Whether you are a guy or a girl, into fashion or not, you are probably unaware of one accessory that you always have in tow: your lip balm. It is nearly impossible to argue against lip balm and its utilitarian function.
Regardless of age, everyone has a use and need for these small, slender tubes that moisturize and nourish your lips. Lip balm's omnipresence is proven by the ease of getting your hands on a tube. I've seen people fish lip balm out of back pockets, ID cases, backpacks, purses and even eye glass cases.
Though we often use the terms "lip balm" and "chapstick" interchangeably, ChapStick was actually the first brand of lip balm. However, with the emergence of many different imitations and variations, the word "chapstick" has now become synonymous with "lip balm." The popularity of chapstick has even been manifested online. The YouTube video "Where's the chapstick?" has incited countless responses and remixes. The original, with nearly 14 million views, captures an overly enthusiastic girl who sings a celebratory song in honor of finding her chapstick.
ChapStick has been a part of American culture for more than a century, and it has served many a purpose. And, I mean beyond providing lip-smacking pleasure; believe it or not, it played an integral role in the Watergate scandal. It turns out that Republican operatives placed microphones in the caps of their ChapStick. Lip moisturizer was thought to be so innocuous that it was the perfect tool for spying.
Each kind of lip balm has its own reputation and tends to be associated with certain characteristics. ChapStick conveys practicality and simplicity, no frills whatsoever. Blistex and Carmex have the reputation of being extremely effective for cracked, dry or chafed lips. Most of the former's products are medicated, promising to "relieve sore lips" and "provide a special barrier that helps lip cells return to their natural moisture balance," according to its website. Burt's Bees, made out of beeswax, is also a fan favorite, as it offers a refreshing and minty sensation with each application.
There's also Lip Smackers, which I immediately associate with Rose Art stationery and other girly childish obsessions. Most 11-year-old pre-teens carry Lip Smackers in their useless pocketbooks alongside so-called invaluable cargo, including gift cards with no money on them and packets of doggie stickers. Lip Smackers are also perfect for those who want a non-caloric indulgence, as they come in flavors such as "Pink Lemonade," "Cotton Candy," "Skittles" and "M&Ms."
My personal favorite is Blistex Silk and Shine. Its glossiness is not overwhelming and its fragrance is subtle. Plus, it is just so satiny and smooth! Recently, there has also been a rise in popularity of the egg-shaped lip balm by Evolution of Smooth. I first got hooked on these funky little spheres when I passed a display of them at the Rite Aid downtown. I was drawn in by the array of bright colors and their peculiar shape.
I ended up purchasing the "honeysuckle honeydew" flavor and went through the mound of lip balm within a matter of weeks. Subsequently, I replenished my need for more with the "medicated tangerine" flavor. I smile every time I see my orange and green eggs either sitting on my nightstand or peeking out of my bag.
Additionally, they have served as excellent conversation starters, as I'm sure it must be quite a funny sight to see me rolling a colorful ball around half of my face. And though at times the shape makes it quite cumbersome to slip into your pocket, I have found that these eggs are easier to spot and harder to lose than your traditional cylindrical tube.
I've heard countless times of how people feel naked without their chapstick, and there is even debate as to whether or not chapstick actually contains addictive ingredients. Lip balm has infiltrated the lives of teenyboppers, college students, working professionals and senior citizens, and for good reason. Economical, practical, and now fashionable, chapstick comes in all shapes and sizes, making it a trend that is easy to follow.