Italian brand, Dermophisiologique, makes a very good eye cream called Optyma - in fact it is one of our Five Best. So I was excited to try out a lip balm from the Optyma range called Lip Perfect ($18). When I tried it out, I liked the rich, but not greasy texture and it was immediately soothing and hydrating.

What makes this standout amongst other lip balms is something called Tinosorb. I once described this as a sun protection ingredient that might actually work and it was approved some time ago in the EU and Australia. Tinosorb is a broad spectrum sunscreen and it is unique amongst chemical sunscreens in that it both absorbs and reflects like the inorganic filters such as zinc and titanium. But the thing that makes Tinosorb (its chemical name is bemotrizinol and the individual ingredients are listed by Optyma: listed below as bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphinyl triazine) special is that it is extremely stable, whereas many other sunscreen actives are decidedly not.

Tinosorb, unlike other sunscreen actives, is very stable: it remains 98.4% intact. It can also partly protect other chemical sunscreens, such as avobenzone (Butyl methoxydibenzoyl methane) from degradation. It appears to have a good safety profile, even though current safety data are insufficient and, since Tinosorb is relatively new, it is unclear whether it could produce low-level skin damage or systemic effects with long-term use. Considering that tinosorb is stable, poorly soluble and minimally absorbed by the skin, the risks appear to be low.

Alongside Tinosorb is Octyl Methoxycinnamate is an organic ester used in sunscreens and lip balms.  A recent study concluded that Octyl Methoxycinnamate does not penetrate the outer skin in sufficient concentration to cause any significant toxicity to the underlying human keratinocytes. However, it should probably be avoided by pregnant women as estrogenic effects were noted in laboratory animals at concentrations close to those experienced by sunscreen users.

An interesting ingredient is phytosphingosine. These lipids inhibit micro-organisms and their second-messenger function, and are therefore considered part of the body’s natural defense system, and have bacteria-killing properties. Not only does this enable Phytosphingosine to prevent acne from forming, but recent studies in France have also shown it to act as an anti-inflammatory at concentrations as low as 1%. So perhaps we shouldn't be disappointed to see it at the very end of the ingredients list.

Aloe, shea, ceramide and sodium hyaluronate help moisturize the lips. I am less keen on the alumina and aluminum stearate, which can be neurotoxins, but are hopefully in doses too small to worry about here.


Tridecyl trimellitate, PEG-8 beeswax, methyl hydrogenated rosinate, hydrogenated vegetable oil, octyl methoxycinnemate, shea butter, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, titanium dioxide, carnauba wax, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphinyl triazine, butyl methoxydibenzoyl methane, tridecyl salicylate, aloe, glycrrhetinic acid, fragrance, cetyl dimethicone, polyhydroxystearic acid, alumina, aluminum stearate, sucrose distearate, sodium hyaluronate, phenoxyethanol, tocopheryl acetate, allantoin, bisabolol, ceramide-3, phytosphingosine.