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Is Blistex Toxic? (And What to Buy Instead)

Every time the weather changes, my and my kids’ lips become miserably chapped.

Related: Shop safest lip balms.

Blistex lip products definitely soothe super chapped, sore lips. Perhaps this explains why Blistex sells more than $100 million worth of their “medicated” lip balm every year! But is Blistex non-toxic?

While Blistex offers short-term relief from the pain of chapped lips, it contains ingredients that may carry other health risks.

My Favorite Natural Lip Balm

I love the creamy texture and subtle scents of Green Goo’s line of lip balms.

Green Goo Lip Balms from Gimme the Good Stuff

 

$3.95 or subscribe and save up to 5%Select options

Is Blistex Non-Toxic?

A tube of Blistex contains some 25 ingredients, including a variety of preservatives and dyes. Among the most concerning ingredients are the following, which you will find in various Blistex products:

  • Phenol. One of Blistex’s several active ingredients, phenol is considered toxic to the central nervous system and to the heart.
  • Saccharin. I won’t eat food with this artificial sweetener in it, and anything you smear on your mouth has sort of got to be considered food, right?
  • Parabens. Unsurprisingly, these notorious, carcinogenic preservatives make an appearance in some Blistex formulas.
  • Fragrance. We know that when we see “fragrance” on a label, that usually means the presence of phthalates.
  • Oxybenzone. That really bad sunscreen ingredient that’s linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, as well as endocrine disruption.
  • Mineral oil. A petroleum product.
  • Parraffin. Another petroleum product.
  • Petrolatum. Yet another petroleum product.

(See our glossary for more on many of these ingredients, including links to studies that back up all these scary claims.)

This chemical cocktail is especially concerning in a product that you smear all over your mouth. (I’ve likely eaten several ounces of Blistex in my life, since in high school it was all I used.)

The good news is that there are many natural lip balms that really do work. I’ve heard from a lot of you about how thrilled (and yes, surprised!) you are that these natural products are actually effective.

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Best Natural Lip Balms

Here are some of my favorite natural lip balms:

  1. Soapwalla Lip Locked Lip Balm - Coconut Lime from Gimme the Good StuffSoapwalla’s coconut-lime lip balm is probably my favorite flavor of any lip balm I’ve tried. It’s also made by a wonderful women-owned business in Brooklyn.
  2. Green Goo makes healing balms in several flavors (my favorite is the honey), which come in a standard chapstick-style dispenser.
  3. Tandi’s Naturals lip balms are rich in avocado oil and beeswax, and are available in either Mint & Grapefruit or Herb Garden and come in a cool little tin (extra points for no plastic!).
  4. Weleda’s Skin Food for the lips has a cult following for a reason. It leaves lips noticeably hydrated and soft, especially in cold weather conditions.
  5. Badger makes some nice extra-large cocoa butter lip balms, which are great for little hands and make a perfect stocking stuffer. My kids love these most.
  6. Olio E Osso No.8 Persimmon from Gimme the Good StuffIf you like a lip balm that doubles as a lip tint, my absolute favorites are these from Olio E Osso. They also make a beautiful clear version, and all of them work for cheeks as well as lips.
  7. If you like a little luxury in your lip balm, I recommend Beautycounter’s lip conditioner, which also works really well over any of their lip sheers (I wear Terra).

Thankfully, lip balm is one category of products where choosing the Good Stuff doesn’t mean a sacrifice in performance (as opposed to, say, deodorant!). When my lips are chapped and painful, these natural balms really do bring complete relief.

Stay sane, and I hope you’re enjoying the winter season, chapped lips and all!

Maia_signature

 

Maia-black-and-white-head-shot-gimme-the-good-stuff-cropped

 

P.S. Please share your favorite lip balm brands below, or ask away if you have any you’d like us to investigate.


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70 responses to “Is Blistex Toxic? (And What to Buy Instead)”

  1. Hello everyone , can anyone advise where I can buy Bean Bud CBD Coffee Bliss 80mg?

  2. I have been using burt’s bees peppermint lip balm for a very long time now and I was just wondering how good/bad the ingredients are?

    1. The peppermint flavor is actually pretty safe and natural:)

  3. I have used Blistex for so long. It was the only product that relieved my dry, chapped lips. It felt great, but tends to be addictive. The waxy balms seem to make my lips more dry. A dermatologist said not to use Blistex & recommended the pure lanolin for nursing nipples. I use it, but it really doesn’t do the trick. Is there a product that performs as well as Blistex that is safer to use?

  4. Hi!
    I wanted to check out the ingredients of Blistex as I recently opened a new blue jar and suddenly I tasted soap, even the next morning after having it on my lips the whole night. Pretty disgusting I must say.
    I don’t find any info on the soap taste, but the toxic ingredients speak for themselves. I’m done using it.
    Many thanks for this useful information!

  5. Hi. I seem to be allergic to Blistex. My lips swell like crazy. What is the ingredient that could be causing this? In your opinion. Thanks!

  6. I’ve been using Burt’s Bees lip balm besides the Blistex. What do you think of Burt’s Bees?

  7. These comments are hilarious

  8. “All these ingredients that may or may not be in the product you’re using are bad so buy from me instead!”

    Acting like an informational organization making unsourced claims in order to sell organic products is really gross.

  9. I bought those three Blistex fruit things in one package, and it burned my
    lips and blew them up. That was four days ago, and they are still blown
    up! I hope they go back to normal soon.

    1. OMGOSH – that happened to me too – they are finally not stinging – i had RX for burn and applied that last night and this morning they feel SO much better – my lips got so big they were splitting – never AGAIN
      I thought I was crazy until I saw your post Jane Hill – thanks. And it is the fruit ones too!
      Hope yours goes to normal soon – as i have my fingers crossed for me – just so glad they are not in so much pain today.
      Lisa Likes

      1. You might be allergic to something that is in them. I used cherry chapsick, which has red dye, and my lips blew up and were like that for days. Hope that helps!

  10. Someone mentioned that using the Blistex ointment gave her “burned” lips. Yes…putting an ointment of any kind, without any SPF protection will give you burned lips if you are outside.

    Personally, I have used Blistex for years, and have had nothing but expected results.

    I’m sorry that this discussion has turned into another snowflake-minded, unmoderated, thinly veiled insult exchange. Please, people, simply state your mindset or position. There is no need to attack one another.

    I like Blistex & use it when needed.

    Good points on both sides of the aisle, but I am turned off by the tree-hugging mentality that everyone must follow what someone else considers ” correct”.

    Carry on, straight people, carry on

  11. The ingredients listed are not in the blue circular cases they sell, so you are safe to use those. This article is written with no structure, could be improved.

  12. I can’t see any of those ingredients listed on the back of the packet you displayed.

  13. ur actually retarded

  14. One thing about CArmex lip balm. That shit is actually addictive due to presence of Camphor. I used to carry it without fail even if i forget my driver’s licence while stepping out for a walk in my own yard.

    I got rid of the balm and also the need to use lip balm so much.

  15. If the stuff is bad for you, why are they allowed to sell it in stores?

    1. One reason profits! The federal government is supposed to protect us against toxic substances in our food, water, and the products that we buy. And they do. However, corporations have a lot of sway in Washington and hire lobbyists to sway politicians to allow ingredients that should be illegal so that they can make profits. Consumers need to be aware of all of the ingredients that are approved and yet not healthy for anybody. Consumers can voice their concerns and vote their concerns. Also, if we stop buying these toxic products; they will stop selling them.

  16. How about Earth Mama Organics Lip Balm?

    1. Yes that one is Good Stuff!

  17. If you are like me and beeswax dries out your skin, consider trying Lady Bug Jane lip balms. My personal favorite is Plain Jane (flavorless), but they have a multitude of flavors, too, if that is what you prefer. https://ladybugjane.com/about-lip-balm/

  18. Hi Maia…I use Burt’s bees lip balm with vitamin E and peppermint…any good? 🙂
    Julie

  19. To Not Necessary,
    I never knew cats had lips (haha)!! Did Blistex help her/his chapped lips??

  20. If you knew the chemical composition of your every day foods, yes even your organic apples and pears, you’d never eat again.

  21. also add Arbonne shea lip balm to the good stuff list 🙂

  22. Another woman owned blog complaining about complex things her simple mind can’t comprehend. It’s un fucking believable to me that so many of you women out there will flock to the internet to spread your misinformation on things you don’t even know anything about. “CHEMICALS OH MY GOD I’M SO SCARED IT MUST BE BAD FOR YOU!”
    No wonder men have ruled the world since the dawn of time. Blogs should be outlawed.

    1. Sally not sure where you get your … good information from but the ingredients she lists are for the most part banned in all other countries as either outright toxic or highly suspect … so given the option choose cleaner products …. she is not spreading misinformation just information the rest of the world is quite aware of.

  23. Thank you so much for providing good information without turning your articles in research studies worth of information. As someone who values natural living I don’t have time to look at the science of each ingredient or read someone else doing it for me. I need short and sweet with good alternatives and you are doing that here and all over your site. It makes transitioning to natural products easier when you have a go to list that works.

    And do all nay sayers this article is written to those of us with a cursory knowledge of natural toxin-free living. If you don’t already think that’s important that’s totally fine. But the poster doesn’t need to re-make that point over and over on everything blog post. If you choose to use something unsafe by weighing the pros and cons of your experience that is fine too but that’s not what this post is here for. This site is not about how to use every day conventional products that are probably mostly safe. It’s how to make the best choices. So if you have decided to compromise somewhere for reasons that are important to you that’s totally ok, but it’s not the posters job to change her agenda and goals because you like some chapstick.

    1. Cursory knowledge of natural toxin-free living? I don’t think you even know what a toxin is.

  24. My cousin gave me a lip balm she found in Oregon that’s made there locally. It cured my dry lips so quick, I love it! Then I found a peppermint version and I love that one even more! It’s called Portland bee balm and it only has 3-4 ingredients: coconut oil, olive oil, bees wax and peppermint oil.

  25. Wow! Some people need to step away from the keyboard and have a nice, calming cup of herbal tea! I recommend peppermint or lemon ginger. 😉
    Hasn’t anyone heard the ol’, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? (I always hear Thumper saying it when I think of that saying!)
    I find this site informative and it allows me to conduct further research and decide for myself which products I choose to use. It has given me some good insight and a good base for different products and what to look for. I actually came across this site when researching mattresses!

    To the topic at hand: I love Zum lip balm. I love most of their products. A bit pricey, but well worth it for deliciously smelling, non-toxic, all natural, small company products. I would use them more if they offered more unscented or mildly scented products because I have family members who are sensitive to scented things (even naturally scented things!) and eczema.
    Next on my list to try is Dr. Bronners, as they offer an unscented and an intriguing ginger chapstick!

  26. It seems like people are getting defensive because this int in inconvenient for them. No one wants to make changes or thing that they’ve made the “wrong” decisions in the past regarding personal care products. Thanks for all you do!

  27. I love Blistex and will not be giving it up fully anytime soon. . . Sorry. But – I also love Osmia Organics products. If you have not tried them or heard of them I encourage you to check them out. Their Lip Doctor is especially amazing!

  28. Hello,

    You should try Surya Brasil’s 100% Natural, Vegan & Kosher Tinted Lip Balms. Very clean, green and tinted!

    Bobby

  29. I am also curious what you think about Burt’s bees and if you have a recommendation for a chapstick with spf. I see you recommended Babo and per your recommendation I use their soap, lotion, diaper cream etc for my daughter and love it but I woul like to find a chapstick with spf that is not color tinted. Thanks! As always I much appreciate all your hard work and information 🙂

  30. I recently went on a bit of a product quest myself, as both my son and husband have eczema and I am always searching for the best natural products to help them. When it comes to eczema it seems like all the recommended products are chock full of nasty ingredients. During my research, I discovered that skin care products need a balance of three ingredients to effectively moisturize the skin: ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. Armed with this information I set out to find the most natural products containing these ingredients. It was not easy! Many products contained one or two, but finding all three was very difficult. I realize many people may object to the use of cholesterol or lanolin in their products, but I was more interested in replicating the skins natural composition when locating products to use to treat my family. All this, just to say, what do you think of Burts Bee’s lip balm? I realize it’s not perfectly organic, but it does contain the proper ingredients for people suffering from eczema. (Also if you are interested I have developed an entire list of products for use in my family – we’re slowly trying them out one at a time). As a former cosmetology teacher and current stay-at-home mom, I feel pretty confident in my decisions, but I like to check for the icky ingredients here 🙂

  31. So what do you think is the pay structure for the PR firms hired by companies like Blistex for trolling articles that point out the things ON THE LABEL. You think it’s by the post? Or is it a contract that stipulates X number of negative responses for each positive one?

    Hopefully there’s a commission for really convincing troll posts, perhaps for substance, style, or an especially clever fake name. At least then maybe the people writing the sorts of trolling posts would get something for their trouble and a little extra happy hour cash for the indignity of having to take such a soul-sucking job after all the work they did making it through a college. And especially since the people writing these are probably overqualified, Ivy League educated young women working twice as hard as their male counterparts just to make it in the kind of big PR firms that would need an income stream like this.

    I wouldn’t think, of course, that Blistex or its parent company would be dumb enough to put this kind of professional trolling thing in its own public relations department. But hey… the Tobacco and Big Pharma types did in their day in their own way so maybe we can all look forward to the lawsuits to come.

    Thanks for the info Maia!

  32. Thank you for this! Love your site so much! I also love John Masters organic lip balm. Hopefully that’s good stuff too because it works really well!

    1. Sure is! The list above isn’t exhaustive by any means, just my current favorites!

  33. I’m curious on the Babo product – I use their baby stuff and love it, but their lip balm does list “fragrance” – how would one know if this is synthetic or natural?

    1. Babo uses only natural fragrances, so no worries there:).

  34. Ok well I’m not here to weigh in on the debate in some of these comments, but to just ask about/recommend another lip balm that I think might be good! I really like Dr. Bronner’s organic lip balm and the ingredients look pretty good to me. Maia, do you think this is a good one too? I don’t see anything sneaky here.

    1. Yes it’s good! The list above is definitely not exhaustive, just my personal faves:)

  35. These comments are high comedy. Some of you need a hobby, a kick in the tail and a stiff drink! Maia, keep doing a great job. I don’t see anywhere that states you are a Dr or expert (actually you state that you are not), you are just trying to open people eyes to potential toxins (that unfortunately surround us) and (hopefully) encourage them to do their own due diligence before blindly trusting whatever is in front of them. Such a shame that these people don’t seem to get that. I hope you laughed at all this, I sure did! Keep up the great work, I appreciate the research you do. Your site is a great starting place for conducting ones own research.

  36. Wow. I didn’t know you’re a doctor, Maia?! What do people expect from you? Seems like everyone is suddenly an expert on this topic, based on the comments being left.
    This is my first time to this site and this blog/series. I stumbled upon it just because I was curious if blistex may be harmful in any way to my pet cat. Then I read the comments. Doesn’t anyone have anything nice to say? Nothing is ever good enough for anyone anymore! You want a detailed list of each ingredient and it’s exact amounts and exactly what amount of each causes which effects and how much is too much for each type or age or gender of person and so on?! If you want such detailed info you shouldn’t expect to get it in a general column like this, having an informative purpose. I didn’t click on this site expecting a scientific fact sheet.
    Why are you all so dissatisfied? The info is not wrong persay- those ARE some ingredients, and those ingredients MAY (in general) have the potential to cause the negative effects listed. That doesn’t mean anyone who uses blistex will get cancer. And that’s not what Maia is implying. With that info in hand, you can then search further if you feel the depth of information was insufficient.
    For those who found a simple list of ingredients and their possible side effects to be alarmist, that is your choice. What you do with the info is up to you. I was not alarmed, I was informed, having learnt something about blistex that I did not know or consider before. But I am not running to throw away my own stick of blistex just because someone else is. Although I am motivated to look into this info further.

    1. Thanks for these comments:). I agree!

    2. I don’t know what’s in the lip balm, but at least one of the ingredients in Blistex Lip Ointment, Camphor, is toxic to both cats and dogs. They should never be allowed to ingest it by licking or to even have it applied to their skin because the amount absorbed through their skin can poison them.

  37. As always, the dose makes the poison and that’s why water is great in normal quantities, but kills in large quantities. The LD50 of phenol is 317 mg/kg. The average weight of a human is 62 kg. 20 grams must be consumed to be assured death. One tube of blistex weighs 6 grams, of which 0.03 grams is phenol. Over 600 tubes must be consumed in one sitting to die from phenol poisoning.

    The LD50 of of saccharin is 14.2 g per kg, or 880 grams to poison the average human. The amount of saccharine in a tube of blistex is not listed, but it is the second final ingredient, meaning is contains almost none. Considering saccharin 300x sweeter than sugar, the tube would taste like pure sugar with a content of just 20 mg of saccharin. I’ll over estimate and say that is what is in the tube (but it doesn’t taste very sweet). Thus, 44,000 tubes must be consumed to die from saccharin poisoning.

    The 2004 study suggesting a link between parabens and breast cancer has been debunked in 2015. Furthermore parabens are required to preserve the product and research has proven almost all natural products claiming to be paraben free are lying when testing is conducted. But most importantly, the debunked study proved a link between contact with the nipple and breast cancer. Lip balm should only be applied to the lips.

    “probably” is not science, we can ignore that one.

    Standard medicated Blistex ointment (the stuff they’ve made since forever) contains no oxybenzone. Blistex does sell products containing this. They are clearly marked with an SPF number and thus are easy to avoid if you are worried about this risk (though you should apply zinc oxide or another sunscreen for outdoors use to avoid risk).

    Stating something contains petroleum without any more detail is content-free and can be ignored.

    Anyways, stop scaring people with this sort of thing. Saccharin especially is one of the most debunked things ever. The amount that is used actually makes the water in your typical soda product more toxic than the saccharin. Though, honestly, you will likely die from caffeine overdose first unless you select a clear pop. In short… ask a doctor first before posting scare stories.

    1. I largely agree with these sentiments. I find these articles alarmist. However, I would refrain from using the LD50 to debunk the danger of a substance. It’s like saying the LD50 of asbestos is 500 grams, which is like eating a mid-century ceiling tile, so asbestos isn’t dangerous. Prolonged exposure to asbestos leads to mesothelioma. You don’t get it from one big ol’ dose.

      1. Actually using asbestos is the wrong analogy. You can develop mesothelioma from inhaling the fibres just once if unlucky. It just takes a long time to develop. Its pretty safe as long as it isn’t disturbed causing fibres. There would be no actual LD50 for asbestos since it is airborne

    2. Regular consumption of saccharin causes bladder cancer. No debunking. Your comments, sir, are now full of holes, since you staunchly state things without having facts In hand. You should link your theories for people to read just like you want her to show her sources…which I believe she does, on another part of her site.

      1. They found a different mechanism in rats so they have decided to remove it from the list of reasons people can get cancer? This is your debunking theory? I watched someone use those little saccharin pills in her coffee for years…then get bladder cancer. None of the other theories listed would explain her getting this particular cancer. I think the manufacturing companies paid someone to do another “study”.

  38. Just a word of advice if you want to convince anyone that has any level of education in science and scientific research you need to speak with more facts and more numbers. First of all where are the research studies that found these things to be possible carcinogenic (what” linked to cancer”means. It doesn’t mean cancer causing) and in what quantity? and ingested how? and how often? In what formulation? Is like the cyanide in the apples seeds . How many apples would you have to eat in one sitting to get poisoned from thethe seeds? More than plenty! I’m all up for natural products. I don’t consume unnecessary ot over the counter medication but we can promote natural remedies without bringing up facts that we are not gonna support with evidence. Is less believable. All the best.

    1. Hi! I totally agree with you that the “dose makes the poison.” And we try our best to not be alarmist or overstate the risks of the products we review. I’m sorry to hear that you don’t think we are doing this well!

      1. You are doing this well! Thank you for your time and service and posts and articles. Everyone can evaluate products for themselves-many products have good/not so good ingredients. I’d just as soon choose something with no toxic ingredients- but each person can choose for themself! If you think the good outweighs the bad- then go for it! Thanks again for your time and research! Really helpful!

  39. This makes me think of the antivax campaigns in some ways. With just a list of ingredients and no information about each concerning chemical. I’d like to see some information on how much of each (per gram or ml of whatever) goes into each tube. Then from there have a comprehensive list of how much of each and how much time exposure each chemical listed takes to cause the described effects. Just a thought instead of just telling people “this is bad because of this.” say “this is bad because of this, and here’s how much exposure you get by using it”

    1. Well I mean this is probably written by an overconcerned mom… not a scientist. Doesn’t make it not true that it has harmful ingredients, but I’d take everything with a grain of salt. And don’t forget that the sun is carcinogenic in too large a quantity too. Maybe just use Blistex in moderation.

  40. …seems like no one botherd to do their homework, speak with purpose or not at all. Unlike all of blistex’s competetors which i have tried, blistex products have worked for my chronic chapped lips very well, not only that but with promising results i use the medicated ointment to accelerate the healing of cuts and to treat acne…that said i have no knowledge of HOW it works (the reason i ended up here)…so rather than naming some random chemicals and saying “these are scarry bad bad” try putting out some….usefull..and…accurate.. information.

    I am not affiliated with blistex yada yada im just a consumer sharing my exsperiance and searching for real information.

    1. I used blistex ointment for years with no problems. Then last week used it for chapped lips and got burnt lips instead. Painful, scarred lips instead of healed lips. Won’t ever use it again.

    2. Toxic chemicals are toxic chemicals. I loved Blistex and used it for many years until I developed occupational asthma. It became a trigger for me so I quit. My husband still loves it. We have a dog that is very attached to my husband but once he puts it on , she runs from him. I don’t kiss him when it’s on because it’s an asthma trigger for me. Maybe it won’t effect everyone or cause cancer for all but I avoid anything that makes me unable to properly breathe. Great article ! Our personal care products have many unhealthy ingredients in them, I appreciate the article.

  41. Thank you for this post! I’ve just found an old tube of blistex and wanted to research a bit its ingredients. It goes to the bin.

    For previous comment: dear T.R. as mentioned above it a series “what’s wrong with” so there is no room for being fair and mentioning some good things. Especially that bad stuff always dismisses the good additives.

  42. Seems to me, that if you’re going to research a product, you need to tell everything about it. NOT just the things YOU personally don’t like about it. Blistex does indeed have the ingredients in it you listed, but it also has other good ingredients. They also have an ‘herbal’ balm as well.
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/168895-blistex-lip-balm-ingredients/

    1. Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, Blistex’s herbal balm is the definition of Sneaky Stuff, containing octinoxate, petrolatum, and oxybenzone.

      1. Hi Maia,

        Thanks for letting me and the public know this information. I had NO idea. And as for people saying to mention the good things, if something is toxic, I’m not sure I care about “good” ingredients. The best thing to do is just inform and let others make their decision. This one is gone for me. I won’t use that anymore.

        1. They left out a lot. The amount your getting will NOT harm you. Now if you were to eat the whole thing at once it might but I’d say if you’re dumb enough to do that you kinda deserve it.

          Though blistex and vaccines are different I’m going to use it as an example. Vaccines carry a small amount of the virus it’s trying to prevent so your body can create anti bodies to prevent it. The amount given is not enough to make you sick. Just like blistex.
          The amount given is not enough to hurt you.

          1. The analogy you try to draw here is incorrect – most vaccines contain attenuated virus that cannot infect, as it has only neutralized components of the virus to initiate the immune response. In fact, a small amount of virus (even a single virion) can be infectious. In making the virus analogy, however, you have struck upon the truth that I personally hold: even a small amount of something bad can have significant consequences to the whole organism. Not knowing what those consequences are ought to make us more wary, not less.

      2. Hi Maia,

        I use combination of Badger and whole foods brand USDA certifies organic lip balm.
        Any review on whole foods one ? My 2 year old , i havent started using anything yet…what do you reccomend for toddlers ?

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