Product review: Burt’s Bees Pink Grapefruit Lip Balm

I normally prefer vegan lip balms, but when I was out, chapped and desperate, I picked up this Burt’s Bees balm, figuring it was at least better than buying something laden down with nasty chemicals.


The product: Burt’s Bees Pink Grapefruit Lip Balm, $4 at drugstores

The claim: 100% natural lip balm to hydrate and soothe. Free of petrochemicals and Leaping Bunny certified.

I tried it: Right off the bat, I have to say that I love just about anything citrus scented and I loved the fragrance of this product. I also love anything pink, natch. From there, it’s kind of downhill. For starters, I didn’t feel like this product was terribly moisturizing. I have very dry lips to begin with but I don’t think I should have to constantly reapply a lip balm in order to stay moisturized.

I’m also not thrilled with the ingredients list. Yes, it’s mostly natural, but two ingredients stand out to me: limonene, which is an allergen and toxin (listed 6 out of 10 on Skin Deep’s hazardous chart), and lanolin, which is derived from sheep fat. Honestly I just think that’s kind of gross, and I don’t want it in my beauty products, especially when there are so many vegan lip balms out there that work so much better!

(Edited: it was pointed out to me that I misphrased the bit about lanolin. While it’s referred to as “sheep fat”, it’s the sheep’s sebum, which collects in their wool and is collected after shearing. So, not a fat from a dead animal–but for vegans who wish to avoid the wool industry, which tends not to treat animals very well, it’s still a no-go. (And even if the animals are not harmed, I would still personally rather avoid having an animal’s secretions on my lips. Yuck.) Sorry if that bit caused any confusion!)

I have mixed feelings about Burt’s. On the one hand, it’s great that they’re giving consumers without ready access to natural and vegetarian beauty products a mass-market alternative. On the other hand, I feel like they’re not as “green” or as “kind” as they might be marketed, and it also bugs me that most people don’t realize they’re owned by Clorox, which is decidedly not green or animal-friendly. On a totally personal and opinionated note, I also feel like their products are a poor cross-section of the green/vegetarian beauty community, since many of them are a little more expensive and not quite as effective as other brands out there (Nature’s Gate, Giovanni, etc.)–so consumers might use them and say “meh, I don’t know what’s so great about this stuff!” before returning to their other brands. I hope that doesn’t offend any Burt’s Bees lovers out there–if the products work for you, great! They’re just not my first pick.

My verdict: I was good enough to get me through until I could go to the health food store for a different lip balm, but I would not recommend or repurchase this product.

14 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I couldn’t agree more! Their marketing is a bit deceiving if you don’t watch the ingredients. I often think people want it to “seem” like they use the “good” stuff, when in fact there’s less expensive items that are good!

    1. It’s a shame really! I also picked up a “soothing, sensitive” body lotion some time back and then after I got more interested in researching ingredients, I discovered that it had limonene in it, which is apparently a huge allergen and eczema trigger. Lesson learned: it pays to do some research.

  2. I avoid products with lanolin in it too. That is really disgusting, I mean, they get that from slaughtered animals I guess. I remember getting a Burt’s Bees balm as a gift once and I wasn’t very excited about it either. There are better options. Thanks for the review!

  3. This is SO interesting because I totally have one of these in my purse! SHEEP FAT! omg!!

  4. Burt’s Bees lip balms have never really worked out for me either. They feel really dry on my lips, almost like I didn’t put any lip balm on. Everyone loves them, so I always get really confused. Glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks they don’t moisturize very well.

    ~ Yun

  5. I tried one of their lip balm, can’t remember the flavor now, but it was just ok. I’ve had better. I always wonder if they were really that “natural” thanks for the info!

  6. Hey all,

    I was actually just looking up these same two ingredients myself and thought I should share that some of the info in this post in incorrect.

    Lanolin is not derived from sheep fat. It’s derived from the sheep’s wool, and sheep are not necessarily killed for their wool. That’s really a matter of where Burt’s Bees gets their lanolin from.
    So don’t worry- no sheep fat on your lips!

    Limonene is, in fact, natural. It’s derived from citrus rinds. Not necessarily meaning that it’s GOOD for you, but it’s still a natural compound.

    1. Hi Amber, Thanks for your comment! You’re correct, I didn’t phrase the bit about lanolin correctly. While it’s referred to as “sheep fat”, it’s the sheep’s sebum, which collects in their wool and is collected after shearing. So, not a fat from a dead animal–but for vegans who wish to avoid the wool industry, which tends not to treat animals very well, it’s still a no-go. (And even if the animals are not harmed, I would still personally rather avoid having an animal’s secretions on my lips. Yuck.)

      Limonene is natural, but like any fragrancing ingredient, it can cause severe allergic reactions in some people, hence the EWG hazard rating. It’s similar to ingredients like chamomile–natural enough, but also known to be highly allergenic. Of course lots of people can use these ingredients without any problems, but if you have allergy or skin care concerns, then it’s a good ingredient to avoid.

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