The word “addiction” suggests gambling, drinking, and drugs. But there are other habits, behaviors, and even beauty products that are surprisingly addictive.
If you’ve ever sat with a friend and watched as he or she applied and then reapplied Chapstick or any other type of lip balm repeatedly, there’s a scientific reason for it, according to Samantha Conrad, MD, a dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial HealthCare in Chicago. For starters, the ingredients in some products can end up being super drying, which prompt you to feel the need to keep reapplying in a vicious cycle. “In addition, the feeling of being ‘addicted to Chapstick’ is that the person has become very used to a textural feeling on his or her lips,” she says. “When they don’t have the product on, they feel that something is missing.” Find out what really causes chapped lips.
It’s one thing to use whitening strips regularly to remove red wine and coffee stains. It’s quite another to be addicted to bleaching your teeth. There’s even a term for it: Bleachorexia refers to being addicted to bleaching teeth, says Leslie Renee Townsend, DDS, of Jefferson Dental Clinics in Dallas, Texas. “Overuse or misuse of whitening products such as lasers, strips, gels, rinses, or pastes can cause noticeable sensitivity, tooth pain, gum irritation, and weakened enamel, often temporary, but sometimes more permanent,” Dr. Townsend says. “At worst, teeth begin to demineralize with time, since whitening products strip tooth enamel resulting in transparent-looking teeth.”
If you tend to moisturize more than twice a day, quit it. Turns out, what you’re doing is actually counterintuitive and may make your skin addicted to that product. “There are some theories that constant use of thick moisturizers can make the skin lazy,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “By providing a false barrier to the environment, the skin does not have to work as hard as it normally would to maintain adequate hydration levels. If you were to quickly take away the moisturizer, your skin might end up dry and inflamed.” In fact, it’s a myth that everyone needs to use a moisturizer. “If you have skin conditions like eczema or if you experience dryness, visible scaling or flaking, redness, or itching, a moisturizer can help,” he adds. “However, if your skin looks and feels normal, you do not necessarily need to use a moisturizer regularly.” If you want to use a moisturizer, opt for a breathable product that’s light and easy to spread. “The newest generation of moisturizers use technology that allow you to experience the benefits of traditional ingredients without a greasy, heavy feeling,” Zeichner adds.