A lip balm or lip cream or lip salve is a soft waxy substance that is applied externally to the lips to relieve dryness or cold sores. Elements like beeswax, camphor, lanolin, paraffin and petroleum jelly are the main ingredients; some contain color dyes, flavorings, fragrances and sunscreen to prevent itching, cracking and suntan. Primarily, the lip balm provides a smooth layer on the surface to seal in moisture on the lips and protect them from exposure. The lips are particularly vulnerable to damage and dryness because the skin of the lips is very thin and are often the first indicators of dryness and dehydration in the body. A lip balm can be applied using the fingers or directly from a tube like a lipstick.
In recent years, many cosmetic brands have been targeted for using chemicals, additives and products that are harmful to humans. A balm therefore has to be chosen with abundant caution as after applying it to the lips, there is the tendency to lick or purse the lips to smoother the application, with a result that the product is ingested involuntarily. Many dermatologists and physicians are of the opinion that certain lip balms are additive and cause more drying out than actually hydrating the lips. While not all claims are substantiated, factors such as darkening of lip color, bleaching and irritation cannot be entirely overlooked.