Chapstick is not vegan. This famous lip balm uses lanolin oil, which is unethically obtained from sheep’s wool.
Dehydrated and dried lips are a common problem worldwide, and in some cases, it can be quite painful.
Luckily for us, the idea of chapstick was invented in the 1800s. Since then, people have been able to keep their lips moisturized whenever necessary.
What is Chapstick?
‘Chapstick’ refers specifically to the brand name of a lip balm manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, and it’s used in countries all over the world. It was made with the idea to treat ‘chapped’ lips, hence the name ‘Chapstick.’
But over the years, the words ‘chapstick’ and ‘lip balm’ have been used interchangeably, with many identifying any lip balm product as a ‘chapstick.’
Is Chapstick Vegan?
While there are vegan lips balms that use ingredients like olive oil and shea butter, chapstick, in particular, isn’t vegan.
The primary ingredient in chapstick is ‘lanolin,’ which is a type of oil derived from sheep’s wool.
Some versions of chapstick may also contain beeswax, honey, and glycerin sourced from animals. Additionally, specific artificial colors (eg, Red 40, Yellow 5) and flavors used in these products may be tested on animals. But even without the artificial ingredients, the use of lanolin itself is cruel.
Why is Lanolin Cruel?
It would be fair to assume that lanolin can be obtained in a cruelty-free manner as sheep are not killed for their wool.
However, the wool industry itself is a hellish business where cruelty and exploitation run rampant.
Most workers who shear the sheep are more concerned about meeting their daily quotas and care little for the welfare of the sheep they are shearing. As a result of their rapid work pace, many sheep are cut or clipped while being fleeced, while some are even left with severe wounds.
Most sheep are tagged at the ear when they are born, indicating their place as a commodity, to be used and exploited. Moving the sheep from pen to pen involves a lot of shoving and prodding. Workers even resort to using electric rods to hurry the sheep along.
While shearing, it can be challenging to get the sheep to comply and so some workers may resort to brute force to ensure the sheep stay in place while they are fleeced. Thousands of sheep die from injury and mistreatment on wool farms, and thousands more are made to lead miserable lives simply so we can obtain wool for clothing and lanolin.
Finally, the wool industry is directly linked to the meat industry, and many sheep are sent to slaughter once they’ve been fleeced.
So while wool itself may not be an ingredient that comes from killing an animal, it is obtained through cruel practices. The wool industry also clears large swathes of forest land to set up farms. All the water used to sluice the pens often finds its way into water bodies, polluting lakes, and rivers.
It’s quite clear that lanolin, which is obtained from wool, is not vegan and, in fact, harmful to innocent beings and the environment. But is there a way to combat chapped lips without resorting to cruelty?
Vegan Chapstick Alternatives
While chapstick isn’t vegan, plant-based lips balms have been in business for years now. Most vegan lip balms use nut-based or fruit-based oils instead of lanolin, some of which offer potential long-term benefits as well.
If you’re looking for cruelty-free lip balm, here are a few vegan ones you should definitely try out.
1. Eco Lips
Eco Lips extracts all their oils from organic nuts and seeds. Their ingredients include sunflower seed oil, cocoa butter, and coconut oil. It’s also quite affordable, considering the quality and the fact that it’s completely organic.
This product also uses various oils to provide specific benefits such as rehydration, smoothing, and plumping.
Hurraw is one of the more popular vegan lip balms on the market and comes in an assortment of colors and flavors. All their nut oils are cold-pressed at low temperatures to retain essential nutrients. Their products also combine essential oils to give all-round protection to your lips.
The only downside is that some flavors are a little thick, almost as thick as Vaseline, and may be quite visible when applied.
3. Pure + Simple
This lip balm aims to rejuvenate and replenish skin cells on the lip, giving your lips those much-needed nutrients. The best part about this lip balm is that its texture is almost perfect, not too thick or too oily, so that it can be easily applied in public.
Additionally, Pure+Simple is also free from coconut oil for those who are allergic or simply can’t stand the smell.
4. Sun Bum
Sun Bum is perhaps one of the few vegan lip balms out there that come with SPF. In fact, it comes with an SPF triple-action formula to protect your lips against UVA and UVB rays.
But while Sun Bum is completely vegan, it isn’t 100% organic or natural and contains certain chemicals.
It’s also a little thin compared to most other vegan lip balms and may need to be applied multiple times. But it’s great for those really prone to dry lips, thanks to the added sun protection.
5. Pacifica Lip Care
One of the most popular SPF lip balms, Pacifica Lip Care, combines coconut and shea butter to give you a soft, creamy texture that’s soothing to the lips. This product also uses all-natural, ethically-sourced ingredients, making it an excellent base for lipsticks and allowing the tint to last much longer.
The best part is that this vegan lip balm is even water-resistant up to 80 minutes and can be applied on the beach before you go swimming. The only downsides with this are that the flavor isn’t exactly pleasant and might burn if applied to cracked lips.
6. Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm
The balm from Drunk Elephant gives your lips a fuller, more radiant look thanks to the combination of ingredients it uses.
This balm uses peptides and sea fern algae, giving your lips that much-needed omega-3 to allow for better circulation. It also contains avocado and mongongo to make your lips feel soft and lush.
And while this balm may not offer SPF, it’s packed with vitamin C and green tea leaf extract, giving your lips adequate protection from UV rays. It’s completely natural and also relatively light, perfect for daily use.
7. Crazy Rumours
Crazy Rumours comes in various exciting flavors, including banana split, raspberry sorbet, and mint chocolate. But the crazy colors and flavors don’t undermine the effectiveness of this lip balm.
This product also offers a rare combination of jojoba oil and shea butter, giving your lips a more full, healthy look. Additionally, it’s got this smooth, non-cakey texture making it pleasant and easy to apply.
8. Kopari Lip Glossy
Kopari Lip Glossy is made from pure, 100% organic coconut oil, meant to rehydrate and rejuvenate the lips. This oil is sourced directly from the Philippines through ethical and fair trade.
It’s packed with omega fatty acids and vitamin E to promote better circulation and keep your lips looking smooth.
Apart from simply hydrating your lips, this balm also has a glossy effect and can double as a lip gloss if you’re ever in need of one.
9. Honest Beauty
Honest Beauty, as the name suggests, is sourced through completely ethical practices and comes with a moisture-lock formula, keeping your lips hydrated for almost 8 hours after application.
The avocado oil, along with acai and pomegranate sterols, ensures plenty of antioxidant activity, keeping your lips safe from cell damage.
It also comes in a variety of exotic flavors, including dragonfruit, lychee fruit, white nectarine, and summer melon.
Soapwalla offers an assortment of different flavors and textures, but their best one yet is perhaps the Lip Locked Lavender Mint flavor.
Their special ‘lip locked’ formula keeps the moisture trapped in the lips, preventing dehydration even in dry weather. The lavender essential oil in this formula helps you relax and unwind while the mint extract gives your lips a slight tingly effect. That’s right, you can get a light kick from merely applying this balm.
Conclusion – Chapstick is Not Vegan
Along with a few other lip balms, chapstick uses animal ingredients in their manufacturing process, making them unsuitable for vegans. And even if animal derivatives aren’t used directly, certain ingredients may be tested on animals, so it’s difficult to tell whether the product is vegan or not.
Your safest bet would be to try out one of the vegan options listed out here and steer clear of animal cruelty. And with so many options to choose from, this is an easy lifestyle change to make.
So let’s stay away from chapstick and other non-vegan products that exploit animals and keep our lips moisturized and lush in a healthy, ethical way.