From $65 La Mer balm down to $2 ChapStick, I have spent years wading through the world of lip balms. With Boston winters being notoriously difficult on the lips, I suffered through the cold months knee-deep in products that all promised to save the day. Don’t wait for the chill to start supplying your smackers with proper nourishment, though: Salt, sun, and rosé can be just as unforgiving on the lips, plus they’ll thank you when things get frigid. Here are my top products right now…
Clarins Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm (clarins.com, $24)
Of all the products I loved and tested this winter, none were as effective or long-lasting as this miracle product from Clarins. I’m a compulsive reapplier, yet only a few applications a day did the trick, and one tube lasted me six months, more than justifying the $24 price tag. Blue lotus essential wax, shea butter, and cocoa moisturize, soften, and subtly plump lips. What’s more, I lost count of the number of people who asked me about this product.
Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Collagen Lip Cushion (drdennisgross.com, $30)
Dr. Dennis Gross recently expanded its incredible Hyaluronic Marine line to include this lip product that promises to smooth fine lines, plump lips, and improve definition. In terms of moisture, I had to reapply this with a bit more frequency than I wanted to. But where this is worth its weight in gold is the effect it had when I used it as a lip serum underneath another lip balm. It helped my lips stay moisturized for twice as long, and my lips absolutely appeared more plump and full. There are a ton of products on the market that claim to plump lips. And while a topical treatment will only ever do so much in this regard, this lip cushion actually works.
Mario Badescu Lip Balm (mariobadescu.com, $8)
This high-quality, no-frills balm gets the job done as well as similar products that cost three times the price. Ingredients like avocado oil, sweet almond oil, beeswax, aloe, and raspberry seed oil make this a potently rich and instantly effective balm, light enough for daily use but thick enough to use as an overnight lip treatment. And at $8 a tube, you won’t feel bad about slathering it on.
Malin + Goetz Lip Moisturizer (malinandgoetz.com, $14)
While I do enjoy trying different lip products throughout the year, this clear, nourishing gel from Malin + Goetz has been the one product that I continually return to and rebuy year after year. It also just might provide the longest-lasting moisture of any lip balm that I’ve tried (thank you, fatty acids).
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick (elizabetharden.com, $24)
Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream has been a beauty icon with a cult following for decades (I could write an entire article about how good its skin protectant is), and this therapeutic lip treatment with SPF 15 harnesses the power of the OG cream in a compact, nongreasy stick form. Effective on its own (but ultra effective as a first step), this product is a fail-proof overnight balm that will resurrect your dry lips overnight.
Go-To Lips! (sephora.com, $12)
This super balm is a divisive product that isn’t for everyone, and the shininess of it means that I can’t wear this during the day. But as an overnight balm, it’s a solid, clean beauty option that contains medical-grade lanolin, apricot kernel, and avocado that keeps lips moisturized all night long.
Kiehl’s Buttermask for Lips (kiehls.com, $26)
If you’re looking for one overnight lip treatment, this should be it. Not only does it work better than any lip mask I’ve ever used (I’m looking at you, Laneige), but the scent is so sweet and irresistible that my dog comes running whenever she hears me grab this off the shelf. Containing fairly traded coconut oil and wild mango butter, this skincare confection is one of my favorite finds of the last year.
Kiehl’s Love Oil for Lips (kiehls.com, $19)
This hydrating lip oil, inspired by the 1960s Summer of Love, comes in an untinted version as well as four other red and pink tints. While I found it too slick for my general liking, I really fell in love with this product when I began to apply it overnight on top of the Kiehl’s Buttermask, sealing in all the rich goodness for the most moisturized, kissable, and plump morning lips of my life.
Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm (drunkelephant.com, $18)
No, not all lip balms (excuse me, lippe balms) are created equal, and this chunky little stick is a long-lasting, flawlessly formulated product. Not only does it contain an exotic blend of oils, but it is enriched with peptides and sea fern algae that plump and define. It works, and the uncharacteristically thick stick covers my entire lip with just one swipe.
Patchology FlashPatch Hydrating Lip Gels (patchology.com, $3-$50)
Whether you know it or not, a vital part of keeping your lips in top shape should involve some sort of exfoliation. There are tons of scrubs out there, but you can just as easily make your own with a little sugar and honey, or use your toothbrush (like Marilyn Monroe did). But just as crucial is what you put on your lips after you exfoliate them, and my lips loved this product. These gels from maskmaster Patchology are a quick, easy, and Instagrammable way to increase fatty acid levels and enhance shape and volume.
Theater critic for TheaterMania & WBUR’s TheArtery | Theater Editor for DigBoston | film and music critic for EDGE Media | Boston Theater Critics Association.