You’ve probably heard through the grapevine that lip balm can be addictive. But when the temps dip below freezing, everyone blasts their heat, and the dry air leaves your lips literally peeling off, what else are you supposed to do?
We know that winter means lip balm, so we spoke to some of the country’s leading dermatologists to determine which lip balms are totally fine to use, and which, unfortunately, should be thrown out of your pocket immediately. What are they?
“Lip balm addiction is real,” Dr. Anna Guanche, BCD, of the Bella Skin Institute confirms. “It is not a true addiction and is not life threatening but is certainly annoying.” Indeed!
"The main ingredient I tend to caution patients to avoid is menthol," warns Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD of AmberNoon & Montgomery Dermatology. "For many it can be well tolerated, however, I find that it can also lead to a lot of irritation. It does not necessarily aid in healing or preventing chapped lips. It tends to provide more of an analgesic effect to lessen discomfort," he warns.
"Menthol gives a cooling sensation when applied and gives people the impression that their product is getting to work! This sensation is more of a marketing effect and less reflects an actual effect of the product. Patients often get “addicted” to need this sensation to “feel” like their product is working or do not think a product is effective if they do not feel the tingle! Menthol has been shown to contribute to some drying or irritation with long term use."
"The emollients in the balm soothe the lips and they feel better right when the balm is applied, however in the ingredients there are other irritants that cause the lips to become more dry once the emollients wear off. Then lip balm is necessary again to soothe the lips again. It is a vicious cycle," Dr. Guanche explains.
"Camphor and menthol ingredients and salicylic acid can irritate the lips of some. They only feel good when the balm is just on and once it wears off, they desperately need more. Weaning off lip balm can be a tricky business.
"If you’re using lip balm, make sure to avoid ingredients that can lead to skin irritation," Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai tells us.
"Fragrance, salicylic acid, camphor, and menthol all can cause disruption of the skin barrier, making dryness of the lips worse."