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The Lipstick Chronicles Part 4: Addicted to You!

August 5, 2009

Do you get the shivers each time to realize that you have left the house without your gloss? How many times a day to you re-apply. Do you HAVE to have the latest shade, the latest flavour? Well, a surprising number of us admit  to a little lip product obsession. Be it balm, gloss or lipstick we just have to have it. Remove it at your peril!


But what are we addicted to?

Well, balm addicts often state that their lips feel dry and unnatural without it. Colour Queens say that they don’t feel dressed without it while  Gloss Girls love the way it gives them that confident and glamorous edge. So, it is clear that in lippy addiction land there is a fair bit of mind mixed in with a little bit of body. Let’s look a little deeper….

The Body First.

So, our lips get dry and chapped. That is a fact. They may also suffer from the effects of cold sores, can develop skin cancers and can become irritated.  The reason that our lips dry out faster than the rest of our face is due to their biology. Lips consist of no more than five layers of skin (whereas the rest of the face can have up to 16 skin layers).  However, that doesn’t mean that the lips are weak, the skin on the lips is well adapted to cope with constant abrasion – think of how scratchy your morning toast is and how acidic those citrus fruits, it just needs a bit more protection from the elements due to the fact that this skin does not have any hair, sweat glands or sebaceous glands – it can’t self-lubricate. It’s naked!

On an average day when our immune system is working well and we haven’t overdone the sea, sand, sun or wind, don’t have any allergens hanging around and are well hydrated our lips should manage just fine as they are. However, we have evolved to live outside, in a slowly changing natural environment and not in a 24/7 society with air conditioning, nonstop beach parties, environmental pollutions and exotic foods.  All of these things can lead to our beautiful pout checking out.

Conclusion: We do sometimes need help from the lip balm / stick/ gloss fairy.

And so to the Mind.

So, feeling rather self justified we move on to that grey matter that guides our actions. The brain/body relationship can be as amusing as it is scary. While most addictions are damaging and have far reaching consequences, usually an addiction to lip products will only hurt a little bit.

Our brains love a good routine. Life is so hectic and confusing that we seek out those little rituals that we can control and that make us feel good. You only have to look at those un-self conscious little beings called babies for evidence that we are creatures of pleasure!  A baby will quickly call out for a hug, a bottle, a dummy or a comfort blanket if it feels threatened with a new situation or if it reaches sensory overload. My youngest loved her dummy and could often be found with one in mouth and one in each hand as she meandered around the house looking for adventure. I am not saying that lipstick is like a dummy but it is (at least partly) a comforting crutch. A ritual that allows us to stop, have some me-time and relax when life gets a little too frantic.

As for the psychology of the visual there is no doubt that, our lips are a sensual organ, a visual and sensory feast of desire and pleasure. Our lips are laden with nerve endings and are sensitive and responsive to touch. They are our pleasure seekers, our outside broadcast of our desire to be touched and loved.   When we are aroused, our lips swell and become deeper in colour due to the rush of blood beneath that thin skin veneer. Applying a touch of red to the lips, lining them to give the illusion of fullness and vitality shows the world that we are vibrant and healthy social creatures.  And the gloss looks? Well, like magpies we are hard wired to be curious about all things shiny so a touch of gloss draws attention to our sensual area!

What’s the Size of it?

OK, so lipstick is all about sex then, right. Well sort of. You see we are animals and like other animals, we have instincts. Applying lippy appeals to us on many conscious and sub-conscious levels: We want to attract a mate (or remain attractive to our mate), we want to look healthy, we want to feel secure, we want to feel groomed and cared for.

Unless you are eating your lipstick a lippy addiction will only impact negatively on your wallet- and let’s face it, lipstick is cheaper than most other addictions!  On the positive it may make you feel wonderful, secure and sexy so what are you waiting for?

For those of you who feel the need for help may I suggest Lip Balm Anonymous? This website takes a fun look around lip balm addiction and offers up some tactics for those of you trying to beat it! And then there is the Gloss Queen from Beautifully Glossy for you guys looking for your next fix!

Other Lipstick Chronicles:

What Do Lipstick Testers Test?

What Makes Some Lipsticks Stick for 12 Hours?

Is there Lead in my Lipstick?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. cathie permalink
    March 22, 2010 2:58 pm

    I do like my lip balm, currently using Body Shop. The good thing about it, is this brand contains SPF 15, so it saves sunburn on the lips, and combining it with my lip liner, it makes any liner into a lipstick!

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      March 22, 2010 3:06 pm

      How inventive of you! Very eco-chic

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