Friday, 12 September 2014

Conscious Consumer // Burt's Bees

The Burt's Bees story begins in 1984 when Maine artist Roxanne Quimby thumbed a lift home. It was Burt Shavitz who pulled over in his bright yellow Datsun pick-up truck and helped her out. Burt was a well-known local who sold his honey by the roadside. The pair hit it off and Roxanne began making candles using unused beeswax from Burt's beehives. These candles were the beginning of the journey towards iconic brand status. From those first few candles sold at local craft fairs to the world-renowned beeswax lip balm we know today, Burt's bees has stayed true to a simple idea 'what you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer'.
Roxanne and Burt.
Image found here

A short History

1989 saw Burt's Bees candles being sold in the hundreds in an NYC boutique. It was 1991 that saw the introduction of their best-selling product the Beeswax Lip Balm. Roxanne perfected a recipe that she found in a 19th century farmer's journal. Demand for Burt's Bees products was increasing, so in 1994, the company was re-located to North Carolina to focus on health and beauty care. The Lemon Butter Cuticle cream was added to the range in 1989 gathering 30 awards along the way. 1999 saw B.B's go global, with offices opening in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Lip Shimmers were introduced in 2003 for those who were after high quality natural lip care with a hint of colour. In 2007, Burt's Bees formalises 'The Greater Good' (good for you, good for us, good for all). Natural Acne Solutions was launched in 2010 and is the first and only truly natural acne line available. Burt's Bees is named number 1 in an ImagePower Green Brands Survey (they send zero waste to landfill).

'The Greater Good'

Burt's Bees say that they look at the 'bottom line', just like all other companies do, except that they regard themselves as having a 'triple' bottom line.
'So when we look after our own, we mean everybody: our employees, our customers, our families, ourselves. And yes, our environment, too. Our ingredients-right down to the packaging-are simple, natural, and responsible. We practice what we preach-and we hope to set the example for others to follow.
It's called The Greater Good. And it's how we're going to help change the world.'
It's clear just from a quick scout around their website that B.B's is very passionate about sustainability. They have a ton of information about their brand, what they do and what they stand for. It's refreshing to see a company be so open and transparent about their practices and how they operate, but also be proud to be 'one of the good ones'. They have certainly led the way for other brands to follow and play 'catch up' on the sustainability front. I have simply given you a snippet of all the good stuff that B.B's has to offer, you can read more about the culture of Burt's Bees here alongside ingredients, packaging and so much more.

The Review

So having a £10 Boots gift voucher and being new to Burt's Bees, it was the perfect excuse to sample some goodies (all in the name of research of course). Having spent a good 10 minutes stood in front of the array of B.B's beauty potions that my local Boots had on offer, I decided to pick up their 'Essential Collection'. It fitted into my budget perfectly and allowed me to sample their award-winning cuticle cream and ever-popular, best-selling Beeswax Lip Balm. The set also came with a 50g Shea Butter Hand Cream.
First Impressions
I love the packaging, it's not really gender specific and has that 'old' feel to it in terms of the font and the illustrations used. I love the colours used, whether the yellow represents that day back in 1984 when Burt first met Roxanne in his yellow Datsun, or because it symbolises bees or honey, I don't know, but it works. It looks fresh and appealing. It all comes presented in the box shown above which comes apart to fold out flat. It even has a little bit of history about the brand and the products on the side. I prefer the look of the lip balm when it comes in the tin as it looks more premium, the plastic tube makes it look a bit 'cheap' but this is more functional and easy to use if out and about. Both versions are priced the same if you buy the lip balms individually so you have the option of the tin or the tube.

Beeswax Lip Balm
Lip balm is something I never have to buy as I'm always using up ones I've been given for Christmas or Birthdays. I'm a regular applier but my latest balm just wasn't up to scratch. My lips were quite dry and flaky and no amount of 'balming up' seemed to do the trick so it was great to be able to try this one out.
As I said before, the packaging isn't mind-blowing but the 'pull and twist' functioning of this tube version is handy and easy to use when on the go. The beeswax balm is infused with vitamin E and Peppermint and feels very nourishing. The peppermint gives my lips a slight tingle a few moments after application and the balm seems to glide on easily, without feeling heavy or sticky. I really like this. My lips were back to being smooth and plump within just a few days and I don't feel I need to re-apply as often as other lip balms I've tried in the past.

Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
Apart from the 'cuticle cream' bit, this sounds good enough to eat. To be honest, it had me at the packaging, It's one of those products that you'd happily leave out on display. The tin is lovely and I can easily see myself keeping this and re-using it for other lip balms or home-made remedies and treatments. Or even just to store some of my dressmaking pins or earrings if I travel. Packaging aside, it smells lemon and butter. The lemon is not too over-powering and has a creamy smell to it (if that's possible). It goes on like a dream and a small amount goes a long way. A cuticle cream is not something I would usually indulge in, but it has seemed to make a big difference.
Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream
Infused with cocoa butter and sesame oil, the fragrance of this hand cream is not my favourite, it's not horrible mind you, just not as cocoa-buttery as I would have preferred. It is quite a thick cream and I find I don't need to use a lot. I use this just before bed as it's the only time my hands aren't busy sewing or typing or creating something of some sort. It absorbs into the skin quite quickly but leaves a subtle oily feeling, slightly on the tacky side. This is fine before bed as I have all night for it to soak in fully. It is quite a rich, heavy cream so it's ideal for 'repairing' your dry and tired hands, and it really does do the trick. It's very luxurious and I wouldn't use this more than a few times a week, a lighter hand cream in between should help to maintain the suppleness in between uses.


Burt's Bees state that their primary packaging is 39% post consumer recycled, with their bottles averaging 78%. All the products are clearly marked with 'recycle' symbols. The tube version of the lip balm is partly made from polypropylene (or a #5 plastic). This can be hard to recycle but the website has a link to this page  which is about getting these #5 plastic containers recycled and reused as many places do not accept this type of plastic for household recycling. This site and programme is based on people living in America however.

All Natural

All B.B's products are either 99 or 100% natural, something which is proudly stated on every item. Just look out for the 'natural bar'. Being mindful of what goes into your body should also be reflected on what you put on your body. Nothing is tested on animals.

It's all about the Bees

I have to admit, I knew nothing about bees. Considering that it was the humble honeybee that started this business, it was interesting and insightful to get clued up how they live, why they're important and what we can do to help them thrive. Burt's Bees have dedicated a little corner of their web space to educate their customers, and potential customers, on the life of bees. Did you know that bees pollinate a third of all the food we eat? ( Not to mention all the fibres, spices and medicines the plants they pollinate make possible) I didn't. So if those little guys are in trouble...then we are too. Meet the bees shows a series of three fun videos where you can understand more about the roles bees play within the hive. B.B's are passionate about bees, after all, they wouldn't be where they are today without them. They're part of their history and culture and they support projects that help to promote honeybee health and sustainable agriculture. The website gives a link to the British Beekeepers Association, an overview of their Greater Good Foundation and a page dedicated to getting involved with keeping those bees buzzing.

So what do I think? Burt's Bees are in their 30th year, so they must be doing something right. I'm sure their products are not new to a lot of you, but to me they are. I first heard of them a few years ago but have never tried their products before. Having only tried the items mentioned above, I can only give my opinion for those, but based on this and all of the information I have read about them, I will be trying out some new things soon. Their prices seem to be fair for the quality you get and Boots often have 3 for 2 offers on so it's a great time to stock up. I love the branding, and the website is great to 'geek up' on B.B's knowledge. Having looked into the company and it's practices in more detail, it has hi lighted to me the importance of bees, and how much we humans rely on them in everyday life, something that I might not necessarily have found out had I not decided to try Burt's Bees for the first time.

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