woman blowing a kiss with a blue background

What can be used as natural lip balm: Top ingredients & flavors to look for.

Last Updated: August 12, 2021

Have a look at what exactly makes a lip balm "natural," the benefits of switching from conventional lip balm to natural or organic, and Grove members' top picks for eco-friendly lip hydration.

Your lips have the thinnest skin on your body, and they need special care. And, lips don’t have any oil glands like the rest of your body, so keeping them healthy and moisturized is totally up to you.

According to a study, using a lip balm for at least four weeks can reduce scaling, cracking, and fine lines.

But conventional lip balms you may see at the store often contain synthetic, unhealthy, and often unnecessary chemicals — so using them isn't doing your lips any favors.

Let’s talk about what exactly goes into conventional and natural lip balms and treatments and see which natural lip balms our customers and staff love.

Conventional lip balm ingredients to avoid

Illustration of orange skull and crossbones

Thanks to our lack of oil glands in our lips — as well as their frequent exposure to the elements — dermatologists generally recommend some sort of lip balm or treatment.

But at the same time, doctors warn against certain ingredients in lip balms that can actually irritate lips and make them worse. In fact, many commercial lip balms cause a tingling or cooling sensation, and that can actually be an allergic and drying reaction.

The American Dermatology Association lists several common ingredients found in conventional lip balms that you should avoid:

  • Camphor:It's toxic if ingested
  • Artificial fragrance:It's unregulated and can irritate skin or cause allergic reactions
  • Lanolin:It's toxic if ingested and often connected with pesticides
  • Phenol (or phenyl):It can burn or irritate skin
  • Propyl gallate:It's a carcinogenic and can cause asthmatic or allergic reactions
  • Salicylic acid:It can irritate skin and cause inflammation and peeling

In addition, heavily flavored lip balms can irritate and further dry out your lips, as can any sort of alcohol-based ingredient.

Grove Tip

Are lip balms made with fossil fuels?

"Rather than being derived from natural materials, many conventional lip balms are ultimately derived from fossil fuels (petroleum jelly) as well as containing chemicals and fragrances that are potentially harmful to human health over time," says Grove Collaborative Director of Sustainability, Danielle Jezienicki.

"Since we are more or less ingesting what we put on our lips, this is a great place to prioritize the safest products out there!"

What is natural lip balm?

Natural lip balms are just as effective at hydrating and protecting your lips as conventional balms, but they don’t contain the synthetic chemicals, fragrances, and artificial flavors that actually are often designed to dry out lips and require more product (tricky little lip balm marketers).

Natural lip balm ingredients

Yellow beeswax illustration


Most natural lip balms use beeswax as the base since it’s nonallergenic, anti-inflammatory, and it softens the skin. Beeswax is also known to have antimicrobial properties, making it a healing balm for cracked, chapped lips.

Research results show that beeswax is a great source of Vitamin A, which delays natural collagen loss and increases skin regeneration.

It’s important to note that beeswax isn’t considered vegan.

Plant oils

Plant-derived oils and butters are not only moisturizers, but many are also emollients, which means they offer a protective layer that keeps moisture on the lips.

Plant-based oils and butters commonly found in natural hand soaps and natural lip balms include coconut oil, which moisturizes, softens, and fights bacteria; shea butter, an emollient and anti-inflammatory; and argan oil, which is an antioxidant that helps protect against sun damage.

Other plant oils used in an organic lip balm include avocado oil, red raspberry seed oil, and carrot seed oil. However, it is important to remember that different types of plant oil have different effects so test out your lip balm choice to make sure it works for you.

Blue sunscreen bottle illustration

Natural sunscreen

Many conventional lip balms contain harmful chemical sunscreen ingredients, such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, avobenzone, and padimate O. Plus, if you have a pigmented lip balm, titanium dioxide may also be present.

Some of these ingredients are carcinogens, and others damage coral reefs.

Natural lip balms contain zinc oxide, a naturally occurring mineral that works as a natural sunscreen, to provide a gentle, nontoxic barrier to the sun’s harmful rays.

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How to use natural lip balm

Image of Grove Co.'s Mint & Argan natural lip balm on table next to jewelry

A good lip balm should only be used a few times a day (more when you’re in the sun) and before bedtime, according to dermatologists.

Doctors and experts also recommend regularly exfoliating your lips to remove dead skin cells and improve lip balm adherence and benefits. Just be sure to exfoliate very gently — use a warm washcloth, or treat your kissers to a sugar-in-oil lip scrub. (You can also make your own — see our DIY recipe below!)

Which is the best natural lip balm?

Image of Burt's Bees Tinted lip balm next to two purple flowers

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm

Why we love it: A perennial favorite, Burt’s Bees offers the benefits of beeswax plus coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, and other naturally-derived ingredients.

Grove member Denise H. also said "I have used these for years and I love them! They really do moisturize your lips and they have the perfect amount of tint. I have bought several as gifts."

Image of Rooted Beauty Protective Lip Balm packaging and balm

Rooted Beauty Protective Lip Balm

Why we love it: Rooted Beauty cares not only about humans, but also our oceans, so we love their values. Plus, this sunscreen lip balm has 3.5% zinc oxide to protect your lips against harmful UV rays. This along with ingredients like olive oil, beeswax, and lavender make it a soothing treat for your lips.

Elisabeth T. wrote "This lip balm is extremely moisturizing for your lips. It doesn’t cause them to chap or crack like other brands-this is a fantastic lip balm! I’ve already purchased a second one and one for my boyfriend."

Henne Lip Balm with lid off standing next to balm

Henne Organics Luxury Lip Balm

Why we love it: With shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, vitamin E, and more, this lip balm is skin- and earth-friendly. Henne is a woman-owned business, and this lip balm features a plastic-free case and all certified organic ingredients.

Blair H. wrote "I love the lip tint that Henne makes but this is my go-to. I use it every day and it does not disappoint. I have sensitive skin and often lip balms irritate me, but this is smooth and gentle. There is no color but it still brings a natural glow to your lips.

Image of Rooted Beauty Smoothing Lip Balm container

Rooted Beauty Smoothing Lip Balm

Why we love it: This every day lip balm includes hydrating sunflower oil, argan oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and chia seed oil, for deep moisturizing that lasts. Formulated with peppermint and spearmint essential oils for a subtle cooling effect on lips.

Dana D. said "Truly the ultimate satisfaction, I had chapped lips and I started using this lip balm and in a day it cleared up. And it leaves my lips moisturized and smooth all day. I need one in every purse and in the car."

Kari Gran Lip Whip balm open showing balm inside container with lid in back

Kari Gran Lip Whip Treatment Balm

Why we love it: Kari Gran is a plastic-neutral, woman-owned business with uncompromising standards. This lightweight balm is packed with sunflower, olive, and avocado oils, plus a hint of peppermint.

Laura K. wrote about this balm, "I have tried so many “healthy” brands of lip gloss and just haven’t found the one, until now. It’s not sticky and doesn’t have that waxy feeling that other products have. I use this multiple times daily."

Find more of Grove members' top-rated natural lip balms

Image of Grove Co. lip balms lined up in half circle around succulent plant

12 more of the best (and top-rated) natural lip balms at Grove

We've pulled the top 12 natural lip balms as determined by Grove members. Select from any on the list and get them delivered to your door!

Grove Beauty Tip

How to make a homemade lip scrub

Exfoliating your lips removes dead skin cells and prepares your lips for natural balm. Here’s how to make your own three-ingredient lip scrub!

What you'll need:

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • Optional: 1-3 drops food-grade essential oil such as grapefruit, sweet orange, or vanilla absolute

How to make it:

Combine ingredients and gently apply to your lips in a circular motion for a minute or two, then remove with a damp cloth.

To make this a zinc oxide lip balm recipe, you can add two teaspoons of zinc oxide powder when mixing together the other ingredients.

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