Are your patients hoping to get “high” through their eyeballs using chapstick?

By Lisa Marie Basile | Fact-checked by MDLinx staff
Published April 6, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • People are applying peppermint oil-based chapstick to their eyelids in an attempt to get high and feel alert. This is known as “beezing,” and it’s making its way around social media, particularly among younger people. 

  • There is no evidence that beezing can cause intoxication, but the placebo effect could play a role in what people perceive. 

  • This trend is dangerous, as it can lead to skin irritation, microbial contamination, and even vision issues.

If you’ve scrolled through TikTok lately, you may have seen people applying peppermint chapstick (specifically Burt's Bees) to their eyelids. This bizarre practice is known as “beezing” or “beezin’,” and it’s both popular and potentially harmful. Your patients may even come to with questions about it or—in the worst case scenario—to report its effects.

‘Beezin’ refers to the application of Burt’s Bees chapstick to the eyelids in order to experience a so-called high or a heightened level of inebriation. 

In one TikTok video, a person is shown applying chapstick to all of their friends’ eyes, followed by shots of them looking inebriated at a party. While these sorts of videos have recently spread like wildfire across social media, the trend has got more than a decade behind it. 

The word “Beezin” first appeared in 2010 when it made its way into the Urban Dictionary, a crowdsourced dictionary for slang words and phrases in the England language. That first definition? “To apply a light layer of Burt's Bees natural lip balm wax on one's eyelids for a freaky yet pleasurable tingling sensation. Usually applied when one is really [expletive] high.”

Since, the trend has remained persistent. Multiple news reports around beezing were published in 2014, and then in 2019. Now, in 2023, reports are again circulating. The majority of articles are—unsurprisingly—warning people against the practice. 

What are the potential risks associated with beezing?

When Burt’s Bees chapstick is applied to eyelid skin, users experience a cooling sensation caused by the product’s key ingredient, Mentha Piperita (or peppermint oil). That’s no surprise: Mentha Piperita can cause an icy sensation when applied to the skin, according to Dermatitis.[] But while this cooling sensation is what draws people to the chapstick itself, it can also cause adverse reactions in the skin when beezing.[] 

According to Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry MBBS (MD), beezing users risk developing or exacerbating atopic dermatitis. “Atopic dermatitis is a complex condition with multiple contributing factors—like genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and immune dysregulation,” Chaudhry says. “But irritants like peppermint oil can exacerbate the condition or trigger symptoms in susceptible individuals.” []

“The skin in this region is so much thinner compared to other parts of the body, making it more susceptible to irritation, inflammation, and damage. Moreover, there is a risk of the oil getting into the eyes, causing redness, pain, and potential damage to the cornea,” Chaudhry adds. An article in Ophthalmology Times says that beezing might also affect vision.[] 

But that’s not all. Chapsticks can play host to microbial contamination, so patients will want to avoid applying lip balm that has touched the mouth to the eyes. 

Everyone should avoid this trend, but patients with a history of eczema or sensitive skin should be particularly cautious of it, since it may cause flare-ups or worsen existing symptoms,  Chaudhry says. Ophthalmology Times recommends treatment involving artificial tears, steroids, antibiotics, or antihistamines.[]

Does beezing actually cause a high?

There’s no evidence to suggest this practice leads to intoxication, although there are plenty of personal experience anecdotes across the web claiming it does.[] 

People who engage in beezing have also claimed that the cooling effect of the menthol leads to a heightened sense of alertness. This may be rooted in the fact that peppermint scent is often used as a pick-me-up by those who employ essential oils. In fact, the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology says that peppermint aroma is subjectively associated with an increase in alertness. This alertness may be mistaken for a high.[] 

People who claim to experience a high after beezing may also be susceptible to the placebo effect. For example, a study on marijuana use published in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology found that “The belief that individuals have about the drug content (stimulus expectancy) activates their outcome expectancies about the effects that the drug is likely to have on them, producing the placebo effects (changes in mood, behavior).”

While beezing may not cause a physiological high, it’s important that physicians talk to patients—especially younger ones who are more inclined to try potentially dangerous trends they hear about online—about the effects of social media and peer pressure, which are both associated with substance abuse.[][]  

Talk to your patients about social media’s influence

In a TikTok video made by creator Lily Knott, viewers see Knott applying the chapstick to her eyelids “without knowing what it does.” Liked by nearly 4 million people, it indicates how influential (and potentially harmful for youth, critics say) social media can be.[] 

In the end, Chaudhry recommends physicians talk to their patients about beezing. “Beezing is a dangerous trend. It's crucial to raise awareness of these risks to prevent people from harming themselves in the pursuit of a fleeting sensation.” 

Share with emailShare to FacebookShare to LinkedInShare to Twitter