The very smart students at Columbia Journalism School put together this video about lip balm addition. In addition to a audio quote from yours truly, they also got the Carmex folks to go on the record that their products are not addictive, but according to the dermatologist who was interviewed Carmex does contain drying agents.
We received this as a comment on one of the other blog posts but thought it was so nicely written it deserved more attention. Thanks to Mary P. for the testimony.
I am a 53 year old mom and grandmother that finally quit cold turkey from using Blistex Medicated Berry lip balm. I had used it for many years. I had two in my purse (in case one got lost), one in my night stand, one in the bathroom drawer, one always in my pocket, one on a tray in the kitchen and even two in the living room. They were everywhere like rabbits.
My lowest point was having to stop at Walgreen’s because I was on my way to a wedding and discovered I did not have any in my purse. We had to make a quick detour to buy some. I bought 10 of them, and had to carry them in my purse all day, so they wouldn’t melt from the summer heat in the car.
I was aware that I was always whipping out my Blistex Medicated Berry balm after every meal, and anytime my lips felt dry. A year ago, my younger sister encouraged me to just quit, but I was not ready yet. Finally, after Christmas I was fed up with needing lip balm about four times an hour. At that point, it was not relieving the dryness any more, no matter how much or how often I applied it.
On my own, I decided “Enough is enough!” I went cold turkey and stopped using the lip balm completely. I told my husband what I was doing for his support. After about two days, my upper lip was so dry, it was getting a crack. I resisted putting on more of that lip balm, knowing I would be right back in its’ grip. I did use a drop of unscented hand cream on the lips just once before I went to bed, to help heal the lip crack while I slept. After that, I was fine. If my lips felt terribly dry, I did not lick them, but touched a bit of water to them. This may sound gross, but another thing that really helped….a few times I used the grease off my own nose to soothe the dry lips. I figured it is my own natural chemical, and would help. It did. Now, I am free of Blistex Medicated Berry lip balm for about 3 weeks now! I am so proud that I licked this problem! I don’t use any product on my lips anymore, and am doing just fine!
I am here to say that…folks…don’t listen to detractors that laugh-off your addiction to lip balm. It is an insidious addiction that is very hard to comprehend or appreciate unless you are a lip balm addict. I also want to add that I was addicted to Carmex (little white jar with the yellow lid) when I was in my early 20’s. I got off that when my first child was born because I wanted to kiss my newborn. Years later during a conversation, I learned that my mother-in-law’s sister (who was a nurse on the other side of the country) told me that she too once upon a time was addicted to Carmex. I thought I was alone with that problem. Somewhere on the web, I read that Carmex is called “Crack for the Lips.” It was made to dry up cold sores and has drying agents in it. Carmex was as hard to stop as Blistex Medicated Berry Balm.
If you are a lip balm addict, you can quit if you are ready to do so. I went years and years before I just got fed up with the routine. It will happen suddenly, and if you are reading this, you are searching for help. I think there is a market driven industry that loves if you continually use their product. I was shocked to read about the little girl that applied crayon to her lips at school when she realized she left her lip balm at home. Remember this mantra…if you don’t start, you don’t have to stop. If you are addicted, you are stronger than you know! Sign me…lip balm free! So long Blistex! All product into the trash where it belongs.
Here’s an email exchange I had with a desperate soul:
To: Lip Balm Anonymous
Fr: J.R. D.
I’m looking for a particular lip balm I used to buy and now can’t find. It is Dr. something or other that starts with a D and is a little expensive. Can you help? Thanks.
Here is our response:
To: J.R. D.
Fr: Lip Balm Anonymous
I’m sorry but we do not help enable addiction.
This is our standard response when people ask us to help them obtain lip balm. The reasons should be obvious, but suffice it to say our purpose remains as ever to help people to remain free from lip balm.
And here is the response from J.R..
To: Lip Balm Anonymous
Fr: J.R. D.
What in the heck is this supposed to mean? All I wanted was information on where to buy something to keep my lips from being dry and cracked. I think you’re cracked if you think this is an addiction. Maybe you should get a real job, one that people like you can do.
We received this question from Karolee A.
Hello I’m 16 years old and I have been using lip balm for years and of course you’ve heard it before, my lips get dry and cracked when I don’t use it but just one question will my lips ever resume to creating there own moisture?
Well, technically your lips do not create moisture, at least not in such a volume to make a difference here. The issue most probably is that your lips are so sensitive to the elements that when you go without the balm it actually is very noticeable and distracting to you. It is for this very reason why it is so hard to kick the habit.
I would say that yes, “it gets better” but it can take a long time and it can be painful - especially as we head into winter. I do sense a potential need for you to see a dermatologist, so consider that as an option. Best of luck.