S.W. Basics Cocoa Lip Balm – Vegan

sw basics

S.W. Basics is a line that originated out of Brooklyn, created by Adina Grigore, a self described “jill of all trades” in the wellness industry. The line is known for their simple formulas that often times use just 1-5 ingredients. This is because the products were originally created by Adina for her own sensitive skin.

S.W. Basics is essentially what I consider to be a hip Brooklyn take on DIY natural beauty using simple ingredients and a funky brand message. The price range is generally affordable so they’re a great introduction for those looking for clean products without giving their wallets a work out.

A quick note: although skin sensitivity is different from person to person, it is true that products with less ingredients are considered safer for sensitive skin because there are less potential ingredients to trigger the sensitivities. However, this does not mean all products that use few ingredients are right for you, for instance if you happen to be sensitive to Jojoba Oil, then a 1-3 ingredient product that uses Jojoba Oil will likely not work well with your skin so the takeaway dear readers: be aware of your personal sensitivities and check the ingredients list (however long or short) for known sensitivities before purchasing.

The other note is that because these products only use 1-5 ingredients, the concentration of each ingredient is likely to be pretty high. For me, this meant caution in purchasing certain products such as their toner which is comprised of Apple Cider Vinegar, Witch Hazel, and Essential Oils since Apple Cider Vigegar/Witch Hazel should usually be diluted before being used otherwise it is just too much for every day use. [Edit: As many of you have pointed out, SW Basics Toner is indeed diluted with water as the main ingredient – my mistake as I could have sworn I read something about how water isn’t used in the line! Thank you all for the correction!]

Thus my first foray into this line came from one of their four lip balms, the S.W. Basics Cocoa Lip Balm. And since I felt particularly green the day I ordered, I opted to go all out and purchase the Vegan variety although I’m not a practicing Vegan. Essentially this just means the beeswax is switched out for Candelilla Wax.

SW Basics

I chose Cocoa because of the four flavors (Cocoa, Peppermint, Cinammon, Citrus), it is the only one without any essential oils (I don’t have anything against essential oils, but I understand they’re used in this for fragrance which I didn’t need in a lip product). This also meant my option was the most minimal with just 3 Ingredients: organic Cocoa Butter, organic Coconut Oil, Canelilla Wax. Now you DIYer’s are probably thinking “just make this yourself!” But two things:

1. Like a LOT of people out there, I’m not really a DIYer. And there is value in something ready made with a cool, well designed label, no?
2. Relax, this stuff is only $4 regular price and even less when you get it on sale (which happens pretty often!)

The Verdict

So after a good 2 months of using this on-and-off, how do I feel? Conflicted.

Here’s why:

When it came to moisturizing and making my lips not look mistreated, this lip balm did the trick. It really did make my lips feel and look better, in fact I had noticed I was able to extend time in between reapplication despite the fact that the texture did not feel heavy – bonus! So performance-wise, I was happy and impressed.

However this product also frustrated me more than any other lip balm I’ve used. Unlike other lip balms (including other natural ones like Burts Bees and Badger Balm), this just LOVED to melt. Do NOT keep it in your pocket or anywhere that comes close to your body because that will start melting this within 5 minutes, especially if you’re walking outside in the summer weather. This is why I had to use the lip balm on and off, because I couldn’t bring this with me when I left the apartment for fear it would just be leak and get messy. So it was relegated to being an “at-home” product, which to me is not ideal when it comes to lip balms.


The other area is application. Besides loving to melt, this lip balms texture is on the rough side (see the above picture) and prone to breaking off. I learned over the course of using this to be especially careful to not press it to my lips as a huge chunk will just break off, leaving me with the messy task of removing and putting the excess back in the tube or just applying on the back of my hands – wasteful and not clean, not to mention my boyfriend would jokingly feign concern that I was suffering from some form of selective motor challenge since it was so difficult for me to apply this!

SW Basics

Overall, I’m happy that I was able to try this line out and I do think they’re onto something with the entire less is more approach. SW Basics isn’t a line that embellishes their promises, instead it’s just an honest message of things that your skin would like. In this case, my lips liked the 3 ingredients, I just had a challenging time with it. The usability and durability issues perhaps highlight a key shortcoming with the mantra of opting for few ingredients as I’m sure in this case incorporating more ingredients to control the texture and such would greatly improve the overall experience. I know if those issues could be addressed while maintaining the actual performance of the lip balm (which leaves nothing to complain about), I would unreservedly recommend this product but as it is the shortcomings in my opinion are too great to overcome as the product currently is for this to be a viable repurchase. With that said, this doesn’t dissuade me from trying their other products, particularly giving their non-vegan version of the lip balm a chance.

So I know S.W. Basics is quite a popular line, do you think there are other products that I’ll love from this line? Have you tried this line? Do you love their less is more mantra? Leave your thoughts in the comments.