Is ChapStick Vegan?
The pharmacist discusses why ChapStick brand lip balm is not vegan.
I am a vegan and wondering if Chapstick products are considered vegan friendly?
No, ChapStick is not vegan as it contains ingredients derived from animals, notably lanolin.
Lanolin is a fat that is obtained from wool-bearing animals, such as sheep. It is also known as wool wax, wool grease, or wool fat.
Specifically, lanolin is derived from secretions of the sebaceous glands, which functions as a protective coat on wool (1).
Lanolin is used in a variety of topical skin products as a protectant since it is a natural moisturizer with strong emollient properties. Emollients/moisturizers work by forming an oily layer on top of the skin, trapping water underneath, resulting in the 'softening' of skin (2).
While lanolin is often one of many ingredients in topical products, it can be used by itself for several dermatologic conditions, including:
- Skin abrasions
- Diaper rash
- Dry skin
Lanolin containing products are generally considered to be safe, but skin irritation (burning, stinging, redness) may occur and the development of allergic dermatitis has been reported.
Going back to ChapStick, here is the label for the 'Original' product:
As you can see, it contains lanolin.
Other ChapStick varieties, such as 'Moisturizer', 'Cherry' and 'Medicated', all contain lanolin as well and are therefore not vegan friendly.
The active ingredient, white petrolatum, is also what is in Vaseline products (regular Vaseline contains 100% white petrolatum). It is derived from oil and not animal based.
When it comes to vegan products, testing on animals is also of concern.
Since we are talking about ChapStick, the manufacturer website states the following regarding testing on animals:
Are ChapStick® products tested on animals?
In the USA, animals are not used to test ChapStick®. Human volunteers are used to test new products. Certain countries outside of the USA may mandate animal testing for cosmetics.
If you are looking for vegan friendly lip balm alternatives, the PETA website has a list of products they recommend.
Answer SummaryChapStick brand lip balms are not vegan as they contain at least one ingredient derived from animals, lanolin.
If you are looking to avoid animal based ingredients in lip balm products, it is important to always check the labels. Common lip balm ingredients that may be animal based include:
- Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (some may be animal derived)
- FD&C and D&C artificial colors (may be tested on or derived from animal sources)
- Emu oil
- Glycerin or glycerol (may be derived from animal sourced soap manufacturing)
If you see a questionable ingredient in a lip balm product, such as glycerin or artificial colors, your best bet is to call the manufacturer to inquire whether or not they are derived from animals.
What Is In Vegan Lip Balm
A vegan lip balm will generally have more, or completely naturally derived, ingredients as well as no artificial colors or flavorings.
Instead of lanolin, you may see ingredients such as shea butter or coconut oil substituted to help moisturize chapped lips. Other common ingredients in vegan lip balms include:
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
- Safflower oil
- Castor oil
- Macadamia Nut Oil
- Olive oil
- Candelilla wax
For one example, 'Hurraw' is one of the best-selling vegan brands of lip balm. Their 'Black Cherry Tinted Lip Balm' contains the following ingredients:
- Carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil
- Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil
- Euphorbia cerifera cera (candelilla) wax
- Theobroma cacao (cacao) seed butter
- Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil
- Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil
- Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil
- Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil
- Aroma (natural flavor)
- Alkanna tinctoria (alkanet) root extract
It may take some time to find a vegan lip balm product you like, and compares to the relief/protection that you get from ChapStick. Nevertheless, there are plenty of options out there and you should be able to find one that suits you!