The best moisturizing lip balm will generally not contain artificial flavors or additives that dry out skin and leave them more susceptible to chapping. Since chapped lips are the result of delicate skin cells drying out due to lack of natural oils, adding moisture to the lips in the form of nutrient-rich natural oils and butters is a good approach. When choosing a moisturizing lip balm, beware of damaging or drying ingredients, and note that common ingredients such as waxes and petroleum jelly do not actually penetrate and hydrate skin.
A moisturizing lip balm soothes and prevents chapped lips by deeply hydrating the very delicate outer skin cells on the lips. If the outer layers of skin are allowed to dry out and crack or peel, they expose raw, sensitive inner layers of skin which can cause annoyance or discomfort. There is a subtle distinction between lip balms that moisturize dry lips and lip balms that are intended to protect dry lips that are already moisturized. Common and often extolled ingredients such as petroleum jelly and various waxes sit atop the lips, but do not actually penetrate the skin; this forms a protective barrier against damaging weather conditions such as wind and sun, but will not help hydrate skin that is already chapped.
The best moisturizing lip balm, therefore, will contain hydrating ingredients that are actually able to penetrate your skin. Natural butters such as cocoa, kokum, pumpkin, avocado, and hemp butters are rich in vitamins that help moisturize the skin. Since the skin on your lips can not naturally produce its own oils, it is usually beneficial to choose a moisturizing lip balm made with natural oils. Ingredients such as olive, jojoba, kukui, almond, grapeseed, coconut, and many others contain essential vitamins and often omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids that are very hydrating.
When you are selecting a moisturizing lip balm, there are some ingredients you must avoid. Lip balms that are labeled as “medicated” often contain additives such as menthol or salicyclic acid; these ingredients may cause a temporary soothing or tingling sensation, but they can actually worsen the condition of chapped, dry lips and delay healing. Similarly, be wary of artificial flavors or scents. Some scents such as peppermint or lavender, among others, can be created using natural oils and are less likely to be drying. Unnatural scents such as bubblegum or soda pop will almost certainly be made from unnatural ingredients that might irritate or continue to dry out your lips.