Nicole Hayes got hooked when she was 6 years old. Her tongue runs over the pink bubble gum gloss. She wants more.
"It's addicting," says Nicole, a 15-year-old sophomore at North Augusta High School. "I sit there and eat it plain."
She's not alone. Especially now that Bonnie Bell cosmetics has turned into a lip gloss Baskin Robbins with 32 flavors.
There's boyz-n-berry, like-u-latte, gimme s'more, gotta date, can't elope and nut-so-fast.
The names kind of imply that if you're lucky - you won't be the only one tasting your lip gloss.
"If you're kissing your boyfriend, they really like it," says Jennifer Jones, a 17-year-old senior at Aquinas High School.
"When you kiss, it's just mmm," says Chris Haynes, a 17-year-old junior at Westside High School. He loved the taste of his ex-girlfriend's peach gloss. "Forget you, just give me the lip gloss," he used to joke.
Bonnie Bell's strawberry lip smacker, the first flavored lip gloss, was invented in 1973, according to the Lakewood, Ohio, company.
It started off as a regular protect-your-lips stick.
Since 1973, chemists at Tropez, Bath and Body Works, Naturistics and other cosmetic companies have developed flavored balms, tinted and sheer, and lip balms have come a long way from the days when your eyes saw a purple grape stick but your tongue tasted wax.
Now Bonnie Bell offers sponge-on sparklers in pink lemonade, cinnamon stick, peach pizzazz or vanilla frosting. When you mash your lips together you can feel the gritty glitter bits - it's sort of like having sand on your lips.
The roll-on shiner has a really strong scent and makes your lips look wet. Very wet.
The lip balm has the strongest smell (if that could be possible - these aren't delicate, if-I-close-my-eyes-maybe-I-can-pretend-this-is-really-cherry scents). The strawberry natural nectar tastes like strawberry jam.
It's right under your nose, so you smell it. You want to lick it. You do lick it - and then it's gone. So you put on some more.
"Most of the time lip glosses smell like castor oil," says Stacey Bruzda, a spokeswoman from Bonnie Bell. "If you have something fruity on your lips, you're more likely to apply it. It promotes moist lips, healthy lips. The flavor's just an added bonus."
Girls use up their gloss in a few weeks or a few months she says.
"It lasts only a few seconds," says Natasha Evans, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Harlem Middle School. "I lick it right off."
Tropez's best selling balm is strawberry daiquiri - in July it sold more than 3,400, says Ellissa Schneider, assistant public relations manager of AM Cosmetics, the company that makes the Tropez balm. It uses the same creamy, long-staying formula as Estee Lauder, she says.
Bonnie Bell even has a flavored lipstick - not gloss, but "real lipstick."
"We got a lot of complaints from teens that they didn't want to carry a big bulky lipstick in their pocket where it melted and broke," Ms. Bruzda says.
Now you can stop layering your lipstick with gloss so you have a shiny, tasty tint. "Lip lix is a breakthrough in teen lip color - just enough color to show, in shades teens wear, with distinctive flavors to match," Bonnie Bell advertises.
"It looks more like a lip gloss but is actually a lipstick," Ms. Bruzda says. It's darker and the color lasts longer than lip gloss, but it's shiny and moist like gloss, she says.
There's also lip gear with darker color; lip shears with a little less color; lip lites; liquid lipsticks with glimmer; and tubs of lip tints.
The packages all say to apply as often as you like. Ms. Bruzda says it's OK to eat it straight - it's an all-vegetable product.
"The worst that can happen is your stomach may get a little upset," she says.
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