Is lip balm actually addictive? Do a quick google search with this question, and you’ll find it’s so common that Snopes has tackled it, as have multiple reddit threads. There is even a website, lipbalmanonymous.com, that serves as a support group of sorts for former and current “addicts.” It’s also a question we hear from our customers: is it possible to become addicted to lip balm? The short answer is no. No matter which lip balm on the market you use, it is not going to cause a physiological dependency. The longer answer is a bit more complicated.
You’re Actually Allergic
While physical lip balm dependency is not a real thing, sometimes a person’s reaction to lip balm makes them think it is. That’s because, for many lip balm users who are experiencing chronically dry, cut, and cracked lips even with frequent applications, they’re actually allergic to something in their lip balm.
Many people are allergic or experience irritation to four common lip balm ingredients, some of which are found in both big lip balm brands Chapstick and Carmex: fragrance, camphor, menthol, and/or salicylic acid. Fragrance- an FDA approved shorthand for thousands of separate ingredients- can often be extraordinarily harmful, no matter where you use it. In the case of menthol and camphor, even if they may be fine for you in other applications, on sensitive lips they can cause a lot of irritation and dryness. And salicylic acid, while an excellent mild exfoliator, is not something you want to be applying to chapped lips multiple times a day, every single day. Your lips don’t need that much exfoliation!
It’s Blocking all the Air
If you’re using a lip balm that lists petrolatum or petroleum jelly as one of its main ingredients, you probably want to switch it up. Manufactures love petrolatum because it’s crazy cheap- it's a by-product of the oil industry, made from a combination of chemicals from crude oil, and it gives skin the feeling of moisture. However, it doesn't actually provide any hydration, but rather, seals moisture in on your lips by blocking any air from passing through. This is an issue, as it doesn't allow your skin to breath or pull in moisture from the environment- something your skin naturally does to keep hydrated.
Instead of petrolatum based lip balms, look for ones with semi-occlusive, hydrating ingredients like beeswax, jojoba, and vitamin E oil, that will help form a mild barrier for your lips but still allow your skin to breath. This will allow your skin to continue to pull in environmental moisture, and eliminate the need to constantly reapply.
Time to Switch it Up
A good lip balm should last you a decent part of the day, with just one morning application. If you’re applying five, six, or twenty times a day, you're not addicted: it’s just time to find a new brand. Luckily, we know a brand that's just right.