Nipple cream is the Best. Lip. Balm. Ever. And by nipple cream I mean 100% pure lanolin, which is what makes up the only nipple cream I've ever tried. (I don't have kids, but until I tried pure lanolin as balm, I had chronically dry lips.)
Nipple-cream lanolin is "medical-grade," an unregulated term used nonetheless to indicate that what's in the tube is ultra-purified. That means it's free of unpleasant odour and discolouration (natural lanolin is stinky and dark brown; "medical grade" is almost white and near odourless), safe and soothing for irritated skin, has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and promotes healing.
LANOLIN: THE STICKING POINT
Lanolin is sticky, yes – very. That's a literal sticking point for many, but for me it's a plus, an essential part of lanolin's charm. That ointment texture blankets poor cracked lips to protect them against the elements while keeping them supple and hydrated so they can heal, fast. Its stickiness means it stays put better than Vaseline (no shade; petrolatum is also great for creating a healing shield that keeps moisture in).
But unlike Vaseline (okay, a teensy bit of shade), lanolin stays comfortable and flexible on lips too. That may be because lanolin can absorb water, and skin can absorb lanolin (secreted by sheep's skin, it's a lot like human sebum); it helps retain moisture and prevent water loss from beneath skin’s surface as well as on top. I mean, that's how it works for sheep and their wool, right?
LANOLIN ALLERGIES ARE RARE
Allergies to lanolin are apparently much more rare than reports from years ago – and may be related more to contaminants present before it goes through the purification process.
According to Lansinoh, a brand that makes lanolin nipple cream, "allergic components [are] identified as the free lanolin alcohols in combination with detergent residues left over from the wool scouring process" and may include "environmental impurities." Sounds scary, but today's purification processes can result in a substance so literally clean that it doesn't need wiping off before breastfeeding. (You'll get better soothing, healing benefits if you give skin time to absorb the lanolin before feeding, and re-apply afterward.)
Purified lanolin is also used in a variety of body and lip care formulas, of course. Still, if you’re allergic to wool, avoid lanolin. If you aren't certain, maybe do a patch test to see if it affects you the same way.
MY FAVOURITE NIPPLE-CREAM LANOLIN LIP CARE
I’ve been using pure lanolin (no other additives) as lip balm for years now and haven’t had chapped or cracked lips since. In fact, these days I can leave my lips entirely bare in relative comfort for hours if I want to, something I couldn't do even for minutes in my previous, lanolin-less life. The following are my must-haves:
Ameda Triple Zero Lanolin Nipple Cream (35g, $12.99 CAD at well.ca/ amazon.ca and $21.33 USD at walmart.com) is my ride-or-die Holy Grail. Zero exaggeration. I've been through double-digit tubes over the years and have several on the go around the house. And it's my favourite because it's super sticky. That it's called a "cream" makes me chuckle – there's nothing creamy about it unless the tube has been warmed in, say, a sweatshirt kangaroo pocket. Not really joking – I tend to keep one on my person because warmed lanolin is a bazillion times easier to expel from a tube and apply to lips than un-warmed lanolin. (Perhaps-weird detail: pocket-warmed lanolin is ultra comforting on dry lips.) But warmed (stashing the tube under your upper thigh if you're sitting down works, too, if you're pocket-less) or not, this Ameda Triple Zero Lanolin is a life essential. I can't live even without a back-up; I actually get low-key agitated when I'm down to a single unopened box.
Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Cream (40g, $11.99 CAD at well.ca and $9.12 USD at walmart.com) is an excellent option if you prefer something a bit less sticky. My IG friend Karen (@beautyontherideau) told me about it a while back, so I tried it as soon as I could. As I mentioned just sentences ago, stickiness is a lanolin blessing for me, so this less sticky formula comes in second on my Lips Love list. For my body, though, my arms in particular (they've become stupid dry; I blame effing perimenopause), I love it. Because it isn't so sticky, it's easy to massage into damp or dry skin.
Lano Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm (15g, $23.05 at freepeople.com and $16.95 USD at lanolips.com) isn't billed as "nipple cream" but it is "medical grade," so absolutely can be used to make breastfeeding more comfortable. It comes in third only because pricing is more in line with boutique beauty in pretty packaging – and because it isn't available via Canadian retailers anymore.
Lano is a whole line of lip and skincare built around lanolin from Australia; founder Kirsten Carriol in fact sparked my lanolin love story when she was in Toronto to promote the brand's debut at Sephora Canada in 2018. (Gutted that Lanolips left Sephora Canada at the end of 2021; am assuming reasons are pandemic-impact-related.) The 101 Ointment is blended with lanolin oil to reduce stickiness and comes in a cute tube small enough to slip into a joggers pocket. The brand also has tinted and non-tinted lanolin-based lip balms worth checking out, as well as great hand and body care. Fingers crossed Lano will be physically back in Canada before long. Until then it's available to Canadians via the company's North American (aka US – pricing is USD only) site lanolips.com and freepeople.com.
OVER TO YOU
Lanolin may work best for me, but what works best to prevent your lips from chapping?
Have you ever tried a lanolin nipple cream (or pure lanolin) as lip balm?
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