10.20.2009

Natural Lip Balm

It’s officially chapped lip weather in New York. What better time to review some great natural lip balms? No, not chapsticks (the Naturalchemyst doesn’t use toxic brandnomers!), but healthier lip balm options.

Basically, lip balms are addictive and affordable, thus making them them the ultimate impulse purchase. This is obviously why the lip balm marketers scooped up prime check-out counter real estate for their products. Chances are, you have a lip balm on you right now and you too bought it on impulse at the checkout counter! Noone ever really puts much thought into these purchases (I certainly didn’t use to), but we need to be paying closer attention. I won’t attempt to list all the ingredients in your balm (impulse purchase, or not), but I can tell you why certain chemicals were added, the reasons why you should be avoiding these chemicals, and the brands to check out for some much healthier options.

Remember…our skin is porous, and the ingredients we apply to it absorb into our bodies, and can effect us much in the same way as food. Well, the skin on our lips is even more porous than the skin on our bodies! And on top of that, we literally swallow and ingest POUNDS of our lip balm every year. So as weird as this might sound, the ingredients in lip balm should really be safe for consumption. Unfortunately, most mainstream lip balms are still far from safe.

Currently, there is petrolatum (a cheap petroleum byproduct) in almost every toxic lip balm. This ingredient provides temporary relief, but will eventually dry lips out, which tricks us into applying more! Then there are various additives (like camphor) that provide a tingling sensation. This is added to make us think something special is happening (kind of like the sulfates that create bubbles in soaps)...which is just plain sneaky! Ingredients like petrolatum and camphor are unsafe to consume, and I highly recommend that we do NOT, under any circumstances, consume pounds of them every year. Here's a short list of ingredients to avoid in lip balms: petrolatum, parabens, aluminum salt, menthol, camphor, phenol, and anything else that you don't recognize or can’t pronounce...

Even though we might ingest pounds of lip balm per year, the FDA still doesn't have the authority to regulate the labeling of these products. More often than not, a lip balm that is labeled as “natural” will only contain trace amounts of natural ingredients, and will be based in chemicals. Remember, NATURAL INGREDIENTS ≠ NATURAL!!!! This is especially important for lip balm.

There are many easy and accessible recipes for homemade lip balms, which are made with just three or four ingredients. If you have the time, homemade lip balms are a great option. As you will see, the best natural lip balms are basically packaged versions of homemade recipes. But if you’re as busy as the Naturalchemyst, you probably need the convenience of the packaged lip balms. Below is a short list of great natural lip balms. There are literally HUNDREDS of options out there, so I urge you to please read your balm ingredients before purchasing!

Dr. Bronner’s & Sun Dog’s Magic Organic Lip Balm
Due to it’s very short and legible list of organic ingredients, and it’s nice price tag for impulse buying ($2.99), this balm is a great pick. You might be skeptical about the last ingredient, tocopherol. This is a synthetic form of Vitamin E. The EWG thinks that tocopherol is not…quite…the same as Vitamin E, so if you're interested in a completely natural balm, you should either make a homemade recipe or look into some pricier options (see below). If the tocopherol doesn't bother you, Dr. Bronner’s products are generally better than others in their price range. The products can be found in most natural markets in New York and elsewhere.

Interestingly enough, tocopherol is also found in the most popular pick for natural balms - our old favorite, Burt’s Bees. But besides the tocopherol, all the other ingredients in Burt’s are pretty good. And ever since Burt’s Bees was purchased by the Clorox Company, their products can be found in almost every chain megastore around. When given the option of the big toxic brandnomer balms sold at these stores, or Burt’s, please grab the latter! But if it’s a beeswax balm you’re looking for, Beeceuticals might be worth a try. The EWG (environmental working group) likes Beeceutical better than Burt’s, and even though Beeceutical also contains tocopherol…honestly, I trust the EWG’s in-depth product studies. Beeceuticals are sold at Ricky’s stores in NYC.


Evolution of Smooth (EOS)
My third, and final, pick that includes tocopherol (but besides that, is great…) are the EOS lip spheres. If you couldn't already tell, the Naturalchemyst is a sucker for cool packaging and design. I truly wish that more natural and organic brands (EOS is 100% certified organic) would follow suit with chic products like these spheres. And with the exception of the tocopherol, the ingredients are great. Plus it is sold in stores like Duane Reade AND Space NK. Interesting concept, EOS. I like it!


When I'm not using plain old jojoba oil (which could get weird and messy in public), Pangea Organics is my personal favorite. Particularly the Pyrenees Lavender. It’s a little on the pricier side, but the stick is much larger (about the size of those big white Palmer’s sticks) and it has some awesome ingredients. It’s currently on sale at Saffron Rouge, if you’re interested.


To demonstrate how the best natural lip balms are basically packaged versions of homemade recipes, I give you Kathleen Lewis' balm. Although it might be a little tough to find, it literally contains 5 ingredients, all of which are totally okay to ingest and help your lips retain natural moisture. The best bet for her products is probably Beauty Exclusive.


These products have been around since 1221(!!!!), and they are still handcrafted by monks in a Florentine church. Their "lip moisturizer" has very few ingredients - all of which are completely natural. If the $22 price tag doesn't bother you, this balm is excellent. Unfortunately, SMN products are sold by very few dealers stateside. Your best bet in New York is LAFCO in Soho.


Who makes your favorite natural lip balm?

20 comments:

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  2. Hands down...the best lip balm...EVER. Wintermint Lip Balm by Supernatural Botanicals. It's sensational!
    http://supernaturalbotanicals.com/WintermintLipBalm.html

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  3. Badger Unscented Lip Balm is 100% organic, has only 3 Ingredients and you can find it for between $2-3. I've been using it for the last 4 years and I love it! You can find it at Whole Foods or online at drugstore.com. Also check out the Badger corporate website.

    Ingredients: Organic Olive Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Castor Oil

    Normally when you see the word "unscented" in the cosmetics/personal care industry, it means something was added to mask the original scent, which may be unpleasant. However in the case of this Badger Lip Balm, "unscented" truly means "fragrance free".

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  4. The Burts Bees Beeswax lip balm is one of the best lip balms I've ever used. The peppermint flavour is so refreshing. You can find it at Green Organics Beauty

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  5. I will only use lip balms that are made out of all natural ingredients and don't contain parabens or any petroleum products. I consider myself to be a lip balm connoisseur because I have literally tried over 30 kinds of lip balm. I prefer either minty or fruity lip balms, so when I heard that the Made from Earth Spearmint and Blueberry Balm was really minty, I had to try it!

    If this lip balm was so thick and waxy, it would be one of the best. I love it because it is made with natural ingredients, and because it is nice and minty which makes your lips tingle. Unfortunately, it is very thick and waxy and it doesn't glide on my lips like other lip balms do. That is my only complaint.

    I would recommend it to others to try because I am a little picky when it comes to lip products, so it might just be me.

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  6. my favourite is from a company in England called figs and rouge - gorgeous little tins and 3 flavours ! yum - works brill and completely natural and organic !

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  7. when i notice my lips dry i have to find a solution soon like to wear a lips balm, because my lips can lose the smoothness, even the natural colour because of the dead skin or dry and try to keep my skin young always.
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  8. I prefer to use a balm lip when i feel my lips dry. i think the smoothless of our skin is very important most of all our lips that is a erotic part. i take care very much my image specially when i have an important meeting that i had recently in

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  9. Greetings! I recommend you to enter the Mama cosmetics site at mamacosmetics.com and enjoy pure, natural, organic cosmetics shops online.

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  10. If this lip balm was so thick and waxy, it would be one of the best. I love it because it is made with natural ingredients, and because it is nice and minty which makes your lips tingle. Unfortunately, it is very thick and waxy and it doesn't glide on my lips like other lip balms do

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  11. Try buddha balm!!!! It smells awesome and is cheap and its gluten free!:)

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  14. "Vitamin E exists in eight different forms, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. All feature a chromanol ring, with a hydroxyl group that can donate a hydrogen atom to reduce free radicals and a hydrophobic side chain which allows for penetration into biological membranes." - Wikipedia

    The EWG sited a Japanese study using natural vitamin E and synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate) to test for their tumorigenicity in rodents. So depending on which type of tocopherol the lip balm company used, it may or may not be the synthetic form(s). Also the same study also cited a reference that the injection and oral application of natural vitamin E alpha-tocopherol and soya oil caused tumor growth. It is important to fully understand the studies the EWG cited. Tocopherol has not been fully studied to cause tumors.

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  20. My favourites are two that I make at home: one that is thick cream with beeswax,honey,shea butter, avocado oil, and vitamin e, and one that is just coconut oil and beeswax. The thick one is best for winter while the two ingredient one is better in the summer. I haven't found a storebought lip balm that works for me as well as my own does!

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