Now that winter is here, your skin and lips could be feeling drier and tighter. So, you reach for your lip balm. Again. And again. And again.
Sophie Hanson spends a lot of time thinking about weird things. And she’s pretty sure you do, too. In her new column, Serious Question, Soph will explore the health questions you’ve always wanted to know the answer to, but never knew how to ask.
I’m one of those people that keeps a lip balm within arm’s reach at all times. Particularly during the winter with the lack of moisture in the air, it feels like I’m doing the equivalent of chain-smoking with my various tubes and tubs of the stuff. Could I actually be addicted to it?
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
The answer is no, not technically, but you could have formed a kind of ‘behavioural addiction’, similar to that of being addicted to gambling.
“You may be forming a habit, but it turns out that lip balms don’t contain any addicting ingredients,” explained Dr. Muneeb Shah, a dermatology resident at Campbell University in North Carolina and influential skin expert on YouTube with his derm-bro, Dr. Luke Maxfield.
Your body hasn’t formed a chemical dependency on the lip balm itself, but overuse of heavily occlusive salves can interfere with the skin’s ability to adjust to the environment and maintain a healthy hydration level.
You might find you picked up your lip balm habit during a time of stress or use it as a distraction when you’re hungry, so see if you can identify those triggers.
You might also want to look at the ingredients.
“Many lip balms contain ingredients that irritate the lips, making you want to put on lip balm more often,” said Dr. Shah.
The best thing for someone who uses lip balm a lot is to look for products that don’t contain irritating ingredients like fragrance, flavour, or essential oils, and instead reach for with things like shea butter, vitamin E, or just good old fashioned Vaseline should do the trick.