I've been battling one of my arch nemeses lately -- raw, tight, uncomfortable lips. The temperature is still hovering around 70 degrees here in the Maryland-outskirts of D.C., yet my lips already feel like it's the middle of winter with the heat cranked up and poor ventilation.
Of course once your lips get dry like that, the problem can easily (and quickly) spiral out of hand. And my problem was that I had nary a Chapstick or bottle of Vaseline in sight. All my lip balms seemed to have vanished at exactly the moment I needed them! Plus, I was too lazy/indecisive/frugal to get something new...so I let things get progressively worse, till my lips really freaking hurt.
Then in the nick of time last night, I found my tin of Smith's Minted Rose Lip Balm.
You know it? If so, you probably love it. "Created specially for Sephora, this cult-favorite, minty, multi-purpose lip balm soothes dry lips, calms and heals irritation, and soothes the sting of minor burns," the retailer's Web site says. "Try dabbing on dry elbows or knees to condition, and relieve dryness."
I haven't used it on my body much, but I'd believe it works. The ingredients are: cotton seed oil, borax, aromol, and essential oils in a "special" petrolatum base. It's a lot more solid than regular petroleum jelly, but has a similar consistency when you get some on your fingertip. The nice smell and cool, minty-yet-subtle 'zing' of this stuff is a really nice change from your standard petroleum lippie though. The tin is adorable, and the product just has some fantastic quality about it I can't quite put my finger on. It feels really nice on, is pleasantly fragrant, restores my lips to a non-uncomfortable state, and it looks nice too...just the right amount of healthy shine.
In writing this post I did some research on borax, a compound that has some people concerned about its presence in cosmetics because it is also used in detergent and is toxic in high doses. This alarmed me a little bit too, so I turned to The Beauty Brains, a great site on which cosmetic chemists cut through advertising hype and look at the science behind products to give readers scientifically-accurate, unbiased information. (Packaged in an easy-to-read, entertaining way! Check the site out, for sure.)
In discussing what borax does in beeswax-based Lush lip balms, the Right Brain explains that it forms an emulsion, which is a stable mixture of two unblendable liquids, such as oil and water. (The Right Brain says about Lush: "Borax-beeswax emulsions are unusual - they’re “water in oil” emulsions so the water drops are dispersed in the oil. That type of emulsion tends to be more water proof which is good for a lip balm.") Smith's uses petrolatum and not beeswax, however, it still seems logical that like in the Lush product, Smith's salve uses borax as an emulsifier instead of turning to a multitude of other chemicals.
"And a final note: if you do any kind of web search on Borax you’ll find that it can also be used as an insecticide, but don’t worry about that," Right Brain notes at the end of the post. "It’s only toxic to humans at very high levels - in fact it has the same toxicity profile as common table salt. (Hey, even water can be toxic if you drown in the stuff!) So a little bit in your lip balm is perfectly fine."
So I'm willing to believe that borax is safe in this use. I haven't tested it myself, but when you consider all the carcinogens and potentially harmful substances we all encounter everyday...plus the fact that, as the Brains point out, a lot of things are toxic in high doses but safe in smaller quantities.
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