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Can you actually get addicted to lip balm?!

lip balm addiction

We’ve always been told that lip balm is good to stave off dry, flaky, chapped lips – but we’ve recently seen a growing concern amongst fellow beauty junkies from America about the possibility of becoming dependent on these lip saviours.

Are you addicted to lip balms?

This is the big question: are you addicted to lip balms yourself?

  • Do you find that you cannot leave the house without lip balm?
  • After your lip balms fade, do your lips feel a little drier than before you applied?
  • Do you feel that your lips are perpetually flaky unless you apply lip balm?

If you answered yes to at least two of the above questions, then you may be experiencing what many Internet users have termed as “lip balm addiction”.

A quick search on Google showed us the extent of coverage that this new phenomenon has generated on the American interwebs:

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Screenshot from Google

So is this a thing and should you be concerned about it? Read on to find out if you are addicted to lip balms, and what a dermatologist has to say about the whole concern.

Is lip balm addiction really a thing?

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In order to find out more about this weird phenomenon, we approached dermatologist Dr. Phay Ken-lin from Specialist Skin Clinic and asked her whether lip balm addiction is actually a thing we should be worried about.

“Lipbalm addiction does not exist,” says Dr. Phay. PhewI However, that doesn’t mean that we can continue going on our merry way, applying our lip balms as before. Dr. Phay shares with us some more insights about what may be causing perpetual lip dryness despite spamming lip balm.

You may have a lip inflammatory condition you don’t even know about

Judging Beauty

The reason why some may feel like their lips are dry no matter how much lip balm they apply is because they may suffer from a condition called cheilitis, which is inflammation of the lips.

For these people, their lips are just unable to retain moisture no matter how much lip balm they pile on, and that constant feeling of chapped lips has them reaching for their lip balms more and more.

The scary part? You may not even be aware whether or not you have cheilitis, since most people wouldn’t usually have it checked out by a doctor or a dermatologist. Dr. Phay goes on to add, “The condition is often aggravated by the natural reflex to lip-lick or lip-smack when one’s lips are dry.”

Your lip balm is actually the culprit

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If you feel that applying lip balm seems to make your lips feel drier, which then entraps you in the vicious cycle of having to apply more and more lip balm, it might actually have to do with ingredients inside the lip balm itself.

Dr. Phay explains, “Some people are actually allergic to the ingredients in their lipbalms.”

Ingredients that may cause allergic reactions in some people and that are very commonly used in lip balms on the market include:

  • fragrance
  • flavouring, such as peppermint oil
  • colouring
  • natural ingredients like lanolin, castor oil, olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, and vitamin E
  • sunscreens, such as benzophenone
  • preservatives
  • certain gums or beeswax (propolis) which are included to add a glossy finish or to act as a sealant

According to Dr. Phay, if you’re allergic to any of these ingredients but are unaware of it, you may unknowingly get stuck in another vicious cycle: the lip balm actually irritating your lips, but you apply more and more to try and solve the problem.

Switching brands may not solve the problem,” says Dr. Phay, “as many of these ingredients are commonly used across different brands.” The only way to really know for sure what you are allergic to (or if you are allergic at all) is to do a patch test at the doctor’s.

Allergens don’t just exist in lip balms – they may also be found in other lip products. Common culprits are lipsticks with lip plumping effects or minty sensations. They may feel “cooling” on the lips, but more often than not it irritates your lips and dries it out further.

Should you be applying lip balm all that often?

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Don’t get us wrong: there are some times when a lip balm would be preferable to none at all. Dr. Phay says that those who find themselves in these situations should be applying lip balm regularly:

  • Low humidity environments, such as spending long hours in air-conditioned environments, on air planes, or in cold climates
  • On certain medications which cause dryness, such as isotretinoin
  • Perpetual nasal congestion which leads to breathing through the mouth
  • Eczema or on treatment for cheilitis (inflammation of the lips), ensuring that you are not allergic to any ingredient in the lip balm

Is there any regular way you should be applying lip balm in order to maximise its effect? We were curious to know what a dermatologist would suggest to her patients.

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“There is no fixed frequency to application of lip balm,” says Dr. Phay. “Generally one should apply a lip balm after each meal, and last thing at night before bed.”

What else can you do for dry lips?


Whether you choose to stick with your lip balms or not after this, you may want to consider incorporating these good habits into your lifestyle to keep those flaking skin at bay:

  • Stop licking your lips: when saliva evaporates on your lips, they can actually make your lips feel drier than before.
  • Drink more water: this one is a no-brainer – lip balms are an external support for your lips to retain moisture, but you need to get that moisture from somewhere.
  • Keep a humidifier in your bedroom and office: dry air will suck the moisture out of your lips, so keeping the air around you at a comfortable humidity will help to prevent water from escaping.
  • Don’t pick the flakes off your lips: you may create painful cuts on your lips which may make it more difficult for your lips to heal properly.

Assuming you don’t have eczema, cheilitis and aren’t using lip products containing ingredients you’re allergic to, it’s very possible to have well-hydrated lips without having to rely on lip balms!

Got any tips for well-hydrated, enviable lips even without lip balm? Share them with us in the comments below!

Want to know what model Iman Fandi (also daughter of Singapore’s football legend, Fandi Ahmad) uses on her lips? She shares what she brings in her makeup bag in this interview we did with her: