I used to have a serious lip balm habit. I had to have lip balm in my purse at all times. I also had a couple of sticks around my apartment, and I would have a minor panic attack if there wasn’t a Chapstick in arm’s reach.
I’m a teacher, and I was so compulsive about lip balm that I would actually apply it in the middle of giving a lecture. So, that was me: standing up in front of a class of 30 students, trying to get them to converse intelligently about The Epic of Gilgamesh, and applying Chapstick Medicated at the same time. Not very professional.
At a certain point, I started to wonder if lip balm was necessary at all. For someone like me whose lip “dryness” doesn’t arise from any actual medical condition or symptom, I realized lip balm was unnecessary.
Here are some recommendations for cutting out lip balm, and simplifying this one tiny aspect of life. This isn’t a primer for defeating real chemical dependency, or treating a serious issue — my lip balm habit was just that, a habit. And habits can be broken.
1. Go slowly
I had been applying Chapstick quite literally every waking hour, if not every half hour. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go cold turkey, so I gradually weaned myself off of it. First, I limited myself to one application every hour or so. Once that didn’t feel painful and uncomfortable, I lengthened the time to every two hours, then every three, and so on. In some cases, it took a couple of days before I could lengthen the interval again. I was patient with myself, though. I think the whole process took about three weeks.
2. Drink lots of water
Ice water worked for me. I know that some people prefer not to drink very cold water, but the coldness helped replace that cooling feeling that I got from the lip balm I used. Every time I wanted to apply lip balm or started to think about how dry my lips felt, I took a sip of water instead. Hydration, of course, helped address the dryness that I had been treating with lip balm.
3. Avoid lip-licking
That is, avoid licking one’s own lips. Licking someone else’s lips (or other body parts) is probably an okay distraction while weaning oneself off lip balm.
4. Keep the lip balm at home
Once I was only applying lip balm every few hours, I stopped keeping it in my purse all the time. This helped break the habit of reaching for my Chapstick in the middle of a conversation. If it wasn’t there, then I couldn’t use it.
5. Get a good lip balm full of moisturizers and absent of anything that gives a tingle
Once I didn’t need to apply lip balm every day, and could comfortably go several days without any, I could concede that lip balm itself isn’t necessarily bad. Lip balm is useful as a primer under lipstick or gloss, and lip balm with an SPF can genuinely protect lips from damage. Likewise, adding moisture can be helpful on the driest winter days. Now I apply my lip moisturizer once a day in the morning, and it only ventures into my purse when I go to the beach. Habit kicked.