Inside: What experts have to say about lip balm addiction. Is lip balm addictive? Or are we over-exaggerating?
Next to the bed. In the car. On the kitchen counter…
I’m talking about lip balm!
I have to keep lip balm everywhere I go!
Turns out I’m not alone — a recent meme circulating on Facebook about chapstick obsession garnered tens of thousands of shares and comments. There’s even an online forum called Lip Balm Anonymous (and it’s not a parody website!)
I often joke that I’m addicted to lip balm — but is lip balm addiction even a real thing?
And if so, is it something we should worry about?
Is Lip Balm Addictive?
Chemically, no. There is nothing in lip gloss or lip balm that causes your body to become physically dependent on it, in the way that drugs or alcohol do.
But that doesn’t mean that many people don’t become addicted to lip balm in other ways. Experts, like Dr. Holly Phillips acknowledge that lip balm addiction is a real thing for many people.
On a recent television appearance, Dr. Phillips explained that “There is both a psychological as well as physical component, especially with medicated lip balms.”
Why Lip Balm IS Addictive:
- It’s Psychological — There doesn’t need to be chemical dependence or withdrawal symptoms to create a psychological addiction. For example, gambling is additive, despite not being physically or chemically so. Your brain can still become addicted to a certain type of behavior.
- Applying Lip Balm is Habit-Forming — The habit of putting on chapstick or lip balm often becomes a part of a person’s daily routine. For example, before I go to bed, I always apply lip balm so my lips won’t feel dry at night. Using chapstick can become a habit just like wanting to drink a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
- Lip Balm Causes Irritation — Certain common ingredients in lip balm (like menthol or camphor) are known to cause allergic reactions in some people – the scientific term is contact dermatitis. Since the symptoms of these reactions, like dryness and redness, mirror those of chapped lips, this usually causes a person to apply more lip balm to attempt to soothe their irritated lips. This starts a cycle of irritation and chapstick application that seemingly never ends.
- Flavored Lip Balms Encourage Lip Licking — When we lick our lips, we dry them out faster. Then we feel the need to apply more lip balm to re-moisturize. Another vicious cycle.
Is Lip Balm Addiction Something to Worry About?
Relax, my fellow lip balm lovers — unless your lip balm use begins to interfere with daily life, it’s no cause for concern.
Lip balm and chapstick are not dangerous substances. They’re not illegal. They do not cause a chemical addiction or withdrawal symptoms if you stop using them.
If you find that you’re reaching for your chapstick more than you’d like, or if you’re using lip balm and your lips are still chapped, then you may want to look for underlying issues.
How to Prevent Chapped Lips
For your convenience, we’ve included shop-able ad links to lip scrubs and lip balms that we use and love. Full disclosure policy available here.
Treating and preventing chapped lips is a three-step process:
- Hydrate — Dehydration can cause dry skin and lips.
- Exfoliate — Clearing away dry skin keeps lips healthier.
- Update — It may be time to switch products to something that doesn’t cause irritation.
Dry and flaky lips are one signal that your body is dehydrated. Drinking more water is an easy way to prevent chapped lips from happening in the first place.
However, if you’re already experiencing dry, chapped lips, you’re likely looking for instant relief. Before you reach for that tube of lip balm, try a natural exfoliating lip scrub first.
Regular exfoliating helps to slough off that outer layer of dry skin, which can harbor bacteria and cause irritation. This leaves your lips soft, smooth, and healthier.
- Make your own lip scrub: Our Vanilla Honey Homemade Lip Scrub Recipe is easy to make with simple, natural ingredients.
- Try our favorite: If you’re always on the go, PACIFICA Lips Like Sugar Candied Lemon & Sugar Lip Scrub smells amazing and comes in a handy tube for carrying in your purse. 100% cruelty-free, tastes and smells heavenly! They also have a wonderful line of natural lip balms too, in case you were wondering…wink, wink. Click here to see one of our favorites!
TIP: Stick with natural exfoliant products and avoid man-made or chemical ingredients that may cause irritation.
If your lips still feel chapped, even with regular use of lip balm, it might be the product itself that is causing the irritation. In that case a simple switch can help resolve those issues and you may find that you use less lip balm than before.
- Check the ingredients — Menthol and camphor are common culprits for allergic skin reactions, so if your lip balm contains either of those, try switching to a different brand. We’ve listed a few of our favorites at the end of the post.
- Switch your toothpaste — Using a natural lip balm, but still suffering from lip discomfort? Dermatologist Dr. R. Todd Plott explains that whitening ingredients and flavorings in some toothpastes also irritate the lips. Switching to a plain toothpaste often clears up irritation.
Our Favorite Lip Balms
If you’re looking to switch to a natural lip balm, these are some of our favorites:
- PACIFICA Vegan & Cruelty-Free Lip Balm in Hawaiian Banana
- Suzanne Organics Wild Orange Vanilla Lip Balm
- Make your own with our Chocolate Cinnamon Natural Lip Balm recipe
By definition, chapstick addiction does qualify as an addiction. However, it’s nothing life-threatening or even moderately dangerous, so there’s no reason to worry yourself.
I choose to look at my love of lip balm as another quirky part of my personality. My husband laughs about it, and even bought me a few new brands to try at Christmas. My daughters help me find lip balms when I lose them around the house. It’s kind of a family joke, and it’s totally harmless.
So if you too are a lip balm “addict,” fear not. You’re not weird, and you’re not alone!
Look for a lip balm that’s good for you and your body responds positively to, and moisturize to your heart’s content!
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Last updated on March 15th, 2019 at 03:25 pm
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