Ah, I remember that fateful day. My lips were slightly chapped, and there was one of those little bins of lip balms on the counter at Gordon’s of Gretna for like, 79 cents each. I asked my mom for one and it was so affordable, she couldn’t say no. It wasn’t even the venerated “Chap-Stik” brand, it was the knockoff “Natural Ice.” But I broke the safety seal and carefully applied the pink, waxy, slightly minty substance – and I was on a journey for the ages. That was it. Since that day, that moment – that tube of lip lube – I have never been able to sport naked lips. I feel parched if I don’t have some kind of lipstick or gloss on these suckers (pun intended).
Over the years, of course, I have developed some favorites. That original little container of Natural Ice quickly lost all its charms for me, and of course, I fell hard into the “ooey gooey” too-thick gloss trend of the early 2000s; but there have been a few tried and true that will always stand by me – and can stand by you, too.
#1 – Clinique Almost Lipstick Black Honey
I shouldn’t encourage you to stop reading my post, but if you only have time to read one of these items, or only have the pocket change to get one pricier item, this should be it. “Iconic” is not an exaggeration. This lip product is not only formulated to flatter all skin tones, but it’s also versatile enough to be used with other lipsticks or lip liners, or can be used solo as a classic, hydrating color. I could seriously write a post solely about this lipstick and its significance to me and my friend who introduced it to me, but for now, it’s enough to say that if you don’t believe me, Google it. It’s a big deal, y’all.
#2 – Too Faced Lip Injection
Among my sisters and me, our choice of lip plumper is referred to as “crack.” Admittedly, my sister is MUCH more devoted to her choice, Buxom’s Full on Plumper, but Too Faced “Lip Injection” is mine. Unlike other brands of “crack,” Lip Injection offers different levels of plumping, and seasonal colors and scents. Overall, it’s a consistent tingle, and not too thick and tacky, where my hair gets caught in my lipstick and I can’t get it out. (Also unlike others. Yuck.) It may also be my imagination, but I feel like my lips are overall fuller than they were before I started using it, and I don’t even use it exclusively. It also pairs well with lip liners.
#3 – Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm
This would have been the ideal choice for my pre-teen chapped lips all those years ago, but it would not have prevented me from my current obsession with lip treatment. On the contrary, I may have been more fixated, more quickly. All of the Burt’s Bees lip balms are soothing and healing, but this one is my personal fave. Obviously, this will be the most affordable option on the list, and I have used this with a lip liner as a lipstick in a pinch. Also, easily grab-able at the checkout line at the drugstore, which is handy, since the color is subtle enough that a single swipe is barely perceptible, making it a target for husbands and more daring children.
#4 – Aveda Feed My Lips Pure Nourish-Mint Lipstick
Ok, full disclosure, I first received this free as a promotional item, but I fell in love immediately. It gives the coverage of a lipstick but is more moisturizing, with a slight lip balm tingle. This is the lipstick I grab when I have to use a smaller purse and don’t have room for a liner, plumper, and color. The colors are more opaque than a typical balm, and the website even has a handy guide for choosing your color based on your hair color and tone. Plus, the tube itself is metal, so it feels substantial in your hand and is recyclable.
#5- Amalgamation Mauve*
$ – it varies
Do you ever see that “beauty hack” where you melt the last remnants of your favorite lipstick and lip balms to combine them and create a new lip color? I have done that with some plumping lip liner, the bottoms of a couple of similarly colored lipsticks, and an old EOS balm. It has honestly become one of my favorite lip treatments, I love the color, but the combination of moisturizers was really an unanticipated enormous advantage. Besides, I was only going to throw them away, anyway, so why not try first? The only downside to this is the same as when you find a killer lip color only to find out it’s been discontinued – once it’s gone, it’s gone. No refilling the makeup bag. (Frowny face). To make your own, you simply take the remnants, put them in a VERY well-cleaned-out container (or you can purchase empty, never used ones on Amazon), and place them in the microwave for no more than 5 seconds at a time, stirring with a toothpick or other slim tool. Begin with harder lip liners and sticks, then add balms last, and you may not need to put them in the microwave, the heat held by the colors will melt them. If at first, you don’t succeed, either pitch it or try again! They’re just remnants, so you’re going to come out ahead no matter what.
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. I am by no means 100% faithful to any one lipstick, color, balm, treatment, or whatever you want to call it. I’m always on the lookout for the next great pout perfecter. If you run across one that’s as good as these, or at least better than that OG tube of Natural Ice, drop a comment, and we’ll read (about) your lips.
*That’s what mine was, but yours can be “Combo Red” or “Melting Pot Pink” or whatever you like.