How I Kicked My Chapstick Addiction (And Transformed My Skincare Routine)

February 9, 2018

My name is Luisa, and I’m in an unhealthy relationship with my Chapstick.

It was a fateful moment that happened when I was five.

My Kindergarten teacher noticed my chapped, reddened lips, so she made a suggestion to my mom: “Have you tried Carmex?” With all the best intentions, of course, Mom went out and got some. A decades-long habit had officially begun.

I carry Carmex with me all the time. I have back-up tubes at home, at my desk and in my bedside drawer. If by some chance I leave the house without it, I have to obtain more in order to have a normal day. If lack of foresight leads me to run out, I will use my longest fingernail to scrape whatever residue is left in the tube. My friends watch me do this and giggle and tease me about how I need my fix.

So is chapstick (or lip balm, or what-have-you) addiction real? If you look at a site like Lip Balm Anonymous (or if you watch your friend determinedly scraping remnants of chapstick out of an old tube), the answer is a resounding yes, even if it’s not a clinically recognized addiction. After all, as LBA points out, one of the definitions of “addict” is “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively” as per Webster’s Dictionary. Sounds about right to me!

Chapstick and lip balm companies will vehemently deny that their products are addictive, but the truth is that some of them contain drying agents, a key link in a vicious cycle: My lips are dry. I’ll put on lip balm. My lips feel dry again. I’ll put on lip balm… and so on. But it’s not completely about the drying agents, it’s also about having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) — mix the two together, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for chapstick addiction.

I visited the incredibly beautiful Brooklyn Herborium storefront to seek help for my lip balm addiction and spoke with co-owner (and creator of the holistic skin care line Between You and the Moon) Emma Graves. And it turns out there is light at the end of the tube — I mean, tunnel. First, Emma helped me understand what’s going on not just with my lip balm addiction but with a lot of skin care products in general, which focus on controlling the skin.

“Control is never truly healthy or beautiful — it’s just under control,” she explained.

In other words, by constantly applying lip balm, I’ve been trying to control my lips instead of allowing my body to self-nourish (which it is totally capable of).

After all, why should my skin perform its own natural magic when I’ve been slapping on substitutes that are supposed to do the job instead? Which isn’t to say I can’t use balm as a barrier during harsh weather, or lip color. But those things shouldn’t be subbing for what my body can actually do itself. Hence, Emma’s skin care line, Between You and the Moon, is holistic and provides support, not a substitute.

I’m ready to be supported. To start, Emma told me we were going “uncontrol my lips” and do a reset. The first step was using Vita-C 10 Day Wild Berry Treatment ($57, Between You & the Moon), which was meant to make my lips “a little bit nervous, a little bit excited,” said Emma. In other words, to give my body a nudge, to send a message: step up your game. The treatment made my mouth feel a little tight and tingly but it was certainly no big deal (nor was it worse than having dry, gotta-put-on-chapstick-NOW lips).

Emma also wanted me to address my face in general, by super-saturating my skin and getting a proper oil balance. She instructed me to use Nourish & Replenish Oil ($33); by squirting six drops (to start, then after a day I was to lower it to five) into the palm of my hand and then spraying that same palm with Sense & Sensitivity Mineral Mist ($34). I chose the Rose & Orange Blossom one. Then I rubbed my palms together to emulsify the oil and mist, and applied to my face. It already felt like a much more caring approach to hydration.

I looked at myself in the mirror and my skin looked shiny, but miraculously, within minutes the combo had settled and I was simply… glowy. No greasiness. It was like my skin had soaked up the products. Weirdly enough, I happened to have a zit, and instead of having to perform some kind of zit-banishing hack, it actually had disappeared on its own by the end of the day. Who knew that by applying an oil, I could not only achieve a soft and non-oily result but vanquish a zit, besides?

I was very happy to hear from Emma that after foregoing my Carmex and allowing the Vitamin C to jump-start my skin’s own nourishing process, I didn’t have to give up lip balm altogether. I mean, I love lip balm. I don’t want to do without any version of it forever! Enter Honey Balm ($14). Honey is not only antimicrobial, but it has antioxidants and it supports the skin in renewing cells and producing stronger collagen. The Honey Lip Balm was nice to put on but it didn’t give me that desperate, compulsive, chapstick-type feeling. And finally, I get to use the Hint of Tint Lip Balm ($16), which contains pink mica, a mineral that is used to encourage acceptance of self and self-love. That seems fitting for trying to banish a bad habit.

There was one more product to incorporate into my new skincare approach, and it’s the hardest to explain: it’s called, um, Cow Fart Goo ($14). There are different stories behind the unusual name (it smells like “dairy-air” is one; “It ain’t b.s.” is another) but the “bottom” (har) line is that it’s a salve you can use in place of OTC ointments for cracked, dry skin and cold sores. So if I need to pull out the big guns for something like a cold sore, I don’t have to reach for the Carmex again. And it smells like the country.

So far so good! I’ve been using this new approach and am actually getting off my old chapstick habits… it’s been days since I last used Carmex. When that urge to bite and lick my lips comes up, I apply a thin layer of Honey Balm (or, after a super harsh winter day, some Cow Fart Goo). The first day without Carmex was the hardest, but by “hardest” I mean simply that my lips felt dry and uncomfortable. It was amazing to look back at the end of that day and realize the only thing I’d applied was my brand-new mindset.

Featured image via shutterstock.com.

Comment: Have you ever felt addicted to your lip balm?

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Greatest Job Ever - Wine a trip to Lake Tahoe
Greatest Job Ever - Wine a trip to Lake Tahoe