Why lip balm is making your lips lazy and dry

By Margaret Kalekye/ Sudney Herald

Are you dependent on lip balm?

Beware of overusing your lip balm. Experts warn that lip balms can instead make your lips dry.


“There are two potential issues that arise when using lip balm,” Joshua Zeichner, a New York-based dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research warns.

“First, if it has a potentially irritating ingredient, it can cause inflammation and loss of hydration. This, in turn, causes your lips to need more moisture so you keep applying the product and it turns into a vicious cycle.”

Irritants include ingredients like fragrance, camphor, menthol, or salicylic acid.

As for the hydration part, often lip balms are made with ”protective” (or occlusive) ingredients like petroleum or shea butter that make our lips lazy.

You read right – too much protection from the elements and they stop moisturising themselves naturally.

“These formulas create an artificial barrier to lock in moisture, but when overused, can cause lips to become lazy because the skin doesn’t have to work to maintain its own hydration level,” Zeichner explains, adding you have to wean yourself off your lip balm addiction and tolerate a little dryness before your lips will see the light again.

“You have to go through the dry spell to get lips back to normal and working on their own again before applying another balm.”

If they’re dry and you choose a ”moisturising” lip balm (a common claim if the balm has glycerin or hyaluronic acid, which are humectants), make sure it also contains a ”protectant” ingredient, says dermatologist Dr Rick Mizuguchi.

“Most of what we know about lip care comes from studies that have used ingredients that restore skin damage like hyaluronic acid and emollients. However, when lips get dry and damaged, they’re no longer protected from negative environmental factors,” Mizuguchi told Byrdie. “So first, it’s important to restore the skin damage [with humectants], then it’s important to occlude the ingredients so your lips don’t dry out instead of just being restored.”

Zeichner however says that the best lip balm is lanolin-based, as lanolin is semi-occlusive, meaning that your lips can still breathe, aka still do the work to hydrate themselves.

And above all, use your lip-balm in moderation, so that you don’t develop an addictive, dependent relationship and can stay focussed on the bigger picture, like the people in front of you.

“Apply it when you need it, rather than compulsively throughout the day,” says Zeichner. “Constant reapplication can cause more harm than good.”




Latest posts

Call for applications: Àlọ́ Writing Initiative

Christine Olubayi

Kanye West is now officially ‘Ye’

Christine Olubayi

Google Arts & Culture honours Kenya’s photojournalist, Mo Amin

Christine Olubayi

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More