Friday, April 17, 2009

Lip Service (Product Review: Burt's Bees Lip Balm)

So, a while back I promised to post some product reviews - and then life happened and I didn't get around to doing that. But, I figure, better late than never, no? ;) I'm a big fan of reviews and often wish I can find some for the products I'm interested in comparing, so hopefully you'll find some of this information helpful in your own comparison shopping. :)

In today's post I'll review one of my favorite lip products, but look for upcoming posts on other products in the (relatively) near future. To make things easy, I'm using a 1-5 scale for the review - 1 being the lowest score, 5 being highest. The scores reflect my opinion about each of the products individually, and not in comparison to one another, so the scores are not meant to be ranks between the different products, but instead reflect an overall score for the individual product. The overall product score is simply an average of all the product's category scores combined.

For the Health/Safety category I consult each product's ingredients list and cross-referenced it with EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. My score is subjective, not scientific, and is not taken directly from the EWG site, so please check their site if you want to see what they think about it. Further, if you have allergies, always consult your physician and the product's ingredients before trying a new product.

Prices, of course, are subject to variability. Where possible, I pulled the price directly from the company's web site.


Burt's Bees - Beeswax Lip Balm
- Overall 4.3 (out of 5)
This is the basic variety in a tube (not tin) - no color, no SPF, and no honey.
  • Aesthetics: 5
Since this lip balm is clear, there's not much to comment on its appearance. It is a balm and not a gloss, and it is virtually impossible to tell (visually) that you have it on. However, I have noticed that whenever I put it on my lips they magically look pinker and more healthy.
  • Performance: 5
This product performs about as well as any other lip balm does, but the peppermint oil makes it so much nicer to wear and smell (if you like peppermint). Many lip balms are made from petroleum byproducts, which just grosses me out; this balm is from beeswax, and so I don't gag when I think about how much of it I must consume with my food and beverages.

It feels light, not gooey, gummy, or sticky, and it wears well under other lip products or alone. It's also important to note that the peppermint oil in this product creates a cool, tingling sensation for a short while after application - if you do not like that sensation, you may not like this product. On the flip side, when I put it on I instantly feel like I have minty-fresh breath! I keep several tubes of this stuff on-hand at all times.
  • Price: 3 ($3.00)
While this tube of "lip goo" (as I refer to all lip balms) will not break the bank and is mostly in line with similar products, the price does seem a little exorbitant. I remind myself, though, that I'll spend just as much on the occasional Starbucks beverage - which I will consume in less than an hour - whereas this tube will last me for months.
  • Health/Safety: 4
There appear to be some concerns with the essential oils in this product, particularly with the peppermint oil. For those who do not have reactions to essential oils, it seems to me to be an otherwise mostly natural product.
  • Enviro-Friendliness: 4.5
The environmental friendliness of this company has come into question since it was purchased by Clorox (see note below), but the Burt's Bees subdivision is adamant that it will uphold the values of the first owners. The company appears dedicated to transparency and offers quite a lot of information on its web site regarding their environmental efforts.

Many vegans will avoid this product because they feel that collecting beeswax and honey is harmful to the bees. However, the company (Burt's Bees, not Clorox) does not test any product or ingredient on animals.

The lip balm's tube is made from recycled plastic and is minimally packaged without the use of shrink wrap. Additionally, the company purchases land in tandem with The Nature Conservancy to protect it from development and has initiatives aimed at contributing to The Greater Good
, including the donation of 10% of profits to selected partners. Further, according to the Burt's Bees website, they were a key player in helping to develop The National Standard for Personal Care Products.
  • Notes:
This has been one of my favorite products for a number of years. I keep a tube of this lip balm in my purse and at my bedside year-round (I put it on every night before going to bed). I've even used it when my nose has been chapped or stuffy; I put a little on my finger and applied it to the nose (so the stick never touched my nose...ew! what where you thinking??), and although the peppermint stung a little at first, the coolness was refreshing and the beeswax protected the skin from further damage.

In 200(7?), the company that makes Clorox bleach purchased Burt's Bees from its original owners, which was the source of much alarm and sadness amongst die-hard Burt's Bees fans. I vowed not to purchase it again and went in search of other similar balms (I did find another similar one, to be shared in an upcoming post). In the end, The Clorox Company and the spokespeople for Burt's Bees said they would maintain the standards of the Burt's Bees company, and as I read the ingredients lists and other reviews and articles from bloggers and news media, I became more comfortable with this fact and purchased a few more tubes. Only time will tell how long Clorox will maintain my loyalty, but for now I'm still a fan.

Please also note that the Burt's Bees web site indicates that the ingredients for this lip balm differ slightly when it is in the tin container.