A few weeks ago, disaster struck.
Tinted lip balm disaster, I mean. It’s not the same kind of thing as ACTUAL “disaster”, but it was still pretty serious for me, because remember my Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment? The one I declared to be the best tinted lip balm in all the land? The one I said I’d put inside my 2015 time capsule?
I lost it.*
I mean, devastated isn’t the word. (No, really, it isn’t the word. Because it’s a tinted lip balm we’re talking about, not a precious artefact, you know?) Once I’d ransacked the house in a frantic search for it, I got right online to order a replacement… and that’s when I discovered they don’t actually sell the product here in the UK. Obviously I could have it shipped from Sephora in the US (or from eBay), but with a £70 minimum purchase (which means your order costs £90, once they add in the shipping and tax), and so many brand exclusions it’s barely worth doing, it would be cheaper for me to just FLY to the US and pick one up, really.*
(*No it wouldn’t.)
So I started looking for a replacement instead. Here are four contenders for the coveted title of ‘Best Tinted Lip Balm in the World’. Can any of them beat my beloved Fresh Sugar, though? Let’s find out…
The search for the best tinted lip balm…
My requirements for this search were fairly straightforward. Like the aforementioned Fresh Sugar, the tinted lip balm of dreams had to be:
a) reasonably moisturising on the lips
b) provide a decent wash of colour
I say “reasonably” moisturising. To be perfectly honest, the “balm” part of the equation is actually less important than the colour here, because while it’s always nice to have soft, moisturised lips, my main lip-related issue is their complete lack of colour. When I’m buying a tinted lip balm, then, I’m basically looking for something that will make me look alive (or, at least, a bit less corpse-like), by giving my lips a touch of easy-to-apply colour, which doesn’t require me to mess around with lip liner for ages, or spend the day worrying that if I take a sip of water, I’ll end up looking like Dracula.
So, here are the four contenders, plus some swatches on my hand and on paper. I know it would’ve made more sense to swatch them on my actual lips, but unfortunately my lips are in pretty bad condition right now (NOT due to any of these, I hasten to add – whenever I’m stressed/busy, it seems to affect my lips first. Lucky me, huh?), and trust me when I tell you that no one needs to see close up photos of them right now. Or ever, really.
First impressions tell us quite a lot here, and what you can (hopefully) see from these swatches is that the Chubby Stick has by far the best colour payoff of the four, and is also the reddest. The MUA and Benefit lip balms, meanwhile, are pretty close dupes for each other, with the Bene Balm being just a little bit darker. The Maybelline product meanwhile, is a lilac-pink shade, which, just FYI, I totally wasn’t expecting – go to the bottom of the class, Maybelline, and have a think about what you’ve done.
Let’s take a closer look…
This is probably the best looking of the four in terms of packaging, although the fact that the Chubby Stick formula has been so widely copied (tons of other brands now make these ‘lip crayon’ style tinted lip balms) maybe makes it look a bit less “exclusive”, I don’t know. I have a few similar products from other brands, but Chubby Stick is the original, and – I think – the best. This particular shade was a new purchase, but I also have one of these in ‘Chunky Cherry’ and I find the shape of the crayon somehow makes it easier to apply than some of the copycats I’ve tried. Application aside, this was also the best lip balm in terms of colour: the bright, mid-red shade is exactly what I was looking for, and it has a pretty good colour payoff, although it’s no match for my missing lip balm, may it rest in peace. The downside? At £17, it’s also one of the most expensive of the four: ouch.
This product is just £2, and it kinda shows in the packaging, which has a real ‘drugstore’ feel to it – not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily. The colour is brighter and pinker than the Clinique balm, but it has a pretty good colour deposit, and isn’t too sheer. It has a bit of a ‘cheap lipstick’ scent to it (which I actually don’t object to, because it makes me feel like a teenager again), and is reasonably moisturising – probably more so than the Chubby Stick, actually. So, not perfect (the colour is just too pink on my lips), but pretty good for the price.
I had high hopes of this, because I’m a big fan of Benetint Lip & Cheek Stain (which I use on my cheeks, but not the lips, as it stains the former, but immediately disappears from the latter). On the plus side, it looks great, in its shiny red tube, and I also like the scent – it’s expensive, yes, but at least it looks it, which is half the battle. Unfortunately, though, the product itself is a little disappointing – it’s barely visible on my lips, and although it does moisturise them fairly well, I don’t really need to pay £24 for a hint of colour and a bit of moisture, do I? While the MUA product isn’t an exact dupe for it, it’s close enough that if you’re in the market for a tinted lip balm, and you like the colour of this, I’d go for MUA instead – I really don’t think you’d notice a whole lot of difference, other than in the packaging.
This is another budget option, but unfortunately I wasn’t impressed. First of all, the packaging and scent (It has that “fake cherry” smell to it, which always reminds me of childhood, for some reason. Did my parents give me a lot of fake cherries when I was young, I wonder?) have a real ‘bargain basement’ feel to them, which makes me think of the kind of product you might give to a little girl, so she could pretend she was wearing lipstick. Secondly, though, the colour, as I noted above, is a strange lilac shade, which makes me look even MORE like a corpse than my natural lip colour does. In a bid to say something positive, I will say that this seems to be a decent balm, if not a great colour (it’s also very shiny and sheer), although because it looks so bad on me, I haven’t given it much of a trial – for some reason I keep on applying it, in the hope that this time it’ll look good, and then immediately scrubbing it off again when I realise that, nope, I still look like a corpse in it – dammit.
And the winner?
For me, the best tinted lip balm of these four has to be the Clinique Chubby Stick. The price is definitely a big downside, but I genuinely think it’s worth the extra cost – the others don’t come close to providing the same amount of colour, and this shade is perfect for me, although that’s obviously a personal preference. With that said, Chubby Stick might be the best of this selection, but it’s definitely not the best tinted lip balm in the world – we all know what THAT is by now, don’t we?
Got a favourite tinted lip balm? Do tell…
[*Edited to add: a few days after I wrote this post, I went out to dinner, and grabbed a clutch bag to take with me. Inside it? The missing lip balm. And also a missing lip pencil, that I was ALSO pretty annoyed about. I can’t even remember the last time I carried that bag, so I’m honestly quite confused about how it came to be there (and why I didn’t miss it sooner), but hey, I’m not complaining: the day has been saved!]