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.
Santa Maria Novella (SMN)
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?