Why I don’t buy lip balm anymore

Photo of four lip balm tubes with green and blue lids.
By Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Milano – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 it, Wiki Commons

Giving up my one-time favourite beauty product

I used to be obsessed with lip balm. At any one time I would have about six to eight on the go: four of the same type so that I could have one in each handbag/rucksack/trouser pocket, plus a couple of tinted varieties and a random extra one. After years of trying whatever was on offer at Boots I’d settled on Blistex’s Intensive Moisture as my go-to. It was strong enough to ‘work’ without being so intense that it felt over the top.

Then, just like that, after years of re-applying every hour, I just stopped using it. I can’t quite explain how this happened. I suspect it had a lot to do with lockdown, not leaving the house, and hardly ever wearing lipstick.

Now I’ve fallen out of the habit I can’t imagine going back

The shocking thing is that my lips are healthier than ever. They feel naturally moisturised, hardly ever have dry patches, and generally look really healthy. I’d heard tell of people cutting out lip balm before, but I was such an avid user that I didn’t believe it would be possible for me. But now I’ve somehow casually fallen out of the habit, I can’t imagine going back.

I think the simple fact is that many of us have a toxic, cyclical relationship with lip balm. Our lips feel a bit dry, so we use some, which offers a temporary solution but really dries our lips out more, so we put more on, and so on and so forth until the end of time. Actually, in normal conditions, our lips are quite capable of looking after themselves.

Do we really need that much lip balm, or are we just buying into promises made by companies profiting from our obsession?

In a context where we should all be trying to reduce our consumption for the sake of our planet, it’s important that we take a step back and evaluate the items we consider ‘every day’. Are they really earning their keep, or are we just assuming they are? Lip balms rarely come in reusable or recyclable packaging, so the sum of our lifetime of lip balm consumption will be a huge amount of harmful waste material. If we can go without it, we really should. It may not seem like that much in any one go, but the cumulative difference can be enormous. When we think about it, and without sounding too conspiratorial, do we really need that much lip balm, or are we just buying into promises made by companies profiting from our obsession? It is all an illusion? Is the lip balm cake a lie?

Of course there are circumstances in which some kind of lip balm will make sense. It is important to protect your skin, lips included, from sunburn, so I’m sure that I’ll need to make use of some sort of SPF lip balm in the sunnier months. When the world returns to ‘normal’ and I’m back out more I imagine I’ll be wearing lipsticks, stains, and tints again, which might lead to more dryness. But I think rather than getting back into the lip balm habit, I’ll take the money I save not buying it and use it to invest in higher quality products that are kinder to my skin, and the planet, bypassing that issue all together.

I never thought I’d be the person to say this, but I urge you to take on the challenge of giving up your lip balm. It may feel strange at first, but I think that in the long-run you may well be pleasantly surprised.

What everyday beauty products do you think you can’t go without? And are there any you might re-evaluate to help reduce your carbon footprint? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


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