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Review: Smith’s Rosebud Salve (I Tried Every Balm!)

Smith’s Rosebud Salve has a cult-following of celebrity clients as well as droves of devotees who have been slathering on the hydrating scented balm for years, perhaps their entire lives. You can find the product everywhere, from drug stores, to high end beauty shops, and of course online at any major or niche beauty store. The mystery and beauty of the product lies in it’s dedicated fan base of every demographic, after all, a product must be good if a billionaire and a suburban mom can share in the same product affinity, and get it at a reasonable price. The broad availability and universal adoration for the line is powerful. I grew up using the classic rosebud salve, not just on the lips, but also for skin, eyebrows, and under the eyes. The scent, texture, price, and product shelf-life made this a perfect, doubt-free purchase. One perfect for its natural simplicity. If you lose it in your purse or in transit, there’s a greater disappointment in not having the balm for the day rather than the purchase price loss. So why the long-lasting esteem for the Rosebud Perfume Company? And by lasting, we mean since the late 1800s during the brand’s initial conception. Some products are so widely tried and tested they don’t lose their staying power or quality over time, but a product that stands this measure is a true rarity. It’s truly difficult to find a better product in the category, and difficult to find any product (perfumes, body products) that so closely matches the smell of fresh rose petals.

The classic Rosebud Salve a must-have for any beauty bag and can be used at any age, male or female, a self-proclaimed “miracle in a can”, but their entire offering is much more extensive than the classic staple product, one we probably own already, or at least have stashed away in a drawer or shelf. I wanted to try and review every single spinoff (meaning salves in traditional tin packaging) to see if some of the other products were just as good, or even better than the classic. That includes minted rose, strawberry, mocha rose, rose and mandarin, brambleberry rose, and menthol and eucalyptus. This did not include trials of tube products, the new Tropical Ambrosia formulation, or limited editions. The test proved a personal preference for the original formulation, but a fondness for the full range. I recommend existing and first-time users try the trio set, including the original, strawberry, and minted rose. These are the most popular and seem to be the most universally-appreciated. But there’s certainly no harm in trying every product if you’re already hooked, some are quite underrated!

Main Features

The cult-favorite Rosebud Salve (original formulation) acts as a multipurpose lip balm treatment to moisturize and soothe lips, soften the skin (particularly under the eyes, or a dewy finish to cheeks), hydrate dry elbows or knees, and even hydrates nails/cuticle beds. The product is often thought to be beneficial in treating minor burns as well, particularly as an addition to aloe. It’s also a treatment for diaper rash in babies, this application was certainly news to me during the course of researching background. It relieves dryness and redness, and can be used very safely on any part of the body or skin type, barring any specific allergy to ingredients. The product is simply patted on using clean, dry nails and applied to the desired treatment area. The original formulation combines surgical-grade pure white petrolatum, cotton seed oil, botanicals and a “trade-secret” proprietary blend of essential oils. It also contains beeswax, shea butter and Vitamin E. It’s safe to assume this affordable luxury is a simple one-step treatment with multiple applications for use.

Credit: Rosebud Perfume Company

Spinoff Sisters: How Do They Compare?

In a comparison test setting, I tried each variety separately, making sure to never combine one product with another. While the original formula is still a go-to favorite, the other flavors all offer a touch of something unique, without deviating too far from the rose family. Here’s a breakdown of the brand’s often neglected counterparts.

Strawberry

This smells like fresh strawberries sans “perfume-scent” and offers excellent hydration to the lips (with the same strength as the original product), however I did notice the original formula seems more suitable for the skin itself. The strawberry did not provide the same dewy quality to the cheeks or eye area. It also didn’t naturally get as “melty,” a trend with all of the other salve scents. Melty here is a positive, as the original version often gets a bit soft without dissolving or losing quality and spreads on to the lips and skin more effectively. This one I’d rank as second best to the original.

Minted Rose

Cool, fresh, tingly, and quite minty. This seems ideal for someone who really likes a fresh pick-me-up in the form of a cool mint product. Hints of rose give this product backbone, and the mint is not overpowering or “toothpaste-y.” I enjoyed this even without being a huge fan of mint beauty products. Like the strawberry this seems more ideal as an exclusive lip product. Very hydrating and soothing. Third place winner.

Mocha Rose

Lesser known than the strawberry and mint varieties, the mocha rose is actually quite lovely. An infusion of mocha, chocolate, vanilla, and fresh coffee beans, this product reminds me of a dessert. I was pleased to find this variety more suitable for multi-use, part of which may be the scent, which lends itself to frequent and pleasant application. Very moisturizing with a scent that’s decadent, but affordable in actuality. It doesn’t smell much of rose and vanilla is the most noticeable fragrance.

Rose & Mandarin

Softer texture than some of the other spinoff formulations (i.e. strawberry), same great hydrating benefits. Lovely scent, the rose is still present with overtones of Autumnal spices and a faint dye-down of citrus. Beautiful bright orange/tangerine color.

Brambleberry Rose

This one has a gorgeous maroon color that delivers a slight sheen of pink color to the lips (although the drawback is it’s usage becomes more singular). Fragrance is ironically strong but nondescript, some customers have compared it to a mix of rose and blueberries.

Menthol and Eucalyptus

This I’d rank as a least favorite, personally. I’m not a huge fan of menthol products, but someone who is would probably enjoy this. Very minty, tingly, and no rose addition.

Overall, it’s great to try out the other salve products for variety, if you’re new to the product or if you’ve been using it for some time already. While the original Rosebud Salve is still a personal favorite for it’s texture, fragrance, and multi-use ability, the others are also quite nice. They can be mixed together or layered on.

Company Background Overview

Founded in 1892, the Rosebud Perfume Company was conceived with a mission to provide simple skincare solutions and multi-usage products that are both affordable and effective. With the creation of the now infamous, fan-favorite Rosebud Salve that claims to act as a singular cure-all for a wide array of concerns and ailments from dull eye areas to skin imperfections and dehydration, the family-owned and operated company successfully solidified it’s position in cosmetic history and has passed quite the test of time. Products are all free of Sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan and triclocarban. Making this product a safe, gentle, and effective solution. The company has a high degree of transparency and appeals to every demographic, skin type, and socioeconomic/cultural background.

Credit: Rosebud Perfume Company

Positives and Negatives

Overall, negatives are few and far between and the positives list could go on for pages, so here are some key takeaways.

Pros

  • Excellent hydrating multi-use product (skin, nails, lips)
  • Can be applied to cheeks and under-eye areas for a “dewy” finish, before or after makeup
  • Affordable: it seems like a luxury product but comes at a great price
  • Very moisturizing: lips will stay soft for long periods with a long-lasting hold
  • Can treat minor burns or irritations, especially in a pinch
  • Tried and trusted brand that has been creating product for centuries
  • Other formulas: new or already loyal to the company, users will find variety by trying out the spinoff formulations and flavors. This is more individualized as you can pick whichever product suits personal taste best.

Cons

  • Product sensitive to melting, should not be left in hot temperatures
  • Other varieties may not be as suitable for multi-use applications as the original formula
  • A few customers have found the packaging difficult to open

The Final Verdict

It’s quite rare to find a product with strong dualities of minimalism and multi-use coming together. The Rosebud Salve is an excellent addition to any travel bag, purse, makeup bag, or bathroom. It’s a companion product that becomes increasingly addictive over time. Daily use keeps lips and skin refreshed, hydrated, and dewy. The original formulation has stood the test of time and remains an iconic part of “beauty history.” With staying power, affordability and function in a single product there are no reservations about strongly recommending this product. Rare is a company that can offer a luxury feel at an affordable rate, one that is used and lauded by the masses across demographics. It’s simply a slam-dunk product, and fans of the company will enjoy trying different flavors or mixing them together. New and preexisting customers love the trio package, which comes with three full size balms-original, strawberry, and minted rose.


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Smith's Rosebud

Effectiveness
Hydrates
Cost
Value
Multi-Use
Ingredients
Good for Skin

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