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  • Joy Stevens ND

If You're Not Willing to Eat it, Why Are You Wearing It?

Your skin is a big ol' sponge. Whatever you put on your skin is absorbed and ends up in your body as though you had eaten it. As a result, personal care products are a huge source of toxins and toxicants.

Let's take a look at one item - lip balm. These are my rankings with selected commentary.


I did not research all ingredients thoroughly.

Toxin = natural substance that is toxic.

Toxicant = man-made substance that is toxic.

WORSE - Chapstick


Arachidyl propionate, camphor, carnauba wax, cetyl alcohol, fragrance, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, light mineral oil, menthol, methylparaben, octyldodecanol, paraffin, phenyl trimethicone, Propylparaben, red 6 lake, saccharin, white wax.

Anything ending in “-ol” = alcohol = drying (cetyl alcohol, menthol, octyldodecanol)

Fragrance = a known human immune system toxicant or allergen

Isopropyl lanolate = human skin toxicant or allergen

Mineral oil = immune and respiratory toxicant or allergen

Methylparaben = endocrine disruptor

Propylparaben = endocrine disruptor, immune toxicant or allergen

Red lake 6 = made from coal tar or petroleum

Saccharin = a known carcinogen

So basically a drying, chemical soup in a stick.

LESS WORSE - Carmex Lip Balm


In the United States, the active ingredients of Carmex lip balm are benzocaine, camphor (1.7%), menthol (0.7%), phenol (0.4%), and salicylic acid. The inactive ingredients are petrolatum, lanolin, cetyl esters, paraffin wax, cocoa butter, beeswax, and flavor.

Camphor = drying

Menthol and phenol = drying

Salicylic acid = drying

Petrolatum = considered a carcinogen in Europe

Flavor = likely artificial but who knows?

BETTER - Burt’s Bees Lip Balm


Cera alba (beeswax, cire d'abeille), cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, lanolin, tocopherolrosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil (huile de colza), limonene.

Mentha piperita = often linked to allergic contact dermatitis

Soybean = GMO

Canola = GMO

Limonene = can be phototoxic and should be avoided if going out in the sun

MUCH BETTER - Joy’s Lip Balm (recipe below)


Jojoba oil, shea butter, beeswax, vitamin E oil


The next one I make. :-)

I dove into looking at this after a friend mentioned he didn't tolerate commercial lip balms very well. I knew they were generally a chemistry experiment gone wrong, but I didn't realize how wrong. I now can see why he has problems with them.

What surprised me most was the number of drying ingredients in some of the products. I mean, don't we usually use lip balm to prevent drying and to help heal? If I were a cynic, I might think the manufacturers didn't want to actually produce an effective product, that they only wanted one to think their product was effective. Huh. Perhaps I am a cynic.

Joy's Lip Balm Recipe

  • 2 Tbsp jojoba oil

  • 2 Tbsp shea butter

  • 2 Tbsp beeswax

  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil

  • 12 lip balm tubes

Place the jojoba oil, shea butter, and beeswax into a double boiler and heat just until all is melted. (Doing this in a small, glass measuring cup is ideal.) Remove from heat and add the vitamin E oil, stirring until well mixed. Quickly but carefully pour into lip balm tubes.

Everything can be ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs. The tubes are found under "Containers and Supplies." (No affiliation.)

Next Time

Instead of the jojoba oil, I will use half coconut oil for a little SPF protection and half calendula oil as a vulnerary (vulneraries help to heal skin). I may even add hibiscus powder to make it pink!

Yea, I do think it is kinda cool to be able to make things like this. As you can see, it is healthier and it's really quite easy. The most difficult part is sourcing the ingredients and materials, but after that, it's a breeze and only takes maybe 15 minutes. Give it try! Makes for a great stocking stuffer.

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