“100% Natural” and Organic Lip Balms: Friend or Foe?!

I am on the market for a new lip balm.  I have one tube left of the lip balm I have been using for the past 2.5 years and likely won’t reorder until December/January, as I have only found it online.  I, like many people, grew up using ‘household name’ lip products such as ChapStick and Vaseline, but decided to explore new products several years ago.  I tried another raved about lip product that happened to be petroleum based (like the previous 2) and it was a dud.  I then decided to opt for a non-petrochemical, natural lip balm because I was becoming more ‘conscious’ about the products I was using.

My experience with ‘natural’ products has been almost evenly split.  Initially, I tried two different ‘flavor’ lip balms (a 2 pack) from the same brand that I heard good things about that used ‘100% natural’ ingredients.  The first product I tried (Product 1) wasn’t bad, the second (Product 2) however, was awful.  My lips still are not completely back to ‘normal’ from ‘Product 2’ (2.5 years ago mind you).  For me, this one of those key moments when you learn that ‘natural’ is most definitely not always better, and if you’ve been following this site you’ll know that ‘natural‘ has no definitive meaning and is more or less a marketing tool.  The next 2 products I tried were also 2 different ‘flavors’ of the same product, this time I made sure I didn’t fall into the same trap and bought USDA Organic (“all natural”).  These products were much, much better than the previous 2, and almost rivaled the ‘baby soft’ lips I get from good old Vaseline or Aquaphor (both of these products are great if you have really dry lips and need to soften dry skin for removal).  From this entire process I learned the importance of reading and understanding ingredient labels, and I have noted a pattern of ingredients from the past products I have used as well as in new products I have been eyeing.

Let’s compare the ingredients for all 4 different products (copied from brand website):

Product 1:

helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, cera alba (beeswax, cire d’abeille), aroma (flavor)*, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, mangifera indica (mango) seed butter, lanolin, ammonium glycyrrhizinate, tocopherol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil (huile de colza), limonene, linalool. *natural flavor

Product 2:

helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, cera alba (beeswax, cire d’abeille), aroma (flavor)*, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, lanolin, euterpe oleracea fruit oil**, ammonium glycyrrhizinate, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, tocopherol, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil (huile de colza), anise alcohol, benzyl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, citral, farnesol, limonene, linalool. *natural flavor **Acai berry

Image courtesy of Aubrey Organics
Product 3 (Aubrey Organics Organic Lip Balm Vanilla & Honey):

Cera alba (organic beeswax), cocos nucifera (organic coconut) oil, virgin olea europaea (organic olive) oil, simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba) seed oil, organic flavor, cannabis sativa (organic hemp) seed oil, rosa rubiginosa (organic Rosa Mosqueta®) seed oil, tocopherol (vitamin E).

Image courtesy of Aubrey Organics
Product 4 (Aubrey Organics Organic Lip Balm Tangerine):

Cera alba (organic beeswax), cocos nucifera (organic coconut) oil, virgin olea europaea (organic olive) oil, simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba) seed oil, cannabis sativa (organic hemp) seed oil, citrus tangerina (organic tangerine) oil, rosa rubiginosa (organic Rosa Mosqueta®) seed oil, tocopherol (vitamin E).

Bolded ingredients are considered questionable.  As you can see Products 3 & 4 have no questionable ingredients, Products 1 & 2 have several.  I won’t do an in depth analysis on the bolded ingredients in this post, but I am more than happy to do so in a follow up post.  I’d also like to point out the use of oils in each product.  On the oil hierarchy scale, sunflower, canola, and soybean oils are at the bottom, whereas coconut, olive, and jojoba oils are at the top.  Castor, hemp, and rose oils are also very favorable.  Also note the simplicity of the ingredients in Products 3 & 4 in comparison to Products 1 & 2.  My experiences highlight the importance of reading and understanding ingredient labels, because had I known better I would not have purchased the first two products despite their nice ‘100% natural’ label.

Image courtesy of EOS I have been looking at another USDA certified organic (100% natural, 95% organic per company claims) lip balm (EOS), and though the ingredients look good, there are 2 ingredients, limonene and linalool, that have peeked my interest as they are also in Products 1 & 2.

EOS Sweet Mint Lip Balm Ingredients:

Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Beeswax (Cire D’abeille)*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract*, Tocopherol, Limonene**, Linalool**. *Organic. **Component of Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil*. Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth.

Limonene:  Limonene naturally occurs in the rind of lemon and other citrus fruits.  It is primarily used as a flavor and fragrance though it also has been used for industrial degreasing.  It is not known to cause cancer or gene mutations in humans and can have anti-cancer effects in pure form, though limonene and its oxidation products are suspected skin and respiratory irritants in some cases.  A product that has been sitting on the shelf for an extended period may oxidize, however, ingredients with antioxidant properties, such as Vitamin E (Tocopherol), may alleviate this.  Overall, it generally appears to be safe.

Linalool:  Linalool can be found in over 200 varieties of plants including rosewood, cinnamon, mint, and citrus fruits.  Similar to limonene, it is used primarily as a fragrant in cosmetics, though it also has uses as an insecticide.  Oxidized linalool has been found to cause allergic reactions such as eczema in some individuals.  On the contrary, linalool in pure form has anti-cancer effects and has had positive effects on leukemia and certain cancerous breast tumors.  Overall, this ingredient is also safe unless you happen to be allergic.

I’m still on the fence about EOS even though I’ve seen great reviews for it.  In the meantime, I’ve been using USDA Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil on my lips (after reading a tip in a magazine).  It works great!!!!

Have you tried Aubrey Organics lip balms or EOS lip balm? What were your experiences?  Have any lip balm suggestions or had a negative experience with a lip balm/product?  Please share! 

Thank you for reading!


6 thoughts on ““100% Natural” and Organic Lip Balms: Friend or Foe?!”

  1. I’ve been using the EOS lipbalms for a few years now and unfortunately never took the time to read the ingredients before. I really love them! So it’s great to hear that they don’t use any questionable ingredients. They are the only fruity lip balms I’ve ever come across that didn’t cause irratation to dry lips. They also have a pretty great hand cream!

  2. EOS KILLS my lips. As well as Burt’s Bees. If I use either one out of desperation… within three hours my lips completely peel and stay dried out for days. The only way to fix it is with coconut oil or Vaseline.

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