The Pharmacist Behind Lowen’s Accidentally Created this Best-selling Natural Lip Balm

The Pharmacist Behind Lowen’s Accidentally Created this Best-selling Natural Lip Balm

Read about the happy accident that led to this best-selling balm.
The CBA Editorial Team 2473 views 1

Named after Lindsay and Chad Zelensky’s firstborn, Lowen’s started as a diaper cream company. The company’s namesake had a diaper rash that commercially available treatments weren’t treating. So Lindsay encouraged Chad, a pharmacist, to create his own formula.

“I applied my years of clinical practice and pharmaceutical knowledge to develop an evidence-based, innovative, natural diaper balm using unconventional, unrefined locally-sourced ingredients. What is now known as Lowen’s Bum Balm Blues resolved Lowen’s diaper rash within days and, with continued preventative use, the rash never came back and was never an issue with our youngest Simone,” says Chad.

After launching their flagship product, the duo expanded their product line to include a variety of other lotions, cleansers, scrubs, creams and balms, including the Clean Beauty Award-winner Lowen’s Be Local Lip Balm. We spoke with Chad about the happy accident that led to this best-selling balm and how he feels about winning an award.

Why do you think your product was chosen as the winner?

Lowen’s Be Local Lip Balm was our first product specifically geared to be socially conscious. That said, even if a product is locally sourced (as 80% of the ingredients are) and organic (as 60% of the ingredients are), if the product is terrible, there is only so much you can pull on one’s heartstrings. So part of what makes Lowen’s Be Local Lip Balm great is that the ingredients are local. The organic canola is freshly pressed and very stable, the beeswax and honey we use are also locally sourced, unrefined and treatment-free. The shea butter we use obviously isn’t local, but here again, it is unrefined and produced by hand in Ghana by a fair-trade company. You can see a trend here. We seek unrefined ingredients. Another aspect is that all of our lip balms are actually emulsions incorporating oleosomes, glycerin and hyaluronic acid, with the latter rarely being included in a lip balm. This mix of rich, unrefined ingredients combined with ingredients that draw water from the environment (a.k.a hygroscopic) makes for a one-of-a-kind formulation that is very stable.  We’ve shipped orders to the Middle East and to the far north and the effect is the same!

Why did you create this product? What need were you fulfilling?

Well, the world likely didn’t need yet another lip balm. I certainly didn’t start out trying to make one. Our lip balms were one of those happy accidents. Back when I was working on the diaper balm formula, I was certain I was really close to a finished product. Lindsay tested it underwater and it turned white. What this meant was that it was absorbing water versus fully repelling it. Not something you want to happen in a diaper. So I went back to work but Lindsay didn’t throw out the sample. Several nights later, she was changing Lowen after a nightly feeding and couldn’t find a lip balm stick. So instead of looking for one at 2 AM, she applied the failed diaper balm formula.  The next day she was raving about how amazing it was for her lips and that I should make it as a lip balm. That fell on unreceptive ears as I was still smarting from not getting the diaper balm formula right but months later, I went back to the failed formula, retooled it a little and there you have it!

Would you say this is your best-selling product? If not, what is and why?

It is certainly our best-selling lip balm in the mix. It outsells all our others 5:1.

What are the ingredients of this product and what do they do?

I’ve covered that a little but will go into more specifics. All canola oil is not created equal. The organic seed oil ends up very rich in colour and is quite thick. The stuff you see on the grocery shelf is not the same, being so refined that it is barely anything like the original. Furthermore, the process of refinement can leave behind organic solvents that are not great for your health.  Anyhow, back to the good stuff. The canola oil we use is extremely high in essential fatty acids (EFAs). As our skin has a large concentration of EFAs and the North American diet is often deficient, we get skin issues (in this case chapped lips can get worse). So the oil base replenishes this deficiency locally as well as decreases inflammation, which omega 3 EFAs are shown to do.  Shea butter is a wonderful skin conditioner, provided that it too isn’t refined, and imparts some SPF protection to the product. The beeswax firms up the lip balm as well as works with the vitamin E in the canola oil to keep the product stable (natural antioxidant and preservative). The honey is a pleasant flavour and works as a humectant with the glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Finally, the organic safflower oleosomes make the emulsion possible but they too are wonderful conditioning agents, imparting even more lipids to your puckered lips!

So all in all, this is quite a technical formulation when you look into it.

What does winning this award mean to you?

It is nice to get recognized. We have been at this for 10 years and this year is the first time we have won any awards (we recently won two others). There were some pretty heavy hitters in our category, most of which come in at a higher price point, so it feels like we’re David versus Goliath and I’ve always related more with the underdog status. I guess I’ll have to shift my thinking now.

Why is being a clean beauty brand important?

This is built into our fabric. As a Pharmacist working in oncology for much of my clinical career, I’ve given great thought to the cumulative environmental exposure to detrimental ingredients. At worst, I didn’t want our products to be a contributing factor to anyone’s health and at best, I wanted Lowen’s to be an industry leader. After 10 years I feel that we are making great strides in establishing our little company as a vanguard.

What’s next for your brand?

We will keep doing what we have been doing. It may be like the tortoise, but slow and steady has meant industry longevity for us. Many businesses fail in less than five years and we’ve doubled that benchmark. We will look to our mission of betterment and our values of relationships, advocacy, transparency, sustainability, inclusiveness and balance in looking to the future and I feel applying this as our moral compass will enable us to continue to garner recognition, sustainable growth and an environment for our kids to learn and grow.

Looking for more clean beauty products? Discover the top 10 natural lip products for a perfect pout.