I have a few in my handbag, one or two in each room of the house, a selection mixed in with my make-up, and then I have a stash of them in a drawer. I have not added up how many there are, and I don’t plan to.
This picture is not the whole collection: it’s just the stash. These are my supplies – when a lip balm runs out, I rummage in a drawer and pick out a new one from this batch. As you can see, this collection will outlive me – I have more than I can probably ever use. As my northern grandfather would say, these will “see me out.”
I got them all out and took this picture because in the Guardian yesterday, Sali Hughes did a column on lip balms. She clearly takes them very seriously, and tested dozens before reporting back on her favourites – none of which are ones I have tried out (but I can’t really justify buying any more right now, so they will have to wait…).
The comments that follow her article illustrate that this is a subject about which people have strong feelings. People are squabbling and disagreeing, and everyone has their own set of criteria for what a lip balm should do. I’m very much in agreement with Sali:
“Too shiny and I look muttony, too tasteless and I feel short-changed. I want flavour, but not so much that it’s like spending 16 hours struggling through a knickerbocker glory. I want balm thick enough to heal chapped lips, groom brows, soften cuticles, add a sexy sheen to cheeks and clavicles, and in a static emergency, tame flyaway hair; but not so dense it doesn’t spread softly, or turns my lips an unattractive white. I want one I can wear blended with lip liner on a dress-down day, but that will also sit under proper lippy without the colour creeping up to my sinuses. I want nice packaging – a tube with a spreading surface, a stick with a well-shaped nib, or a pot not so deep that I’m still scraping balm out of my fingernail next Tuesday.”
The too-deep jars are a bugbear of mine, and I am wary of too much shine. These are my favourites:
Perfumeria Gal, in redcurrant. These tins are some of the prettiest around (that’s probably what prompted my first purchase, many years ago), and the contents are excellent: richer than Vaseline, and with a delicate redcurrant scent. If I had to choose (pleasepleasedon’tmakemechoose!) just one lip balm, this would be it. I’ve also tried it in orange and violet, but the redcurrant wins by a mile.
Urban Decay tinted lip balm, in NYC – which was discontinued a few years ago. So I bought ten of them.
Rosebud Salve – in original, and in Brambleberry Rose. These are excellent – and the plain one works well for all kinds of other tasks (healing dry skin, putting on cuts and scrapes, and so on). The Brambleberry one smells heavenly.
Burt’s Bees lip balm, with pomegranate oil. I love this – it looks red in the tube but it’s not actually tinted. I like to have this for when I’m out and about (ie when I can’t be sure my hands are quite clean enough to stick in a pot of lip balm).
Korres lip butter – in Quince and Wild Rose. Tinted lip balms are my favourite – I never wear lipstick proper (and I’m not a fan of gloss: you look lovely until you step outside, the wind blows, and your hair is stuck fast to your lips), and I think a tinted balm gives a much softer, more flattering look. These are lovely, and they aren’t that expensive (some of the other Korres products, while they look appealing, scare me off a bit because of the prices).
Eucerin Aquaphor. The least glamourous item on my list, but incredibly effective. It’s plain and unscented, and it’s not even sold as a lip balm – the label says “healing ointment.” I bought some when in the US a few years ago, as I was on some prescription drugs that dried out my skin and lips to an almost painful extent. This was the only thing I ever found that helped – the ingredients don’t sound like they are anything special, but it was so much more effective than regular Vaseline. I still use it even though my skin has recovered – and it has a slightly irridescent sheen to it, so for something so plain, it can look quite pretty on.
Propoline blackcurrant lip balm. This is a very natural tinted lip balm, in a stick. It’s very rich and the colour is quite deep. I don’t have any of this at the moment, and just looking at it makes me want to stock up.