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Lip Balm vs. Chapstick: What Is the Difference?

June 27, 2022 4 min read

Lip Balm vs. Chapstick: What Is the Difference?

When you’re away from home and your dry lips are in desperate need of moisture, there’s a good chance you’ll ask a friend or a partner if they have any “Chapstick” on them. Nearly all of us are guilty of using “Chapstick” and “lip balm” interchangeably at some point, but as it turns out, there is an important distinction between these two terms.

Read on to learn more about the difference between lip balm vs. Chapstick. Plus, why more and more people are switching to natural lip balms formulated with good-for-you ingredients.

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What Is Lip Balm?

Lip balm is a personal care product applied topically to the lips to relieve dryness and chapping. Most lip balms contain wax or a wax-like substance — usually carnauba wax, beeswax, lanolin or petrolatum — that provides a protective barrier between your lips and the elements, which can strip the skin of moisture and make lips prone to chapping. 

Whether you’re dealing with cold sores or simply want to protect your lips from sunburn, there’s a lip balm out there for every skin type and need.

  • Tinted lip balms. In addition to hydrating and softening your pout, these lip balms give your lips a hint of color.
  • SPF lip balms. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, a SPF lip balm may be your best bet. These sunscreen-enhanced lip balms protect the delicate skin on the lips from the sun’s damaging UV rays, reducing your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.
  • Medicated lip balms. Medicated lip balms use a combination of long-lasting protectants and medicated ingredients (white petrolatum, hydrocortisone, etc.) to treat painful lip blisters and severely chapped lips. They may contain ingredients that act as mild anesthetics, such as camphor and menthol.
  • Natural lip balms. An alternative to conventional lip balms containing toxic ingredients, natural lip balms soothe and hydrate dry lips using naturally-derived ingredients, such as coconut oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. They may also come in environmentally-conscious packaging. For instance, our zero waste lip balm comes in a compostable paper tube that you can compost at home and turn into nutrient-rich soil.

Shop Zero Waste Lip Balm

a tube of earthling co peppermint lip balm

Ingredients in Lip Balm

Lip balm ingredients can vary from product to product. Some lip balms, like Chapstick, only contain ingredients that seal in moisture, while others contain moisturizing butters and oils that work to help restore hydration to the skin barrier.

Some of the best ingredients in lip balm include:

  • Shea butter and cocoa butter
  • Natural oils, like castor oil and sunflower seed oil
  • Honey
  • Vitamin E (an antioxidant that promotes cell regeneration)

What Is Chapstick?

Chapstick is a type of lip balm product. It was originally invented in the late 1800s by Dr. Charles Browne Fleet, a Virginia-based physician and pharmacist who enjoyed coming up with new ideas to help improve the lives of his patients. 

Chapstick was not a huge hit initially. In fact, Fleet ended up selling his lip emollient formula to his friend and colleague, John Morton, after failing to garner widespread appeal for the product. John Morton, along with his wife, began production of the lip balm in his kitchen. Mrs. Morton had the brilliant idea to pour the wax formula into brass tubes and mold it into sticks. This new packaging was a huge hit, and sales of Chapstick subsequently skyrocketed.

As time passed, Chapstick’s popularity never slowed down. The public began associating the brand name with all lip balm products through a process known as genericization. (Similar fates have befallen Kleenex, Velcro, Xerox and many other brand names.) As a result, many people now use “Chapstick” as a general term, even though it’s only one of many lip balm brands.

Ingredients in Chapstick

Although Chapstick has had numerous owners over the years, its original formula hasn’t changed much. 

Here is the full list of ingredients in the Chapstick Classic Original Lip Balm:

Active Ingredients: White petrolatum 45%

Inactive Ingredients: Arachidyl Propionate, Camphor, Carnauba Wax, Cetyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Isopropyl Lanolate, Isopropyl Myristate, Lanolin, Light Mineral Oil, Octyldodecanol, Oleyl Alcohol, Paraffin, Phenyl Trimethicone, Red 6 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, White Wax, Yellow 5 Lake.

Why Choose a Natural Lip Balm?

a smiling woman holding out a tube of earthling co peppermint lip balm

Natural lip balms have been cropping up more and more lately as consumers turn their backs on toxic ingredients and seek out products that are better for their health and the planet. Unlike conventional lip balms that often contain toxic ingredients, natural lip balms typically use organic, naturally-derived ingredients to protect and moisturize the lips.

For instance, you’ll find the following ingredients in our plastic-free lip balm:

  • Mango butter, cocoa butter and shea butter
  • Pomegranate sterols, a plant-based superfood that nourishes lips and provides excellent environmental protection
  • Bayberry (fruit) wax, a vegan alternative to beeswax and palm-oil derived waxes
  • Peppermint oil (soothes lips with a tingly mint flavor)

Here’s what you WON’T find:

  • Petrolatum, a by-product of oil-refining
  • Lanolin, beeswax and other animal-based products
  • Palm oil
  • Plastic packaging 

So, if you’re in the market for an investment-worthy balm, be sure to check out our natural lip balm. It’s packed with all of the good stuff and none of the bad, so you can keep your pout moisturized and healthy without worry!


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