? Why would a product have the opposite effect of its intended use? Well it many not be as ludicrous as it seems. Chapstick companies make more money when you have chapped lips, so why fix the problem?

According to Caitlin Covington of, applying lip balm to ones lips only temporarily soothes them but had a negative effect on your lip’s health in the long run. The lip balm interferes with the signaling between the dying cells and the mechanism that produces new healthy cells. As a result, the lips are prevented from replenishing the cells and healing your chapped lips. This makes the chapped lips worse causing you to again apply chapstick. This process repeats over and over and your lips become more chapped than they were before you started using the product.


Dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD blames the negative effects of chapstick on hyaluronic acid and glycerin, both common ingredients in products for chapped lips. These chemicals draw moisture away from the skin. While she claims that these ingredients can be effective alongside other chemicals that prevent water loss, she recommends to never use chapstick that don’t also include occlusive agent. These are often only found in medicated or high end lip balms.

Dry climates, altitude, and many other factors can chap your lips, but your body is built to heal on its own. Unless your chapstick is medicated or contains an occlusive agent like beeswax or shea butter, you are better off leaving them alone. Using chapstick without these agents is no better than licking your lips and can cause health problems rather than solutions.


Don’t have access or the funds to purchase this pricey lip balm? has some other solutions. The first is staying hydrated. Through my research, I’ve discovered this is pretty much the #1 thing on every dermatologists lists. Other advice includes using a humidifier and using sugar to exfoliate the lips. As well as avoiding lip balms, they also recommend staying away from lipstick and gum.

As this dry winter weather approaches, I hope this will be a helpful guide. Do you have any personal stories that support or refute my findings? Let me know in the comments below.

Yes, Lip Balm Is Making Your Chapped Lips Worse—Here’s Why

5 thoughts on “Does Chapstick Make Your Lips More Chapped?

  1. Alexandra Kaminsky

    I always carry chapstick around with me because my lips get very dry in the winter. I like your post, however, I would like to see a study (observational or experimental) that can prove to me that chapstick can be harmful to your lips in the long run.

  2. Tyler Mitchell Azar

    This was an interesting blog that I was surprised to read. It seems shocking that chapstick would have the opposite effect of what its purpose is, and yet that’s exactly what is happening. I did some further reading online and found out this phenomenon is called a paradoxical reaction. Other examples of this include antidepressants possibly causing suicidal tendencies and antibiotics making someone sicker. It was very interesting to learn about and I’m glad I got the chance. Good blog

  3. Sarah Elizabeth Read

    I have always found that chapstick only works temporarily for me. I don’t necessarily find that it dries my lips out, but I wouldn’t say that it significantly helps me in the long run. As simple as it sounds, the best solution I’ve found to solve the ever-looming problem of chapped lips (especially in the winter) is to continuously be drinking water throughout the day. This is something that I’m not great at doing consistently, but it’s something that makes the difference in the hydration of my skin and lips. Something that my sister introduced to me is using shea butter in place of chapstick. Not only is it hydrating for your skin and lips, but it’s natural too! Here’s an article that I think you’d find interesting about shea butter and some of it’s other benefits!

  4. Elsa Breakey

    With the weather changing this time of year, it’s inevitable that my lips are always chapped yet I am constantly applying chapstick. I have tried to use medicated chapstick such as Carmex, along with Vaseline brand and Burts Bees, but I still haven’t had any luck keeping my lips replenished. My friend uses the acne medication Accutane which tends to dry out your face and lips terribly. She uses Dr. Dans Cortibalm which leaves an AWFUL taste in your mouth – but it really does the job of keeping your lips hydrated.

  5. Lauren Elizabeth Jardine

    Over the summer I worked for a small company that made body products including lip butters. I actually worked with the creator and mixed the lip butters myself. We only used essential oils and shea butter and I can definitely say that their product works better for me than any other chapstick and doesn’t make me constantly feel like I need to use more.

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