When we think of addictions, we think of drugs and alcohol, but one thing that most of us use daily is also highly addictive and can harm more than help. This item is sold in places like Walmart, Target, and even the Dollar Tree. This item can damage your skin, too. It has fun flavors like cherry, watermelon, and green apple. Do you know what this item is? If you guessed lip balm or Chap Stick, then you are correct.
Lip balms like Chap Stick and Carmex can contain harmful ingredients that can cause allergic reactions and irritation of the skin, making your lips even drier than before. Lip balms made with scents and fragrances as well as menthol can harm the delicate skin on your lips. In an interview with Allure, dermatologist Mona Gohara says, “They just add cosmetic appeal to the product but are irritating to the skin barrier, causing more dryness and irritation.” Ingredients to try to avoid include peppermint, menthol, eucalyptus, camphor, and phenol.
Lip balm companies are accused of knowingly putting these harmful ingredients into the product just to get people to repeatedly use the product without knowing the balm is what is drying their lips out.
Even if your lip balm does not contain the harsh ingredients I previously mentioned, it can contain wax and/or petroleum. These ingredients seal your lips and create a barrier between your lips and the outside world. Petroleum and wax are successful at keeping the moisture in your skin but can also prevent dead skin cells from falling off and making space for new, healthy skin cells. This just creates a vicious cycle of reapplying lip balm because you think it will help you even though it makes your chapped lips even worse.
So how did people moisturize their lips before Chap Stick came about in the 1890s? Lip balm can date back to 40 BC. The Ancient Egyptians used beeswax on their lips to help lock in moisture. Later, earwax was a common remedy when mentioned in a book by Lydia Marie Child in 1833. In the 1890s, Dr. Charles Browne Fleet, a well known pharmacist, mixed up the remedy for chapped and dry lips that we now call Chap Stick. According to the official Chap Stick website, the first Chap Sticks looked like a candle without a wick that was wrapped in tin foil. In 1912, Dr. Fleet sold the Chap Stick formula to John Morton for five dollars, that is about $141 with inflation. Ever Since then, lip balms have been used by pretty much everyone.
Next time you go to apply lip balm, remember that it’s probably not helping you unchap your lips as much as you think it is and can possibly be damaging.