What’s Really in Chapstick?

Dry lips are common at any time of the year. If itís not the dry, blustery winter, itís the hot summer sun wreaking havoc on our lips. The Chapstick brand has become synonymous with lip balm. In fact, you see it in the checkout lane at the grocery store, drug store, and even the gas station. Due to my†exposť on dangerous ingredients found in kids cosmetic products, I wanted to take a closer look at whatís really in this widely used product.

Whatís Really in Chapstick?

Chapstick is loaded with questionable ingredients. Hereís whatís in†Chapstick Lip Balm in Classic Cherry flavor:

Ingredients:†Arachidyl propionate, camphor, carnauba wax, cetyl alcohol,†fragrance, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, light mineral oil, menthol, methylparaben, octyldodecanol, paraffin, phenyl trimethicone, Propylparaben, red 6 lake,†saccharin, white wax.

Questionable Chapstick Ingredients


Camphor is a waxy substance derived from the camphor tree. Itís classified by the Environmental Working Group as potentially toxic. According to†Medscape, ďIngestion of even small doses of camphor can cause fatal poisoning in small children. It produces gastrointestinal and central nervous system irritation after toxic ingestion. Nausea and vomiting followed by agitation and seizures are common.Ē Why would Pfizer include a potentially dangerous ingredient in a product that kids use all the time?


When ďfragranceĒ is listed in the ingredients, you can assume itís synthetic and not a blend of natural flower extracts.†The†National Academy of Sciences†(NAS) reports that ď95% of the ingredients used to create fragrances today are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum, including benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known toxins and sensitizers.Ē According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there are potentially hundreds of chemicals in a single productís secret fragrance mixture.

Isopropyl Myristate

Though itís used to moisturize, isopropyl myristate actually dries the skin and hair, causing cracks and fissures. It also encourages bacterial growth. Itís classified as a human skin irritant, according to the†National Institutes of Health.

Light Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons sourced from petroleum. According to†EWG, it may be an organ and immune system toxicant as well as a carcinogen. Light†mineral oil†can also be potentially contaminated with cancer-causing chemical polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Additionally, the environmental impact of using products sourced from crude oil, a non-renewable resource, is also of concern.

Methylparaben and Propylparaben

These are both parabens, preservatives used to discourage the growth of microbes in personal care products. Theyíre known†endocrine disruptors, which means they disrupt hormone function and are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Endocrine disruptors mimic estrogen in the body by binding to estrogen receptors on cells and wreaking havoc on the bodyís organ systems, especially the reproductive system.


Paraffin†is a petrochemical (a byproduct of petroleum) and a by-product of kerosene. According to David Pollack, founder of†Just Ask David, it traps toxins and excess oil on the body so that your skin canít breathe properly. It has been shown to have trace amounts of 1,4 Dioxane, a known carcinogen. Iím not sure if the white was listed in the ingredients also refers to paraffin, but since they donít specify, I will assume it is.


Saccharin, an artificial sweetener, is used in this case as a flavoring agent (it makes the lip balm taste sweet). Although it is no longer considered to be a human carcinogen (early studies in rats showed a link to urinary bladder cancer), I prefer to avoid all man-made chemically derived artificial sweeteners.

There are many safer lip balm alternatives available. One I really like is†EcoLips. Itís made with natural and organic ingredients, itís vegan (itís made with a plant wax called Candelilla wax), and itís never tested on animals. I also like organic lip balms from†Badgerís†and†Dr. Bronnerís.

Andrea Donsky†is the†Founder & Chief Passionista at NaturallySavvy.com.

Related at Care2


Sarah A
Sarah A5 days ago

thank you

mac C
mac Cabout a month ago

I haven't used Chapstick for years. I use some made with beeswax and one by Badger and another by Wild Carrot... all found in your local health food stores. Good post.

Barbara S
Barbara Sabout a month ago


Melanie St. Germaine
Melanie St Germaineabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

Maria P
Martha P1 months ago

many thanks

Jan S
Jan S1 months ago

Thanks for posting

Frances G
Carla G1 months ago


Ingrid A
Past Member 1 months ago

thank you

Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer2 months ago

HMMM. Dr. Jan Hill uses bees wax. Where does one get this?

Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill2 months ago

I just use bees wax.