Ask the Addict: No Lipstick

Kylee C. writes:

I’m a 23 year old female and for probably about, I don’t know, 8 years or so now I have been using lip balm continuously. I apply it at least 20 times a day for sure. I switch brands just about every time I go buy another so there isn’t really a certain brand I use. But if my lips aren’t very recently coated with balm, they are very dry and cracked and flaky. I can’t wear lipstick, ever. It looks terrible because of how dry my lips are. And I drink plenty of water. I can’t seem to find anything that truly hydrates my lips.

And for the first time probably in about 8 years, I went roughly 24-30 hours without using any lip balm (not by choice, I forgot it at home) and I woke up in the morning with them raw, blood red, and as dry as can be. I will attach a photo to show what they looked like and they were much darker in person. Of course as soon as I got home I drenched them in lip balm and have been continuously applying it all day. I just feel like I’m stuck in this cycle and can’t get out.

It saddens me to hear this and to see the photograph of your lips. You’re in desperate need of medical attention! Get thee to a hospital immediately so that you can get treatment on your lips and possibly receive IV fluids your body clearly seems to be lacking.

Kylee C.'s lips

The Forty-Year Addiction and Blistex DCT

Hi Kevin,

dctI love your website.. Just brilliant. I always thought I was alone with this addiction.

I started using when I was 13 years old. I am now 53! Forty years of slathering grease on my lips. I started with simple Blistex chapstick and  gradually moved on to the heroin of chapsticks: Blistex DCT (not a stick, it’s a little pot of chemicals). I have chapstick everywhere…. Several in my purse, my nightstand, my desk…. I have to use it  every couple of hours during the day and once or twice in the middle of the night. A few times I left home without it, panicked, turned around and drove back to retrieve my stash.  I worry about running out so I stock up. Most retail stores have stopped selling this DCT brand (my chapstick of choice)  so I have to order it on line from amazon. I have about 20 tubs at the moment.

My husband teases me about my chapstick use and doesn’t believe it’s an addiction. My family look at me strangely when I whip out my goop at the dinner table. My friends think it’s just nerves… But I know the truth: I am terrified of withdrawal. Why? I went through withdrawal twice years ago and it was a nightmare. I sensed my chapstick use was excessive so I thought it was time to break the habit. I tried to stop cold turkey. To my horror, each day my lips got drier and drier and cracked and bled and shriveled. They looked and felt awful.This went on for 2 weeks and did not get better. So I finally gave in. I stuck my finger into the blistex pot, scooped some lifesaving goop and slathered it on my painful lips. Instant relief! All symptoms disappeared. I felt normal again.

Since my terrible withdrawal experience, I tried to switch brands. Something more natural from the health food store. They don’t work! Only DCT does the job.

I just wanted to share my story to emphasize that this addiction is real and can last a lifetime. Although I am fearful about trying to stop again I may try your 12 step program. Thanks for creating the website.. I had a good laugh and then here I am fessin’ up!

Regards,
Debbie

Sent from my iPad

I’m glad you found something on our site humorous, though I’m not sure what that would be. But, your story certainly illustrates the long-term dangers of using lip balms.

Blistex DCT is yet-another product in a long line of addictive products. Billing itself as “Daily Conditioning Treatment for Lips”, the product oozes addictive propaganda from it’s website. Some balms try to hide their addictive properties by saying they should be used when lips are chapped, but not DCT. The website text reads in part “DCT keeps your lips in perfect condition every day of the year, in all climates, through all activities.”

In other words, once you start you’re hooked! For the rest of your life! Think we’re joking? Have you forgotten Debbie’s story and her 40 year addiction?

Debbie’s story about only feeling “normal” while taking lip balm is not uncommon, especially after such a long time of usage. Given that weaning and cold turkey don’t seem to be effective, I’ve referred Debbie to a local LBA chapter where she can get the help she so desperately needs.

Testimony from Grandmother

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.

Modern Chic Magazine’s Three-Part Expose

A fairly even-handed view of lip balm addiction has just been published by Modern Chic Magazine. Author Gabrielle Blue sums it up this way:

No company wants to be the first to admit their product is in any way harmful or addictive, and for all we know the lip balm industry is innocent. But as lip balm addicts continue to grow in numbers, develop support groups on Facebook and unite to kick the habit on sites such as Lip Balm Anonymous, it’s getting harder to believe there’s no truth to their claims.

modernchicBlue also got some plum quotes, including one from Carma Labs, makers of Carmex. “We are addictive,” says Mike Pietsch, vice-president of sales at Carma Labs.  “We’re addictively good.”  Talk about playing up the addictive legend for fun and profit!   Meanwhile, Paula Begoun , author of “The Original Beauty Bible” says of “medicated” balms such as Carmex, “‘Medicated,’ however, is at best a dubious term.”

Read more: three-part expose at Modern Chic Magazine, The Lip Balm Addiction.

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