My employer likes to offer little bags of swag to returning employees in August every year. It’s like Christmas for people like me who revel in mundane freebies. Last year was perhaps the best ever haul: ear plugs, sticky notes, pens, note pads, a water bottle, and this little roll of lip balm, among others. Nobody would actually utter the suspicion that the swag bags are meant simply to take the bite out of the bitter end to a long summer vacation, but most of us think it. It’s okay. It’s endearing.
Swag bags may be the reason why I enter tennis tournaments, also. At the most swaggy tournaments entrants receive a little bag of goodies—and it’s a surprise. What could be better than a bunch of junk? I don’t need dinner or Gatorade. Give me a free, functional pen and a sweat towel and I’m happy.
Hold it, hold it. Let’s reflect for a moment on lip balm, why don’t we? It’s ubiquitous—found at nearly every grocery checkout lane and 7-11, and yet when it’s cold and windy and your lips are chapped nothing seems more highly essential. I’d pay $10 a stick in February.
Chapstick is one of those brands like Coke and Xerox and Kleenex that has wormed its way into the collective consumer unconsciousness and become synonymous with the product itself. Apropos of nothing, this particular lip balm consists of 7.5% oxtinoxate, 6$ oxybenezane, 5% meraclimate and 5% octisalanate. These are the so-called “active ingredients.” The “inactive ingredients” include octyl palminate, petrolatum, beeswax, mineral oil, paraffin, ceresin, cetyl alcohol, lanolin, aloe barbadenis leaf extract flavor, proplyparaben, tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E) and titanium dioxide. That’s a lot of active and inactive stuff involved in making a little stick of something helpful.
Aside from losing lip balm or inadvertently propelling them through the wash, I like to leave lip balm in the car. This doesn’t end well for the lip balm. Many a stick of oxtinoxate et al have met their doom, melting into a sticky mess in my car console or in the coin holder or in the little pocket on the door handle. All that lip balm factory work for a waxy puddle. Lip balm—useful product. Even better—same function, heat-resistant.