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Who makes the best lip balm for the cold weather? My lips, like everyone else's, get so dry and cracked. What are the balms that actually work and don't taste gross?! — Sara
I can’t think of a single beauty product that has more conspiracy theories surrounding it than lip balm. But whether or not you believe that Carmex is trying to control people via an addiction to its tingly menthol, it’s true that a lot of lip balms don’t work well. Some aren’t moisturizing enough or protective enough. And some may actually contain ingredients that are irritants.
I have strong feelings about lip balm because the dry, stingy, throbbing feeling of chapped lips is the worst. Also, it makes coffee drinking — one of my favorite activities — impossible.
My first word of advice? Ditch the Chapstick-like, waxy tube. It feels good for five seconds and is fine in the summer, but in the colder weather, you might as well just swipe a candle on your lips. Go for gooier. After trying pretty much every balm on the market, these are the best:
Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($4.79/2-pack)
I used to be a nurse practitioner, and I can vouch that plain old Aquaphor can be used for pretty much anything, kind of like Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Aquaphor makes a lip-specific product, but don’t bother. Just get the original formula. The brand sells it in convenient small tubes that I stash in every single bag; I keep a big tube at home. Sure, it’s not sexy packaging, but it also tastes like nothing, which I sometimes prefer to fake flavor anyway. Go ahead and slather it all over your cuticles, too.
Bite Agave Lip Mask ($26)
Okay, so this is what you should use if you want something a little fancier than Aquaphor. I’d even argue that because it’s thicker than Aquaphor, it stays put a little better during the day. The first ingredient is lanolin, so this is a heavy-duty product, yet it feels like a protective layer of gossamer on your lips, not sticky or slimy. It has a subtle honey flavor that isn’t overpowering.
The balm comes in plain, a shimmer version, and tinted if you need your lip balm to multitask as makeup. (A shoutout is due here to the iconic Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1, which arguably blazed the trail for fancy lip balms in a squeeze tube.)
Farmacy Lip Bloom ($16.50)
This oil-based solid formula comes in six grown-up flavors like honey ginger and strawberry basil (I love the citrus lemongrass). It’s a bit of a lighter formula than the previous two, with a lovely slip that’s shiny without looking like lip gloss. It’s a great daily balm that feels low-key but is still protective.
Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment ($26)
For those of you who might be grossed out by applying lip products with your fingers all day, I offer you a classic — this is the only one for which I’ll break my “no waxy balm bullet” rule. Fresh’s original Sugar Lip Treatment is great, but this so-called advanced version is even better. It’s richer (as you must be, because it’s $2 more than the regular version), but I say it’s worth it.
The advanced version doesn’t come in all the various tints that the original does, but I find tinted lip balm moisturizer limiting anyway, because who wants to go to bed with plum lips?