It’s that time of year again, folks. The sun’s out, and so are we. After sheltering in place for months, we’re all craving some summer sunshine. Even me, the woman whose pale, pale skin really makes me question my Greek heritage.
We all know to wear sunscreen. Duh. I’ve spent how many thousands of words waxing and waning about the various types of sunscreens (1, 2). That said, we never really talked about how to care for the skin on our lips. Lip skin is the thinnest skin on our body, and it has a ton of nerve endings, which makes it very sensitive. So when your lips get dry and chapped, you feel like the world is ending and you can’t go on.
Just like how sun damage can lead to wrinkles on your face, it can also lead to wrinkles on your lips. Remember, the sun’s rays break down collagen, and collagen acts as the scaffolding that holds your skin nice and taught.
If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know that mineral sunblocks are currently considered the best way to truly protect your skin. The TL;DR version: They block the sun’s rays from damaging your skin, as opposed to chemical sunscreens, which get absorbed and only scatter sun’s rays AFTER they’ve penetrated the skin’s top layer.
So what’s the problem…? Well, there are almost ZERO lip balms with mineral sunblock on the market! Not only is chemical sunscreen not as effective, but there are also safety and allergy concerns.
Have no fear! After much searching, I’ve rounded up some trusted brands that offer mineral sunblock in their lip balm. That said, don’t worry if the first one you try isn’t for you. You’ll likely have a period of trial and error. I’ve found that I often have to try a few brands until I find one whose lipfeel I like…is that a word? If mouthfeel is a word, then lipfeel should be too.
I learned about this brand at BeautyCon in NYC. They’re a small brand that has a few of their products at ULTA but also sells on Amazon. Their strange name actually stands for ‘Contains Only Zinc’, and their whole brand is about creating sun protection using zinc oxide. As you may recall, my dear students, there are two types of mineral sunscreens: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. While both block UVB rays, which cause burning and skin cancer, zinc oxide does a bit better job at blocking UVA rays, which cause aging.
While this product appears tinted, it essentially goes on clear. There may, however, be a bit of a light cast to it for people with deeper skin tones. So be forewarned. The texture is a bit more slippery than I personally like in a lip balm, but I do appreciate that it doesn’t feel thick or chalky like typical mineral sunscreens. That’s no easy feat! Plus, it’s a whopping SPF 45. I definitely recommend this when heading to the beach.
Available on Amazon and CotZskincare.com
The one that started it all. The OG. ChapStick. Before I even get into my review, I’m going to straight up mention that I am a proud GSK employee and Associate Brand Manager for… you guessed it, ChapStick. So I did receive samples of these products for free. That said, I actually did purchase Very Berry because I was on vacation and forgot to bring it with me. Luckily, the price is so nice that I didn’t mind popping into my local Ulta to grab one. How about that?
Anywho, facts are facts. This is a mineral sunblock lip balm that just came out, and OF COURSE I had to share it. Personal bias be damned!
ChapStick released a brand new lip balm with mineral-based sunblock this July, which is offered in three distinct shades: Pretty in Pink, Peachy Keen, and Very Berry. They definitely don’t look like your Dad’s ChapStick, and they come in sleek little lipstick-like golden tubes that make it super easy to apply.
These babies offer SPF 15 in the form of zinc oxide. While not the highest SPF in this bunch, it’s completely sufficient to protect your lips. Unlike an invisible lip balm where you may set it and forget it, you’ll likely reapply this more frequently because you’ll want to refresh your color periodically. So this could actually help you be more diligent about protecting your pucker! The consistency is slightly thicker and not as slippery as the CotZ, which is preferable because NO ONE wants color smearing all outside their lipline.
They have a subtle shimmer that helps make your lips look fuller and disguise any dryness. My favorite color is Very Berry, which is more of a dusty rose color. Also, did I mention they’re only $6.99? You can splurge to get all three and still not break the bank!
Full transparency, I haven’t tried this lip balm yet, but I want to make sure I give y’all options.
This baby offers SPF 30 protection in the form of zinc oxide. I’m not sure about the consistency, but I will just say that I wasn’t a fan of their lip balms with chemical sunscreen. Those were super oily, slid all around my lips, and had a really chemical-y taste. I actually threw them out because I found I never used them. This, however, may have me making trip to Ulta to give it a shot.
I’m not super familiar with this brand, but I was impressed by all the sun education they offered on their website. These tinted lip balms boast an SPF 50. Unlike ChapStick, these use zinc oxide as the mineral. Their three colors are Blush, Berry, and Bronze. Blush looks so light that it will likely be transparent on light skin tones and artificial-looking on dark ones. Berry looks like a deep red berry color that would look great on deeper skin tones. Bronze is the only shade with a metallic shimmer, which would probably work best on light and medium skin tones. While I haven’t tried it, the oblong shape of this stick looks like it would be rather difficult to apply color with. Also, one stick costs $29! I don’t know about you, but I misplace my lip balm wayyyy too often to spend that much on one stick.
Available on dermstore.com and colorescience.com
So there you are. Sad to say it, but this is the majority of mineral sunblock lip balms on the market today. Given there are tinted and non-tinted options, let’s hope you find one in there that suits you and your needs. Now go forth into that summer sun!