Three Princes of Serendipity: Sudz by Studz + Red Apple Lipstick

Review: Sudz by Studz Lip Balm + Red Apple Lipstick in Sunkissed.

This post has been several weeks in the making. Life got in the way and before I knew it, it was April! So, thank you for your patience and I hope this review was worth the wait :)

In my Liebster Award post, I told of my intrigue with orange lips and mentioned that my first sample of this trend was on its way to me from Red Apple Lipstick. Upon its arrival, and as a fortunate stroke of serendipity, I discovered that my newfound fiery lips looked even hotter when the lipstick was paired with my favorite Sudz by Studz lip balm!

Disclosure: I purchased several soaps directly from Sudz by Studz and they surprised me with a free Bananas Foster lip balm. My Red Apple Lipstick was provided free of charge from the company in hopes of a review. I took all photos appearing in this post. Company logos appear courtesy of Sudz by Studz and Red Apple Lipstick. Links are NOT affiliated and I am in no way being compensated for writing this post.

The Brands

Sudz by Studz is an artisan skincare line established in 2013 by singer-songwriter Preston Tillotson and Philosophy graduate Tyler Robinson. Based in Sacramento, California, the Studz aim to bring high quality bath and body products to their customers at an affordable price point, without the so-called “safe synthetics” used by large cosmetics companies. From their About Us page:

We are two Studz crafting a bunch of Sudz. Our mission is to create an affordable and natural, yet lavish lather for you to share with those who care. Our products are fair trade, handmade, vegetarian and crafted from local ingredients that you can pronounce. Even better, our products are made without foaming agents, unnecessary additives, or fillers.

Red Apple Lipstick® is a trusted gluten free cosmetics company established in 2007 by Jay Adam Harper. Currently based in Houston, Texas, Harper aims to bring high quality, safe products with “kickbutt” customer service to the masses. He designs each and every lipstick color and all products are hand crafted in the USA. From the website:

It’s a simple concept; higher quality ingredients make a higher quality product. Jay would never put his name on anything that wasn’t totally hot. It’s just in his maven framework. This simple difference is hard to describe. You don’t have to be a total makeup junkie to appreciate the difference in quality; all you have to do is own one of these badboys. You will find our lipsticks creamy, moisturizing, buildable, blendable and just plain awesome.

The Products

I can’t remember how I heard about Sudz by Studz, but I’m betting it was somehow related to my constant search for fabulous natural soap. I was drawn to their clever company name, artistic logo, and unique scents. Not only do they have Cold Process and Melt & Pour options, but they also sell awesome novelty designs. As a bar soap addict, I had to grab a few! Check out the Bow Tie Soap, as well as a more recent release, Buddha’s Birthday. I will review the soaps in a future post, but for now I want to focus on one of their best selling products—lip balm!

The Lip Balm: Bananas Foster


The awesome Sudz by Studz logo and the equally awesome Bananas Foster Lip Balm

On the other hand, Red Apple Lipstick (RAL) has been popping up all across the blogosphere over the past few months. Although I first read about this company on Bethany’s Sprinkles and Allergies blog, I can credit all of the natural beauties out there for convincing me to check them out. I was intrigued by the massive collection of colors!

The Lipstick: Sunkissed™ (from the Summer Passion line)


Red Apple Lipstick in Sunkissed (from the Summer Passion line)

The Claims (adapted from the website listings)

The Lip Balm: Flavored with hints of caramel and banana, this balm melts into the skin for delectable and voluptuously plump lips. Described as an unconventional, yet increasingly popular product.

The Lipstick: Mineral based formula that is enriched with a gluten free source of Vitamin E. Non-toxic, vegan, and paraben-, allergen-, and cruelty- free. This lipstick is designed to nourish and moisturize the lips while staying put. Sunkissed is the perfect orange for all skin tones and can be worn alone or mixed with other pigments. Wear with two or more coats for a bold pout full of power.

The Ingredients (as listed on the Sudz by Studz website)

Note: For all beauty reviews, you will find color-coded product ingredients based upon their ratings on EWG (I build reports for each product). Green ingredients scoring 0-2 are low hazard. Orange ingredients scoring 3-6 are moderate hazard. Red ingredients scoring 7-10 are high hazard. Please visit my Ingredients to Avoid page for further information and potential concerns regarding specific ingredients.

Bananas Foster Lip Balm: Beeswax, Kukui Nut Oil, Avocado Oil, Jojoba Oil, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Flavor Oils, and Vitamin E

The overall EWG score for the Bananas Foster Lip Balm is 2.

The Flavor Oil Debate: Flavor Oils are unrecognized in the EWG database, and as I have not had much experience with this term, my compulsive research antennae went up. A quick Google search told me that flavor oils are actually fragrance oils that have been approved for use in lip care products. These oils add flavor to lip balms and glosses, but have no real taste.

Fragrance and flavor oils run the risk of containing Diethyl Phthalates (DEP), which are often used as a fragrance binder. DEP can cause damage to the human nervous and endocrine systems, as well as reproductive organs. Fragrance is also known for its association with allergies, dermatitis, and respiratory irritation.

When I ran my report using the unrecognized term “flavor oils” in the ingredients, the balm came back rated a 0. However, because fragrance oils are usually high hazard on EWG, when I ran my report using that terminology instead, the balm came back with a rating of 2. What does this mean? Either way, this lip balm is low hazard overall.

Having said that, I want to note that the flavor oils used in the Studz’ Bananas Foster lip balm are a proprietary blend of lip-safe oils. I e-mailed the Studz to see what information they could provide on the subject of DEP and they came back with a great answer:

There is a growing concern in the cosmetics/skincare industry about the use of DEP so, consequently, producers of flavor/fragrance oils have become more transparent in their labeling. We shop at a local supplier who only orders natural, fair trade ingredients as well as online suppliers who label whether or not phthalates are contained within their flavor/fragrance oils. With that said, we can assure you that Bananas Foster is DEP/phthalate free :)

I generally try to avoid fragrance if I can, especially when I have no way of ascertaining the source. If I can confirm that the oils used are from a natural source and contain no DEP, as is the case with Sudz by Studz, then I don’t worry too much about contamination. I know that each person has his or her own level of leniency regarding this topic, so if you would prefer not use products with any kind of flavor/fragrance oils, I am happy to report that the Studz also make a Peppermint lip balm! 

Peppermint Plump Lip Balm: Beeswax, Kukui Nut Oil, Avocado Oil, Jojoba Oil, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Peppermint Essential Oil, and Vitamin E

This formula contains peppermint essential oil instead of flavor oils, giving it a score of 0 on EWG.

I love my Bananas Foster lip balm and will continue to use it until it runs out. At that point, I will probably end up repurchasing, but plan to check out the peppermint lip balm as well. The Studz also offer vegan options for their balms, with candelilla wax instead of beeswax.


The Bananas Foster Lip Balm is DEP/phthalate free

The Ingredients (as listed on the Red Apple Lipstick website)

Sunkissed Lipstick (Summer Passion Line): Ricinus Communis, Octyl Palmitate, Ozokerite, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Synthetic Beeswax, Olive (Olea Europea) Oil, Theobroma Grandiflorum (Cupuacu) Seed Butter, Tocopheryl Acetate (from an all-natural, non-gluten source), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, and Retinyl Palmitate. May contain Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Iron Oxides.

The overall EWG score for the Sunkissed Lipstick is 4.

The Retinyl Palmitate Debate: I was actually quite disappointed to see Retinyl Palmitate come up as an 8 in EWG, pushing this particular product to a moderately hazardous 4 on the rating scale. I was, until now, unfamiliar with the concerns relating to this ingredient.

According to EWG:

Retinyl palmitate is an ingredient composed of palmitic acid and retinol (Vitamin A). When exposed to UV light, retinol compounds break down and produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and cause gene mutations, a precursor to cancer. Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.

In addition, there is much debate in relation to the safety of using vitamin A creams on a daily basis. The FDA raised a concern that extensive use of these creams may cause enough build up in a woman’s body over time to be detrimental to a developing fetus. Despite this information, I have seen many sources say that Vitamin A is completely safe, or that retinol itself is safer than retinyl palmitate. I would probably err on the side of caution, avoiding if possible. I’m thinking that perhaps using products with Vitamin A may not be a huge problem if you know you will not be exposed to sunlight, but if you plan to be out baking in the sun, it might be more dangerous.

For some good information on this topic, see Stephanie’s (of Bubble and Bee) Chemical of the Day posting here.

As related to Red Apple Lipstick, I sent a quick e-mail to Jay to see if he could shed some light on the topic for me. He responded very promptly and explained that Retinyl Palmitate is a generic term to encompass all forms of a synthetic alternative of Vitamin A (some of which can be used to treat various conditions of the eye or Vitamin A deficiencies). He also brought to my attention that EWG increased their rating of this ingredient to target certain manufacturers of sunscreens:

Great question!! Retinol A is, in my opinion, an antioxidant, but in the amounts we use [at RAL], it’s so small—far less that than vitamin E. The EWG’s argument is rightly made against sunscreen! It’s a substance made from incredibly loose tolerances, with no oversight from the GOV (or anyone else for that matter), that is then smothered over 88% of your skin, 4 times a day, all day, for several days in a row. With that much skin exposure, rates of absorption into your body are huge (this is always why I refuse to wear it). Not only is the exposure huge, but one then purposefully lies out in the sun for hours and bakes in the UV light. To that end, sunscreen and many ingredients in it become very dangerous and may lead to higher rates of autism in children born of sun seekers, along with a host of autoimmune diseases.

So there you have it. In lipstick, at such a small concentration, it may be inconsequential, so I would say that the decision to use or not use RAL’s Summer Passion line should be based on personal preference. I will still use my Sunkissed lipstick until it is gone, as I really enjoy it, but moving forward, I will most likely lean toward purchasing lipsticks (or any products from any companies) with formulas that do not contain any retinol/retinyl palmitate.

In light of this, I want to share that I requested the Sunkissed color as my sample and did not realize that RAL actually has 4 different lines of lipstick, all with slightly different ingredients! All lines do contain Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), which is a moderately hazardous ingredient because of potential contamination with hydroquinone. However, Red Apple Lipstick uses only Tocopheryl Acetate from an all-natural, non-gluten source.

The Summer Passion Line is the only one that contains Retinyl Palmitate.

This line includes the following colors: Sunkissed, Reddy or Not, Beach Peach, Berry Blast, Summer Sands, Pinky Promise, Petal Pusher, Boys N Berries, Paris, Sugar Sugar, Audrey, and Vogue.

The three other lines that DO NOT contain Retinyl Palmitate are the Original Series, X-Series, and Instant Color Series.

Original Series (includes Red!, Love My Kiss, Ruby Slippers, Strawberry Lips, Flirt With Me, Crush on Me, French Skirt, Mauve Me, Secrets, and Plum Sexy Crazy): Ricinus Communis, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Oleic/Linoleic/Linolenic Polyglycerides, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Cera Alba, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (from an all-natural, non-gluten source), Prunis Dulcis (Almond), Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, and Essence of Vanilla. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Manganese Violet, Mica, Iron Oxides.

The overall EWG score for the Original Series is 2.

X-Series (includes New York, Foxy, Rebel, Drama, and Naughty): Ricinus Communis, Citric Acid, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Silica, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Copercnicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (from an all-natural, non-gluten source). May Contain: Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Mica CI 77019, Manganese Violet CI 77742, Iron Oxides CI 77489, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499.

The overall EWG score for the X-Series is 2.

Instant Color Series (includes Coral Crush, Hibiskiss, Lovebird, Oh My Guava, Push Pop, Sweet Pea, Fierce, Barcelona, Reddish Fetish, Light My Fire, Swoon, Ravishing, Mix and Mingle, Firefly, and Cranberry Magic): Helianthus Annus (100% pure organic cold pressed), Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii, Synthetic Beeswax, Tocopheryl Acetate (all-natural, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free Vitamin E). May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Manganese Violet, Mica, Iron Oxides.

The overall EWG score for the Instant Color Series is 1.

If you are avoiding Retinyl Palmitate, you can choose to pass on the Summer Passion line and purchase from the other three sets instead. I plan to purchase a few colors from the Original, X-, and Instant Color lines once everything is back in stock. When I have some new colors to share (and the Studz’ peppermint lip balm), expect to see these three princes of serendipity show up on the blog again!

Now that I’ve either bored or intrigued you for quite a few pages with my ingredients investigation, on to the juicy details!

The Details

The Lip Balm:

Packaged in a plastic tube with the Sudz by Studz custom label and a blue cap, containing approximately .15 oz/4 g of product. As a designer, I had to include a picture of their awesome business card :)


Sudz by Studz Lip Balm packaging and business card

Color is light yellow.

Scent is mostly banana. This balm has a very subtle scent of bananas and caramel. I don’t usually like banana flavored products, but this one is pleasantly understated.

Feels moisturizing. A Goldilocks sentiment comes to mind—this balm is not too soft, not too hard, but just right! Some lip balms feel very rough on the lips, while others feel super soft and sticky. I hate sticky lip products, which is why I shy away from lip glosses. Bananas foster meets in the middle with a consistency that I find to be perfect for my lips.


The Bananas Foster Lip Balm has the perfect consistency

Applies smoothly and glides perfectly. This is the only balm I own that I don’t have to rub back and forth multiple times to get an even spread. One or two swipes and I am good to go.

The Lipstick:

Packaged in a sleek black plastic tube within a Red Apple Lipstick branded box, containing approximately .158 oz/4.5 g of product. The Red Apple Lipstick wordmark is embossed on the side of the cap. One end of the tube shows the iconic apple and the other has the color name. A Dalek-like raised dotted pattern adds some depth to the bottom part of the tube.


Sleek packaging

Color is a beautiful fiery reddish-orange.


Stunning color!

Scent is a little waxy. I can’t quite place the scent of this lipstick, but I actually really like it. I want to say it smells like a combination of unlit birthday candles and starburst, as strange as that sounds. I’m sure this has to do with the plant waxes, almond oil, and aloe leaf extract. It is a scent that not everyone will enjoy, so I want to note that during my first few uses, the smell seemed very strong. However, now the scent peaks in the first half hour and seems to fade after about an hour.

Feels soft and moisturizing. On top of the Studz’ balm, these two feelings are infinitely amplified.

Applies smoothly and glides perfectly, especially with the balm base. I have been following the application techniques recommended by Red Apple Lipstick and it really gives me a full lipstick experience (more details in the next section). My boss is always saying that companies need to give their clients an experience so gratifying that these people feel compelled to share this experience, on their own, with others. I think he’d be proud of RAL. This color does stain a bit if I swatch on my hand, but doesn’t really leave pigment on my lips once it wears off.

My Experience

Customer Service is definitely worth mentioning because I have had positive encounters with both Sudz by Studz and Red Apple Lipstick.

I first contacted the Studz via Facebook because I had answered a question on their page and won a coupon code. When I tried to place an order on their website, I ran into two issues—my coupon code was denied and for some reason, the system would not acknowledge my shipping address, saying it was invalid. The Studz were very helpful, friendly, and flexible. I ended up paying via PayPal and got my Sudz soon after! As of publication, I am happy to report that their online ordering system is now working for me :)

Ashley at Red Apple Lipstick has indeed provided me with some “kickbutt” service. She responded to my blogger request, placed an order for me, and kept me posted throughout the process. I would highly recommend contacting her with any questions about ordering. When I inquired about the ingredients, she directed me to Jay and he very enthusiastically gave me a lot of worthwhile information. I appreciated his willingness to answer my questions and provide his opinion.

Also of note is RAL’s 6-month return policy. Harper and his team stand by their products and should you try a lipstick or gloss that you don’t like, you can send it back within 6 months of receipt for a full refund. No questions asked.

The lip balm and lipstick are the perfect pair! There once was a day when my lips needed moisture, so I grabbed my favorite Sudz by Studz balm. And what I discovered when layering Red Apple Lipstick’s Sunkissed on top, was enough for me to exclaim, “Oh frabjous day!” I finally had lips that looked healthy and beautiful, instead of dry and cracked.


Soul mates!

To expand on this thought, I have to say that I have always had lip troubles. When I was a kid, I used to get some crazy chapped lips, and it was so bad that it wasn’t even directly on my lips, but instead created a ring around my lips. Yeah, gross. Luckily, I outgrew that, but now I deal with bad oral allergic reactions to some spices. If I eat the wrong thing, I end up with crazy blisters. Again, gross.

As a result, I never have a smooth surface for applying cosmetics. Only recently have I been able to find a solution for this problem—Osmia’s Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair, RAL’s Exfoliate Stick, and my Sudz by Studz lip balmA post for another day, perhaps?

So, now that my lips are no longer a complete disaster, I have been able to enjoy using lipstick again! As I mentioned above, I have been trying to follow the application techniques recommended by Harper:

  • Clean your lips (exfoliating)
  • Build color
  • Blot
  • Re-apply
  • Blot again (pressing color into the skin)
  • Don’t touch so the color can set

Great tips! I also have to agree that Sunkissed is the perfect orange for all skin tones. I can wear this color as a nice wash on a more subtle makeup day, or I can build the color for bold and daring statement lips. The pigmentation is excellent. I am known to wear a lot of black, so I often choose this for a bright pop of color. When I wore it to work the first time, it created quite the stir. Apparently it brightened my face and made me look “less tired,” which leads me to believe I must have looked pretty darn drab before…


Left: Me rocking my sweet balm/lipstick combo. Right: 3-, 2-, and 1- swipe swatches (left to right)

Pros & Cons

The Lip Balm:

Pros: moisturizing, scent is subtle, perfect consistency, affordable, two flavors (one uses essential oils for those avoiding flavor oils), vegan versions are available

Cons: contains fragrance, label is paper and takes a beating in my purse

The Lipstick:

Pros: moisturizing, smells nice (to me), beautiful color, pigmentation is amazing, there are several color lines with different formulas (options for those avoiding retinyl palmitate), company offers discount packages (buy 2/get 3 and buy 4/get 5), 6-month return policy

Cons: retinyl palmitate used in the Summer Passion line, scent may not appeal to everyone, a bit pricey, colors sell out quickly

Eco Eccentric Approved?

Yes, with a word of caution on the formulas. I love the Bananas Foster lip balm and the Sunkissed lipstick and would recommend both of these brands. If you have no qualms about ingredients, or are not concerned based on the responses of these two companies to my ingredient inquiries, any of the products are worth a try. However, if you are avoiding fragrance and/or retinyl palmitate with no exception, I would recommend purchasing the Peppermint Lip Balm instead of the Bananas Foster, and lipsticks from the Original Series, X-Series, or Instant Color Series rather than the Summer Passion line.

Purchase Sudz by Studz

Price: $4.00
Buy on the Sudz by Studz website

Follow Sudz by Studz on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram to keep up with Preston and Tyler.

Purchase Red Apple Lipstick

Price: $23.50
Buy on the Red Apple Lipstick website

You can also find Jay and the Red Apple Girls on Facebook, PinterestTwitterInstagram, and/or YouTube.

What are your thoughts on flavor oils and/or retinyl palmitate? Do you have a favorite lip balm or lipstick? Let me know in the comments below!



♥ Link Love: Check out Jamee’s post from Girls on the Grid; she loves the Bananas Foster vegan lip balm! And view Lisa’s guest post on Nicole’s blog, Eco Chic Beauty Diva for a rundown of about a dozen RAL colors.

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