The Science Behind Your Craving for Lip Balm

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It’s a paradoxical reaction: You use lip balm to soothe dry lips, but just a couple hours later, your mouth feels just as chapped as before, necessitating more of the stuff. Is it your imagination, or are skincare companies trying to foster an addiction?

According to Real Simple and New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, the answer is that not all lip balm is created equal. Some formulas, Zeichner says, contain ingredients that might irritate the lips of certain individuals, prompting dehydration and a desire to reapply. The second issue comes as a result of occlusive barriers—like petroleum jelly—being applied too frequently and prompting your skin to produce less natural moisture as a result.

The trick is to use balm when needed and not allow your skin to become dependent on it. And to avoid irritation, Zeichner recommends avoiding balms containing salicylic acid, menthol, or fragrance. Instead, opt for something with lanolin, which provides that occlusive barrier while still letting the skin breathe.

Even better: Get into some skin hydration habits like drinking plenty of water, incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, and making sure the air in your bedroom isn’t too dry. Once you've covered those bases, remember: The less balm you apply, the less you'll feel like you need it.

[h/t Real Simple]