This post is a tribute to Burt Shavitz, the eccentric beekeeping cofounder of Burt’s Bees who passed away earlier this month at the age of 80. Not that I think he’d like it very much. Shavitz lived unconnected to the Internet, running water and central heating on 37 acres in Parkman, Maine, a town with a population that doesn’t crack 1,000 people. A recluse happier in nature than in crowded metropolises, he began beekeeping in the Seventies after leaving New York City and a photojournalism career. In the Eighties, he picked up hitchhiker Roxanne Quimby, a single mother down on her luck, in what is perhaps personal care’s most famous meet-cute. Quimby, formerly both Shavitz’s business and romantic partner, spun Shavitz’s beekeeping into Burt’s Bee’s, the brand now owned by Clorox that emblazons Shavitz’s visage and bushy beard on its bottles available across the retail spectrum from Walmart to Whole Foods. In the Nineties, Shavitz exited Burt’s Bees, a move shrouded in controversy (either corporate ambition, Shavitz’s hermetic tendencies or an affair provoked his departure, depending upon the story you believe) costing him many millions of dollars, not that he coveted money. “What I have in this situation is no regret,” Shavitz told the Associated Press. “The bottom line is she’s got her world and I’ve got mine, and we let it go at that.”

Whatever happened to end Shavitz’s and Quimby’s business association, the Burt’s Bees cofounders brought the bee to its rightful place at the forefront of the beauty category. Bees are mighty creatures. Pollination by bees produces some 30 percent of our food, a figure looming large now that Colony Collapse Disorder is killing off millions of honeybee colonies. Honey, beeswax, bee venom, propolis and the bee secretion royal jelly have all made their way from bees to beauty. As the beauty resource Truth In Aging points out, honey has antioxidant benefits and is a natural wound healer. The skin care brand Earth Tu Face touts beeswax as a natural antiseptic that softens skin. “It forms a light barrier on the skin, helping to seal in moisture without clogging pores,” explains the brand. There’s no question, bees and beauty are a match as fundamental as birds and bees. Here are six beauty products that I’ve tried or am anxious to try that demonstrate the power of bee ingredients:


Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo & Wash

Of course, I had to start with a Burt’s Bees product. It wouldn’t be my daughter’s bath time without a rubber ducky and this gentle plant-based cleanser. My husband loves the sweet honey smell so much I often catch him surreptitiously breathing in my daughter’s hair. Stealing from your daughter is probably not something I should admit to, but we’re friends here, right? I am quite the bathroom theft. I regularly slather this shampoo and wash on my body, and happily drink in the scent throughout the day.


Hey Honey Propolis Acne Solution

The versatility of bee ingredients is one of their most advantageous assets. Propolis, a key component of this duo containing the cleansing foam Don’t Miss A Spot and serum 911 Pro Gel, has been tapped for centuries to remedy a variety of skin ailments. Hey Honey puts the sticky material, which bees seal their hives with, to the test for acne. Seems like it has passed. Reviewers rave that the product generates results without being harsh and abrasive.


TruActivs TriToxin

If bee stings don’t sound particularly beautifying, let TruActivs convince you otherwise. The new skin care brand has barraged its serum TriToxin with the venom of 3,150 bee stings. The venom is purified, refined and combined with snake and snail ingredients to become a potent wrinkle fighter. They say no pain, no gain. However, thankfully, in this case, the gain comes without pain.


Earth Tu Face Skin Stick

This handy stick harnesses the mending abilities of beeswax. It can be applied to basically any area of the body: face, lips, elbows, etc. The salve pairs beeswax with vetiver and geranium to smell great, fade scars, combat dryness and shield skin. Those are qualities worth buzzing about.


Ilia Lipstick

Natural lipsticks are notoriously subpar, but Ilia’s are unlike the rest. Made with beeswax, they are moisturizing and deliver intense or subtle pigment, depending upon your preference. Ilia’s thorough assortment of 13 shades suits every occasion. A few highlights include Strike It Up, a classic red; Funnel of Love, a soft peachy nude; Neon Pink, a wearable bright pink; and Ink Pot, which is perfect for a smooth berry stain. And there’s a bonus to these tones: Whoever is kissing you when you are wearing them won’t swallow nasty ingredients.


W3ll People Expressionist Mascara

This mascara is exhibit A for beeswax (plus a stellar rubber wand) equaling bold lashes. If you don’t believe me, I dare you to compare it to well known mascaras from department stores or drugstores. Packaged in a lightweight white tube, its black color, elongating effect and clump-free formula are second to none. Sephora is partial to it, too. The mascara will soon be available at the beauty retailer. As soon as it gets there, I will be busy as a bee shopping in its stores.


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