Considering the number of urban legends and humorous web sites devoted to the subject of lip balm, it is not surprising that this is one of the most common questions that we are asked. Rest assured that the definitive answer is NO! - A person cannot become addicted to a lip care product.
According to Dr. Charles Zugerman, associate professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University Medical School, people do not become addicted to lip care products or the ingredients in them. Rather, people may become habituated to the soothing feeling of having a lip care product on their lips. Should this happen, the person can stop using the product and experience no withdrawal symptoms. There is no such thing as physical addiction to lip balm.
We at Blistex share Dr. Zugerman's belief that the notion of lip balm 'addiction' stems from the fact that people who use lip balm regularly become accustomed to the feeling of having moist, comfortable lips. When they subsequently stop using lip balm, their exposed lips--subjected once more to drying environmental conditions--do not feel as comfortable. Lip balm users, in this sense, are about as addicted to lip balm as coat wearers are to coats when it is cold outside.
Moreover, it is important to note that lips do not have adequate natural protection from the sun's rays. Fun is fun, but if people neglect to protect their sensitive lip skin because of the mistaken notion that lip balm is addictive, they could be in for long-term health problems. Lip balms with an SPF level of at least 15 could provide lips with the protection they need.
Recent articles on lip balm addiction
"Get over your lip balm addiction" By Julia Feldmeier, Washington Post, December 14, 2008 Lip Balm Addiction
Lip Skin does not have the same protective outer layer found in other type of skin. Unlike ordinary skin, lip tissue is mucous membrane. The outer layer of the lip (or stratum corneum) is extremely thin or even completely absent in most people. As a result, moisture evaporates from the lips much faster than from ordinary skin causing lips to dry out easily. This dryness frequently results in chapping and cracking, and increases the risk of inflammation, infection and burning sensations.
See our "What are Lips?" section for more information on the composition of lips.
Lips have little or no melanin, the natural skin pigment that screens out the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Sun damage can alter collagen (which gives lips body and resilience) and can even lead to melanoma. Lips should be protected from the sun with a product that contains a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or more.. Some products offer UVA and UVB Broad Spectrum protection. It is also important to remember that the sun's harmful rays are always present whether it's July or January, sunny or cloudy.
Click here to find out more about Sun Damage & Your Lips.
It's a good idea to work lip protection into your daily skin care regimen whether you spend time outdoors or not. Outdoor factors such as sun, wind and cold can speed up the rate of lip moisture loss. What you may not realize is that lips frequently suffer indoors from a lack of moisture in centrally heated or air-conditioned rooms in which the relative humidity is low. Dryness is also the enemy when a winter cold or flu strikes. Lip irritation can even be caused by certain types of food, cosmetics and cigarette smoke.
If your lips get chapped, time is of the essence. The sooner you attend to them the faster they will heal. For both seriously dry lips, and even for treatment of cold sores, Blistex recommends using a medicated product, like Blistex Lip Ointment, that contains penetrating analgesics to bring cooling relief to lips and moisturizing ingredients to rehydrate lips.
Cold sores and fever blisters tend to develop when an individual has a cold or fever, but they also can be triggered by sun exposure, emotional distress, intestinal illness and menstruation. Eliminating all of the sources that can contribute to the onset of cold sores and fever blisters is impossible, but sufferers can condition their lips with products such as Blistex DCT (Daily Conditioning Treatment for Lips) with vitamin E, and SPF 20 to reduce the sun's impact and limit cracking that can lead to making lips more vulnerable.
Click here for more information on cold sores.
Using a lip care product with a sunscreen and effective moisturizers can help reduce the effects of two of the main contributors to an aged appearance; sun damage and moisture loss. Many Blistex sticks and jars combine proven moisturizers with sun protection ranging from SPF 15 to SPF 20.
Blistex Deep Renewal, was created to help rejuvenate lips that are beginning to exhibit signs of aging. A combination of Coenzyme Q-10, hyaluronic filling spheres, anti-oxidants, and vitamins help restore lips to a smooth, soft state. In clinical trials, Deep Renewal has been shown to reduce the appearance of visible signs of aging and improve lip health an vitality with consistent use.
Click here for more information on Your Lips & Aging.
Lip balm or ointment works best when worn under lipstick, which allows protective ingredients to be in direct contact with the lips. Using a moisturizing lip care product before lipstick application will help color go on more evenly.