When your lips are dry and peeling, chances are you reach for your tried-and-true lip balm by Burt’s Bees. The beauty brand has made it a mission to keep your lips happy, and it does it all with natural ingredients and environmental consciousness heading its process.
Co-founders Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby met in rural Maine in the late 1980s. He was keeping bees out of a tiny house off the grid, selling honey around town, and she was hitchhiking and living out of a tent.
Burt’s Bees lip balm was born in 1991, when Quimby used a recipe from a 19th century Farmer’s Almanac to create a lip moisturizer in a ceramic pot, an effort to make use of the extra wax they had. The balm got its iconic color from the shade that Shavitz painted the pickup truck he sold honey out of, and the rest is history.
Behind the scenes at the Burt’s Bees labs in North Carolina, you see just how committed to safe ingredients the brand is, maintaining the original vision of integrity and global awareness that it was founded on. Instead of the all-white, buttoned-up lab experience you’d expect, Burt’s Bees has an open-air lab inside its office with no doors. Pregnant women safely work there, within feet of office workers’ desks.
Making tinted lip balms requires wearing gloves only to prevent hands from being stained by the natural iron oxide or mineral-based pigments. Otherwise, the ingredients are considered safe, sitting out in uncovered containers on the countertops.
The first ingredient in the balm is a hefty dose of sunflower oil, which is stirred and heated to 80°C. Next, olive oil is added and followed by beeswax pellets, which are designed to melt easily and uniformly. Burt’s Bees sources its ingredients from around the world, ensuring top quality. Beeswax comes from beekeepers in West Africa — there the wax is cleanest and isn’t contaminated with the pesticides typically found in U.S. agriculture.
Candelilla and ylang ylang wax are added for structure. All these waxes have high melting points to prevent your lip balm from losing shape, as well as to target your lip skin’s specific needs. The lip skin is substantially thinner than the rest of your skin, and thus is more prone to drying and peeling.
Wax-based balms like Burt’s Bees are better at locking moisture into your lips than petroleum-based products are, since wax creates a breathable barrier that allows the oils in the balm to penetrate the lip skin. Synthetic bases are impenetrable and will not keep the lips moisturized for long periods of time.
Gelled jojoba oil is then added to the mixture to lend a slip to the formula, preventing the balm from dragging across your lips and adding a hint of sheen. Coconut oil, the primary moisturizer in the balm, also allows for a slightly glossy finish. The other moisturizing oils in the balm include vitamin E oil and shea butter. Lanolin is the final moisturizing ingredient for its ability to mimic the natural oils created in human skin.
Stevia is added to enhance the flavors in the formula, and rosemary extract helps to preserve. The pigments are mixed and added. A little goes a long way, and formulators choose how much pigment to add based on how bright they want the color to appear on the lips.
After pigments are mixed in, balms are set to dry and cool for about 10 minutes. Then they’re ready for your lips.
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Burt’s Bees Is Now in the Smoothie Business
- How to Cure Chapped Lips
- Get Rid of Dry, Flaky Lips With the Wave of a Wand