Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Beyond Coastal Active Daily Lip Protection

Beyond Coastal has a great philosophy: "protect, nourish, repair and hydrate". Can't argue with that, as those are the exact elements we all look for in a great tube of lip balm. The company makes all-natural, additive-free sunscreens and lip balm for active people in sunny places (or so it would appear from the images on the site). And they sponsor the US Open of Surfing, which I didn't know existed.

Price: $5.00 online.

Appearance: Taller and fatter than a standard tube, slightly smaller than a gluestick. Dial is at the top near the cap- always helpful if you keep yours in a jean pocket.

Glide: At first it's okay. You don't really discover the true nature of a balm's glide until after a few uses, and I discovered that this one's kind of a bummer. It's a little grainy and a little greasy and a little sticky, and slathers on a little, possibly owing to its larger surface area. I always end up wiping off a bit with my finger.

Flavor/Smell: Claims to be citrus-scented, but I cannot think of which particular citrus this is supposed to be, if citrus at all. Maybe citrus and soap? No flavor, per se, but there was a week where I kept thinking I was tasting or smelling metal (and freaking out over what kind of disease that meant I had) until I finally realized that it only happened when I used the balm. I suspect that may have been just my personal reaction to it, but that certainly was a first.

Lasting Power: It moisturizes for more than an hour. Actually, I don't know for how long exactly because I kept taking it off because of the metal phenomenon.

Product Pluses/Minuses: SPF 15 is great. However, I think it suffers from too many chefs in the kitchen- almost every moisturizing ingredient you can think of has been crammed into it: safflower, wheat germ, coconut, soybean, avocado, jojoba seed AND grape seed oils; shea butter, aloe vera, honey, yerba mate; beeswax, candlilla wax, carunuba wax...oy. If all that resulted in a wonderful, harmonious balance, that'd be one thing, but its performance is only so so. The upshot is, with all that great stuff, you know some of it has got to work. My advice: use it as a pre-exfoliator moisturizer.

Now, I wasn't out biking and snowboarding in the blazing sun, so maybe I didn't experience its full potential, but I give it 3.5 out of 5 tubes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Find It: Mystery Balm

Reader Cyla wrote to us, poetry style (or maybe that's my email's bad formatting), for help with identifying her mystery lip balm:

i was wondering about a chapstick.
i've had this one for about a year and this is by far
my favorite.
but after sooo much usage, it's running low.
people call it my gluestick because it has
an orange cap and orange twist at the bottom.
but the problem is, the wrapper is off.
it's a little shorter than the average
Chapstick and a little chubbier.
and the cap has ridges.
have you seen one similar?
the glide is a little oily, but it
lasts long, and its tropical,
help would be greatly appreciated.

Any of you crazy lip balm hoarders out there have a clue for our brand name-less damsel in distress? Leave it in the comments...

UPDATE: Lip balm detective Jessica has identified Cyla's mystery balm as Lypsyl, which has apparently undergone radical image changes because I'm working on a review for that same brand and my tube looks completely different.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Guest Post! Pepsi Vanilla Lip Balm

Our intrepid reviewer Pyramus continues his dollar bin journey of discovery...

Price: $1.00 at the Dollarama (see my previous review).

Appearance: Irresistibly charming. The tube looks like a tiny, burly bottle of Pepsi in a shade of plastic that will make you think either "Mmm! Vanilla cream soda!" or "That plastic is twenty years old and is yellower than Grandma's toenails". It's blister-packed onto a card that's also shaped like a bottle of Pepsi. The top third of the bottle (just above the label) is the cap, which pops off to reveal a twist-up stick about one and a half times as wide as a standard tube balm: the bottom quarter of the bottle (just below the label) twists to dispense. It's bulky for a pocket (or, I suppose, a small purse), but it looks great sitting on your desk or nightstand.

Glide: Melty. The stick looks solid, like pure beeswax, but as soon as you apply it to your lips, the heat turns it into a soft, buttery, only slightly waxy balm. If your lips are chapped or dry or otherwise sensitive, it's the best imaginable texture, because there's no painful dragging during application; it just glides on effortlessly. There's also no shine whatever, which, for a guy, is a big plus.

Flavour/Smell: Yum. It smells strongly of frozen cola, that sweet, spicy, citrusy scent that you get from movie-theatre frozen Coke, with an overlay of vanilla. The sweetness has been dialed down, so it's not something you have to sample with your tongue every few seconds until it's gone.

Lasting Power: Excellent; it's good for a couple of hours at least, presuming you can avoid licking your lips, and the product isn't sweet enough to compel you to do that.

Product Pluses/Minuses: Plus- inexpensive. Looks awesome. Smells good. Tastes nice. No shine. Minus- the tube is quite wide, which if you're used to those Jumbo Lip Smackers or have particularly wide lips might not be a bad thing, but it makes application a bit clumsy.

This gets a four out of five: I deducted a mark because the stick is so wide and because the plastic is kind of brittle (I'm on my second one and the cap on both was cracked).

Stay tuned for Pyramus's review on the Coke version next week. Maybe we can do a blind taste test.

Guest Post! Aquafina Hydrating Lip Oil

Oh, guest posts. How I've missed you. We've got a backlog of these, so look out for a bunch of reviews from your fellow readers. Today's poster is MALE, fancy that. He's the mythically-aliased Pyramus, who'll be giving his review through a chink in the wall:

I am a guy who is a hopeless lip-glop addict; I have them in every room in the house, in every knapsack and coat pocket; if I accidentally leave the house without one, I have to buy one to have with me. I go through a lot of lip glop, and when I see an interesting one that 1) looks as if it might work well and 2) isn't girly, I can easily be convinced to give it a shot, since I'm always afraid they'll discontinue whatever one I happen to be using at the time. Last week I found a couple of Pepsi-branded oddities at a local dollar store and bought one of each (Ed. note: the second review will be posted shortly).

Price: $1.00 at the Dollarama, which is a chain of Canadian dollar stores. If they have them at a dollar store in a small Canadian city on the east coast, they must have them in a whole lot of other places, too, unless this is really the end of the line, where discontinued and presumably crappy products come to die (which wouldn't surprise me).

Appearance: Shiny. The packaging is printed on shiny silver-and-blue cardboard, the cap of the tube is a pearlized water blue, and the squeeze tube itself is gleaming blue plastic. The applicator is a slanted plastic thing with a big hole in it- probably my least favourite way to apply lip glop.

Glide: Like Teflon. The product is extremely slick and shiny, and the applicator practically slides right off your lips, leaving a thick, heavy coating of shine, as if you'd had your mouth upholstered with patent leather. (It's hard to control the amount you apply, since this is a thick liquid in a very supple, easily squeezed tube; the texture is like Blistex Lip Infusion only much, much thicker.) If you put on a tiny dab with a fingertip and circle your mouth with it, the shine is reduced to almost nothing, and the slickness is minimized, but even so, this is a very slidey, glidey product. I should have read the package: "maximum hydration and shine", it promises, and I don't know about the hydration, necessarily, but the shine? Maximum.

Flavour/Smell: Sugared Vicks Vap-O-Rub. It's described on the package back as a "clean, deliciously crisp flavour experience", so I guess that given the brand name (Aquafina is a bottled water marketed by PepsiCo), I was expecting "fresh mountain spring water", but it's really "overdose of menthol", which makes your lips tingle (and burn a little) soon after you apply it, and they don't stop tingling for a long time, either. Some people love this tingly mintiness; not me, though I can put up with it if I have to. But why would a product boast "calming botanicals" if it also contains enough menthol to make you think your lips are swelling up? They don't feel very calm!

Lasting Power:
A while, if you don't lick your lips, which you probably will, because the product is pleasantly sweet, even though there are no sweeteners of any sort listed on the package.

Product Pluses/Minuses: Pluses- inexpensive. Strongly mentholated, if you like that kind of thing. Unbelievably shiny, if you like that kind of thing. Slightly scary name. Minuses- unbelievably shiny. Hard-to-control applicator.

Rating: 3 out of 5 tubes. Too menthol-y, too shiny.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Site We've Been Digging: Babybearshop

I came across Babybearshop via an ad on a video I was watching about Pepsi lip balm on, which is like YouTube for product reviews and apparently what all the kids are doing these days (holding up products to a webcam and talking smack about them). I'm not going to lie, Babybearshop scares the hell out of me. I mean, look at those kids! I think they're stealing my life essense with their ocean-blue eyes. It's all very boho Park Avenue Children of the Corn, right? I'm sure when it comes time for me to waterbirth my child and carefully monitor his/her diet for carcinogenic food additives I'll love the site, but for now I'm a tad creeped out. Too many blonde, nude, cherubic babies, but GREAT baby shower gifts.

My point is, there is a lip balm-related part of the site called All the Better to Kiss You With. The company sells organic lip balm in vintage tins with "no artificial anything". Flavors are Lavender Vanilla, Chai Mandarin and Pepperminty. If you try them, do let me know.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lather Lip Conditioning Balm

I had a whole list of tubes I was going to get through and review (hence the delay) but I was stopped in my tracks by an unexpected addition. A few days ago my friend Natalia handed me a tube she got on one of her recent international flights. It's made by a beauty company called Lather, which got started in California in 1999 and now operates spas and boutiques in Scottsdale and New York. They make a wide range of holistic products and have a lovely and simple aesthetic.

Price: $6.50. Grumble.

Appearance: Like all Lather products, it's colors and fonts are simple and spare. Very unisex. I like that the text is oriented height-wise rather than length-wise. Also the turning wheel is a tad thicker than normal, which is nice. Not that any of this is something to care about, but there really isn't much else to talk about when reviewing lip balm.

Glide: Oh, man. This may be my all-time favorite glide. Smooth, easy, not too slick. Sometimes I want to put it on just for the feel of it.

Flavor/Smell: The tube I have is the Lip Conditioning Balm (sold on the site in a pot), which is different from the Lip Protector SPF 15 pictured but looks exactly the same. It's Unscented, but they also make Sweet Almond, Spearmint + Tea Tree, and a potted Lavender Lime variety. There is actually a very subtle and pleasing citrusy smell to the Unscented that I love.

Lasting Power: Great. I put it on this morning at around 9am and almost two hours later it still feels the way it did in that first few minutes of application. Despite the cold, dry air, my lips are soft and moisturized and free of the dry patches that have plagued them all winter.

Product Pluses: Lather doesn't test on animals (member of PETA) and uses some exotic ingredients like vegetable jelly (?), squalane oil and extracts of Night Blooming Cereus. Sounds like a Harry Potter potion.

Verdict: 5 4.5 out of 5 tubes. Yeah, I know! The expense would normally give me pause, but sometimes I'm willing to pay for quality. If the rest of Lather's products are anything like this lip balm, I want them all. I might have to visit that NY spa.

UPDATE (2/26): Alright, I gotta knock it down a half point. The consistency is just a tad too thick to be a perfect 5.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Chappy New Year!

Happy New Year, Chaptaddicts! Sorry for the puns and sorry, again, for the unannounced absence. Prolonged holiday traveling abroad really took its toll. It did, however, result in a ton more additions to an already comprehensive lip balm collection, so stay tuned for a bunch of reviews.