Can We Be Addicted To Our Chapstick? Dr. Zeichner Explains!

Amanda Elser
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I have a friend, let’s call her Jane… actually there is no anonymity here, her name is Lisa, and Lisa is addicted to lip balm. Not in the “Oh it is my favorite beauty must-have” type way, but a accusing “Did you touch my chapstick?!” type way. When Lisa goes out at night she checks her mini-clutch for two things, her cell phone and her lip balm. Somehow her wallet doesn’t even rank as high as her lip moisturizer.

Lisa’s drug of choice? Palmer’s Coco Butter Formula Swivel Stick. Equivalent to the size of a glue stick, it lasts for months and could double for a body butter if need be. But after years of watching Lisa constantly reapply to her puckers, I find it necessary to hold an intervention.

I asked Joshua Zeichner, MD and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center to break down the pros and cons of lip moisturizers and if there really is such a thing as a lip balm addiction.

Is there such a thing as too much lipgloss, lip balm or chapstick?

The best answer I can give you here is “maybe.” There is some? evidence that over-moisturizing the skin (and by extension, the lips) ?over long periods of time can interfere with the skin’s ability to ?moisturize itself naturally. It is unclear if this has to do with? blocking the cells’ function to produce natural moisturizing factors? (NMF) or whether there are ingredients in some of the products that ?can actually irritate the upper layer of the skin, making it more ?susceptible to dryness. That being said, these products definitely? work and can help soothe dry, cracked lips.

What ingredients inside these products could produce dry skin or harmful affects if used too often?

There are a few ingredients that I recommend you stay away from when choosing a lip product: ??Menthol, camphor, and phenol: they can give you a smooth, cool? feeling, but they can cause dryness and lip irritation. This can make? you feel like you need more lip balm! ??Fragrance: some fragrances can cause irritation or allergies and? can lead to more dryness.?? Salicylic acid: this can help remove dead skin cells from the?surface of the lips, but can also cause irritation.

Can you be addicted to such products?

There is no true addiction to lip balms, however, if they cause ?irritation to the lips, then you may want to reapply them more than ?you would otherwise. You may feel like you want more lip balm to ?quench the dry feeling you got from your lip balm to begin with! Avoid ?this by choosing products that don’t have the ingredients above.

What is the best way to moisturize your lips effectively and without over doing it?

1) Choose the right product??
2) Apply only when you need to. If you have normal lips, you don’t? necessarily need to moisturize them with a lip balm. If your lips are? chapped, then you treat them. Once they are better, hold off.??
3) Lipsticks and lip glosses can moisturize the lips, but they have?been designed for a cosmetic purpose. Reapply as you like, when the ?color or the sheen fades.??
4) If your lips are severely dry, choose a product high in petrolatum,? the single best ingredient to help moisturize the skin. You may want ?to choose an ointment, rather than a stick. I recommend Aquaphor. It contains petrolatum and lanolin, both excellent moisturizers. You can purchase it in a two-pack of pocket-sized tubes.

Dr. Zeichner recommends I try swapping Lisa’s waxy-stick with either Neutrogena Naturals Lip Balm or Nivea A Kiss Of Milk and Honey for a lip balm with better moisturizing qualities, but this may be hard, considering I would most likely have to pry it from her clenched hands while she sleeps.

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