Ask the Addict: Medicated Lip Balms

A read who chooses to remain anonymous wrote in:

I keep Googling to find lip balms or chapsticks that don’t have the drying ingredient in it. But every time I look it up I can’t find anything it’s just talking about you know the ingredients I just random stuff that does not lead to a list of good lip balms are chapstick. Right now I use Vaseline Lip Therapy cocoa butter. I love the way it feels. But the thing is I’m constantly reapplying. Everyone at work thinks I’m weird. I over use it too and put too much on my lips. I have major anxiety and I’m pretty sure it’s my anxiety that’s doing it.

But it’s like as soon as I apply I’ve sometimes apply a couple of minutes afterwards. Like my lips are dry or something. I’ve tried other brands but sometimes I just feel like they’re always dry or they don’t give me that comfortable feeling. And if I don’t put the lip Blum on I get so uncomfortable and its all I can think about. It’s just really annoying. I want to keep using something so my lips will be smooth. But I don’t want to apply it constantly like that. Just every now and then. Not every few minutes.

So my question is do y’all have a list of lip balms that don’t have the drying ingredients? I kept trying to look on the site but I guess I got lost. Thank you.

Medicated lip balms, those designed to treat cold sores, are the ones with drying agents. Carmex is the leading brand in this sector.

Standard “non-medicated” lip balms do not contain drying agents. They are however still potentially addictive, so use caution.

Columbia Journalism School’s Lip Balm Expose

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.

Columbia News Tonight: Paying Addiction Lip Service

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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