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I really did mean to continue this for the Chrismahanukwanzakah season.

I failed you, and I’m sorry. If you’re the winter season gifting type, hopefully you remembered my winter recommendations from last year. But if not, just remember: it is never too late to give the gift of toasty buns.

(There was a great joke here about the record-breaking warm Christmas we had, but now Snowzilla has hit, the sarcasm gets a little lost.)

With that said, I’d like to usher in:

Totally Worth It: Winter Season Survival Edition
Part II: Electric Skincare Boogaloo

There’s a super long article about lotion in the works, but first, let’s talk soap.

– Kirk’s Original Cocoa Castile Soap

soap

That’s right, talkin’ ’bout soap, son!

Long hot showers and harsh soaps are murder on your skin.

You could take a quick shower. You could use tepid or cold water. Or… you could switch to a gentle, moisturizing soap. I mean technically you should probably do all three. But forget that noise. Guess which one I’m going with.

There are a lot of great brands of soap that won’t dry out your skin, but by and far my favorite is Kirk’s Original Cocoa Castile Soap.

It’s moisturizing and it smells nice. It’s hypoallergenic, SLS-free, and vegan. It’s natural. Seriously though, it has five ingredients (coconut soap, water, vegetable glycerin, coconut oil, natural fragrance).

Normally you’d be paying a high price for an all natural soap (for example: Dr. Bronners at $4 – $5 a pop).

I get this stuff at Family Dollar at $3.33 for three ($1.11 per bar).

And here it is at Wal-Mart at $3.28 for three.


– Lip Balm

Here’s the deal: I’ve had a terrible time with lip balms and developed a reaction to commonly used fragrance(s) linalool and/or limonene.

The worst thing about this is that most people use lip balm in winter when their skin is already dry and irritated. And when your lips are painful and cracking, what are you going to do? Slather on more lip balm, of course! Which then causes more irritation. Such a vicious cycle.

For many, it’s a problem that develops over time, after months of using a product, so “new lip balm” isn’t the first thing to come to mind.

If you think you might be having a reaction, your best bet is to use hypoallergenic, one-ingredient products like 100% shea butter or Vaseline.

If it’s a reaction, your lips will start to heal. Once they’re healed you can start
trying other lip products, narrow down what it is that doesn’t agree with you, and avoid it. Linalool, limonene, and peppermint oil are common ingredients… and common irritants.

That is what happened to me. After some 6+ months of using EOS, over the last few weeks my lips started getting increasingly irritated, dry, cracking, and developed little white dots (milia). Everything cleared up within a couple days of switching to Vaseline.

Shea butter is very, very unlikely to cause any kind of reaction. It is absorbed by the skin and is healing – in fact, it helps heal scarring and burns. On the down side, it’s super greasy, wears off very quickly, and has a mild nutty smell.

Vaseline / Petroleum jelly is hypoallergenic, it tends to get a bad rap, but the fact is, it is inert and /can not/ be absorbed by your body. It is also greasy but not as much as Shea butter, is longer wearing, and has no smell at all.

I stuck with these for the past year and have finally started using other lip balms. Here are mini-reviews and recommendations.

Jack Black is a really nice balm, probably the best I’ve tried. It’s not greasy, doesn’t leave a sticky feeling, and offers SPF 25 protection. However, it costs at least twice as much as other balms (and /many/ more times for petroleum jelly), and SPF is a non-issue when you’re putting it on before bed. I think it’s worth it for daytime use, as long as you don’t loose your balm all the time and go through an average of two a week, like Tom does.

I got “Grapefruit & Ginger” flavor. It smells great, like citrus with a hint of ginger. Warning: the taste is 110% grapefruit, scientifically proven to be the worst fruit.

Burt’s Bees is moisturizing and feels smooth, slightly greasy. It lasts longer than Shea Butter but wears off quicker than the others. Vanilla Bean is the only one I know is free of linalool and limonene.

There are also a number of nice tinted balms out there.

black honey

Universally flattering color: check

Clinique’s Black Honey is a cult favorite for good reason, with a gorgeous, universally flattering color. It’s twice as much as Jack Black, and has a slight tackiness, but did I mention that color? It’s also pretty long lasting. The color is nicely build-able and can be (carefully) applied without a mirror.

Palladio Herb Infused Tinted Balm is smooth and “slippery” feeling without being greasy. It’s not as long lasting but it feels really nice. “Sangria” is a rich, warm red that looks similar to Cliniques Black Honey for a fraction of the price.

Revlon Just Bitten Balm Stain is a longer-lasting option, which I’ve never had a reaction to, but does contain limonene and peppermint oil (another irritant), so I haven’t used it consistently since this problem arose. It’s not as moisturizing, but it’s stain leaves an all-day color after the balm has worn off. I found this to need a mirror, it’s too pigmented to wing it.

Ironically I still liked and recommend the two balms that caused me such problems: EOS Evolution of Smooth and Maybelline Baby Lips. EOS is natural, feels great, and is long-lasting. Baby Lips are a slippery feeling tinted balm, much like the Palladio, but with a huge selection of colors. They’re both good balms if you’re not sensitive to those ingredients.

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