Do you want to know whether hand cream can be used on lips? Maybe it is not impossible. But I don’t think it is a good idea. There are a couple of reasons for that. 

Read below what they are.

Can hand cream be used on lips?

No, because:

  • The skin of the lips and the hands are different. It must be treated differently for maximum effectiveness;
  • Hand creams may sometimes contain ingredients (like fragrances) that are not appropriate for lips;
  • You may lick your lips and swallow some quantity of the product. This might be a hand cream that contains inappropriate for ingestion ingredients.

Let’s go into detail on each of these three topics.

How does the lips’ skin differ from the hand’s skin? 

Like the rest of the skin, our lips have three layers. The outer layer – the epidermis, has a protective cover known as stratum corneum. Beneath the epidermis is the second layer, the dermis.

The difference with lips is that the stratum corneum is much thinner than any other body part. In addition, they do not have sebaceous glands, which have the function of hydrating the skin.

girl's lips

Saliva is the only way we can moisturize them. However, they get dry and crack very quickly this way, which is especially true during the cold season. This is why we need to apply moisturising products regularly. 

The skin on the lips also lacks hair follicles. This is also characteristic of the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Whether we see them or not, hair follicles cover every other body part.

Melanin, the pigment “responsible” for acquiring a tan due to sun exposure, is also lacking in the skin of the lips. Through it, the body naturally protects itself from ultraviolet rays. Since the lips lack it completely, they are at greater risk from the harmful effects of the sun.

Sunspots can also appear, and skin cancer can develop, so using a sunscreen lip balm could be a solution in the summer and when it snows.

The pink or red pigment comes from the blood vessels. Curiously, the pinkish-red lip contour, different from the rest of our skin, is unique to us humans.

The specifics of the hands’ skin:

hand's skin
  • The skin on the palm and inside the fingers is thick and dense.
  • The back of the hands contains almost no fatty tissue and is particularly thin.

Thus the skin on the palms and inside of the fingers:

  • is thick with a dense stratum corneum;
  • is rich in fatty and connective tissue;
  • is well padded with tissue insensitive to tension;
  • has no hairs and no sebaceous glands;
  • has a high density of sweat glands;
  • is deficient in natural moisturizing factors (NMF).

Hand creams might not be appropriate for lips

You already know how sensitive lips can be. At the same time, a hand cream may contain substances in its formula which are not suitable for the skin of the lips. 

Which are those types of ingredients?

Perfumes/fragrances – for example, butylphenyl methylpropional (lilial) is a common fragrance ingredient. (By the way, it has been banned in the EU since March 2022);

  • Parabens – the most widely used preservatives in cosmetic products – their function is to stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes. Parabens can be related to hormone issues, fertility issues, and even breast cancer;
  • Preservatives, like butylated hydroxytoluene, which is a lab-made chemical;
  • Silicones, like cyclopentasiloxane.
natural hand cream with rose

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using such ingredients in hand creams when they are not banned. I emphasize two things:

  1. There are high-quality products that you can apply to your hands, which mostly have carrier oils and plant extracts in their recipes;
  2. As for the lips, the best option to protect them is using lip balm. Let’s see the specific factor in its formula that makes it appropriate for lips’ skin.

Let’s take, for example, this lip balm. It contains cacao butter, candelilla wax, argan oil, allantoin, tocopherol (vitamin e), and stevia rebaudiana extract.

Such products do three things: they soften, hydrate and protect lips. 

They use oil and butter to moisturize lips and emollients (like candelilla wax) to soften them. The wax is also a skin-protective barrier agent that helps prevent the skin from losing moisture.

Let’s be even more specific:

natural lip balm with cacao

Cacao nutter adds a protective hydrating layer to lips, protecting them from extreme temperatures.

Argan oil has an anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle, anti-oxidant and wound-healing effect on lips.

Allantoin has soothing and healing skin properties, leaving the upper skin layer smooth and soft.

Tocopherol (Vitamin E) is a powerful antioxidant.

I hope now you can see how a lip balm specifically designed to take care of the lips can differ from a hand cream built to protect hands.

You can ingest inappropriate ingredients if you use hand cream on your lips

This third point of our topic is somehow related to the previous one, where I have mentioned some substances (though controversial) which could be absorbed harmlessly by our hands’ skin. Still, it is not recommended to be swallowed, as it might happen if put on our lips.

Is it reasonable to ingest perfume if such is in the formula? Probably not a good idea.

I know the quantity taken would likely be very little and not enough to cause severe damage. 

But if you have to choose what substances might appear in your mouth (by licking your lisps), it would be better if they are proven harmless such as cacao butter or candelilla wax, which is regarded as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for direct addition to food.  

In conclusion

It is always best to be on the safe wide. Can hand cream be used on lips? Most probably, if it is based on natural ingredients – yes. But still – better eliminate any risk. 

I suggest that you choose lip balm. This product has successfully passed the test for oral toxicity and is your most powerful solution for nourished, protected and hydrated lips.

Talk soon,


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