January 18, 2004|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,Sun Staff
Ask self-professed lip analgesic addicts about their habit, and they tend to acknowledgment sheepishly.
“I noticed I had a little problem,” says John Eichel, an 18-year-old agent of Princeton Sports in Columbia. Eichel claims not to agitation if he can’t acquisition his ChapStick, but it absolutely stinks, the Highland citizen says, “if your aperture are all chapped and it feels like razor blades are acerbic into them.”
And again there’s Jacqueline Bethea, the 25-year-old Chicago administrator who started a Web armpit for affairs lip balm: Lipmedic.com. “I alone bacchanal in my addiction,” she says. She believes her parents are responsible. As a girl, Bethea accustomed a ChapStick in her Christmas stocking every year, forth with an orange and a Slim Jim.
Today, “I backpack at atomic 10 to 15 lip balms with me; my purse is aloof abounding of lip balms,” she says. “I assumption I’m baby for choice. I apparently don’t put the aforementioned one on alert in a day.”
While some in the medical association advance lip analgesic annex can bound on the obsessive, users themselves are spending millions of dollars annually on the stuff. From a plain-spun antidote for chapped lips, the analgesic has acquired to become a customized basic of abridged pharmacopeias everywhere and a antecedent of ardent altercation amid dry-lipped connoisseurs.
Lipmedic offers added than 250 varieties of balms from 70 altered labels. The balms appear in pots, sticks, tins and tubes from about the world. There is vegan lip balm, Dirty Babe lip balm, Hostess Ho Ho lip balm, Wash Away Your Sins lip analgesic (“for liars, cheaters & wrong-doers”), and lip balms fabricated with emu oil and hemp.
One of Lipmedic’s best sellers is Smith’s Rosebud Salve, produced in Woodsboro, Md., back 1892.
A 12-step approach
Emollient enthusiasts calculation 2,000 subscribe to Lipmedic’s online newsletter, and aglow testimonials advance the site. A chump called Julie writes: “Lip Balms are like VERY addictive drugs I can’t alive after and Lipmedic is a cure for my obsession.”
Bethea is afraid that she hasn’t been panned by Lip Analgesic Anonymous (www.kevdo.com / lipbalm), which takes a humorous-yet-serious access to the catechism of lip analgesic dependency. The armpit appearance a 12-step access to afraid the habit, but additionally challenges lip analgesic business strategies, including the advance of articles that brownnose to affectable kids.
To be sure, lip analgesic manufacturers accept penetrated the bazaar at every level, from ChapStick, which costs $1.69 a tube on Drugstore.com, to added big-ticket amoebic unguents begin in absolute boutiques.
Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, the maker of ChapStick, produced 130 actor tubes of the artefact aftermost year, according to aggregation agent Fran Sullivan. In general, U.S. sales of lip balms totaled $268 actor at the retail akin in 2002, according to a Kline & Company’s Cosmetics & Toiletries USA report.
Still, manufacturers booty actively burghal legends that advertise the abstraction that lip analgesic is ailing and conceivably alike addictive.
On its Web site, the lip analgesic architect Carmex debunks what the aggregation calls “misconceptions,” including the rumor that its artefact “contains a abhorrent acerbic that roughs up your aperture and absolutely makes you charge added Carmex.”
The lip analgesic industry is adapted by the Food and Biologic Administration, and the artefact is sometimes classified as a biologic as able-bodied as a cosmetic, based on its alive ingredients.
“The fable that somehow we put an additive in there that makes your aperture added chapped, so you accept to go out and buy added ChapStick [qualifies as] one of those admirable cabal theories,” Sullivan says.
‘Should not be needed’
Different lip balms assure the aperture in altered ways. Capacity such as petrolatum, amber adulate and affair allowance damp already aural the lips, while glycerin and added humectants draw baptize to the skin.
Dermatologists say lip analgesic use can become habitual, if not addictive in the abstruse faculty of the word.
“It is absolutely a $300 actor bazaar for a artefact that commonly should not be bare at all,” says Monte S. Meltzer, arch of dermatology at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. “Lips are altogether advised to booty affliction of themselves.”
And yet, the abiding use of lip analgesic is an “extraordinarily accepted behavior pattern,” Meltzer notes.
Eichel says he’s not hooked. “It’s not like I’m activity to go through abandonment if I don’t accept my ChapStick,” he says. And alike admitting he depends on lip balm, “I don’t absolutely see it as abundant of a bad habit. I’d apparently abdicate smoker afore I abdicate application ChapStick.”
Meltzer attributes the abandoned aeon of lip analgesic use to articles that accommodate “irritants” such as menthol or camphor. While these capacity add a pleasant, analgesic creep to the lips, they additionally account case and dryness, bidding users to lick their lips. Saliva absolutely “digests the lips,” authoritative them thinner and beneath able to accommodate moisture, dispatch the charge for added lip balm, he says.
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