In the dead of winter, keeping a stiff (and smooth) upper lip.

November 22, 2008 at 1:52 pm 2 comments

Some people mark the arrival of winter by the first snowfall, the first lights on the trees, or the first time their car refuses to start. For me, winter has officially arrived when I have more than three types of lip balm in my bag.

Because both my parents have fairly dry skin and I’ve spent my whole life going through fairly punishing winters, between late November and early March I basically molt. I don’t mind having dry skin–it’s fairly manageable–but having chapped lips drives me up a wall. I hate how it feels, I hate how it looks, I hate the idea of it, I just cannot deal at all. So in addition to exfoliating my lips in the shower, slathering stuff on them at night, and just generally touching and poking and worrying about them constantly, I load up on products and keep those around all the time in the event of sudden flakiness.

Carmex is my go-to. I’m one of those consumers who gets sucked in by the no-frills packaging because I think that it somehow denotes sincerity on the part of the manufacturer. This also explains my loyalty to Neutrogena products–everything just seems so medicinal! But Carmex is, like, crazy medicinal. They don’t even advertise because they know that people like me will see these little yellow-lidded pots in line at Walgreens and go “ooh, this must be legit.” I tried using the Carmex in a tube, which was alright, but I think the pot is way better. I slather this stuff on before I go to bed at night and it does wonders.

I don’t even know if I can buy Chapstick after “I Kissed a Girl.” I used to love the cherry flavor but now whenever I put it on I just feel like I’m making a pop culture reference. I also like (and carry) Burt’s Bees, but really, when it comes to lip products, I go for the stuff that comes in a pot. It just seems more legit, you know? Tubes are for weenies who want nice kissable lips when it’s convenient for them; pots are for people whose really need it. However, tubes work well for me during times when it’s not exactly socially acceptable to be dipping your finger into a container of petroleum jelly–class and church, basically. Actually, class has never stopped me from going for the Carmex. So, just church, really.

Rosebud Salve has become the official lip product of hipsters across the United States. It’s sold at Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and now American Apparel has it on their website. Makes sense–it comes in a sweet old-fashioned tin pot, so it looks extra low-maintenance and cool when you’re pulling it out of your canvas tote bag, like something you stole from your urbane fur coat-wearing grandma’s house rather than the Chapstick that everyone else picked up at Walgreens. I like this stuff because it doubles as a moisturizer for dry hands, so I’m not tempted to carry around a little bottle of hand lotion around with me and look like a total freak.

However, I think that Rosebud Salve is going to get dethroned really soon though. You heard it here first–Bag Balm is the next big thing. This stuff is disgusting. It looks like someone repackaged and sold the grease can in your refrigerator. It also kinda smells. It’s meant for cows. But it. Is. Amazing. If your lips or hands or elbows are really awful, slather some of this stuff on before you go to bed at night and I will guarantee that you will wake up feeling as if tiny angels scrubbed at each troublesome skin cell on your body with the finest of tiny angelic loofahs. It is divine intervention. Plus, look at that packaging. Not only is it tin–the hippest metal around!–but it has udders on it. I don’t carry this stuff around–I would lose friends, seriously, it’s really gross–but we have a big thing of it at home and you better believe I use that stuff on the regular. Expect to see it on a vanity in the background of next season’s Anthropologie catalog.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michelle  |  November 23, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Anthropologie actually used to sell bag balm about 8 years ago. I used to work in a store and we sold it for the 3 years I worked there. (Not sure if they sell it there any longer.) I never completely understood what it was though. They also sold the Rosebud salve there too. It’s the first place I saw it and have been addicted to it ever since. Considering how dry my skin is, I should probably try bag balm for the first time…finally.

  • 2. K.R.  |  February 2, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I never paid attention to Carmex before your blog post. Now I’ve got a little balm (balm container? jar?) of my very own, and it is terrific; thank you for calling attention to such a humble invention. There is nothing like Midwestern winters to put products to the text.


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