Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!
A few years ago, I was home at my parents’ house cooking. I turned on the TV because the best thing about my parents’ house is that it’s in the woods but the second best thing is that the living room and kitchen are one big open area so I can watch TV while I cook. When I turned on the television, “Dr. Oz” (italics would be grammatically correct but quotes feel more appropriate in this instance) was on, a show I’d never watched and haven’t since. I waited to change the channel, mostly likely out of sheer laziness or because I was busy cooking. It was only a few minutes, but it was long enough to absorb the information the now defamed (and always obviously full of shit) doctor was discussing with an “expert” and let it change my entire fucking life. What they parlayed to me that day was highly disturbing information that shook me to my core and changed everything I had ever believed about lip care.
They said chapstick was bad.
At that point in my life, I was devoted to Chapstick (name brand, bitch!). I loved Cherry Chapstick, because it had a hint of color and because it was having a moment (this was probably close to a decade ago, long before Goop told us to go clean or die or even worse look poor), and I loved regular Chapstick because it was what my grandmother always used so the smell and taste reminded me of her. I had a variety of chapsticks in every bag I owned and I applied them constantly because somehow, despite the fact that I was always lathering my lips up with lubricant, they were always dry.
Which is why what Dr. Oz said that day made so much sense. He (or the “expert” he was speaking to) said chapstick is addictive and deteriorates your lips’ natural ability to self-lubricate. They said to stop using it — Chapstick brand or anything with similar ingredients — and replace it with natural lip balms made up of ingredients like coconut oil (it really is magic!) and vitamin E.
I was disturbed and determined to make a change. I went to the local drug store to investigate and, after reading the ingredients, decided Dr. Oz would approve of Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm in the original Vitamin E (see!) and Peppermint flavor. (It feels weird to call it a flavor, but we eat that shit, right?)
Now, years later, it’s the only “chapstick” I use. Not even the other Burt’s Bees flavors (?) can compare to the original. I’ll use the honey in a pinch but the fruity ones always make me feel like I’m coating my lips in sugary oil that somehow never penetrates the skin. The peppermint one, however, gets in there without depriving my lips of the ability to generate their own moisture.
I think. Honestly I don’t know since this is all based on a five minute segment I watched on Dr. fucking Oz, arguably the least reliable of all Oprah’s quack acolytes. Certain things, however, tend to stick in my mind, no matter how untrustworthy the source of the information. For example, years ago my friend’s husband told me that touching receipts can make you fat. It seemed like a completely insane, totally nonsensical piece of bogus information, but you better believe I’ve gotten receipts out of my hands real fast ever since.
Women’s magazines thrive on this kind of unvalidated absolutism, usually printing conflicting information within the very same issue. Shampoo is bad! Except these eight sponsored ones on page 120 that are the solution to not only your frizz but world hunger! Fruit is bad! Butter is good! (That one I choose to believe.) Going to the bathroom too much will give you cancer! I’ve never heard that last one but I’m sure it’s been printed somewhere and I’m sure somebody read it and, despite themselves, still wonders if it actually might be true. Gwyneth Paltrow has made a second career out of pedaling this kind of questionable information that, however absurd it may seem, seeps into the minds of Goop readers and leaves us wondering what if.
These days, we’re all learning how important it is to question “facts” (lol what if I got political??) but it’s hard to get even facts that are so obviously not factual completely out of your head. I know holding a receipt won’t make me gain weight but every time I’m handed one, I remember what my friend’s husband told me and a tiny little part of me wonders what if? Dr. Oz, of all people, was probably wrong about the evils of Chapstick compared to other lip balms, but you better believe I’ve told lots of people over the years they should stop using chapstick immediately!!!
So yes, I’m part of the problem — but aren’t we all? What is life but an onslaught of mostly unverifiable information that we choose whether or not to believe? When it comes to things like beauty products, choosing to believe a likely incorrect bit of information is usually harmless. For example, a few years ago I was listening to a podcast when a man called in and said his aunt got cancer in her armpit and that the tumor grew exactly where she applied deodorant. After hearing that, I immediately switched to all-natural deodorant. Did deodorant give that woman cancer? I don’t know! Does my deodorant work well (enough)? Yes! Will I ever switch back to regular deodorant? No! I don’t want to get cancer like that guy’s poor aunt!
Maybe Dr. Oz and his guest were wrong and chapstick isn’t destroying your lips, but I really did notice a difference when I stopped using it. I need to put on my Burt’s Bees way less frequently than I applied Chapstick, except maybe in the winter when we’re all dried out and desperate for moisture. Plus, Burt’s Bees is a more ethical company (or at least seems to be) and I can pronounce all the ingredients in my beloved lip balm. Most importantly, my choice of lip moisturizer isn’t hurting anyone or inciting war, so believing Dr. Oz just this one time was ultimately a harmless decision. He’s for sure wrong about everything else though, especially diet pills. Those are definitely bad.
As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares that I kind of believe receipts might make me fat. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, lip balm or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!
Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!