I have bad skin. Any change in temperature causes me to dry out like a prune. Too much central heating causes me to desecrate like a coconut. Lips are no exception and I spend the majority of my year plastering them with various products to keep them from flaking off. I’ve tried a lot of different things in the past so I’ve made this handy list showing which ones, in my opinion at the least, are the best and why.
I’ve rated each product out of 10 and given the price in pounds sterling along with an approximate conversion to USD, since most people who view this blog use those currencies. Apologies if you live outside UK or USA. Hopefully the value for money rating will give you a reasonable idea.
Price paid: £1 ($1.50) each, although most places sell for around £1.40 ($2)
Value for money: 6/10
Vaseline is a pretty good all round lip product. It forms a coating that protects the lips so it’s particularly useful for cold weather, but some people feel that this dries their lips out. It is very good for lubricating trumpet slides though.
2. Blistex Relief Cream
Rating: 5/10 You have to use it in moderation
Price paid: £2.50 (Approx. $3.55)
Value for money: 8/10 (Expensive to begin with but you use very little per application)
One of the active ingredients in Blistex is phenol. This is actually a mild skin irritant and is designed to remove dry skin from very chapped lips. Continuous use can dry the lips out further, meaning you are compelled to use more of the product and this can lead to a cycle in which you’re using the cream constantly. I’ve found Blistex to be the most useful thing for treating lip infections which I’m particularly prone to. I presume this is due to the Campher and Menthol which produce that cooling feeling on the skin. However, I usually have to stop playing for a couple of days at the least while I recover from lip infections so using the cream frequently is less of a problem. I tend to use Blistex if my lips are very dry and sore as well but limit the application to once or twice a day.
3. ‘Lipsore’ 5% Cream
Rating: 6/10 It’s an essential if you get cold sores, but sadly even using a product like this does speed up recovery that much
Price paid: Unknown. Different brands vary widely and I buy the cheapest each time. They all have the same active ingredient.
Value for money: N/A
This is for treating cold sores. It contains the active ingredient, ‘Aciclovir’ which is found in a lot of cold sore treatments including the expensive branded ones. It soothes the stinging and helps cold sores to clear up slightly faster. However, as you’ll know if you get them, there’s a minimum time of about five days that they take to clear up and no amount of treatment will ever make that much faster. Catching them early with the cream does seem to stop them from fully developing however, which makes it easier to live (and play) with them.
4. Chap Stick Original
Price paid: £1.29 ($1.85)
Value for money: 6/10
I tend to avoid these given the frequency at which I get cold sores. You run the risk of transferring the virus onto the stick which can then cause another outburst if you continue to use it once the current sore has cleared up. This particular one contains many of the same ingredients as vaseline (and I’d be willing to bet a lot of other brands are the same), so I prefer to just use a little tub. The medicated version contains some similar ingredients to the Blistex cream.
5. Simple Derma
Price paid: £2.99 for 400ml ($4.25)
Value for money: 8/10
This product seems to have been discontinued. Other moisturisers will work as well, although this one is my all time favourite. I’ll post an update if I find something that’s as good.
While this isn’t strictly speaking intended for lips, it works a treat. It’s designed for very sensitive skin so it’s very gentle. It also soaks in quickly so if your lips are just a bit dry it’s the perfect thing. It doesn’t protect your lips from drying out when you’re outside like vaseline type products do but it also doesn’t sit there for a long time making it an ideal moisturiser for playing. Simple Derma is my favourite but I except any similar moisturiser designed for sensitive skin would do the same thing. It lasts for ages too.
6. Chop Saver
Price paid: £7.99 ($11.30) for two (one with SPF 15)
Value for money: 7/10
I thought these weren’t available in the UK at all until recently. I found them in a music shop called PJS music in Barnsley of all places. According to the Chopsaver website, most lip balms are based on petroleum and this is bad. They reckon that any petroleum or alcohol based lip balms will dry the lips out. Therefore, they use all natural ingredients in their balms including but not limited to shea butter, mango butter, arnica, vitamin E and comfrey. I didn’t know what to except, but I’ve used Chop Saver for about two weeks now and I’ve found it’s excellent at keeping the lips feeling ‘right’. It seems to be able to return them to normal quickly after a heavy gig, perhaps owing to the arnica (an anti bruising agent) in it. It also seemed to help heal splits in my lips very quickly. To sum up, I think they’re on to something. I’m even willing to ignore the fact that Chop Saver is in a tube rather than a tin because it’s so useful.