You Beezin'?

The kids are getting a buzz by putting beeswax on their eyelids, says a trend-rumor this week.

"You want to know a neat way to get 'high' off a household product?" said one teen to another.

"Oh boy, do I ever," said the other teen. "As a teen, that's my main interest."

The teens proceeded to smear Burt's Bees on their eyelids. Before long, both had dropped out of school. They accumulated insurmountable credit card debt. One of them did go on to found a streaming music website, but he failed to develop a sustainable monetization structure, and it collapsed.

That's hypothetical, but "beezin' (v.)" has indeed been canonized in Urban Dictionary since 2010. As it reads, the act involves "apply[ing] a light layer of Burt's Bees natural lip balm wax on one's eyelids for a freaky yet pleasurable tingling sensation."

Freaky yet pleasurable? Or freaky yet ... deadly?

Well, not deadly, but at least one Fox news affiliate in Oklahoma this week reacted to what it called a "viral trend," saying "the popular lip balm could deliver potential health risks if not used properly." That hit the Internet and led to widespread media coverage of the pseudotrend, which seems to have actually had, at best, a fleeting moment of popularity in 2012.

Dr. Brett Cauthen of Oklahoma City suggested in the Fox segment that the peppermint oil in Burt's Bees is what produces the tingling sensation. "I suppose some people think that is kind of funny," he said. He's right on both counts. The only "health risk" cited in the segment is inflammation of the eyelid. Put peppermint anywhere on your body and it'll be mildly irritating. It's potentially enough to cause inflammation in places like the eyelids, which are very vascular and thin, so they absorb substances readily. Take care of your eyelids—they're the only ones you have.

Cauthen warned that because the product label reads "100 percent natural" people might feel agency to use it however they like. "Our big message is natural does not equate with safety," Cauthen said.

You know what else is natural? Rattlesnake venom. Lightning. Human papillomavirus. Greed. Death. Trends that are actually very niche until the media runs with them and lots of people start trying them. Intense fascination with ways young people try to get high, even when they're jokes to begin with. What business do young people have experimenting with getting high, anyway? What do they know of the intense mundanity of age, of the weight of unrealized dreams, squandered potential, love forever lost?

 
Presented by

James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He writes the health column for the monthly magazine and hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk.

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