Matte pouts and lip inks may have been hogging the runway spotlight in recent months, but it’s a more modest product that’s quietly establishing itself as the real must-have in women’s handbags today: the humble lip balm. According to a 2015 report by the established market research and forecasting firm, Global Industry Analysts, Inc, the worldwide lip care market has been growing steadily and is expected to hit US$2.1 billion by 2020 – that’s a helluva lot of chapsticks.
Part of this demand is stoked by savvy consumers who want multi-tasking products that deliver maximum perks with minimum fuss – cue innovative hybrids that blur the line between lip care and makeup. Growing awareness of the importance of sun protection, especially among the younger crowd, also means that more lip balms now come with SPF. Furthermore, the current focus on health and wellness has brought with it a shift towards natural or organic formulas – not surprising considering how much lip balm actually gets eaten (by accident, of course).
Like Selena Gomez’s transformation from cherubic, squeaky clean-faced Disney tween to ultra hip yet winsome Vogue cover girl (even the Biebs can’t bring down her popularity), lip balm has gone from routine and basic to fashionable and utterly desirable. Here, 11 that meet the mark.
#1: Ultra luxurious lip balms
Packing in benefits like wrinkle smoothing, firming and sculpting, and long-lasting hydration, these have gone way beyond the basic task of keeping puckers moist.
This has five types of botanical oils, such as jojoba and pomegranate, to provide nourishing and antioxidant effects, plus ceramides to plump and strengthen the skin barrier, and prevent moisture loss.
A multi-purpose lip treatment, it contains a complex of reparative bee products like royal jelly, as well as various honeys to plump, firm and even reduce the look of nasolabial (smile lines) folds.
Its 24K gold-plated tip dispenses a luxurious blend of 14 essential oils, 10 lipid-rich plant oils, four vitamins, and three active ingredients said to improve the shape and volume of one’s lips, while smoothing out wrinkles.
Reportedly able to keep lips moisturised for 24 hours, this also has hyaluronic acid to plump lips, while sea fennel extract works on fine wrinkles around the mouth. A mix of cupuacu butter, plum seed oil and passionflower seed oil heals and restores suppleness.
#2: Lip balms-meet-lip colours
No longer limited to a choice between red and pink tints, many lip balms now offer intense, lipstick-like effect in colours ranging from pastels to corals and dark berries. There’s an assortment of finishes too: matte, satiny, glossy, holographic – just take your pick.
Fuss-free to apply (no mirror needed) and offering a perfect combo of moisture and colour, the original Lip Glow was a massive hit that’s since spun off 10 shades to suit different skin tones, and two finishes – matte glow and the iridescent holo glow.
This product is literally half lip balm, half lipstick. One swipe deposits a coloured tint on the inside of lips and a sheer balm on the outer areas, enabling you to create Korean-style gradient lips easily. Available in eight shades.
It has the pigmented finish of a lipstick and the benefits of a rich balm. A complex of camellia oil and safflower locks in hydration, while apricot kernel oil smooths dry, flaky lips. Available in eight shades.
#3: “Super” natural lip balm
Made with only natural (and often certified organic) ingredients, these lip balms contain no icky chemicals that may be harmful to the body. Many of them are also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free – some even lay claim to being gluten-, dairy- and GMO-free.
Delivers rich colour with a light, shimmery finish, sun protection and anti-wrinkle benefits – all without any chemicals or petroleum-derived ingredients. Available in four shades.
It’s made with just nine natural ingredients, such as shea butter to aid cell renewal, cold-pressed chamomile and calendula oils to soothe, and rose hip oil to repair.
This protects against pollution and free radical damage, and can be used on and around lips – and even eye contours. Vitamin E and astaxanthin act as strong antioxidants, vitamin A tackles lines and sun damage, while a patented active helps boost collagen production.
This brand is so natural, Gwyneth Paltrow endorses it. Certified organic by the USDA, this contains zero chemicals that could potentially be hazardous to health, such as parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates and synthetic fragrances. Organic cocoa butter provides deep moisturisation.
Photography Zaphs Zhang Art Direction Adeline Eng Makeup Sha Shamsi Model Reni/Mannequin
This story first appeared in Female’s February 2018 issue.