I almost never leave home without my lip balm and if I do I’m digging through my purse, rummaging through the glove compartment and even looking under the seats to see if maybe there’s a container hidden deep that I’ve missed.

Lip balm is one of my favorite personal care products and it’s a must-have. It comes to the rescue when the weather gets cold and when the sun gets hot. Unfortunately, there are a number of toxins that may be hiding in your favorite conventional lip balms, and since it’s likely you’ll ingest quite a bit of whatever you swipe on your lips, it’s essential to pay attention to the ingredients.

Ready to learn how to find the best non-toxic natural lip balm? First, let’s start by learning more about some of the common ingredients in conventional lip balms and why they pose a problem. Then we will go into what to look for in non-toxic and organic lip balms so that you can find the best natural lip balm for your lips.

Conventional Care Product Chemicals

Heavy metals in my eyeshadow? Dangerous cancer-causing ingredients in my deodorant? Coal tar dyes in my lip balm?! Yes. All of the above.

You probably already know that the cosmetic and personal care industries are poorly regulated in the United States.  This means that there’s a good chance you’ll find many harmful ingredients in your favorite products. If you’re a woman, you’re at an even greater risk because women use more products on average than men.

But that doesn’t mean men are unaffected: men are also huge consumers of lip balm and as consumers, we have to be vigilant advocators for our own health, and this means staying up to date on what we’re putting on and in the case of lip balms, in our bodies.

Top 6 Toxic Ingredients Lurking in Your Favorite Lip Balm

Most personal care products we put on our lips including our lip balm is ingested. Below are some of the toxins that end up in our body after moisturizing our lips with conventional balm.


Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products like sunscreen because it absorbs UV-A ultraviolet rays (1). You can find it in popular lip balms like Blistex, Softlips, Aquaphor, Carmex, and others. Small amounts of oxybenzone can accumulate in the body and cause chronic issues and problems.

Oxybenzone is considered to be an endocrine disruptor, meaning it interferes with estrogen and testosterone production in both men and women. It’s even been found in breast milk (2), which is especially concerning given young children’s vulnerability to hormone disruption. While there are no current restrictions in the United States, Japan’s Standards for Cosmetics restricts its use and limits its concentration in some types of cosmetics (3).

The good news is that using a non-toxic lip balm without oxybenzone can result in as much as a 27% drop in accumulated oxybenzone in the body in just a few days (4). If you want a non-toxic lip balm with SPF in it, look for non-nano zinc oxide, which is just as effective but not harmful!


The FDA allows a long list of known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and irritants  to fall under the ingredient “fragrance.” The 3,000 chemicals that can hide behind this label are highly toxic to the human body.

A study published in 2011 tested the dryer vent emissions after washing and drying laundry using fragranced detergent and dryer sheets–the same ingredient found in lip balm. The emissions contained VOCs (volatile organic compounds that are considered toxic air pollutants), carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), acetone, ethanol, and acetaldehyde (5).


While the use of phthalates in self care products are still allowed in the US (though the EPA says they are carcinogenic), the European Union has banned them because they have  been linked to increased risk of:

  • Cancer (7)
  • Neurological disorders, ADHD, and autism (8,10)
  • Male and female infertility (7)
  • Hormone disruption (8)
  • Allergic reactions (9)
  • Respiratory illnesses like asthma (10,11)

Heavy Metals

Makeup brands know that women enjoy the convenience of  lip balms that color like a lipstick and moisturize like a balm. Since a lot of brands make pigmented lip balms now, you have to beware of the heavy metals that come along with them. It’s common for cosmetics to be contaminated with heavy metals (9), and lipsticks frequently contain lead (10,11).

The problem with lead is that it won’t be listed as an ingredient. It’s often part of the pigment process in lipstick, so rather than ingesting heavy metals,your best bet is to opt for a non-toxic lip balm that relies on beautiful colors derived from fruits and plants.

Petrolatum and Mineral Oil

Petroleum-based ingredients such as petrolatum pose as a concern due to their links to cancer (12,13), but the other concern with petrolatum and mineral oil is that they simply don’t work as they say.

Instead of nourishing and repairing the delicate skin on your lips with natural ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, honey, and olive oil, petrolatum and mineral oil create a barrier on the skin that looks shiny but it actually keeps moisture from passing through.

A good non-toxic lip balm or organic lip balm won’t just make your lips feel better, it will also heal them.  


Personal care products are the main vehicle for our exposure to parabens, which means we have to make sure they are not in our lip balms (17,18). Parabens include ingredients like propylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben, and other ingredients that end in -paraben.

Parabens accumulate in the body and have been found in blood plasma, urine, and even breast milk (4,14). Parabens are endocrine disruptors and have been found in breast cancer tissues (15,16).

How to Find Natural Lip Balms

The list above is by no means an extensive list of toxic ingredients to avoid but they are the most prominent.  Besides avoiding the ingredients above, here are a few tips to help you find the best non-toxic and organic lip balm:

  • Look for brands with a minimal amount of ingredients. The fewer ingredients–especially if they’re natural and organic ingredients that you can pronounce–the better.
  • The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has an extensive directory of personal care products and cosmetics in its Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. You can use it to search for potentially toxic ingredients in your favorite products.  
  • Find your favorite organic makeup brand–these will often carry a good non-toxic lip balm and even organic lipsticks.

The Best Organic Lip Balms

I’ll admit it–becoming an ingredient label sleuth can take time.  If you don’t have much time to spare I’m here to help. I’m sharing a few of my favorites. These allow you to reap all the benefits of an organic lip balm’s nutritious and healthful ingredients without exposing you to toxins!Below are all brands that I use- and I absolutely love them!  


Hurraw! Finally a genuine lip balm company with loads of options. Hurraw lip balms are all made with organic, vegan, and raw ingredients that nourish your luscious lips. Ingredients like jojoba oil, coconut pulp, olive oil, and macadamia nut oil- are just some of the natural alternatives that will help heal your lips instead of the temporary fix conventional balms offer. The best part about Hurraw is their variety- if you want simple, you got it. Looking for a shimmer? Try their aura balms. Know your ayurvedic dosha? There’s a specific stick for that!

Savannah Bee

I love local- and Savannah Bee’s balms are just that (but available online and at most health stores!). My personal favorite is the mint julep but there are other delicious options like tupelo honey, peach, black raspberry, earl grey, and key lime- you’ll want to get them all. Based with hydrating ingredients like royal jelly, beeswax, coconut oil, and hemp seed, you’ll get a long-lasting and smooth finish.

Whole Foods USDA Organic Lip Balm

Pick up some nourishing organic lip balm on your next grocery run. If you love Whole Foods as much as the next person, then you’ve got to try their lip balms. Certified USDA Organic, you’re lips can’t ask for much more. I’m a fool for the pomegranate orange but Honey and Peppermint are also classics.


Thayers’ Natural Remedies is such an awesome brand- and I love their balms! They make 3 wonderful Organic Slippery Elm Lip Balms available in vanilla bean, peppermint, and orange grove that work to nourish and hydrate your smile.

Alima Pure Lip Tint

If you’re like me and love a good lip tint but don’t like to always wear lipstick- then Alima Pure Lip Tint Balm is for you! I am head over heels- in LOVE. The tints are available in 10 colors, so you’re guaranteed to get a conditioning color you obsess over. The best part- they are long-lasting! And that’s really what we want.

Eco Lips

If you’re looking for the perfect lip balm for summer, then one of eco lips four flavors might be your new summer sidekick. With an SPF of 15, your lips will avoid any sunburn or over-chapping that can happen when the pool days roll around.

Do you have a favorite non-toxic lip balm that I haven’t tried yet? Drop a comment in the box below and let me know!  


  1. PubChem. (2019). Oxybenzone. Retrieved from: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/oxybenzone#section=Top
  2. Environmental Working Group. (2018). The trouble with ingredients in sunscreens. Retrieved from: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/
  3. EWG’s Skin Deep Database. Oxybenzone. Retrieved from:   https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704372/OXYBENZONE/
  4. EurekAlert! by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, (2016). Teen girls see big drop in chemical exposure with switch in cosmetics. Retrieved from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uoc–tgs030416.php
  5. Steinemann, A. C., Gallagher, L. G., Davis, A. L., & MacGregor, I. C. (2013). Chemical emissions from residential dryer vents during use of fragranced laundry products. Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 6(1), 151-156. Full text: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11869-011-0156-1
  6. Sigurdson, Tina. (2014). Expert panel confirms that fragrance ingredient can cause cancer. Retrieved from: https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2014/08/expert-panel-confirms-fragrance-ingredient-can-cause-cancer#.W5hJapP27OR
  7. Latini, G., Del Vecchio, A., Massaro, M., Verrotti, A., & De Felice, C. (2006). Phthalate exposure and male infertility. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16905236
  8. Engel, S. M., Miodovnik, A., Canfield, R. L., Zhu, C., Silva, M. J., Calafat, A. M., & Wolff, M. S. (2010). Prenatal phthalate exposure is associated with childhood behavior and executive functioning. Environmental health perspectives, 118(4), 565. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2854736/
  9. Kristof, N. D. (2010). Do Toxins Cause Autism?. The New York Times, 219-225. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/opinion/25kristof.html?_r=0
  10. European Commission (2018). Phthalates May Affect Baby Boys. Retrieved from: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/7na1_en.pdf
  11. Sainio, E. L., Jolanki, R., Hakala, E., & Kanerva, L. (2000). Metals and arsenic in eye shadows. Contact Dermatitis, 42(1), 5-10.
  12. Hepp, N. M., Mindak, W. R., & Cheng, J. (2009). Determination of total lead in lipstick: development and validation of a microwave-assisted digestion, inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometric method. Journal of Cosmetic Science, 60(4), 405.
  13. Juhász, M. L. W., & Marmur, E. S. (2014). A review of selected chemical additives in
  14. Environmental Working Group (EWG). (2018). Petrolatum. Retrieved from: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704786/PETROLATUM/#.W7ekiRNKjOQ
  15. Boffetta, P., Jourenkova, N., & Gustavsson, P. (1997). Cancer risk from occupational and environmental exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Cancer Causes & Control, 8(3), 444-472. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9498904
  16. Darbre, P. D., & Harvey, P. W. (2008). Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks. Journal of applied toxicology, 28(5), 561-578.
  17. López-Carrillo, L., Hernández-Ramírez, R. U., Calafat, A. M., Torres-Sánchez, L., Galván-Portillo, M., Needham, L. L., & Cebrián, M. E. (2010). Exposure to phthalates and breast cancer risk in northern Mexico. Environmental health perspectives, 118(4), 539.
  18. Darbre, P. D., & Harvey, P. W. (2008). Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks. Journal of applied toxicology, 28(5), 561-578.
  19. Błędzka, D., Gromadzińska, J., & Wąsowicz, W. (2014). Parabens. From environmental studies to human health. Environment international, 67, 27-42.
  20. Guo, Y., & Kannan, K. (2013). A survey of phthalates and parabens in personal care products from the United States and its implications for human exposure. Environmental science & technology, 47(24), 14442-14449.

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