Few needs in this world are more pressing than the need to urinate, defecate, sneeze, or scratch an itch. But I'd offer that the need to address chapped lips trumps them all. Whether you're determined to avoid spending your quarter-end review with your boss trying to subtly lick your lips or you're just gearing up for a good old fashioned blow job, having dry, chapped lips can ruin almost anything, and there's not always chapstick around. What to do?
By now, you probably know that lip balm can be addicting— not like how crack is addicting, although I'm sure someone's figured out a way to freebase Burt's Bees— due to ingredients that actually dry your lips out in the long run. Any lip balm that contains eucalyptus, camphor, menthol, or alcohol is grooming you for dependence. The sensation of applying cooling eucalyptus may feel good at the time, but it's only setting you up for discomfort, pain, and an unsightly inflammation of a mucus membrane. Like having a one night stand with Adam Levine.
A few don'ts— don't bit the skin off of your lips and chew on it. That makes your thin lip skin even thinner and also makes you a cannibal who eats her own skin. Don't lick your lips, either— your saliva contains enzymes that help break down food, and the last thing chapped lips need is further breaking down. And if you want to get totally gross: licking your lips can do awful things like lead to a yeast infection in the corners of your mouth, or awaken a dormant cold sore (herpes) virus and then no one will want to love you or be your friend because human beings are judgmental bastards. So don't lick your lips, no matter what LL Cool J says.
Vaseline is the king of fixing chapped lips. It tastes a little like butt jerky, but if you slap some petroleum jelly onto your lips, you'll lock in moisture and lock out your wayward tongue and spit.
You can also use goose or duck fat, in the event that you're in a location where liquified and recongealed duck fat is available and basic lip balm is not. For people who have no interest in keeping a tub of duck fat around, olive oil can do the trick in a pinch, as can castor oil, vegetable oil, or sunflower seed oil. You could also try lard, but don't apply animal fat to your lips that will irritate your skin further. So, as delicious a solution it would be to fix chapped lips with bacon fat, don't do it.
Other beauty products can be reappropriated for lip use as well, but don't use anything that contains a ton of fragrance. I've had good luck with cocoa butter and shea butter as a temporary lipmergency aid, and awful luck with heavily smelly stuff like that Victoria's Secret Love Spell lotion that I thought made me smell totally sexy if I slathered myself with it after basketball practice in high school.
A column about alternatives to lip balm wouldn't be complete without the Gross Grandpa Remedy. My late grandfather, rest his soul, used to recommend applying chicken poop to heavily chapped lips. "You won't lick it then!" I've never resorted to anything that desperate, but if you have, by all means let me know if it was effective.
So what's today's lesson? Lip relief can be found almost anywhere— oil, lard, buttery body creams. But you can sabotage yourself just as easily. Remember: lard, not licking. And definitely not Levine.
Image by Jim Cooke, original photos by Bukhavets Mikhail, Aleksandr Markin, Valentyn Volkov/Shutterstock