I’ve always been an avid lip balm, gloss and stick wearer—as a high schooler, I had an arsenal of both eye shadows and lip glosses to match my closet full of colorful clothes (yes, that included lilac gloss and lime green eyeliner). But as I’ve gotten older and seemingly more sensitive to ingredients and essential oils, I’ve found it nearly impossible to find hardy, moisturizing lip balms that don’t make my lips break out in itchy, swollen red bumps that take a week to heal and then turn into dry flakes that have to be gently exfoliated.

In college, my five-times-a-day use of Burt’s Bees informed me that I was allergic to peppermint as my lips swelled up to twice their size and became itchy, dry and beet-red. As recently as two weeks ago, a new overnight balm with all clean ingredients brought me back to those peppermint-infused days when my kisser blew up, covered with tiny, red, inflamed bumps.

At this point, I feel like I’ve tried everything and nothing works as well or as fast as Aquaphor (I know, I KNOW. It’s the worst thing I could put on my lips and possibly ingest. But nothing else helps!). But, I need a new, thick balm and I’m at a loss for how to find one that doesn’t make my lips look like an “after” picture in a “Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong” blog post.

Here’s what I’ve tried and what I’ve discovered during my search:

  • Coconut oil is too thin and doesn’t stick around long enough for my lips to be hydrated in the morning.
  • Straight shea butter worked for a few weeks, then my lips reacted as they usually do (same goes for straight mango butter).
  • I can’t use traditional Burt’s Bees BUT the Burt’s Bees Nourishing Lip Balm with Mango Butter is totally fine, though not moisturizing enough overnight.
  • This, this, this, this, this, this and this all make my lips protest.
  • Lip colors don’t seem to have the same effect (RMS Beaty’s Lip Shines, ILIA Beauty’s Lip Tints+Sticks+Crayons and Kjaer Weis’ Lip Shines are fine—they could contain similar ingredients that cause a reaction, but I never wear them long enough or repeatedly enough daily to see).
  • Squalene oil and barbary fig seed oil, along with the scary-ingredient-ed Aquaphor are the only things that calm my lips down after a breakout. But the oils are too thin to wear overnight.

Complicated, right? That’s why I need your help.

So tell me, trusty NMDL community and clean beauty experts: What’s your holy grail, overnight, super moisturizing and hydrating, only-have-to-apply-once lip treatment? Share in the comments below, on Facebook or Twitter and help a natch girl out!

Back in 2007 the now well-known “Poison Kiss” report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that some of the most popular lipsticks on the market contain varying amounts of lead. Lead, of course, is a heavy metal that wreaks all sorts of horrible havoc when it’s in the body; it’s been associated with everything from infertility to learning disabilities, muscular problems, and death. As such it’s been legally banned from products we’re exposed to in our daily lives, like paint.

But not lipstick. Even though we put lipstick on multiple times a day, and can accidentally eat  the stuff—you know, when it hasn’t already been absorbed into our bodies on its own. Lipstick. Not a great place for lead.

But new research being reported in this New York Times article has found that lipsticks host a whole bunch of other metals—from cadmium to aluminum. The study, published in the May issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found traces of cadmium, cobalt, aluminum, titanium, manganese, chromium, copper and nickel in 24 lip glosses and eight lipstick brands. They chose these specific lipsticks because they were the most popular among a set of teenage girls at a community health center in Oakland, Calif.

What’s more: The teenagers in the study reported reapplying lipstick and glosses as often as 24 times a day!

Aluminum, chromium and manganese registered the highest concentrations over all. Because metals tend to accumulate in the body, even trace amounts can still be a problem.

Then there’s this: While definitely much safer, it might be hard to know if some of the clean brands are totally free of metals. According to the article, mica—which is found in many of our favorite natural lipsticks—can sometimes be contaminated with metals. So just how crazy careful do we need to be?

I wear natural lipstick pretty regularly, though I don’t reapply it nearly as often as the young women in the study. If I’m being honest, a little mica is probably not going to keep me away from my favorite clean brands—but maybe I would feel differently if I was pregnant or had a small child getting into my stuff? TBD on that… What about you?

What lipsticks do you wear? How often do you reapply?

If there’s one thing a girl can’t have too much of in her arsenal, it’s lipstick.

As we said in the book, it’s gotta be the single most powerful cosmetic going: With just one swipe it can completely change the appearance of your face. I’ve always loved the stuff and cringe to think how often I put it on as a kid to play dress up. As most of you surely know, mainstream lipsticks are usually contaminated with lead, and intentionally filled with a host of unfriendly chemicals—which we absorb and unintentionally ingest off our lips. Blargh.

Which is why it’s such a treat to find a good clean one you love. And when it’s clean, it works double duty, because if it can go on my lips, it can go on my cheeks—and from RMS to Ilia, every lipstick I love does just that.

Enter Vapour Organics. A brand whose breadth, for no apparent reason, I’ve never fully explored beyond foundation. Now I realize there’s a whole world of products to uncover, and I’ve started with their lipstick. The color I’m in love with is called Tempest, but there are others in the palette catching my eye too. Have you tried any of these? (Color recs please!)

Tempest, on this mug anyways—isn’t it weird how differently colors can read from one face to the next?—is hitting that perfect balance between orange and pink. I know orange is all the rage right now, but I can’t wear a real one without feeling like someone’s grandma. But there’s enough pink and red in this one that it doesn’t scream Florida retirement home, but instead feels youthful and peachy. Especially on the cheeks! Such a good find for summer.

The texture also feels good and hydrating, and it’s got impressive lasting power for a natural (some tips on that here).

Are you a Vapour fan? Which products of theirs have you tried?

P.S. We have a deal running on Open Sky of our beloved Kahina Eye Cream. For the next 24 hours you save ten smackers.


Help! I Need A Beauty Pick-Me-UP

I’m having a small case of the beauty blahs and I don’t know what to do… I want to feel fresh and new for spring but I’m a bit stumped on ideas. Who has done something totally drastic—but not totally chemy—in the last little while? Hair cuts, new makeup colors, awesome discoveries?

Here are my ideas so far…

1. White eye liner. Has anybody tried this? Word is that it really makes eyes pop.

2. A bold new lip color. Maybe coral? Suggestions?

3. More semi-natch highlights. Do I? Don’t I? I’ve trimmed off a lot of my golden pieces from last summer, but can I put myself through all that hair washing again?

One thing I’ve never gotten into at all is eye shadow. Maybe it’s time. I know there are some really fun colors right now, even among naturals. I just feel like shadow looks a little silly on me—even though I often love it on others. Is there a trick to wearing? Help!

Image of bored beauty via

Have you guys seen these ads for Maybelline’s new Super Stay 14Lipstick?

The other night, after a week-long vacation from television, I went on a bit of a marathon, and I must have seen this thing 10 times. It’s good. Catchy jingle. Pretty girls. Bright pop-colored mouths. For a moment I was like: OMG 14 hour lipstick! What a great idea!

Just kidding. But I definitely saw the appeal. So around time four, I lazily reached for the old laptop and did a quick search. I had to know what sorts of weird chemicals it could possibly take to keep something on your mouth—where you will inevitably ingest at least some of what you put on there—for 14 hours. We’re talking all the way from breakfast to post-dinner drinks, folks. And thanks to Ulta, Sephora’s ugly cousin, the list was right there.

I am posting this with one goal, and one goal only. To make you (and Siobhan) laugh as much as I did when I saw this. Here are the ingredients:

Trimethylsiloxyphenyl Dimethicone, Isododecane, Polypropylsilsesquioxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Polyethylene, Stearyl Heptanoate, Ozokerite, Hydrogenated Styrene/Methyl Styrene/Indene Copolymer, C30-45 Alkyldimethylsilyl Polypropylsilsesquioxane, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Alumina, Parfum / Fragrance, Cyclomethicone, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Benzyl Alcohol, Silica, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Tin Oxide, Aluminum Hydroxide, Acrylates Copolymer, Paraffin, Dimethicone. May Contain: Mica, CI 77891 / Titanium Dioxide, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499 / Iron Oxides, CI 15850 / Red 7, CI 45410 / Red 28 Lake, CI 45380 / Red 22 Lake, CI 15985 / Yellow 6 Lake, CI 19140 / Yellow 5 Lake, CI 42090 / Blue 1 Lake, CI 75470 / Carmine.

I mean? #*%*$#@!! I don’t even know what to say, because I don’t have the slightest clue what most of these ingredients are. (And we’ve spent, oh several years, researching this stuff.) For a large part, neither does Skin Deep—not a good sign. Note: If an ingredient gets a zero on their site, and is only listed in like 3 products, that doesn’t mean it’s safe: It likely means there’s just no information available on it.

Anyways, just wanted to share. According to the shoppers on Ulta who reviewed it, the whole 14 hours thing is pretty much a hoax (though it does have some lasting power—I mean, I should hope so!). And despite the bold claim of “No dragging. No drying. No letdowns at all.” several women wrote that the product indeed dried the dickens out of their lips, one woman writing: “This product has a great line of colors that look just as good on, but it severely dried my lips… like, painfully chapped. I do not think the color is worth the pain.”

Now let’s have some fun: What’s the dumbest product you’ve ever bought based on a ridiculous promise? I can remember this one very expensive stretch mark cream—stretch mark cream always equals lie—that also claimed was “discovered” (by happenstance!) to be the most effective wrinkle cream on the market. Remember the name? You’ll win a special place in my heart if you post it in the comments.

Image via Maybelline’s site