You’re not the only one obsessed with buying lip balms – Grazia is right there with you. But, as it turns out, there’s a deeper, more sinister reason why you’re constantly on the hunt for The One. If you look in most women’s make-up bags, you’ll find more than a handful of lip balms, purchased in the hopes of achieving a perfectly moisturised pout, and discarded because it made their lips chapped and seemingly drier than before.
Lip balms contain chemicals to provide your lips with a protective barrier that prevents moisture loss and protects lips from the elements. However, by constantly topping up, you’re telling your lips that they’re moisturised and therefore they do not secrete the natural emollient that usually prevents your lips from drying out. This means when you’re not wearing the lip balm, your lips feel drier than the Sahara, making you apply more. And so, the cycle continues. Essentially, lip balms result in habit-forming behaviour (that’s borderline addictive) because the cells that usually secrete moisture become weakened and your lips will dry out more easily, as you’re interfering with the skin’s natural ability to adjust to the environment. The more you use it, the more you can’t live without it (literally – your lips won’t know how to cope).
To top it off, some lip balms actually contain chemicals that don’t even do what they say on the tin. For example, while menthol gives off a cooling sensation, it’s actually an irritant. That watermelon flavour you love? It's not actually hydrating, and it makes you more likely to lick your lips and therefore coats them in saliva – which, FYI, is the biggest culprit when it comes to drying out your lips (even more so than chemicals).
In general, avoid any lip balm that contains menthol, alcohol, fragrance, cinnamic aldehyde and peppermint. Instead, look for beeswax, lanolin, almond, coconut and jojoba oil, aloe vera, and shea butter.
If you do your skincare routine with hot water, it’s time to rethink that, too. Hot water dries the natural oils of the lips, leaving them dehydrated and more likely to become chapped. Another way to keep your lips in tip-top shape is to buy a humidifier to increase the moisture in your living space.
In short, avoid dodgy chemicals, drink eight glasses of water a day, and try your best not to lick your lips. You just did it, didn’t you?