Sometimes you fall in love with a product — perhaps it was a gift or something you got on sale — only to realize that it’s too expensive to be a regular staple of your beauty regime. I’m sure many of us have weighed the cost versus benefits and decided to either make the splurge or to go without our new favorite. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can find another product at a lower cost serves you just as well. As with many favorite things, if you’re super attached to the original, it may mean getting used to something new or losing some of what you loved more. Recently, I picked up Smith’s Rosebud Salve ($7.43, amazon.com), noticing that my pricier Baume de Rose by Terry ($58, amazon.com) was getting low. So I decided to do a “this versus that” comparison to see what I might be getting or giving up in the swap. [Read More: Product Review: Baume de Rose by Terry]
Baume de Rose by Terry’s base is primarily castor seed oil, but has a mixture also including wax and several thickening agents. Castor seed oil has very little testing, but is primarily used as an emollient and moisturizer. It’s used for skin ailments all around the world, but it’s not spectacularly well-studied, so it’s difficult to scientifically validate these claims (Journal of Ethnopharmacy). However, it is considered safe for topical use, so safety isn’t a concern (International Journal of Toxicology). It’s difficult to determine the properties of the wax used in Baume de Rose by Terry, since it’s just listed as a synthetic wax. These waxes tend to be less greasy but also less pliable than fats. One of the reasons they’re used is that they resist oxidation, microbial agents, and moisture well (Making Cosmetics). But don’t think that Smith’s Rosebud Salve doesn’t contain any wax. Technically, petrolatum — it’s main ingredient — is a semi-solid wax. Smith’s Rosebud Salve is a simple concoction that starts with a petrolatum base. Petrolatum is an occlusive moisturizer, so it keeps water in (preventing transepidermal water loss), but also forms a protective barrier to keep everything else out (Cosmetic Dermatology). There’s a common misconceptio that petrolatum clogs pores, but that isn’t true. What it does it trap other ingredients close to the skin, so if it’s mixed with a comedogenic or irritating ingredient, it can cause skin troubles (Allergy).
Baume de Rose by Terry contains the very beneficial Shea butter, which has been around for centuries as an emollient and moisturizer of choice (Shea Butter). That’s because it’s a spectacular moisturizer that helps to restore skin barrier function. In tests where skin was washed in ethanol, Shea butter not only helped skin recover from transepidermal loss within two hours, by hour three it was actually improving skin barrier function (Formulation and Science). Studies have shown that it can help to regenerate thinning skin, lessen wrinkles from sun damage, and promote healing (Shea Butter). It’s also been shown to potentially have anti-aging benefits, thanks to its unsaponifiables, which have been shown to increase collagen production (Phytotherapy Research, British Journal of Dermatology).
[Related: Spotlight On: Shea Butter]
It also contains vitamin E, which has been found to be the most powerful natural antioxidant (Skin Therapy Letter). But that’s not the only way this balm protects from the environment. Thanks to titanium dioxide, a mineral sunscreen agent, it also protects your lips from UV-rays (Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Society).
But Baume de Rose by Terry isn’t the only one that benefits from tocopherol, or vitamin E. Cottonseed oil, which as its name suggests comes from the cotton plant’s seeds, is rich in tocopherol, as well as fatty acids (Edible Fats and Oils Processing). Unfortunately, there isn’t much beyond this about the moisturizer and emollient (Handbook of Fillers, Extenders, and Diluents). There are few studies, but the oil is generally considered to be unlikely to irritate skin. Unfortunately, cottonseed oil is likely to be contaminated with toxic material, but it’s considered to be safe if the limits on these contaminants are not exceeded (International Journal of Toxicology). The other ingredients Smith’s Rosebuld Salve contains are simply listed as “essential oils blended.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t give us much to go off of; while some essential oils can be beneficial by increasing the absorption of other ingredients and having anti-bacterial properties, without the list, it’s impossible to know if any of these are on the list (International Journal of Pharmaceutics, Journal of Applied Microbiology).
[Related: Are Pure Essential Oils Good or Bad for You?]
And they certainly aren’t perfect ingredients. Though we think of essential oils as pure, they rarely are; in fact, they’re often contaminated (Food and Chemical Toxicology). Certain essential oils — and this is certainly not all essential oils — can be pro-oxidant (Food and Chemical Toxicology). Some oils can even be irritating. Unfortunately, without a comprehensive ingredient list, it’s impossible to see whether or not the ingredients in this salve have any of these qualities.
When it comes to uses, these two aren’t exactly comparable. Where Baume de Rose by Terry is a thick and almost tacky moisturizer that does some mega-protecting, Smith’s Rosebuld Salve has a thinner consistency that gives less of a barrier but works better for something like your hands where you don’t want greasiness. And the aesthetic properties are super crucial here. As for scent — which is important in a rose salve — Baume de Rose by Terry has a pungent rose scent, whereas Smith’s Rosebud Salve has a more powdery rose smell. I’m particular to the Baume de Rose by Terry’s scent, as it just appeals to me as something more floral. Looks-wise, Baume de Rose by Terry has a nice light pink tinge that gives you something extra, whereas Smith’s Rosebud Salve has a normal lip balm look. On a personal level, I like the Baume de Rose by Terry better. Scienticially speaking, it’s still my favorite.
Overall, I’d say that while the two appear comparable, Baume de Rose by Terry definitely beats out Smith’s Rosebud Salve. Why? All aesthetic properties aside, I’d say that Baume de Rose by Terry has a formula that promises to be less irritating and does more protecting in terms of both moisturizing and sun protection. I also think the ingredients are better overall. In this case, Smith’s Rosebud Salve was really hurt by not including the list of essential oils. Given the options, I had to assume that some of them might do more harm than good. The only thing that Smith’s Rosebud Salve had over Baume de Rose by Terry is that I felt the thinner formula would make it more “all-purpose” good for lips and skin, but then again, Baume de Rose by Terry forms a thicker layer that feels more protective.
Winner: Baume de Rose by Terry