No one knows – or loves – lip salve quite like guest editor Claudia Winkleman. Here, the self-confessed balm obsessive embarks on the ultimate roadtest.
I love a lot of things: omelettes, Marmite, buckled boots, winter. But you could say my first true love is lip salve. They’re small, luxurious (seriously, buy someone you love a great lip balm, they’ll never get over it) and can make a grouchy Tube ride, a shed-load of traffic, a dull date or a broken buckle on a beloved boot all slightly more bearable.
The amazing people at Stylist sent me a whole load to try. I’ll cover some key factors: the look (vital – if it’s going to live in your coat pocket for months you have to want to get it out), penetration (I’m not being filthy, these things have got to do some work, fancy packaging is simply not enough) and I’m going to give each one an adjective – an epithet, if you will.
A Vaseline tub, for example, is not the answer to chapped lips (too much of an exterior film) but makes me feel deeply industrious. So, let’s buckle up and get to work.
Le Labo Lip Balm, £11
This is giving Blistex (my current number one) a real run for its money. It feels medicinal but delicious. It’s a hefty 15ml, so will last till 2022. It goes on wet but then immediately mattes up.
I didn’t sleep, I am covered in a heavily patchy tan and I am 47, but this is making me feel ready for a night out (I hate nights out).
Blistex Relief Cream, £2.69
This is The Daddy. If you have chapped lips, don’t worry about anything else. It really sorts them out, it’s inexpensive and is basically the Yoda of the lip-healing world. The downside is the tube squishes too much, white gunk oozes out the top and sticking it in an enclosed space (jeans pocket, small clutch) might lead to leakage, and therefore mayhem.
Lanolips 101 Ointment Fruities in Strawberry, £7.99
Feels luxurious, gloopy and might well last for a whole year. This does good work; stick it on at 9am and your lips still feel moisturised at midday. And if you like milkshakes? Great news, this is the one for you.
Eve Lom Kiss Mix, £16
Look, this is a tingly pot of magic. It feels ridiculously sexy (I told you I was weird) and it’s got a menthol hit which is addictive. This would actually make me look forward to my lips being chapped. I know.
Tinker Taylor Lip Balm, £20
This feels like someone has specifically made it just for you. It seems like it will last forever and really sinks in. Good for keeping next to the bed as it’s quite enormous. Definitely a stationary lip treatment – maybe to be used after teeth brushing? Thrilling.
Tom Ford For Men Hydrating Lip Balm, £22
This is too small and apologetic. Weirdly, not very Tom.
Carmex Lip Balm Tube, £2.69
I like a pop of yellow on a wintry day, but this is just a less good version of Blistex.
Vaseline Lip Therapy, £1.95
It’s never going to really sort out very dry lips, as it provides a top layer that isn’t medicinal enough. However, it’s the kind of thing I’d like to take out of my bag on the Central Line. It’s a no-nonsense classic (and can also be used to tame eyebrows).
Milk Kush Lip Balm, £13.50
A green lip salve that feels rebellious and like it’s making my mouth smoother and plumper. 1,000 out of 1,000.
Kiehl's Lip Balm #1, £10
This is Vaseline but pricey. Excellent for a stocking filler if you know a 14-year-old girl, though. Kiehl’s still has the NY glamour, the LA fizz – it feels special.
Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm, £15
This packaging is completely delicious. A small but substantial yellow stub. I also love the name. This would be an excellent present. Fantastic ethos too – nothing synthetic or yuck in there. Am in love.
Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips 2 in Enigmatic Edward, £28
Nothing this woman does is wrong. Have you tried her Rock Chick eye palette? Exactly. This is a hearty lip salve. The only issue I have with it is that it’s quite heavy. Take it out at night and use the heft like a small hand weight. Genius.
Nivea Original Care Caring Lip Balm, £1.69
The packaging and overall lightness is totally compelling. Doesn’t feel like it’s getting to the nub of the problem but I will happily keep this in jeans, it feels quite jaunty.
eos Smooth Sphere Toasted Marshmallow Lip Balm, £5.25
Beware, if you’ve given up sugar or are trying to only eat hummus this will do your head in. One sweep across the mouth and I was immediately craving a Snickers. This is not a bad thing. But it’s a thing. My lips feel soft and elastic and the packaging is adorable. Good for the bottom of a deep parka pocket and it comes in all sorts of flavours. Wildberry is also lovely and Tropical Mango makes you feel like you’re in Antigua.
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Lips, £7
YES to this. Feels like I picked it up in a small pharmacy on the outskirts of Lyon. Restorative and straightforward, I sense scientists in special coats made this one. Good news.
Glossier Cherry Balm Dotcom, £10
Welcome to the world of a hint of tint. I am ancient but I know this is the exciting stuff. My daughter and her friends all squeal about Glossier Cloud Paint. The coconut version is completely delicious and I adore the cherry. The birthday cake one is tingly and the new berry one is pretty masterful. All great and all will last. If you want to feel cool on a night out then whipping this out between the chips and the Baileys is probably the answer.
Burt's Bees Natural Beeswax Lip Balm, £2.99
Bonkers, cute tin but very bee-ish.
Lumene Arctic Hydra Care [Arktis] Moisture & Relief Rich Lip Cream, £7.90
To be honest, the name is thrilling. This would make my mouth smooth and happy in the Arctic? While I was searching for seals and the odd walrus? I’m in. It feels rare and exotic and the consistency is good. I’ve also never heard of it so I feel super glamorous holding the little tube.
Fenty Beauty Pro Kiss'r Luscious Lip Balm, £15
Ever since Umbrella came out I’ve been a big believer in Rihanna. This comes with a wand which is confusing and I balked as I thought ‘gloss’ (there is never an excuse for gloss), but it’s actually a good one. Slightly too shiny for my life (matte is god) but it tastes of unicorns and fairy lights so all good for Christmas.
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Balm, £20
So deliciously aromatic and nostalgic. It’s not a bargain (I’ve worn dresses that cost less) but I still have an old one from the 1980s, so this will be with me till my 70s. Yippee.
Main image: Getty