There are fewer things that incite more temporary panic than feeling my pockets and realizing I’m without one of my 4 necessary pocket-fillers: phone, wallet, keys, and…lip balm. Without any one of these I know my day is headed in the wrong direction. The first three are understandable, but it’s the “crack for lips” that needs some thinking about. As soon as I realize I’m without it, it’s like my lips dry out instantaneously. The longer I go, the more that dryness turns to pain. I get desperate and can think of little else until I get a “hit” of some lip balm. Have you been there?
Whether you suffer from such an intense reliance or not, we all have felt the discomfort of severe dry lips. What about the pre-lip balm era? What did people do when they didn’t have access to that tingly sensation that comes when their cracked lips get their temporary “fix”? How can we get to a state of naturally healthy lips without a dependence on artificial moisturizers?
Our lips are made of incredibly thin skin. Because of that, they are extremely sensitive to irritants, allergens, and chemicals. The burn that you feel when you are craving your lip balm is not just the pain of dry skin. It’s the reaction of your body to the very irritants, allergens, and chemicals that you are using to treat them in the first place. If you are one of the many who have developed a psychological addiction to lip balm, it’s a sign that the delicate skin of the lips is being damaged by your lip balm. Wait a second. The cause of the problem is the very thing we keep using to try to fix the problem? Exactly. That’s like trying to soothe a burn with an open flame. Oops.
There are four things that ought to be avoided in your lip balm of choice:
If your lip balm looks nice or smells nice it’s not nice. Beeswax sounds good. It’s all natural, right? Right. But the pollen and propolis found in beeswax come from countless plants and allergens for many many people. When your lips are “addicted” to lip balm, this is often an indication that your lips are having a low-level allergic reaction to chemicals in your lip products. Check your lip balm and see if it has phenol, camphor, or menthol in it. These are three common irritants. Phenol is also a carcinogen and is found in one of the leading name-brand lip balm products. Don’t use it! Menthol and Camphor bring that wonderful tingly sensation that makes us think our lips are healing. It’s actually doing the opposite—it is irritating your delicate lip skin. That tingly sensation is a sign that your lips are under attack and you are about to have severe dry lips.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for healthy lips:
- Use a natural lip balm or ointment whenever needed.
- Use a petroleum-based balm, ointment or stick. There truly is no other compound in the world that can do what white petrolatum can do as far as preventing lips from getting dried out.
- Look for Candelilla wax rather than beeswax. Candelilla allergy has never been reported whereas beeswax allergy is quite common.
- Stay hydrated
- Lick your lips. EVER.
- Apply lip balm often just for the heck of it—especially if it is a colored balm. You are applying it to your lips and you will inevitably eat quite of bit of it. If you do want to apply it often then be sure it is non-toxic with no dyes, fragrances, or preservatives.
- Use lip balm that…
- contains menthol, phenol, or camphor
- contains beeswax
- is artificially flavored, scented, or colored
- gives you a tingly sensation
- “plumps” the lips—the chemicals used to make this happen are allergens
It’s time to say goodbye to lip balm dependence without welcoming dry, chapped lips!