Can Lipstick Cause Canker Sores: [Maybe, but…]

woman checking her lips for canker sore
  • Canker sores are a common problem, and can be caused by a variety of things
  • One of the causes is using lipstick or other cosmetics that contain petroleum-based wax or other ingredients that can cause irritation
  • Sun exposure and stress can also trigger canker sores
  • The best way to prevent them is to use lip balm or a barrier cream, and to avoid sun exposure and stress

My friends are always quick to notice when something is up with me. So when I came to a party with a new lipstick, they were quick to ask what was wrong.

I told them that I had been getting these weird canker sores on my lips and that I suspected the lipstick was the cause.

Weird, right? It’s not like you can just stop wearing lipstick because you’re worried about getting canker sores – it’s not like they’re going to go away if you don’t wear any makeup. But still, it was nice of them to be so concerned.

We all joked about it for a little while, but then we got serious and started talking about what could be causing the problem. Maybe it was the wax in the lipstick? Or the dyes? Or the chemicals? We just didn’t know.

But we promised each other that we would do some research and try to figure out what was going on. And then, if it turned out that the lipstick was really the cause, we would find a way to help her switch to a new brand.

Luckily, it didn’t take us too long to find an answer. After some digging, we discovered that one of the main ingredients in lipstick is petroleum-based wax. And we all know that petroleum-based products aren’t great for your skin – they can often cause irritation and even trigger an allergic reaction.

So there you have it – we knew what was causing her canker sores! Now we just needed to help her find a new lipstick brand that wouldn’t cause her so much pain.


Can lipstick cause canker sores?

It is possible for lipstick to cause canker sores. Canker sores are small ulcers on the inside of your mouth, typically resulting from a cold or the flu.

The lipstick thin layer of color put on your lips can lead to irritation and ulceration, resulting in one of these painful little bumps.

In this article, we will discuss why lipstick can cause canker sores, as well as the best way to prevent and treat these painful, annoying bumps.

The Science Behind It

Found in your lips and elsewhere on your body, lysosomes are small fluid-filled sacks that hold enzymes. On your lips, they break down dead skin cells.

When you use lipstick, these lysosomes are exposed to the chemicals that form part of the makeup itself and a reaction begins. The result is a canker sore on your lips or inside of your mouth.

This reaction is not painful at first, and it may seem like there is nothing wrong. But when the sore does form, it will hurt like a standard canker sore.

Lipstick’s main ingredient is petroleum-based wax, which adds shine to the product. It also has dyes and chemicals that act as preservatives. And of course, you have the choice of flavor for your lipstick in addition to color.

All of these ingredients can cause irritation in your mouth and trigger ulceration on your lip or inside of your mouth.

Other Triggers of Canker Sores

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Sun exposure and stress can contribute to the formation of a canker sore. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can result in a painful case of sunburn.

This is not the same as a sunburn caused by being out in the sun too long (a burn that appears red and is painful, like hot flames on your skin). Ultraviolet rays do not cause the skin to appear red or hurt when you first come into contact with them.

Instead, they trigger an allergic reaction in your body as a DNA repair mechanism. DNA is sensitive to UV rays, so your body responds by sending cells to repair the damage, which causes ulcerations on the skin’s surface (and on your lips).

Also, stress can make you more susceptible to canker sores. People who experience high amounts of stress are more likely to develop inflammation and pain in other parts of their bodies.

Your body’s response to stress includes the release of hormones into your bloodstream that activate the immune system, which invades your skin or mouth.

Some people are also genetically predisposed to canker sores. Your genes and the environment play a role in your ability to fight off the cause of a canker sore.

For example, people with a certain histamine receptor deficiency (histamine is a chemical that “excites” your immune system) are more likely to get canker sores and develop them more quickly.

Preventing Canker Sores from Occurring

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The best way to prevent canker sores is by using a lip balm or other type of barrier that protects your lips. Some lip balms are even made with natural ingredients, so you will be less likely to develop problems as a result of using them.

Using makeup with a high SPF or wearing sunblock is another way to protect your lips from UV rays, which can cause canker sores to form. And the less stress in your life, the better, so find ways to reduce stress in your life and you’ll be less likely to get canker sores.

Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic and/or a steroid if you have recurring cases of canker sores that do not respond to home treatment.

Antibiotics are used because they target bacterial infections, while steroids reduce inflammation and swelling in the area surrounding the sore.

Lipstick and other cosmetics can lead to canker sores, and any attempt at-home treatment for canker sores must use lip balm or a barrier as a moisturizer to prevent the pain of canker sores.

If you are prone to these painful ulcers, alternate applying your makeup with one hand while using the other hand to rub a lip balm over your lips.

You should also wear sunscreen (SPF 30 is recommended) and protect yourself from the sun, which can cause burns on your lips.