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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Tinted Lip Balms

Winter has wreaked havoc on my lips this year. The combination of the cold, the wind, hot showers and central heating has left them parched, flaky, and in need of some serious lip balm love. 

Lips need to be tended to often. Unlike the skin, lips aren't protected by a layer sebum. This means they are extra sensitive to changing temperatures and can dry out really quickly.

I love matte lipsticks, but, as matte lipstick lovers know, they can make dry lips worse. To counter this I need to reapply lip balm constantly, which has the undesirable effect of making my lipstick jump onto anything my lips touch. The alternative is to take the lipstick off, put on lip balm, then reapply the lipstick - which is a huge hassle!

I've found a new appreciation for tinted lip balms. They're a fantastic antidote to this problem, delivering beautiful, wearable colour with shedloads of moisture.

Here's what I tried:

Korres Wild Rose Lip Butter

This is a universally flattering blue-red. It looks very dark in the pot, but once applied it's gorgeous soft rose colour. It has a gel-like texture and a glossier finish than the other balms on my list. It contains safflower seed oil and shea butter extract to moisturise, rose oil to calm and condition, and rice bran wax to lock in moisture. Once I checked the ingredients I found that the oils and butters are listed quite far down, meaning there make up a lower percentage of the product than I'd previously thought. This is another that I find needs applying often. While it is very pretty, it sits on top of my lips instead of hydrating deep down, which is especially disappointing because it's formulated for chapped lips. As much as I love the colour, I find it needs a layer of lip balm underneath.

Best for: an alternative to lip gloss. 

£8. Available at Debenhams, Liberty, and online.

Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me

I loved this when It was first launched for its purse-friendly price, its sweet cherry scent and the dash of pinky-plum colour it gave my lips. But I wore it last week and I found I needed to apply it every half an hour because it didn't moisturise my lips for long enough. It's a shame, because shea butter features fairly highly up the list of ingredients and I've found the untinted Baby Lips balms very good, particularly the 'hydrate' formula. I find the formula of 'Cherry Me' a little too thin and sort of slippery. I found it creeping onto the skin around my lips on more than one occasion - not a good look. I love the shade and the pop-art inspired packaging, but this just isn't heavy-duty enough to tackle winter dryness. 

Best for: getting in touch with your inner twelve year old.

£2.99. Available at Boots, Superdrug, and online.

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Pink Blossom

I'm a long time fan of Burt's Bees lip balms. The classic beeswax balm is probably my favourite ever, and I always have one on the go. The classic balm seems to polarise opinion: I love it for its refreshing, calming mintiness and the fact that it doesn't run away with my lipstick. Others find that it isn't hydrating enough and/or doesn't have enough slip to it. 

I'd recommend the tinted balms whatever your opinion on the classic balm. The tinted balms have a creamy texture, rather than an oily texture, which means that they feel really comfortable on the lips, and don't go a-wandering all over the place, but they do have more slip than the classic. There's a slight shine to them but it doesn't look distinctly glossy, which I like. All the shades have a mild, slightly walnut-y scent. The shades are well-pigmented - I've found that 'Pink Blossom looks natural enough to be worn with a quick bit of base and a slick of mascara, but pigmented enough that it can balance out a strong smoky eye. 

Every shade is packed full of natural oils: coconut, olive, sunflower, and shea, among others. This means they're super-nourishing. Some skins react better to oils than others (my dry, sensitive skin loves it). I think all lips will benefit from an oil-rich balm - I find that oils can penetrate the upper layers of the skin while still forming a bit of a film, which protects lips from the elements and prevents moisture escaping. It also contains beeswax to help condition and lock in moisture.

The one thing I don't like is the packaging. The little tube gets lost in my bag so easily that it's now taken up permanent residence in my coat pocket. The lip balms are packaged inside cardboard tubes, which I wouldn't mind if the shade on the packaging matched the shade of the balm, but they tend to present the colours as pinker than they actually are. If you can, find a counter that has testers (John Lewis on Oxford Street does). 

Best for: versatility; colour range

£5.99. Available at John Lewis, Boots, and online.

Benefit Benebalm

I tried my sister's Benebalm the other weekend and I was really impressed. I probably wouldn't have picked it out myself because I'm not a fan of the original Benetint - I find the formula too drying on my skin and the shade a bit unnatural on my pale skin, but I'm completely in love with this. It's a bright, sheer, neutral red (no obviously red- or orange-tones) which means it will suit everyone. The shiny, red tube is beautiful, and is easily the loveliest packaging on my list. I love that it has a slanted nib, like a lipstick, because it allows for more precise application. It smells like roses, and I don't usually like the scent of rose, but it's gentle enough that it's just fragrantly floral. (Sadly the scent is synthetic!) 

The lightweight texture is surprisingly hydrating. It contains mango butter to moisturise and sodium hylaurate to prevent dehydration (loss of water from the cells), which helps lips stay soft, comfortable and cushion-y. The Sales Assistant told me it includes the same 'stain' as the Benetint, meaning that the colour sinks through the balm and adheres to the lips. This one definitely has the longest wear of all the balms I've tried. 

If you love wearing matte red lipstick but find that it's making your lips super dry and flaky, this is a really great alternative. It's really comfortable to wear, it isn't too glossy, and it can be layered to give a bold look.

Best for: long-lasting colour; red lipstick lovers

£14.50. Available at Benefit counters in Boots, Benefit stores, and online.

For me, the Benefit and Burt's Bees balms definitely take the cake. They give the longest lasting hydration and I can wear them comfortably without lip balm underneath. If you're going to buy a tinted lip balm, you can't go wrong with the Burt's Bees ones. They offer the widest shade range, are great value for money, and look and feel beautiful on the lips.

Thanks for reading!