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The Best Lip Balms

Body+Soul, December 2005

"Shea butter, sweet almond oil, castor oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, and cocoa butter are excellent at replacing skin's own oils," says Los Angeles dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu, whose East-meets-West take on skin care combines both herbal and conventional strategies. In contrast to the more common alternative -- petrolatum (aka petroleum jelly), a nonrenewable and potentially irritating ingredient -- the aforementioned emollients offer both effectiveness and environmental peace of mind.

Note: Although many lip balms soothe and soften, balms that contain sunscreen (SPF) are a must if you spend time outdoors. Sun exposure can exacerbate dryness and chapping, and lips are especially vulnerable to UV-induced skin damage. A few SPF-enhanced balms worth trying: Jason Sunbrellas Lip Protector SPF 20, Collective Wellbeing Lip Balm with SPF 15, and Eco Lips SPF 15 Berry Lip Balm.

Here are our six favorite all-around lip balms:

Essencia Jojoba, Lip Therapy
With essential oils of melissa (aka lemon balm) and manuka (aka New Zealand tea tree), this balm soothes cold sores in addition to chapped lips. Healthy add-ins include orange and coconut oils, and the scent is ethereal.

Body Systems NY, Appletini Lip Balm
A virgin version of its namesake drink, this balm is far more likely to evoke a bucolic apple-picking scene than the New York pick-up scene. Adding to the wholesome goodness (and the lip-friendliness): sweet almond oil, beeswax, shea butter, and vitamin E.

Bath by Bettijo, Peppermint Cooling Lip Balm
A lip balm so refreshing it could almost double as a breath freshener. (Peppermint-leaf oil figures prominently into the formula.) But with oils of coconut, palm kernel, and olive, plus a healthy dose of vitamin E, the salve is as much a softener as a stimulant.

Alba Hawaiian, Coconut Cream Lip Balm
With enough coconut oil to scent the average stretch of beach, Alba ensures not only a mouthwatering experience but also a moisturizing one. The supporting cast of plant-derived waxes and oils doesn't hurt either.

EO Grapefruit & Honey, Organic LipTreatment
This organic rendition of a classic flavor combination -- honey-drizzled grapefruit -- is, unlike many fruity balms, true to taste. Credit the anything-but-artificial ingredient list, which boasts grapefruit essential oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba, and honey.

Lush Lip, Lime Lip Balm
Citrus-scented beauty products are tricky: Sometimes even the all-natural ones can't escape that synthetic-household-cleaner scent. Not so with this handmade balm, which contains a distinguished list of butters -- cocoa, mango, shea, and coconut -- and real lime oil

See our easy recipe to make your own lip balm.

Text by Abbie Kozolchyk