Chapstick? More Like Crapstick


As the weather changes from warm to cold in Colorado Springs, a seasonal nuisance especially prominent in the West has begun to arise among my friends and acquaintances: chapped lips. As first-years, we all learned how to deal with the dry air, lathering on moisturizer and lotions before bed or after a shower. The switch from drying spot treatments for zits to hydrating skin routines definitely felt contradictory, but we adjusted. However, it seems as though my friends still haven’t learned to deal with chapped lips. Frequent requests to use a friends’ ChapStick, lip balm, or Aquaphor afflict every Rastall lunch, library study session, and Saturday night.

Even people who grew up in arid places don’t know how to approach this nagging problem. An especially annoying aspect of chapped lips is that there is no tried and true solution that works for everyone. Also, lip balm gets lost! When have you ever finished a tube of lip balm or ChapStick? The tiny tubes create planned obsolescence for those of us who are prone to losing things. Perhaps this is why the lip balm industry was valued at 660 million dollars last year.

Or maybe, it is because lip balm and ChapStick don’t actually work. It is my personal belief that most salves, balms, sticks, or whatever else you prefer make your lips far more chapped than if you hadn’t begun to use them. This creates consumer dependency and a self-sustaining industry. There is science to back my belief, and most dermatologists agree. Lip balms with humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin make lips more chapped. These ingredients pull moisture out of the skin, especially in a dry environment, and then the water evaporates away. 

Many lip balms have ingredients such as beeswax and shea butter which are supposed to prevent humectants from drying the lips by creating a physical barrier on the lips. However, I’ve felt no relief from even Burt’s Bees Lip Balm.

I wonder, in a 660 million dollar industry, whether any of the money being made is going towards research to find an actual solution for chapped lips. Engineered dependence is unethical, and the corporations that make ineffective lip treatments should be held responsible. The consumer doesn’t have very many options other than lip balm though; licking your lips makes it way worse. We are vulnerable to deceptive marketing, desperate for a cure to our chapped lips. I would even go as far as suggesting a class action lawsuit on the grounds that Americans are becoming addicted to terrible products. ChapStick is the lesser known Juul and justice must be served.

There is hope, though. I have recently discovered a lip balm that is the best I have ever come across. It is called Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm, a patented formula originally created for patients on Accutane and other harsh medications that cause dry lips. Instead of humectants, Dr. Dan’s uses one percent hydrocortisone, which is safe for facial use, don’t worry. Instead of giving temporary relief, like Carmex or whatever else you’re using, this balm actually heals the area. I only use it every few days now, but I always have a tube with me for my unconverted friends. 

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