Some balms may include cooling, plumping, or exfoliating players to add to the sensorial experience in the short term, but some of these ingredients can actually make chapped lips more apparent. “Avoid menthol, camphor, and phenol as ingredients in lip balms because they can dry out the lips. They are initially cooling and soothing, but they evaporate quickly, and you will need to reapply if you aren’t using good emollients and occlusives,” says board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D.,
about healing lip cracks
. Similarly, watch out for salicylic acid in your formulas: “It is sometimes added as an exfoliant—to help remove dry flaky skin from your lips, but the lips are sensitive, and repeated use will likely lead to irritation,” she continues.
In terms of lip plumpers, many formulas rely on spicy, heat-inducing essential oils (like cinnamon oil) to stimulate your blood vessels and cause them to expand, which results in a “swollen” appearance and, thus, a plumper pout. But these potent oils can also cause irritation on the delicate lip area, sometimes even contact dermatitis for those with sensitive skin. So you might be better off opting for a plumper that calls on hyaluronic acid instead—the ingredient can pull in up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which helps your parched lips become plump with moisture (think of how you might run a dry sponge under water and watch it rise with hydration).