The white stuff on your lips is annoying — especially if you have sensitive skin or a sensitive tooth. You might even think it’s disgusting, but what can you do? It happens. But don’t worry — it isn’t anything to be ashamed of! It happens when the natural oil content in your lip balm is higher than the amount of oil that the balm can retain. This white residue is actually called polyisoprene, which makes up about 10% of all lip balms. This natural polymer absorbs moisture from the air and makes your lips feel soft and hydrated. While it doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t harm your teeth or skin and there are plenty of ways to get rid of it.
Why Do I Get White Stuff On My Lips?
It happens when the natural oil content in your lip balm is higher than the amount of oil that the balm can retain. This white residue is actually called polyisoprene, which makes up about 10% of all lip balms. This natural polymer absorbs moisture from the air and makes your lips feel soft and hydrated. While it doesn’t taste good, it isn’t harmful to teeth or skin and it can help keep your lips looking and feeling soft for a long time.
What Can I Do With White Stuff On My Lips?
- This white stuff on your lips is actually called polyisoprene, which makes up about 10% of all lip balms. This natural polymer absorbs moisture from the air and makes your lips feel soft and hydrated. It doesn’t taste good, but it doesn’t harm your teeth or skin and it can help keep your lips looking and feeling soft for a long time.
- The white residue comes off very easily if you use a toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste to scrub the residue away. You may want to brush your teeth right after applying the lip balm with this same method — this will make it easier to get rid of the “white stuff” in your lip because it will be easier to wipe off while your lips are still wet with saliva (which usually happens when you bite into something that is slightly sour — like citrus).
- It may also be beneficial if you warm some alcohol (such as rubbing alcohol) in the microwave on low power for 4–5 seconds, then wipe the skin right away with a paper towel or cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol — let air dry for an hour before using lipstick/gloss or touching anything else that might transfer (like keys/phone).
- Avoid eating citrus fruits or chewing gum that has an acidic flavor like bubblegum during this period as well as anytime over 8 hours from coming into contact with orange juice for at least 4 hours after exposure so new bacteria can be killed off that might prevent white stuff from coming off — even if you just ate lemon wedges before and/or immediately after coming in contact with the orange juice.
- While this is a very rare occurrence, if it happens to you I would recommend trying to get rid of the white stuff on your lips within 24 hours (especially if your lip balm contains sunscreen). I would also recommend avoiding lip balms that contain sunscreen once they are exposed to the sun or UV light for at least 8 hours after application. Some people have reported that the white stuff came off after one week or so of avoiding these situations (although I personally haven’t seen it personally happen yet — but I have heard other people tell me this and I will keep you all updated if it happens to me, which is unlikely).
What Causes White Stuff On Lips?
- The most common cause of the white stuff is sunscreen. I have seen people say that they had the white stuff on their lips when they applied a lip balm with sunscreen to their lips, but then they stopped using the lip balm and it came off within 2–3 days — which is not good because all of the sunscreens in your lip balm has been absorbed by your lips and now you are left with nothing to protect them from sun damage.
- Sometimes when you apply a lip balm with SPF to your lips there will be little bumps or raised areas where the SPF has been applied to your skin — this is likely due to an allergic reaction from sunscreens or ingredients (like fragrance) in some lip balms.
- I have seen people say that they are getting white stuff on their lips when they are eating or drinking anything with an acidic flavor (like lemon, lime, or orange) — these foods can really irritate your lips and cause them to swell.
- I have also seen people say that they are getting white stuff on their lips when they are in a car with the windows rolled up and the air-conditioning is blowing out of the vents into the car. I have also heard that if you have a sunroof in your car, it can blow air from outside into your car and make your lips swell.
- Lastly, I have heard from some people that their lip balms got exposed to UV light for too long (this is unlikely).
How Does My Lip Balm Work?
- Lip balm protects and moisturizes the skin on your lips by essentially acting as a barrier to prevent your lips from tearing and superheating upon contact with cold, hot or dry air in addition to air and water, triggering an allergic reaction that causes inflammation which can lead to redness (chapped/dry, painful), burning as well as damage to blood vessels. Lip balm forms a protective barrier against dry and windy weather. This moisture is transferred from a crushed balm into the outer layer of your skin where there’s no sunburn experiencing heat while simultaneously protecting lip tissue that’s suffering hypothermia — aka the cold.
- Lip balm is absorbed through the outer layer of your skin after it dries… no need for prolonged exposure or touching one’s lips to wipe them — depending upon lip balm consistency, thin layers just like dancing a brush and allowing that to dry before fixing on top.
- Once lip balm is absorbed into the skin, then any chemicals it contains (such as parabens from petrolatum) actually disappear into the skin which won’t be any different than applying perfume — glyceryl resinate which acts as a humectant — hygroscopic (programmed to absorb moisture).
- Therefore the primary ingredients in most conventional lip balms may be petroleum derivative, petroleum derivative ester, class jane, n-hexadecene fatty acid amide, cinnamic aldehyde, and/or benzyl alcohol — synthetic oils such as undecylenic acid and glycerol can also be used due to their low molecular weight. Some small ‘artists’ like (Stacey Charron) use brassy pigments while other costly, high-quality handcrafted lines are designed with more finely milled pigments allowed only to be used in quality handcrafted natural cosmetics giving great transparency with beautiful shimmer or shimmer application depending on choice.
Lip balm has many benefits but like any product that’s protecting or providing moisture to the skin, it can have potential side effects. (Think about what’s in lip balm — and avoid products that contain known toxins, carcinogens, and neurotoxins.) Some articles I read said they always allow their lip balms to ‘air out’ after removing from the tube opening for several weeks before placing it on the lip. Others said that if one wants more comfortable lips, simply apply some petroleum jelly when making homemade lip balms as this cuts through the dryness.