In case you missed them, here are parts 1 and 2 of this series:
Now, then. I told you in Part 1 that I received a shipment of lip balms in Wednesday’s mail, and immediately sent my husband an excited message. We debated getting another order from Crazy Rumors, because we love them, but then I remembered another company that I had heard good things about and been meaning to try:
Hurraw’s selection may be a little smaller than some other companies, but the flavors all looked good (unlike some companies who have many varieties, but few you actually want to try). I had read good things on Amazon about the Moon Balm, and was very eager to try it, because bedtime is “chippy” time in our household. (Chippy is our very mature nickname for chap-stick, which Chris will probably wish I hadn’t shared.)
We’ll talk more about the Moon Balm in a minute.
I initially had planned on including Hurraw! balms in an Amazon order, but several reviewers mentioned that it was cheaper to order directly from the Hurraw! website. I took a peek, and that turned out to definitely be the case. Anyway, it’s nice to support a nifty company like theirs by ordering directly, so I was happy to do it.
While browsing the options, the next thing that caught my eye was Vata balm. I thought to myself, ‘hey, that’s an Ayurvedic thing.’ I remember taking a dosha quiz online one time, and that’s one of the doshas. Ayurveda is traditional medicine/wisdom from India, and back when I was way more into herbalism, I was very interested in Ayurveda.
I actually use an Ayurvedic toothpaste that my husband hates because of the licorice taste, but which I love, and which gets my mouth cleaner than anything else I’ve ever tried. (Check it out – it’s called Auromère and it’s worth the extra cost.)
Anyway, Ayurvedic anything is sure to pique my interest, so I took a look at their three dosha-inspired balms — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. I decided I liked the scent combination of the Vata best, and I figured it might have a nice effect on the anxiety issues I’ve recently been experiencing, so I added it to my virtual cart.
After that, I picked out a cinnamon-infused tinted balm, then gave Chris the list of flavors so he could choose his own. He went with a nice, classic vanilla bean, and the SPF 15 sun balm, flavored with vanilla, chamomile, and tangerine. Scrumptious.
When they arrived, they came in a simple USPS brown cardboard sleeve, with a little brown paper inside to wrap them up. This packaging was likely the most minimal so far. There were friendly little notes jotted here and there on the invoice, one of which was to let me know that they had sent me an extra balm on the house!
Perhaps worried that I’d find the cinnamon a little too intense, perhaps noting my desire for slightly colored lips, or perhaps just because they felt like rewarding me for ordering four balms, the Hurraw! powers-that-be included a Black Cherry tinted balm, a bit darker than the cinnamon, and with a scent that reminds me of a dark cherry Tootsie Pop. Awesome.
Also included in the package were those cute little drawstring bags. ‘Ooh, pouches for the balms!’ I thought to myself. I’ve never had a pouch for my lip balm before. When I looked on the Hurraw! website, however, I discovered the even more excellent truth — those are reuseable tea bags!
According to the bottom of the “About” page on their site, “That little pouch your balm came in (if purchased direct from our site) is a reusable, unbleached cotton tea bag made here in the States from US grown cotton.
*The dye we use to stamp our tea bags is food safe and permanent.”
Is that not just the coolest little extra touch?
You may also have noticed something else in the above photograph — the flattish, oval shape of the tubes. This is also discussed on the About page, and it turns out that the tubes are designed that way so that they will stay in your back pants pocket better. This is an excellent feature for Chris, but I discovered an added benefit. Unlike every other lip balm in my possession, the Hurraw! balm can stay on the top of the bedside table sitting on our uneven bedroom floor without rolling off.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to get down on the floor to retrieve a renegade chippy that has fallen off the table and escaped under the bed. To not have to deal with this problem is revolutionary, an unexpected blessing.
Not only are these lip balms convenient, but they are just lovely to use. They all smell wonderful, and the oval shape, with the little dip in the center, is fun. Chris likened it to applying the balm with a tiny pair of lips.
I had to try all mine as soon as possible, whereas Chris is somehow managing to wait (at least as of Thursday) until he finishes his old tubes. We did both use the Moon Balm on Wednesday night, and I can’t even express to you how cozy and soporific the scent is. It was like wrapping myself in a favorite blanket and laying down in a field of poppies.
In case I haven’t made it clear, I think the Hurraw! company is going to be my new favorite. I’ll have to give them more of a test run, but so far, so excellent. I was really pleased with the personalized invoice, and thrilled to get a bonus balm for free. I appreciate being enabled in my vices.
With this new shipment, however, I have pretty much turned into the crazy cat lady of lip balms. With the exception of the one Chris has with him, this next photo contains all the balms currently in our household. Keep in mind that only three of the ones depicted are Chris’s.
You’d seen the other pictures, with the brands separated, so you knew it had to be bad, but really — who has this many lip balms? There are eleven there for my exclusive* use. Eleven.
*Okay, not exclusive. Not only does Chris use my lip balm at night, but anytime we are out somewhere together, he asks me if I have any on me, then borrows it. This only partially justifies my having such a quantity in my possession.
So, now you know my dirty secret. I just can’t get enough of the stuff. I want them all. I want all the vegan lip balms, and I want them now.
Actually, it turns out that I’d be happy with just all the Hurraw! balms. That would be perfectly adequate.
Here’s the first part of the story: http://elizabethly.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/vegan-lip-balm-part-1/
And now, I’ll introduce you to the Orange Thyme segment of our lip balm adventure.
The Etsy shop format made it a little more difficult to navigate through and see what all the Orange Thyme varieties were, compared to the Crazy Rumors website. Being so small-scale, some of the products either weren’t available, or the shop owner hadn’t updated the number of units available on the product page.
Even so, I found a whole lot of flavors I wanted to try, and had to really rein myself in. I had some questions about ingredients, and the owner, Rachel, was very responsive and friendly. I enjoyed my interaction with her, and she answered my questions very much to my satisfaction.
Chris was overwhelmed by the selection — there are so many, and they really all sound good, unlike some of the slightly odd flavor combinations that Crazy Rumors has come up with. He asked me to choose two for him that I thought he would like. I picked out a Pistachio Cream and a Sweet Strawberry for him, as he is a big fan of both of those foods, but he ended up not liking the strawberry as much as the Blackberry Jam that I got for myself. That worked out well, since I liked the strawberry and was ambivalent about the blackberry.
The Sweet Milk and Clove is amazing. It smells like perfectly spiced carrot cake with a decadent cream cheese frosting. I can’t get enough of it, which is why it’s almost gone. It’s also the balm I had questions about, being that there is milk in the name of it, and the website’s description also mentions honey. The maker assured me that those were just the effect of the (vegan) flavor oils she uses, and there is no milk or honey in the product. Yay! I wasted no time in ordering it. I was very tempted to try the Meyer Lemon Cupcake balm, but I already had five picked out, and I didn’t want to be too greedy.
I also really like the Rosemary Mint flavor. There is a hint of vanilla in it as well, and though the rosemary is subtle, it’s there. Again, this is one that Chris isn’t crazy about, so I haven’t gone through it as fast. I also don’t always want something minty on my lips when I go outside into the bitter cold. I think this one will be very refreshing once we have hot weather again.
One of the things that the Orange Thyme shop owner is passionate about is the lack of soy products in her balms. I found that interesting, and was willing to try her alternatives. She uses candelilla wax and avocado oil. I’m happy to have more avocado in my life, so I pulled the trigger on the order.
What Chris and I both found to be the case is that while these go on very smooth, they are not as long lasting as the Crazy Rumors balms, and are rather more slippery on the lips. That means a bit more gloss, which is fine, but it also means they don’t have the staying power that we both would like. I keep my lip balms in my purse for the most part, but Chris keeps his in the pocket of his work pants, and his Orange Thyme balms have gotten much softer in their tubes than other balms. They lose their shape, and once melted, they never really become fully solid again, which makes them difficult to apply. It’s just a big mess.
One upside is that he sent his blackberry jam tube through the wash, and I didn’t notice, so it went into the dryer as well, and the tube stayed perfectly sealed. No water got in, no balm came out. Anyone who’s ever had melted chap-stick ruin a load of laundry can appreciate my relief.
Other positive aspects of the Orange Thyme experience: quick shipping, cute but responsibly minimalist packaging, and a free soap gnome with our order! I wish I knew where he was, so I could have included a photo of him. I did find a picture of the same gnome on the Etsy shop, as a part of a little gift box.
Overall, Rachel’s great selection, great customer service, and very good product mean that I would absolutely recommend her shop to others in search of vegan lip balms. Unfortunately, the balm’s failure to fully recover from its liquid state means that Chris’s heat-treated (courtesy of both clothes dryer and his own body) lip balms retain their shape about as well as a tube full of Vaseline would. It’s not a problem everyone would have, and not a deal breaker, but it’s ultimately why we decided to either go with Crazy Rumors again for our next order, or try something different.
Stay tuned to find out what we chose!
[Part 3 of the lip balm review and confessional is here.]
I received a package of lip balms in the mail yesterday, and you probably cannot imagine my excitement. Chris knew how much I was anticipating their arrival, and we didn’t expect them to show up as soon as they did, so I sent him a very happy iMessage to his phone.
It only hinted at how much I was geeking out, but I’m sure he knew what was really going on — the happy dances and the squealing.
Back when Chris and I first became vegan, we debated over the issue of honey and beeswax, and eventually decided to eschew those things. Lip balm has always been a pretty big part of my life, so I began a quest to find awesome balms without beeswax. That’s easier said than done. This is why, unlike most people, I have my lip balms shipped to my house. It’s difficult to find vegan balms when out and about. I know some stores that sell them, but the selection is limited.
Because I buy them online and have to pay shipping, it makes sense financially to buy more than one or two. This has led to kind of a ridiculous scenario in our home. I have so many lip balms. You wouldn’t believe it unless I showed you, which I’m going to do… later.
First, I want to talk brands. The first vegan lip balm I ever tried was made by a company called The Merry Hempsters. I tried that balm before I went vegan, and I liked it okay, but the hempseed oil in the balm went rancid more quickly than I could go through the ones I had purchased. Rancid hempseed oil is not a scent you want slathered on your lips. The rancidity also affected the texture, so it was altogether an unpleasant experience.
I was also unimpressed by the variety of flavors, and the quality and strength of the available flavors. I like the company and their mission, and I’ve happily used other products of theirs (such as their Bump and Bruise salve), but when I went on the vegan balm quest, I didn’t seriously consider buying more Merry Hempsters.
I did a little online research, and found that a lot of people are happy with a company called Crazy Rumors, which specializes exclusively in vegan lip products. Their website is cute, you can earn loyalty points by registering an account with them, and their customer service is excellent. I communicated directly with one of the owners and was really happy with her attitude and promptness. The shipping was unexpectedly fast, as well, and the packaging was environmentally responsible.
The flavor selection is quite varied, and so we ordered more than we really needed, in the interest of finding out what we liked, and supporting such a great company. I picked out more than Chris did, which I do every time, which has led to me still having the original tubes from that first order, whereas Chris used his up long ago. I think he had an orange juice one, which he really liked, as well as their Leaping Bunny balm, which is plum-apricot flavored. I didn’t care for that one as much, but I like the idea of supporting the Leaping Bunny program.
I love the texture of these lip balms, and the flavors were, for the most part, quite true to their names. I found that the mocha didn’t quite smell like I thought it should, and I wonder if the stevia has anything to do with that. The stevia is nice, however, for adding a little sweetness to the balms. So many balms have a smell and no flavor.
The spiced chai was my favorite out of this group, but I ended up using the French Vanilla up a little before it. I have scrapings left in the mocha and the chai, with plenty of mint chocolate left over. This is partly because Chris doesn’t like it, and when we put on lip balm before we go to sleep, we use the same one, so the mint doesn’t get as much use.
I also think Chris goes through his more quickly because he gives up on them once he can’t smear them easily on his lips. I, on the other hand, will use any tool available — the long extension on a pen cap, a bobby pin, a car key — to scrape out the last bits. When I say my tube is gone, it’s really gone.
Crazy Rumors is one of the brands that I’ve actually been able to find in stores, but not terribly close to me, and they often have pretty lame flavor selections. I picked up a Grape Gumball one for Chris while I was shopping in a nearby health food store, but I didn’t see any that I wanted for myself.
Once we started to get pretty low on our CR balms, I thought we might want to try something else. Once again, I turned to the internet for advice. I found out about an Etsy shop called Orange Thyme, which has vegan lip balms and other skin goodies, like soaps and body scrubs. I decided to take a look. In the next installment, I’ll tell you all about it.