It’s true what they say; once you start you can’t stop. So why is lip balm so addictive?
Can you remember a time when you didn’t use lip balm? Before the days where leaving the house without it sent you into a downward spiral of panic. Way before at least 30% of your salary was spent on various lip care products. No? I can’t either. What happened there? It’s not even cold outside, so we have no excuse for the weather chapping our lips. Lip balm is one of the most popular products in the beauty industry, and although it’s not a real addiction (apparently), there is some explanation as to why we can’t put it down.
Lip balm has been a part of my life (not to be dramatic, or anything) since as long as I can remember. My mum kept a family size tub of Vaseline in our bathroom cabinet, but that was the extent of my knowledge back then at the age of approx. six years old. I loved the feeling of it on my lips, and when I was old enough to discover that Vaseline also came in small, portable, pocket-size tins (and different flavours), well I was ecstatic. Little was I aware of the hundreds of other brands, flavours, types, shapes and sizes that I would later embark on in life.
Using lip balm is one of the first things I do when I wake up and definitely the last thing I do before I go to bed. I’m afraid I can’t count how many times I swipe it across my lips in between then. I’ve got one in every handbag at home, two on my desk, a few floating around in various ‘misc drawers’ in my flat and I tend to find them in pockets when I wear a jacket for the first time in a while. I’ve even got one laid out as part of my coffee table display. They’re everywhere – much to my boyfriend’s dismay.
So is it an addiction or simply a force of habit? Obviously, lip balm is something that everyone uses from time to time. But when, like me, and walking to the end of my road and turning back because I’ve forgotten one of my many lip products becomes a regular occurrence, is that just too much? No lip balms contain any ingredients that can actually be addictive, so perhaps that’s just me being dramatic.
However, I’m not the only one. If you google ‘lip balm addiction’, on the first page is a website called Lip Balm Anonymous. It’s a humorous forum for those who class themselves as lip balm addicts. I’ve seen articles written about it online and in magazines, it’s definitely an issue for many (I’m just glad I’m not alone).
If it’s not addictive, then why can’t we stop using it? The more you use lip balm, the more you need it. Lip care products contain a heavy salve that seal and lock in moisture. The minute that the product wears off, your lips immediately feel dry again which prompts you to reapply lip balm as soon as you can. Some products contain elements that can actually dry your lips out, so look out for ingredients like salicylic acid – which is actually meant for exfoliation.
The ingredients you need to look out for to keep your lips hydrated and feeling lovely are in three categories.
Occlusives – these seal in moisture and create a layer that protects the skin from harsh weather. The ingredients you need to watch for are petrolatum, beeswax, paraffin, silicone, alcohols and vegetable wax.
Humectants – these invite water molecules to the skin and keep them there. When you combine with occlusives or emollients the hydration and moisture will be prolonged. Ingredients to look for include hyaluronic acid, lanolin, glycerine, gelatin, honey and pathenol.
Emollients – this type of lip care hydrate and soften our skin. When they’re applied heavily they can form a protective barrier. Ingredients to shop for include vegetable oils, jojoba, coconut, castor, collagen, and elastin.
So it might not be an official addiction, but it’s definitely a problem. I don’t intend to stop using lip balm any time soon – although my bank account might appreciate it if I do. I like to keep my lips hydrated and feeling soft, and so I will certainly continue to leave them in coat pockets and old bags, and the one on my coffee table is most definitely not going anywhere. There are worse habits, right? Take a look at my favourite products from Indulge Beauty below, and let us know in the comments if you’re a lip balm addict too!
All prices are correct as of date published.