How hard is it to make a lip balm with an SPF rating of at least 15–and preferably 30 or higher–that has adequate UVA protection (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone) and does not contain a) useless irritating crap (“soothing” mint, ginger, etc. etc. etc.) that is supposed to be a positive feature but actually does nothing but cause you to use more and more of the product because of the irritation, b) ridiculous and nauseating saccharine-based tropical, fruit, or other “flavors,” as I neither need nor wish to eat my lip balm (DO YOU HEAR ME, BLISTEX? I WILL NEVER BUY YOUR PRODUCTS AGAIN), or (and I’m really reaching now), c) parabens, phenols or other commonly allergenic/irritating ingredients? I’m not even ASKING for things like antioxidants and whatnot, or specialized solutions like a vegan option for my friend who is allergic to beeswax.

You should be able to find something like this in the drugstore for a couple of bucks with no problem whatsoever. Meanwhile I do internet searches and largely fail to find anything that is halfway suitable, if the manufacturer deigns to allow even drugstore.com to post the full ingredient list, never mind rinky-dink sites that don’t post ANY of the ingredients for otherwise-promising products. (Hint: If you say “SPF 15” but do not tell me what is in the product, I do not believe you and will never buy your product. If you demonstrate that the product does have SPF 15 but only provide the absolute minimum of information allowed by law as regards the remaining ingredients, I get mad and will never buy your product.) Also, you really hate to pay shipping on A LIP BALM that you have to order online.

I feel like advancements in science and consumers becoming more savvy, largely due to watchdogs like Paula Begoun and knowledgeable users of internet communities such as acne.org, have greatly improved the quality of sunscreen lotions in recent years–you rarely find one anymore that doesn’t have UVA protection, many options are fragrance-free, you can get antioxidants and anti-irritants in even some inexpensive products, and therefore I have a large selection to choose from these days when trying to pick a sunscreen that works with my sensitive, acne-prone skin. Lip products, however, seem to still be in this 30-years-ago snake oil phase where they tell you something does something but don’t reveal what is in it or how it is supposed to work, and instead continue to use outdated formulations and load them up with non-functional ingredients that “tingle” (so you’ll think the product is doing something, I guess) and heavy fragrances. I hate it when consumer-products companies treat me like I’m stupid.

(Speaking of Paula, I generally love her products, but the Moisturizing Lipscreen SPF 15 is a rare total fail for me. It is super-white and therefore makes me look like a clown, and is really soft and messy. The Sheer Cream Lipstick SPF 15, on the other hand, is a great product and comes in a colorless version, but considering how much of the stuff I go through–I had some dark spots on my lips biopsied some years ago that seemed to be sun damage, so I am now paranoid about lip protection, and I spend a lot of time outside running and doing yard work–I hate to pay that kind of money for such a small amount. I guess rewarding the only company that doesn’t seem to regard me as a complete clueless sucker is probably the right thing to do, though.)

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