On… scatterbalms

I have many crosses to bear. Patchy eyebrows. Poor numerical skills. Inability to pronounce ‘chagrin’*.

And most of all, my lips, which are always on the verge of chapping. Naturally, I have developed many very strong opinions about which lip balms are best. But I often forget to put them on – especially when I’m writing intensely. (In fact, if I’m really into something, I forget to eat or pee or even breathe.) So I tend to scatter them around the house and in every coat pocket and bag and next to the sink and next to my keyboard and in that crevice in the sofa where the fucking Apple remote always hides. The idea is that I’ll stumble across them throughout the day, think ‘ooh, yeah, lip balm’, and voila, lovely lips. This is incredibly annoying for people who need to go through my pockets, for say, dry-cleaning purposes (Fox: “WHY are there focking LIPBALMS and PENS and TAMPONS in EVERY POCKET YOU OWN, WOMAN?” He is Irish and famously loud and says ‘fock’ with an ‘o’, but enough about him, let’s talk about meeeeeee).

Here are my top three scatterbalms:


Dermophil Indien

Fox and I lived in Zurich for just over one year, though it felt like muuuuuuuch longer. I spent most of the year vomiting (I was pregnant with Errol), writing (my third book, my first spec screenplay), missing London (so much I ached), and determinedly planning to move to beautiful New York (so intensely I got lockjaw). It takes a special kind of numbskull to resent a place for not being another place. I am that numbskull. Zurich and I never made friends.

But I did make friends with the beauty products. (Obviously.) Most Swiss beauty products are overrated and overpriced (I’m looking at you, La Prairie), but Karin Herzog is great, I liked this cleanser, and if you happen to find yourself in Switzerland, stock up on the giant cotton pads at Coop for make-up removal and the Weleda oil for stretch marks and most of all, Dermophil Indien lip balm. Dermophil Indien is French (you can tell, because when you say the name, you automatically pout) and was originally developed to treat First World War soldiers with frost bite. (This story MAY not be true but let’s pretend it is.) Dermophil Indien is my perfect lip balm: not too hard, not too soft, not too shiny, not too sticky, doesn’t smell, doesn’t taste, doesn’t tingle, just moisturizes the shit out of your lips. You can slick it on at night and it’s still there in the morning. It’s. Awesome. Its small, fits into the tiniest clutch or wallet, and comes in a three-pack, so you can start your scattering right away.


DHC Lip Cream.

I’m not a huge fan of the oil cleanser by DHC, though people swear by it, I far prefer Nude or the classic Shu Uemura – but this lip cream is EXCELLENT. It’s rather elegant to take out in public, too. Slightly shinier than the Dermophil, if that’s your bag.



Lanisoh Nipple Cream.

So here’s the thing about nipple cream: it doesn’t like the cold, so you can’t take it outside. If it spends more than 20 minutes in anything below blood temperature, it gets very very thick and nasty and cement-like, and never quite recovers. But in the middle of winter, when your lips are about to fall off and walk out the door from dryness, and you keep accidentally peeling skin off your lips with your teeth while you’re thinking about something else and then whoops realize you’ve made yourself actually BLEED, fucks sake Gemma, then Lanisoh is the only answer. Keep this in your bathroom, near the heater, and slap a big glob on your mouth every night after you brush your teeth. It’ll still be on when you wake up. Sometimes I put it on my eyes, around my nose if I have a cold – anywhere that gets dry. It’s the best. If you happen to be breastfeeding an infant with a faulty latch and find that your nipples are a war zone, it’s good for that too. So is this stuff. But we’re not talking about breastfeeding, we’re talking about lips.

Okay. Back to writing. Oy.

*Did I put this in a book once? I CAN NEVER REMEMBER. Especially my first two books, which are full of silly asides and chatter straight from my brain. Anyway, it’s true.




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One thought on “On… scatterbalms

  1. Ellen

    Ahhh the Lansinoh!! My mum used this on our sunburnt noses as kids (redhead in Australia) and I still use it on my lips exactly like you’ve described. My friends give me very confused looks but its completely worth it


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