When it comes to protecting your skin from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, you should treat your lips with just as much care as you do any other exposed part of your body. That means frequently applying a balm that offers a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Another must for golfers is a balm that keeps lips from becoming a crusty, cracked mess by the end of a five-hour round. In a pinch, any balm is better than none, but selecting one that excludes harmful ingredients also is important.
What are the ingredients you do not want in a lip balm? The most common is a chemical called oxybenzone, which has been shown to cause allergic reactions, disrupt the hormone system, and make it more difficult to have children. Another chemical to avoid is phenol, which can cause respiratory issues and irritations of the skin. Retinal palmitate (vitamin A palmitate) also is used in many lip balms but has been linked to diseases, including cancer.
The ingredient you want in a lip balm is zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (or a combination of the two). These are what shield your lips from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Keep in mind that the SPF needs to be at least 15, but anything higher than 50 is nothing more than a marketing gimmick, because the balm will wear off too fast for anything that boasts longer protection to matter. Reapplying every three to five holes is important.
In terms of moisturizing ingredients, aloe, shea butter and other oils are ideal. The flavors you choose are all about personal preference, but anything with a cooling ingredient such as mint is refreshing on a summer day.
All Terrain Armor Lip Protection and Healing Balm, Peppermint, SPF 28, $3
Beyond Coastal Lip Balm, Mint Leaf, SPF 15, $3
Raw Elements USA Lip Rescue, SPF 30, $6