Everyone has a friend who claims her lips are always insatiably dry. Nothing provides relief other than frequently applying lip balm. Bordering on obsessive, these types of people compulsively slather their lips while talking, driving, working and so on.
Dermatologists say she is not alone. Chronically chapped lips are a real problem. But is there such a thing as a lip balm addiction? The bigger question should be: do some people NEED products to maintain moisture in their lips.
The short answer is ‘no.’ Our lips are not dependent upon topical treatments in order to retain suppleness. The tricky part is, constantly applying lip balm creates or at least exacerbates dry, chapped lips.
Here’s why. Several of the ingredients commonly found in lip balm create an artificial barrier in order to lock in moisture. These include petrolatum, beeswax and mineral oil. When overused, lips lose the ability to maintain their own hydration.
Another issue, is that chemical additives can be irritating. These include sunscreens that sit on top of your skin and may cause dryness and chapping because of their staying power. Benzophenone-3 and octyl methoxycinnamate are known irritants. Experts suggest looking for products with good old zinc oxide instead.
Loving lip balm is not a bad thing, either. Check out some of our favorites HERE
Fragrances, which are not a must for moisturizing, can also be problematic. Peppermint, lemon and lime can cause burning and flaking in some people. Fragrances you might want to avoid are: Menthol, Camphor, Eucalyptus, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Cinnamaldehyde, Peppermint oil, Geraniol, and Citronellol.
Artificial dyes and preservatives can pose issues too. Typically, the fewer ingredients on a label, the more natural the product. But even natural things like Vitamin E and beeswax can sap lips of their softness.
So where does that leave the chappy among us?
Exercising restraint ideally. In the absence of an allergic reaction which is apparent in the form of swollen or burning lips, most of these products become a nuisance when overused.
You may have to go through a dry spell to get lips back to normal. To stop the cycle you should also skip exfoliants that help you shed dead skin on the lips.
Your lips should improve in about a week. If you must augment with something, do it sparingly and try a balm with a short list of ingredients, for example pure shea butter.
Resetting your body’s natural moisture-making mojo is the best option to avoid becoming a balm addict like our friends. But she is vowing to give her lips a break.