Is lip balm addiction real? We spoke to a dermatologist and found out

lip balm addiction
Photography by Peter Stigter

We may be in the depths of winter, but that doesn’t mean we’ve come to embrace (or adapt to) the frigid temperatures and never-ending snow, not to mention the havoc the weather has wreaked on our lips. For many of us, lip balm has quickly joined the ranks of keys, wallet and phone as something we double-check our purse for before leaving the house.

We spoke to Dr. Julia Carroll, a dermatologist at Compass Dermatology, who explained that a swipe of lip balm throughout the day quickly soothes cracked and dry lips because “hydrating ingredients moisturize the lips and decreases transepidermal water loss.” It’s easy to blame winter for the painful state of your lips, but it can be a combination of the environment as well as saliva causing dryness from licking your lips by habit or a lip balm’s flavoured ingredients.

Like many things in life, moderation is key. “Some lip balms contain irritating or too-tasty ingredients so they inherently start you on a cycle of lip licking and lip balm addiction,” suggests Dr. Carroll. Licking your lips can cause further irritation, making it seem like your lip balm has stopped working. In actuality, if you find yourself applying a balm more than a few times a day, it may be a result of a deeper problem like a type of eczema called Irritant Contact Dermatisis, or aggravation from over-applying lip balm.

Every balm boasts key ingredients that work to improve the condition of your lips and like shampoo or mascara, everyone has their preferred brand. If you’ve been in a monogamous relationship with a particular balm and have tried other products based on recommendation or different ingredients with no results, it could be because the balm you are switching to isn’t not the right product for your particular lip condition. Click through to find out why the following popular lip balms are on so many people’s lips.