In Search of Greener Lips

In Search of Greener Lips

Katherine Bagley
Published: 09/04/2009

I’ve been trying harder recently to be more eco-conscious. I carry my groceries in old Ikea bags, recycle my NYTimes and wine bottles, and use a window fan instead of an air conditioner. This new lifestyle got me thinking about what kind of products – shampoo, dish soap, make up, toilet paper, etc. – I could replace with more budget- and eco-friendly options. Strolling the lanes of Duane Reade (NYC’s equivalent of Rite Aid) proved successful for pretty much every item except one: lip balm.

This fact was a major bump in my journey to becoming a greener consumer. I know what you’re probably thinking: big deal, it is only lip balm. But the sad truth is that it is a big deal… As my family and friends can attest, I am ADDICTED to Chapstick. The kind of addicted where if that little blue tube isn’t in my pocket or purse, I automatically start licking my lips. Blame it on countless summer days spent hiking or eight years of teaching skiing, but whatever the reason, I need my Chapstick.

All I can say is thank goodness for Google. A simple search turned up dozens of eco-friendly lip balm manufacturers with countless flavors to choose from. Below is a sampling of our (because when a small heap of products arrived on my desk, the magazine staff enthusiastically got involved in this experiment) favorite brands:

Badger
This NH-based company’s lip balms are made with organic extra virgin olive oil, natural golden yellow beeswax, castor bean oil, and extracts of organic aloe vera (for weather protection), rose hip and organic seabuckthorn berry. There are two kinds of balm: lighter, smaller balm sticks, which come in seven different flavors, from Vanilla Madagascar to Pink Grapefruit, and heavier, larger cocoa butter balms. Each lip balm is both fair-trade and USDA organic certified. Some of the staff’s favorite flavors include Lavender Orange, Ginger Lemon (“I can feel the ginger tingling!” – Todd Standley, Designer), Lime Rocket (“There is so much citrus!” – Alisa Opar, Senior Editor), and my personal favorite, Vanilla Bean (which I was tempted to eat because it smelled so good). The balms retail for $3 to $5 and can be found in Whole Foods, Wegmans, Cracker Barrel, REI, The Vitamin Shoppe, and many more. You can also buy products online.

Blooming Lotus
This “lip conditioner” uses rose wax and certified organic shea butter to give your lips ultimate protection and moisture. Although it only comes in one flavor, Mandarin Rose, and is relatively pricey, $10, the balm is packaged in a .35 ounce tube to ensure your purchase will last. Other ingredients include borage seed oil, organic beeswax, cocoa butter, olive oil, chamomile, and lemon. The balms are only sold in a small number of boutiques throughout the country, but those interested can also purchase them online at several green product websites. They can also be ordered straight from the company itself and, to up the green ante a bit, Blooming Lotus will pack your products in bio-degradable corn pellets for shipping. The pellets can either be reused or disintegrated under running water.

Skinnyskinny
This light, refreshing lip balm is made from 100% certified organic products, including avocado oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, beeswax, and calendula-infused extra-virgin olive oil. Skinnyskinny is a carbon neutral company, using wind-generated electricity, based in Brooklyn, NY. All of their products are packaged in recycled, reclaimed and sustainable materials and they make every single one of them in their workshop. The majority of their products are vegan and all are cruelty-free. They make three flavors of lip balm - bare & naked, clover honey & citrus, and tea tree & mint (my personal favorite of this bunch; when you put it on it feels like you just popped a fresh piece of gum in your mouth) – that retail for $6 a tube. Skinnyskinny products are only carried at a small number of boutique stores in and outside of the US, but anyone interested can also purchase them online at Amazon, Good Earth Beauty, and National Public Radio, to name a few.

To be honest, I was worried when I started testing the products, particularly those made with beeswax. I had a bad experience with Burts Bees where my lips became so dependent on the wax, that they started chapping if I went more than 20 minutes without reapplying. Granted, this was a highly personalized reaction, but I was extremely relieved to find that most of the main ingredients in the green, organic lip balms sampled were either olive oil or cocoa butter. It looks like I’ve found multiple options to break my addiction to petroleum-based Chapstick and continue on my journey toward an eco-friendly lifestyle.

If you have tried any of these products, or plan to, let us know what you think!