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Skincare · March 26, 2015

Can You Actually Get Addicted to Lip Balm?

Lip Balm Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Lets be clear: Assuming it doesnt contain caffeine or anything other habit-forming substance, lip balm is not technically addictive. But using the wrong kindor too much of the right kindcan make your lips feel dryer and more irritated, luring you in a vicious cycle of dependence for a just few fleeting moments of relief.

How It Happens

Lets start with the popular petroleum jelly-based balms out there. The instant gratification of greasing up a pair of brittle lips is unparalleled, no doubt. And while this substance is effective in locking in moisture, its just as good at locking out moisture. While a balm should shield lips from the elements (including cold, wind, and sun), an impenetrable barrier isnt the answer.

Petroleum jelly isnt the only culprit: Dermatologists also caution against ingredients like salicylic acidintended to slough away dead cellsand camphor or phenol, which tend to soothe on contact and dry out skin shortly thereafter. But even the best balms have their limits. One veteran doctor explains that your skin can develop a sensitivity to almost any ingredient. Its called Contact Dermatitis, and the symptoms are cracking, redness, sorenessand even more mindless reapplication.

How to Fix It

Look for a lip balm that contains natural, organic ingredients (but beware those mentioned above). Plant-based moisturizers like shea butter, beeswax, and nut and seed oils will penetrate lips easily rather than sit on the surface. An infusion of mint can deliver cooling comfort without the help of harsh chemicals. Whatever you choose, apply only as neededlike when your lips are truly chapped, or when you need to shield delicate skin from the cold, wind, or blazing sun.


Sarah Schifter