Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Waxing Poetic ...

If I had to, I'd probably rub a candle on my mouth.

I don't think I'm a lip-balm addict, per se. But I also don't think I could quit. Cut back, maybe. But hell, a girl's gotta have a vice, right? I could do worse than lip balm.

When I was younger, I lived in a ChapStick world. Didn't we all? I remember cherry-flavored balm. Insidious stuff, flavored lip balm. It encourages you to lick your lips, thus protracting the chapping and requiring the use of more balm. Way to go, ChapStick titans: create a legion of junkies, keep 'em coming back for more.

I wasn't a big fan of the Bonne Bell LipSmacker craze. I remember having a tube of 7-Up, though why anyone would want a lip product that tasted like the most boring soda on the planet is beyond me. I did recently buy a tube of Dr. Pepper, because I read on some blog that it imparts a nice color and bit of sheen and it was good to keep on hand.

I can't find it now.

And anyway, I never trusted Dr. Pepper. No one can tell me what it's supposed to taste like. I once heard prunes were involved.

As I transitioned into adulthood, with all the benefits that bestowed – FICA rage, the social injustice of finally having to buy one's own deodorant – I remember being a consumer of ChapStick Medicated and ChapStick Overnight Lip Treatment. I was still under the ChapStick spell, like a Stepford Wife, but different.

One year, for Christmas, my cousin Patty gave me a little sampler of Burt's Bees products, lip balm included. It was OK. At the register at Walgreen's, I spied tinted Burt's Bees and bought a tube based on the color of the cap. I choose poorly.

Softlips hit the market and I was intrigued. The tubes were thin and sleek, the Virginia Slims of the lip-balm set. And French Vanilla? I love vanilla.

I bought a two-pack. What is the point, I ask you, of what is essentially fine-point lip balm? It might be handy if you're applying it to the lips of toddlers, but it doesn't make sense for adults. And the product itself felt ... insignificant.

Then one day, out with my friend Kelley, I suddenly smelled vanilla. I turned to her and asked her what she had just put on.

And she showed me her tube of lip balm.

And my life would never be the same.

Karite-Lips Shea Butter Vanilla Lip Balm, where had you been all my life?

I'll tell you where it had been: lurking in the cosmetics aisle of Whole Foods. The first time I went to buy it, I was a bit surprised at the price. It wasn't priced like other lip balms, but I had to have it. Unlike Softlips, Karite-Lips comes in a slightly bigger tube, perfect for swiping across one's lips for even coverage. And the texture is silken yet substantive, but not heavy or waxy.

I was hooked. I returned to the store many times, buying five tubes at once, to have one in my makeup bag and one in the car and one on my nightstand and a couple in reserve. I gave tubes to friends, sharing the shea-butter joy.

And the last time I went to buy it, it was up to $8. I bought my usual five, laying down more than $40 for lip balm. And I knew I had to make a change.

Yes, it can be had for less money online, but once you factor in shipping, it's not much of a deal, and hello, carbon footprint. Really? Do I need to involve UPS in my procurement of lip balm?

And so began my quest for a replacement.

I can tell you right now, none of them are worthy.

I bought Blistex Deep Renewal. Pah. Was I actually applying anything to my lips? It didn't feel like it.

I bought Nivea A Kiss of Moisture. Meh. What kind of kiss would that be? It's like a polite peck of moisture. I want a full-on snog.

My mom brought a tube of lip balm to me that she'd gotten from her dentist's office. They gave her one and she liked it so she went back to get one for me. It's lemonade-flavored. It's promotional lip balm, and I don't love it, but I like it better than others I've tried.

I bought Aveeno Essential Moisture. Essential to whom? Fish? It has a touch of shea butter in it, but it also contains jojoba oil and oatmeal. Why is there oatmeal in my lip balm? I'm trying to cut out carbs.

Through it all, I kept dipping into my stash of Karite-Lips. I'd dispensed with keeping tubes everywhere and relied on the single tube in my makeup bag. It's been lasting well enough.

But one day, out and about, I had lunch with mom and in the process of eating and using a napkin, had removed everything from the surface of my lips. We stopped by Target so I could pick up a tube of something (as well as other things we needed; I didn't make her go to Target just so I could buy lip balm) and I stood in front of the display, rejecting tube after tube. I'd tried most of them at one time or another.

And so I settled on something I hadn't tried before, True Shimmer in Botanical Berry by ... ChapStick. All these years later, I wasn't very far from the cherry flavor of my youth. But I must say, it's pleasant. It does indeed smell and taste like berries. And it's tinted a pleasing shade of pink. And it fits well in the change compartment of my wallet, so I'll never be without a balm.

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