Can You Really Be Addicted to Lip Balm?
In short, no—but you should take a closer look at your chapstick's ingredients if you feel the need to reapply it constantly.
Do you find yourself coating your lips in your go-to balm all day long? This experience might as well be universal, but it does prompt the question: Can someone actually become addicted to this beauty essential? In reality, this isn't possible—you can apply the product as much as you want, notes board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, but your mouth will not become dependent upon it. You might feel the need to consistently reapply because of its formula, though; the balm you're using to soothe your pout could very well be the cause of your chapped lips.
Here, skin care experts share why you may feel the need to apply lip balm frequently and which ingredients to avoid if your chapstick truly is the source of your discomfort.
The Chapped Lips Cycle
Chaillot Lockley, a certified health coach and licensed aesthetician at POMP BEAUTY, notes that it is impossible to become addicted to lip balm, mainly because the ingredients are likely the problem (your mouth won't become dependent on a formula that hurts it!). Some formulas dry lips out instead of hydrating them, which drives the urge to continue applying the balm over and again. Another potential reason? Certain people have insatiable lips. "Typically, when this happens, there's a multifactorial process occurring where chapped lips evolve into a condition called cheilitis (inflammation of the lips), which frequently has a bacterial and yeast component," says Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, a New York City dermatologist. No amount of lip balm will cure this issue, he says; you will need to speak with your dermatologist to determine the best treatment options.
"Like with all skin products, the key is avoiding formulas that are fragrant, as these can be allergenic," Dr. Mudgil explains, noting that a minimal ingredient list is preferable. Lockley agrees and says to look for all-natural formulas with coconut, olive, jojoba, almond, and avocado oils; shea, mango, and cocoa butters will also help your lips stay moist and soft. In turn, you won't feel the need to reapply as much.
As for the ingredients to avoid? Dr. King says to steer clear of menthol-, camphor-, and phenol-based balms, since they are especially drying. "They are initially cooling and soothing, but they evaporate quickly, and you will need to reapply if you aren't also using good emollients and occlusives," she notes. You might also spot salicylic acid in your chapstick (this is an irritant, too!). "It is sometimes added as an exfoliant to help remove dry flaky skin from your lips, but the lips are sensitive and repeated use will likely lead to irritation," shares Dr. King. "Balms designed to plump the lips often contain cinnamon oil or peppermint oil, and these ingredients can also cause irritation."