The first day was terrible. My lips were dry and uncomfortable. When I was getting ready for bed, I mindlessly pulled out the chapstick and started to put it on, but caught myself and immediately washed it off my lower lip. I realized that in order to do this, I needed it out of reach. At the same time, it couldn’t be too far away in case I “needed” it (or more like failed my willpower check). So I compromised. I put it in my bedroom. It wasn’t right on hand, so I couldn’t re-apply mindlessly, but could go to the bedroom to get it if I wanted to.
Originally, I was determined to only use my chapstick before bed so that I could sleep at night. However, in a moment of courage, I opted to at least TRY to sleep without it. I survived the night and I didn’t loose any sleep from it. So, I’ve gone from sort-of-cold-turkey to a full blown cold turkey!
Day two was super hard. My lips were drying and more uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure I was thinking about my lips all day long. I found myself googling “lip balm addiction” and “how to cure chapped lips”, and that lead to various other searches as I read tales of “cures”, “fixes”, “suggestions”, and debates on it being an addiction vs a habit, mental vs physical. When things got too hard, I holded up a rough paper towel, dipped it in water, then set it on my lips to soak up some water. I also made it a point to drink lots of water. Every 30 minutes, I took 2 to 3 sips from the straw in my cup.
I wondered if watering my lip with a moist paper towel would be counter productive. Will it prevent my lips from healing? I don’t think so. The issue with chapstick and lip balms is that they dry out your lips and then because they are coated in wax or jelly, it shields them from getting moisture. So, I’m thinking this is okay.
I watched an episode of Dr. Oz in which he suggested coconut oil. He says it moisturizes your lips without suffocating them. If that’s a solution that will allow my lips to heal, that’s great! The only down side, is that I don’t like coconut. Why oh why did it have to be coconut? But I’ll use it if I have to! However, I am going to hold off on it. I don’t want to trade one addiction for another. I’m afraid that it will not allow my lips to heal.
When you get addicted to chapstick, it’s because your lips are dependent on the lip balm for moisture, which then dries your lips out and creates a circle of dependency. Your lips stop producing their own moisture and don’t shed dead cells. So, not only do I have to stop using the chapstick, but I have to wait for my lips to return to normal. This is why I call it an addiction and not a habit. I broke the habit by putting the chapstick out of reach, but I’m dying to put it on because my lips are in a dry miserable unhealthy state. That’s not habit, that’s a physical issue. Sure, there is nothing in the chapstick that creates a chemical dependency in the brain… so it’s technically not an addiction.
Let’s say you get a bug bite and it’s really itchy. So you decide to buy some itch cream to releaf the itchiness. However, as a side effect, as the main ingredient wares off, the second ingredient creates an itchy feeling. So, you reapply the cream to stop the itchiness, and then later it comes back, and now you are constantly re-applying itch cream. If you had just endured the initial itchy bug bite, it would have healed, and the itchiness would have been gone. Instead, you trusted the anti-itch cream and now when you try to stop using it, your arm is way more itchy than it was when you had the bug bite. This is what chapstick has done to my lips! I don’t call this a “habit”. There are ingredients in lip balms and chapsticks that do dry out your lips.
I found Lip Balm Anonymous and he compares the lip balm industry to drug dealers. The more research I do, coupled with my own experience, the more I’m starting to agree with him! I’ve tried Auqaphor, Burt’s Bees, and Chapsticks, but they are all horrible! I even tried petroleum jelly, which did not help, and it’s not it’s intended use (as far as I know). So, cold turkey seems to be my only solution since weening off didn’t work.
However, I will say that day three is going better! My lips are still suffering, but they seem just a little less dry today. I will continue to drink lots of water and I’m using the watered paper towel when it’s harder to resist. So far this is the longest I’ve gone without chapstick since I got addiction back in 2001. At the time, I thought chapstick was harmless and the thought that I could be addicted never once crossed my mine. It wasn’t until the past couple of years that I started to admit I was addicted, when I couldn’t do a day, let alone 5 minutes, without applying chapstick. I realized that this was a problem. Uhg.. I hate chapstick and all lip balms. This experience with chapstick has been so difficult, that I’m going to be avidly against any lip balm or chapstick use. Don’t use it. It’s not worth getting addicted. If your lips are dry, apply water, or see a doctor. BUT BEWARE! The every day doctor will suggest lip balm and I warn DON’T DO IT! When I say “see a doctor”, I mean that you need to ensure that your chapped lips aren’t due to an oral or skin condition. Treat the cause to cure the symptom!