Are you a self-described lip balm addict? Or perhaps you’re reaching for the lip balm a little too often and wondering why it doesn’t moisturize as much as it should?
Though the actual ingredients of lip balms are not addictive by themselves, many people are addicted to the feeling of soft, smooth lips. However, you may be finding that your lips are still dry after applying lip balm—leading to an endless cycle of needing more to keep your skin moisturized.
“Frequent use of Vaseline or a simple lip balm that is primarily Vaseline or bees wax is fine,” said Elizabeth Page, MD, a dermatologist at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. “Applying a frangrant lip balm continuously can irritate your skin, which you would immediately want to soothe with more balm. Additionally, some people may also be allergic to the ingredients in their lip balm. Sensitivity to preservatives and fragrances can lead to irritation, which could be mistaken for dryness.”
Look for natural ingredients in lip balm that may help soothe your dry skin without the risk of irritation, such as Vaseline or bees wax. Avoiding cosmetics with fragrances, menthol, alcohol, salicyclic acid, and Vitamin E (though it is anti-aging, it can irritate lips) will also help avoid irritation. Fragrances can be sensitizing and also encourage lip licking which is a major cause of dryness of the lips.
“Using lip balm in a smart way can help your dry lips,” said Page. “The key is to apply it sparingly. Your lips need time to regenerate fresh skin cells, as they do not have oil glands of their own and thus dry out very easily.”
You also don’t need to rely completely on lip balm for moisturizing benefits. Staying hydrated and drinking enough water will help your skin, and your lips, become more supple. Finally, using a humidifier at night will also help make the air more moist at home, especially during the winter when the heat is on.
For more information on skin care throughout the winter months, speak with your Lahey Health physician.