As a seventeen year-old, pop culture savvy girl, I read somewhere in a beauty and fashion magazine that Carmex lip balm is the best for healing and soothing chapped lips. Four years later when I saw that there was an “As advertised! Two-for-one” sale on Carmex at the drug store, I impulsively grabbed two tubes and paid $1.39 for one at the checkout counter. Reading “It soothes, it heals, it protects” on the packaging, I thought, “Score!” I wore it every day for two weeks, despite the menthol scent.
I have always been a lip balm addict. My mom bought me Chap Stick and videotaped me applying coat after coat on my four year-old mouth. Then I was given the ridiculous makeup made for little girls and Mom took the pictures that documented my clown-like face with bright pink lipstick drawn on past the outsides of my lips and onto my cheeks and chin.
“How pretty,” Mom would say.
“How embarrassing,” I think now.
When I was in Kindergarten, my little sister was born. At the age of five (and almost one quarter) I had gotten my wish for someone to share my Barbies with. I couldn’t have been happier. Just like all babies, Maggie grew up into a destructive toddler and wasn’t so precious anymore. She ate every single flavor of my Bonnebell Lip Smackers lip balm: vanilla milkshake, strawberry, chocolate pudding, fruit punch, cotton candy, gingerbread, peppermint and my beloved Dr. Pepper. Despite my efforts to hide them all in my top drawer with my socks and underwear she’d somehow find them. I’d come home from the third grade and she’d be drooling all over her three year-old self and smelling like a lime-aid Lip Smackers. It wasn’t until my bureau fell on top of her that my family and I realized she was pulling out the drawers to look through them and climb up to change the TV channel. Luckily she was alright, but I hated her for ruining my lip balms with her tiny, new teeth and salivary glands. I had so many flavors. Couldn’t she have just left me the Dr. Pepper?
After my infatuation with Lip Smackers and their offer of becoming a “Lip Smackers Club Member” for an extra five dollars, I moved onto glitter lip balm also made by Bonnebell. It was the late 90s into the 2000s and glitter was extremely popular in almost every makeup product. In my imagination, I was the coolest girl in school. I was the coolest girl with the most regret when looking back at pictures of her early adolescence. The image of braces and glitter in my 7th grade school photo will always haunt me.
Thankfully, highly glittered faces went out of style with the fading threat of Y2K. I collected several made by Blistex, my favorites made by Chapstick and still had some fruit flavors by Bonnebell. I was never without a three-inch cylinder of lip balm. It was my companion and closest friend kept by my side in my left jeans pocket. I told myself that I could feel it working as it tingled and left a cooling sensation on my cracked and bleeding, unattractive lips. I need soft, smooth lips because at any time there could be an opportunity to kiss a cute boy and the thought of kissing someone with dry, bloody lips was a bit uninviting.
Before my first kiss with Rob Henke in his basement after everyone had left for the night, I applied the Blistex Silk lip balm (with real silk) carefully because it needed to be perfect. I was almost sixteen years old and still hadn’t had my first kiss. Even though I had perfectly moist lips at all times, there was obviously something wrong with me. I needed to be kissed before my sweet sixteen party that was in two months, and it needed to be that moment in the glow of a South Park episode. He leaned into kiss me and I thought, “This is it. My first kiss. Oh my God. I hope I’m good at this. Is he good at this? It’s going to be…”
The boy that I had known since the first grade attacked my face and jammed his tongue down my throat, completely ignoring my enticingly soft lips.
“This is kissing? Fuck this.”
My dad picked me up and I went to bed that night feeling a bit violated. Rob Henke never kissed me again. He had sex with another girl a week later.
High school pressed forward and I kept collecting lip balms, my favorite being any kind of Chapstick flavor. In my senior year I found the best flavor, 100% Natural with shea butter. Just the mention of hydrating shea butter, and I was in lip balm heaven. I continued using my shea butter balm until I went away to college and I found out that Burt’s Bees was the best lip balm ever. My friend lent me a stick and said, “You’ll love it. It has a tingly feeling.” I did love it. It did have a tingly feeling. I started to buy Burt’s Bees lip balm for $3.99 each. Its yellow packaging and promise that it was made with real bee’s wax kept me a loyal consumer. Somehow, I kept losing the expensive little pieces of glory. Luckily, I wised up and realized that the more expensive something is does not mean it is better.
Now, in my fourth year of college, I have several different lip balms. I still use like an addict and couldn’t stop if I tried. However, I recently learned doing a Google search, that lip balms actually dry out lips, forcing consumers to use and buy more. Lip balms give a false sense of reality just as alcohol and drugs give so many college students. Thinking about it now, it never really was about the lip balm anyway.
7 years ago