Lips, Reviews

Lip Balm Mega-Roundup

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Lip Balm Mega-Roundup

Do you remember back during the winter, when I was taking accutane and winter was doing all the things it normally does to skin? If you do, you might also remember my endless whining and moaning about how dry my lips were. During that whole ordeal I tried an absurd number of lip balms, and I’ve tried even more new ones since then. I know lots of us suffer from chronically dry lips – either as a medication side effect, or just born that way (sigh, yes, that’s a Gaga reference) – so I’m going to throw out some thoughts on alllll the balms.

Banana Boat Sport SPF 50

Banana Boat Sport Lip BalmGet it at: Walgreen’s ($1.99) and most drugstores

Moisture Level: Low

Slip: Low

Why to try it: The SPF rating of 50 is way higher than pretty much any other lip balm I’ve seen. I see this more as a sunscreen than a lip balm, honestly.

Drawbacks: It’s not really all that moisturizing.

Best For: Outdoor activities that are going to last a while (I use my for running and boat days).

Overall: My lips have never burned with this on, but honestly I can only think of one or two times in my entire life that my lips have burned. It seems to do its job, but I wouldn’t pick it for battling dry lips.

Caudalie Lip Conditioner

Caudalie Lip Conditioner

Get it at: Sephora ($12)

Moisture Level: Medium

Slip: Low

Why to try it: Loaded with antioxidants and conditioning ingredients like ceramides and shea butter, and it feels very light.

Drawbacks: It’s expensive, and not very occlusive.

Best For: Folks who have mildly dry lips, or as a pre-lipstick step.

Overall: This one definitely does add moisture without sliding around, so I like to use it before lipstick. I prefer a slightly thicker texture though, because my lips really need some sort of barrier layer to keep all the moisture in. This doesn’t really do that so much.

Chapstick (original)

ChapstickGet it at: Walgreen’s ($1.69) and most drugstores

Moisture Level: Medium

Slip: Medium

Why to try it: It’s very widely available, inexpensive and works in a pinch.

Drawbacks: Waxy texture and plasticky fragrances

Best For: Stashing one in every conceivable place you might want a lip balm. Fact: I found at least a dozen of these while I was digging out my lip balms for pictures.

Overall: Honestly this isn’t my favorite lip balm, but we’ve ended up with a ton of them from picking them up in lip emergencies.

Chapstick Hydration Lock

Chapstick Hydration LockGet it at: Walgreen’s ($2.49) and most drugstores

Moisture Level: High

Slip: Medium

Why to try it: Hyaluronic spheres and vitamin E make it extra-moisturizing and long-lasting.

Drawbacks: Fairly strong fakey vanilla scent

Best For: Very dry and/or chronically dry lips

Overall: As far as I’m concerned, this is the best lip balm that’s available in stores.

Epic Blend

Epic Blend Lip Balm

Get it at: ($3.49 CAD)

Moisture Level: High

Slip: Medium

Why to try it: It’s petroleum-free, gluten-free, with organic ingredients and isn’t tested on animals. There’s also a vegan version. Oh, and it works incredibly well. 

Drawbacks: Only available online in the US (available in some retail stores in Canada)

Best For: Folks that have reactions to petroleum in lip balm, want a vegan option or just want some really good balm that smells good.

Overall: For the past couple months these have been my workhorse lip balms because they’re extra-moisturizing and inexpensive. My favorite part though? The scents actually smell like whatever the label says, not some fake version of it. The Green Apple smells like green apple, the Vanilla smells like vanilla, the schnozberries smell like schnozberries, etc.

Essentially Elemental Sangria Lip Shine

Essentially Elemental Sangria Lip ShineGet it at: ($3)

Moisture Level: Medium

Slip: Medium

Why to try it: It moisturizes, adds shine without being glossy, and you get to support an independent business owner while you’re at it!

Drawbacks: Online ordering only, unless you happen to be near one of the retailers in North Carolina.

Best For: Adding a lil’ somethin’ to your lips when you don’t feel like fussing with lipstick/gloss, or over lipstick if you hate gloss like me.

Overall: I love the sangria scent, and this is one of my favorites for topping a lipstick. I can’t stand gloss because it feels too thick and sticky, but the Lip Shine is the perfect texture. It also comes in other scents.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip TherapyGet it at: Sephora ($12)

Moisture Level: High

Slip: High

Why to try it: It moisturizes well and soaks in quickly.

Drawbacks: It’s pricey, and starts to separate in the tube after a while.

Best For: People who like a less waxy texture.

Overall: This one does work really well, but it doesn’t leave that barrier layer on my lips – which means it doesn’t last quite as long and I have to reapply more often.

Fresh Lip Treatment

Fresh Lip TreatmentGet it at: Sephora ($22.50-25)

Moisture Level: Medium

Slip: High (though the Advanced Therapy is a little less slippy)

Why to try it: It’s much more moisturizing than your average tinted lip balm.

Drawbacks: It’s very expensive for what it is, and they’re a bit fragile – most of mine have broken off near the base.

Best For: When you want moisture with a good kick of color to it.

Overall: So far, I’ve only tried miniature versions of these because I can’t quite get past the price. That said, I really enjoy them and think the mini sets they put out around the holidays are worth checking out.

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish (not technically a balm, I know)

Fresh Sugar Lip PolishGet it at: Sephora ($22.50)

Moisture Level: Low

Slip: Low

Why to try it: Gently exfoliates your lips and leaves behind a balmy feeling.

Drawbacks: It’s a little too gentle for my flaky lips, and pricey.

Best For: Very gentle and luxurious-feeling exfoliation.

Overall: I have a deluxe sample from a Sephora order, and I don’t really see myself buying the full size.


So out of them all, which one is my favorite? Definitely gotta go with Epic Blend on this one. They’re moisturizing, don’t slide around and smell great. If you need something available right away though, my pick would be Chapstick Hydration Lock. It’s a bit more expensive than regular ol’ Chapstick, but I actually prefer it to all of the more expensive brands I tried.

What’s your go-to for keeping your lips soft and non-peely?




  1. Mandy

    June 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Great and informative post! I hope the Chapstick Hydration Lock comes out in different scents. Not a fan of vanilla. :( And the Epic Blends seem to smell so yummy!

  2. Aditi

    June 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    I have to say I’m a HUGE fan of your blog and I love your posts! [end fangirl gushing].

    I have moderately chapped lips (they always turn up at the most inconvenient time!) and I’ve noticed that drinking lots of water seems to help.

    I really like the Nivea lip butters, but they’re quite slippery. I also use the TokyoMilk lip elixers, and I’m not a huge fan of the texture – they’re thick and goopy – but by God do they work. I slather them on at night, and come morning, it’s as if my lips have been reborn. Plus, they smell and taste amazing (not that I get to do much of it when sleeping) which is a bonus.

    1. Nikki

      June 14, 2014 at 11:55 am

      Thanks! I used a Nivea lip butter once upon a time but don’t remember loving it. Sounds like I need to try the TokyoMilk ones though!

  3. Donna Luisa

    June 14, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I’m a huge fan of lipbalms! Nice :)

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