You be the judge: should my girlfriend get over her addiction to lip balm?

·6-min read

The prosecution: Damilola

Sade is obsessed with lip balm and applies it hundreds of times a day. I think it’s bad for her

My girlfriend Sade has an unhealthy obsession with lip balms. If she doesn’t have one at hand, she freaks out. She literally can’t sleep until her lips are coated in something.

She says her lips get super dry if she doesn’t use balms and butters. But I think that’s because her body has got accustomed to them. I once showed her an article about “lazy lips”, which suggested that if you apply lip balm too often it does more harm than good, because your lips become reliant on the product and lose the ability to moisturise themselves. Sade said it was rubbish – but if she goes without lip balm for a day, she complains about dry lips. That’s not normal. Most people should be able to go a day without lip balm. I certainly can.

Sade has about five pots of Carmex on the go right now. One is mouldy

Ten years ago, when we first got together, she carried a little tin of Vaseline in her pocket. She had every flavour: the green one, the pink one, the cocoa butter one. But one day she read about how petroleum jelly comes from crude oil, so switched to Carmex. I recommended a beeswax lip balm and have even bought her some natural ones over the years. She uses them for a bit but then reverts to Carmex, which is slightly annoying as the ones I buy are more expensive and, I think, better.

But while her products may change, the obsession remains. She sleeps with lip balm under her pillow. She has about five pots of Carmex right now, all well past their best. One is black and mouldy around the lid; another is covered in sand from a recent holiday. They are all half-finished because she panic buys a new one when she can’t find the others. I remind her that they aren’t cheap any more. Recently she paid £5 for a pot of Carmex at a petrol station, which I found a bit outrageous.

Bedtimes are held up if she can’t locate her lip balm, and she puts it on first thing in the morning and then about a million times throughout the day. Her habit is expensive and it’s probably not very good for her, so I’d like to try to wean her off it.

The defence: Sade

I’ve loved the feeling of balm on my lips since I was a child. It’s pricey, but doesn’t do any harm

I admit that I am reliant on my lip balms – I can’t really say why. The obsession started when I was a child. I developed chapped lips one day while walking to school in the cold with my mum. She put some Vaseline on my lips and I liked how it felt, so I kept using it after my lips healed.

I used to love all the limited-edition Vaselines – I had one in every colour and flavour. The cocoa butter one was the best. But I switched to Carmex after I read that it’s better for you.

The ingredients in lip balms don’t cause addictions. I’ve done my research

Dami moans that I leave half-used tubs of Carmex around our home, but it’s hard to finish one. I actually can’t remember ever getting to the bottom of one – I always lose them first. Dami hates that I buy another pot before I’ve located the half-used ones. He also reminds me that lip balms aren’t cheap any more, which he’s right about. We’re in a cost of living crisis but I recently paid £5 for a pot of Carmex. It didn’t help that I found two lost pots when we got home.

I remember when they used to be 99p, so I get his frustration – the cost of my collection adds up. But when I need my lips moisturised, I don’t really care – I’ll use whatever I can get my hands on. At night I can’t sleep until I’ve applied some balm.

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The ingredients in lip balms can’t cause addictions – I’ve done my research – but I’m probably addicted psychologically. I think it’s just a harmless habit. I also have loads of lip glosses and soft lipsticks. I just love having something on my lips.

I once read about how much petroleum jelly women ingest from licking balm off their lips. That was a bit worrying – Dami joked that I probably have a big ball of jelly in my stomach as I’ve been applying it for most of my life.

I don’t plan on giving up my balms, and I don’t think my obsession is that serious. Dami has bought me some more natural lip balms over the years and I use those too, but the Carmex is my favourite. I always joke that he’ll have to prise it from my cold dead hands before I give it up.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Sade stop using so much lip balm?

Damilola needs to realise that there are way more important things to worry about. Let Sade use her lip balm if it helps her get through life – God knows, it’s hard enough at the best of times. Case dismissed: release the prisoner!
Paddy, 63

I totally understand the need to have lip balm close by at all times (I do, too). If she is using her own money to buy it, that’s her choice. However, I do think Sade should toss out her older pots.
Molly, 28

While I don’t think there’s anything that wrong with a lip balm habit, albeit one as extreme as this, Dami is clearly stressed out by it and worried about Sade. She should be more receptive to that and at least try to cut back.
Benjamin, 26

Damilola’s concern about the drying chemicals in some brands is well founded, and routine scavenger hunts for lip balm are stressful and time-consuming. Sade should trial the more natural brands to try to wean herself off – and try to store them somewhere she’ll remember.
Becky, 26

Damilola needs to realise that everyone’s partner does a couple of things the other finds disgusting. If lip balm is the most revolting thing Sade is into, Damilola should be grateful – you’re lucky she doesn’t have a nose-picking habit.
Anita, 33

Now you be the judge

In our online poll below, tell us: is it time for Sade to smooth things over with Damilola and lay off the lip balm?

The poll closes on Thursday 30 March at 10am BST

Last week’s result

We asked if Alex should stop farting in front of his girlfriend, Astrid.

51% of you said yes: Alex is guilty

49% of you said no: Alex is not guilty