Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Lip gloss addicton: myth or reality?

For years I have seen snippets on the Internet talking about lip balm addictions - whether it be pop up ads for ebooks, or posts on websites. I have always ignored these articles, thinking that they were a crock of you know what. An addiction is a serious medical condition defined as a 'physical and psychological dependence on psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco, heroin and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain, (thanks Wiki!). So a beauty product couldn't possibly be addictive, could it?

I am always on the lookout for a freebie, especially a beauty freebie and so recently saw on JoyJoy's blog, Beauty Bargain Queen, that Burt's Bees were giving away free lip balms on Twitter and Maybelline were also sending out free full sized samples of their new lip balm - BabyLips. So, naturally, I signed up for both. They both arrived in the mail in the last week and I have found myself using them quite regularly. In fact, I now can't seem to go 30 minutes without reapplying. This is very strange for me. I nearly never wear lipstick - only when I am going out - and used to apply lip gloss maybe once or twice a week, yet now am suddenly applying it more than 20 times a day. I am very much an out of sight, out of mind type person so would usually only apply lip gloss after accidentally stumbling upon it in my handbag when hunting for my keys. Whereas my two new lip balms are still sitting on the dining room table (much to hubby's annoyance!). This is where I sit to work on my computer, eat my meals, I have to walk past it to get to the kitchen, and so each time I do so, I reapply the lip balm. So, is my sudden need to reapply lip balm just a reaction to the visual stimuli - my brain telling me 'ooh, that would feel nice' or is there more to it? Since this little balm obsession started, I have now noticed that my lips feel really dry and parched when they don't have balm on them, yet they never felt like this previously. Could the balms actually be damaging my lips? Maybe this is a marketing ploy by lip balm manufacturers - a scam to make us buy more - could lip balms actually dry out our lips so you feel the constant need to reapply them? To be honest, I don't believe that. I think that you just get used to the nice silky feeling of having lip gloss on that once it wears off, the dryness of the lips that was always present suddenly becomes more apparent.

Based on the definition by Wiki, it is not possible for lip balms and glosses to be addictive. The main ingredients in them waxes and oils which cannot be absorbed through the skin, therefore definitely cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier. I guess it is possible to lick it off and ingest it that way; however, the quantity that gets ingested is extremely minimal - not enough to cause an addiction. There was the rumour around that the average women eats around 5kgs of lipstick in her lifetime, but Snopes has defused this rumour working out that a women would virtually have to spend her days continuously applying lipstick then licking it off again. So, the addiction theory can't come from ingestion either. And, at any rate, I can't find any information on people being chemically addicted to beeswax or petroleum jelly or any other common lip gloss ingredients.

Since I can't find any credible information on lip gloss addiction (most likely because it is not a credible medical condition) I will give you my theory on why lip gloss may seem to be addictive. Us humans are very attracted to things that make us feel good. Think of all the things that feel good in your life, then think of how often that you try to do these things. I think lip gloss fits into this category. When you apply it it makes your lips feel silky soft and there is no longer any friction between them - it makes it easier to rub them together. When you rub them together it feels a bit like you are making out with yourself. Kissing releases endorphins. Endorphins make you feel good. Therefore, each time you apply lip gloss it is like a mini make out session with yourself (that is actually socially acceptable!), endorphins are released, you feel good, then the endorphins fade, the good feelings also start to fade, so you reapply lip gloss to get those good feelings back, just like a crack addict trying to get their high back. Good theory?

Now after reading this article, who has just reached for a tube of lip gloss?