Who'd have thought it?
Men's lip care is a thing.
In this blog, I explain the difference between men's lip balm and men's lip moisturizer.
But before I do, let's start from the top:
Why is a Man's Lip Care Important?
Your lips are delicate.
I know - it doesn't sound very "manly", does it?
But it's true - the skin on your lips is thinner than the skin on the rest of your body. Your lips are 3-5 cell layers thick compared to the skin on your face which can be up to 16 cell layers thick.
In addition to this relative"thinness", your lips are vulnerable because unlike the skin on the rest of your body, they do not contain any sweat glands.
Sweat glands produce a hydrolipidic film which is your skin's natural 'bodyguard' - keeping it hydrated by forming a shield which protects against external aggressors like bacteria and cold weather - all of which draw moisture away from the body.
And to add to all of this, your lips don't contain melanin (so they have no natural protection from the sun) and they are the most sensitive part of your body, with over 1 million nerve endings - so when they're damaged, it's extra painful.
In a nutshell: your lips are thin, delicate and sensitive.
They can't protect themselves like the rest of your skin so need extra care to reduce the risk of chapped and cracked lips - which are at best unsightly - but also painful.
So how should men take care of their lips?
That's where Men's Lip Balm and Men's Lip Moisturizer come in.
Before we start, one of the best ways to keep your lips moisturized is to keep yourself hydrated from the inside out.
Make sure you're drinking enough water (The World Health Organization recommends at least 2 litres of water per day) and ensure you're getting enough Vitamin E - which can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables.
Men's Lip Balm
Lip balm is a wax-like substance you apply to your lips.
It has 3 functions:
- Provides an extra layer of defence against external elements like the weather.
- Seals in moisture.
- Restores moisture to dried lip tissue.
Men's Lip balms are either applied with your finger or come as chapsticks - that lipstick-style tube from which the balm is applied directly.
The problem with lip balms is that some contain allergens like Citrus, Mint, Tea tree, Eucalyptus, Camphor, and Lanoli. These allergens can result in an allergic reaction and unsightly lip rash.
Another potential problem is that some ingredients - such phenol, menthol and salicylic acid - can actually make your lips drier. They may feel soothing at first but your lips soon become chapped again, meaning you have to reapply the balm.
And believe it or not, some people can become psychologically addicted to this cycle of reapplying lip balm.
A lot of lip balms contain petroleum because it's cheap to manufacture and "seals in" moisture. But there is some debate as to whether this "seal" is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, it keeps the weather out and forms a protective seal but on the other hand, it doesn’t allow moisture to be absorbed into the lips from the atmosphere.
If you're going for a lip balm, my advice is to go for something with natural ingredients. The best lip balms for men come are made from beeswax (forms a gentle, protective barrier), shea butter (anti-inflammatory with healing properties) and Aloe Vera (healing and hydrating properties).
Always read the full list of ingredients to understand the quantities of each. Some balms may claim to contain, for example, 'shea butter', but in reality only contain a tiny amount. You can tell this because it's listed at or towards the bottom of the ingredients list.
Men's Lip Balm Advantages:
- Forms a layer of defence to protect your skin from the weather.
- Readily available from most shops, supermarkets and online stores.
Men's Lip Balm Disadvantages:
- The same layer of defence can also prevent your lips from 'breathing'.
- Some contain allergens.
- Feels a bit too much like applying a lipstick for my liking.
Men's Lip Moisturizer
A lip moisturizer for men contains more water and moisturizing ingredients than lip balm.
It has 2 functions:
- Soothes and moisturizes lips.
- Restores moisture to dried lip tissue.
Unlike lip balm, men's lip moisturizer is formulated to actually absorb into your skin - it doesn't sit "on top" of your lips. When I've used lip balms in the past, I found they gave my lips a shine (not good in my book) but I didn't get this when I used a moisturizer.
Lip moisturizers also improve moisture retention in the lips by mimicking the function of an oil gland. As you age, your lips slowly lose volume and become thinner and tighter. When this moisture is retained, your lips can appear 'thicker'. I wouldn't go so far as to say this reduces the signs of ageing but I'd rather have thicker, healthier looking lips than shrivelled, thin lips.
I've read a number of blogs which advocate moisturizing your lips with a simple body moisturizer. I tried this, and while it seemed to work, I found that if accidentally licked my lips - the taste was disgusting. Obviously a body or face moisturizer is not designed to be ingested.
If you decide to go down the Lip Moisturizer route, I recommend you opt for a lip moisturizer with natural ingredients. Lip moisturizers containing shea butter act as a natural sunscreen and those featuring Vitamin E help prevent the build up of vertical lines on your lips.
Stay clear from men's lip moisturizers which contain artificial scents because these can further irritate your lips and be careful, some men's lip moisturizers that contain sunscreen may make the lips more sensitive.
Men's Lip Moisturizer Advantages:
- Designed to absorb into your lips, not sit on top of them.
- Improves moisture retention in your lips.
- Won't clog the skin around your lips like a lip balm can.
Men's Lip Moisturizer Disadvantages:
- Not as commonly available as men's lip balms / men's chapsticks.
- Some men's lip moisturizers made from synthetic ingredients can cause lip irritation.
Men's Lip Balm vs Men's Lip Moisturizer - Summary
One thing's for sure - your lips need help from time to time.
As we've seen, both men's lip balms and men's lip moisturizers do this by moisturizing and protecting your lips.
Out of the two, my preferred choice is a dedicated men's lip moisturizer. I prefer to keep my lips hydrated as opposed to 'sealing them' with a waxy substance which feels unnatural and heavy on my lips - like it is clogging my skin.
If you decide a lip moisturizer is for you, try our Organic Men's Lip Moisturizer with Vitamin E. It's light, smooth and is made from naturally derived ingredients. It contains shea butter (natural sun screen and an anti-flammatory), coconut oil (great natural moisturizer), and Macadamia Seed Oil (has rapid natural healing properties).
It's not strongly scented but contains Spearmint Leaf Oil which gives it a fresh smell.
Oh, and when you inevitably lick your lips, it doesn't taste disgusting. :)
For a full list of the natural ingredients VITAMAN use in their products, please click here.