08 January 2010


I spent a long weekend in New York City over the New Year holiday, and there is lots I'd like to write about from that trip, but the posts are still growing from germination of an idea to text. Today, for my first ever-so-auspicious post of 2010, I'd like to rant and rave for a minute about a global cosmetics company.

Not surprisingly, this story has a twist of Sweden in it.

Sweden has social medicine. They figured out the whole health care mess a generation ago, and while their system isn't perfect, it is a damn sight better than the one we're used to. Even if it seems a little odd to a die-hard Yankee capitalist.

So let's set out a little scenario. Imagine a 24 year old Swedish bloke, let's call him Magnus. (Yep, that really is a common male name. I love it. Were I ever going to have kids {NOT} I'd fight DH long and hard for that name for a boy!) Anyhow, Magnus is playing football with some friends on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the park, and he takes a hard fall and hears an ominous crack when he lands hard on his elbow. His friends bundle him into a car and thence to an emergency room, where he's fixed up with a cast, good as new in 6-8 weeks, and he walks out of the hospital with a prescription for painkillers.

Thus far, it isn't all that different than what we'd do here in the US, right? Except for the fact that it didn't matter if Magnus is independently wealthy, or if Magnus had the money for the ER or not, because he's got health insurance provided by virtue of being a citizen of Sweden.

Ah, sorry. Getting a little sidetracked.

So to get his painkillers, Magnus needs to visit a pharmacy - or chemist if you're a Brit - and to do that, he has one and only one option: the state-run pharmacy Apoteket. Every tiny hamlet has its own Apoteket, even if it is only a kiosk inside a grocery store.

At 17, I stayed the bloody hell out of Apoteket, sure that someone would demand to see my health insurance card and that I'd be "in trouble" for going someplace a non-citizen shouldn't go. Hey, it made sense to me at 17. I didn't want to get sent home for any reason, so I stayed away.

Of course at 35, I have no such compunction, and I've learned well that either by looking like you know what you're doing or playing dumb, you can get away with a lot.

I was in several of the Apoteket stores this year; the trouble started in a town on Sweden's southeast coast, Ystad. Spring allergies were in full swing, and I think we (part of the team) wandered in there in search of nasal spray or something like it. At the till, I spied several kinds of lip balm and picked up two of them; one made by ACO (Never heard of it? Don't worry, me neither.) and one made by Eucerin.

I tossed them both in my bag, and I think I used the Eucerin once before leaving Sweden.

I should have purchased 20 or 50 or 300 of them, however many it would take to last me until I can go back to Sweden, because this is bar none the best lip balm I've ever used. It has NO flavor. None. Not even a whiff. I truly despise cherry or mint or vanilla or wtfever flavors are added to lip balm. Ditto camphor, which seems to be in every single "healing" lip balm. Just no. Leave that stuff out.

This stuff works fantastically. It doesn't bother my skin. (I've had issues lately with peeling lips from every freaking lipstick I put on, ugh.)

Since I didn't figure out until a month or so after I came home that this stuff was the bee's knees, I didn't start looking for it right away. When I did go a-hunting, imagine my great shock to discover that Eucerin doesn't sell Lip Active in the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK, Ireland, or anyplace else that I could possibly get it from. I can't even find the stuff online with just Google.

I tried Amazon. No dice. I tried going to Apokteket's website, and just like the Bliw soap I wanted, I can't find a single Swedish vendor who is willing to sell to the US. They're polite, of course, but they explain that due to the US's complete pain in the arse border control, they can't guarantee shipments, ended up refunding a bunch of prior customers' money, and thus they quit doing it when it became no longer cost effective.

eBay! eBay would have it, right?? They'd have to. There has to be someone, somewhere in the eBay universe that would have a mad desire to sell cosmetics available only in Europe to the rest of the world, right? Indeed, there is. In Sweden, I paid about 25:- SEK, about $3.50 for my tube of Lip Active. On eBay, I can pick up a tube of Lip Active from a seller in Thailand who is willing to part with it for merely $11.39 plus shipping, plus insurance.

Now I understand that a global cosmetics company has a lot more things to think about - like protesters and animal testing, or, um, profits - than what mix of products they offer to which countries, frustrating as that understanding is. They don't care much what I want, one individual consumer me. But dammit, I want more of that stuff before I run out of what I have. I've got at least 3 if not 4 months more of winter here in Ohia, and even when every lipstick I touch ISN'T making my lips peel, they still get chapped a lot in the winter.

I also understand that paying $11.39 plus shipping, plus insurance, is one hell of a lot cheaper than a plane ticket. I do. I just don't want to part with $11.39 for something that I 'know' costs $3.50.

So, Eucerin....what do you say?? Please?? Start selling Lip Active in the US?

1 comment:

Schadenfreude's a Bitch said...

Ooh, why don't you get your friends in Sweden to mail you some?? And get me a tube too! I love trying new lip balms!