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Peppermint Oil’s Pseudo High

Burt’s Bees lip balm is purported to fool the body into feeling a high when applied on the eyelids. What’s the scoop?

Burt’s Bees is my all-time favourite lip balm. I always keep a tube in my bag (sometimes more than one). So, when I found myself on the Burt’s Bees side of TikTok, I was excited to see that other people were raving about this same product. Except there’s a catch — they were applying the product to their eyelids instead of their lips, explaining that they felt a buzz that was perfect for a night out. Upon clicking the Beezin’ tag on TikTok, I saw there were a combined 18.4 million views for these types of videos!

Beezin’ is the practice of applying Burt’s bees brand lip balm to the eyelids, which can allegedly induce or heighten the sensation of being drunk or high. This fad isn’t new to the internet — numerous articles from 2014 and an Urban Dictionary definition from 2010 revealed that Beezin’ has been around for a while and just recently got picked up on TikTok.

Captions including “Wait, you’ve never beezed up before?” and “You’ve never done this before? Wow you’ve never lived” insinuate that Beezin’ is a trend that you need to explore. Peer pressure combined with a potential placebo effect may be the explanation for why so many teenagers are hopping on this trend. But the more likely source of the claim comes from the tingling sensation from the peppermint oil contained in the lip balm.

Peppermint oil is FDA-approved for its use as a flavour or fragrance. One of the main components of peppermint oil is menthol, which is responsible for the tingling or burning sensation that causes the alleged high. Menthol is processed by the body in a few ways. The skin on the eyelids is thin, meaning that menthol is absorbed quickly when Beezin’. The nerves in the face translate menthol into the actual sensation of cooling and tingling, similar to how we process the heat from spicy foods. The minty aroma is also associated with heightened attention, focus, and working memory. It’s true that the oily ingredient does trigger a sensation on the skin. Whether or not it feels the way drugs or alcohol do — well, that’s up to the user.

The first five ingredients in Burt’s Bees lip balm are beeswax, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, peppermint oil, and lanolin. The brand boasts an “all-natural” ingredients list, which may have people believing that the contents can do no harm. In fact, they shouldn’t do any harm, when use as directed. When used on the eyelids, there is the possibility of contact dermatitis and transmission of cold sores or herpes through shared tubes of lip balm. Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member Milton Hom, OD, FAAO, FACAAI (Sc) also warns, “The search for a ‘natural high,’ becomes a perfect set up for a Type IV hypersensitivity reaction. A nice buzz initially can later develop into a full-blown inflammatory response requiring treatment.” So, it's best to keep your lip balms to your lips, and your cosmetics to yourselves.


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