Saturday, June 11, 2011

Seriously? Cuticle Creme? Who Needs Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme? Not I!

The Good: Smells amazing, Seems to hydrate skin and nails, Nothing bad in it
The Bad: Utterly unnecessary, Expensive, Does not appear to repair damaged cuticles.
The Basics: Utterly pointless, Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme does nothing a good hand cream won't do anyway.

I tend to view health and beauty products largely from a traditional feminist perspective. I'm not talking the mid-70s "avoid the razor" style thinking, but the whole idea that women are made to feel inadequate by the male-dominated society and emotionally extorted to improve everything upon them to meet some utterly unrealistic ideal is almost inarguable when one goes down the cosmetics aisle in virtually any store. Burt's Bees, one of my partner's favorite companies for lip balms, salves and the like has earned a place on my hit list for some of its products that serve no genuinely useful purpose other than to prop up the bloated cosmetics industry. Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme is one of the principle products to make me peeved at the company.

This is a product that instantly calls to mind an Andy Rooney rant I once saw on 60 Minutes. Rooney was going through shampoos and he found one that advertised fixing split ends and he began to rant about how he would even know if the ends of his hair were split and what real consequence split ends have. For sure, split ends are not exactly the hair industry's equivalent to "ring around the collar," because split ends generally indicate unhealthy hair and they can make hair more brittle and when one looks closely they are somewhat unsightly, but the necessity of cuticle creme is entirely a mystery to me. Just like split ends, which we are conditioned to care way too much about, cuticle damage is pretty much noticeable only to those who are at intimate distances to us and I've never once heard of a woman or man being rejected as a potential partner - or even being accused of being less-than beautiful - for having damage to cuticles. Let's be honest; men aren't looking at cuticles! So why would Burt's Bees think that this is such a vital area that anyone would shell out $6 or more for a tiny .6 oz. tin. Well, it's part of the overall beauty mystique where women are meant to feel like there is something inadequate about themselves through the appearance of new products on the market.

For those who need the anatomy lesson, cuticles are the skin on and immediately around finger and toe nails. If one looks at, say, their thumb, and you see the little flap of skin at the base of the nail over the - traditionally - lighter half-circle at the base of the fingernail, that tiny layer of skin is the cuticle. The skin adjacent to the sides of the nails is also considered the cuticle. Most people only truly notice their cuticles when they become dry and hard or are cut and begin peeling off.

Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme is designed to keep the cuticles soft, supple and smelling wonderfully. On a subliminal level, the product is designed to make women ask themselves "Are my cuticles ugly?!" In their insecure uncertainty, women are meant to flock to the store, pick up cuticle creme and use it and solve the problem through boosting companies like Burt's Bees. The truth is, there are no known consequences to having less-supple cuticles than this creme delivers.

This product comes in a little .6 oz. tin with a lid that pops off by holding the base and pulling the top off. Inside is a waxy substance reminiscent of pomade or shoe polish. This is lemon yellow, though and to be fair to the product, it smells absolutely wonderful.

Applying the product is easy or unnecessarily difficult. The easiest way to apply the product is to simply stick a finger into the creme - which has an oily residue which rubs onto that finger - and slather some from the container and finger onto the top tips of one's fingers. The problem here is that this pretty much slathers the entire nail with the product without precisely getting the creme only on one's cuticles. The result is that those wanting to apply this only to their cuticles will require an applicator - like a cotton swab of Q-Tip-type product - to transfer the oily creme from the solid state tin to one's skin. The container does not come with anything to make such precision applications and one suspects this is in part because Burt's Bees does not want to have to admit that: 1. either this is a ridiculous product with severely limited applications and/or 2. there is no real easily defined area for the cuticles.

That said, use is pretty simple; one slathers on the oily/waxy creme and it sits on the skin and nail and protects and hydrates. The Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme smells amazing. The smell is precisely like a lemon cream cake or lemon meringue and it smells the same in the tin as it does on the skin. The smell endures on the skin for approximately two hours, but if it is rubbed in it does not leave any sort of sheen on the skin.

As for its functionality, here is where my issue with the product reaches its height; my cuticles were occasionally dry, but never in any serious way that required any product. Since using this product, my cuticles and nails have not dried out. But it's not like they were in danger of doing that anyway, so this has arguably specious reasoning backing its effectiveness. My fingertips and toetips have smelled fine, but again, this was never an area of concern for me.

What I have noticed is that obvious damage to cuticles - like where I cut my cuticle while working on a bookbinding project - is not repaired in any significant way or speed by using this product. Having two damaged cuticles, the cuticles regrew at the same rates with and without the Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme; the one treated with the creme simply smelled better while it was healing.

For those who feel compelled to be paranoid about their cuticles, Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme does have the advantage of being made of generally good materials. It is mostly natural and is made primarily of sweet almond oil, beeswax, and lemon oil. My skin was thoroughly nonreactive to the waxy substance - though when I used an excessive amount on the first application, it left an oily residue that was gross-enough feeling to make me wash my hands a few times until it was off - but for those with sensitive skin, it is highly recommended one test a bit on one's skin before purchase. The product has a dry, bitter taste to it, so it is recommended those who use it keep it to their cuticles.

But, seriously, cuticle creme? There are so many other places on one's body to worry about, body parts whose maintenance might actually have health benefits. Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme is real easy to not recommend, no matter how good it smells!

For other Burt's Bees products, please check out my reviews of:
Burt’s Bees Medicated Lip Balm
Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment
Burt’s Bees Hand Salve


For other health and beauty related reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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