Lip Primer and Lip Balms In Rotation

November 13, 2014

This post is inspired by and dedicated to my reader Gabby who sent me an e-mail last month asking if I could recommend a good lip primer for underneath lipstick. She liked the Jo Malone Vitamin E Treatment I featured a while ago, but found it didn’t do much for priming the lips for lipstick. It occurred to me that there are different kinds of “lip prep.” One kind of lip prep is to prime the lips for lipstick, the other kind is more of a skincare/moisture treatment.

Above shown:

I have sensitive lips that are prone to drying and peeling with many brands of lipstick (like MAC and some Chanel formulas). I use lip balm liberally on the low key makeup days, when I’m running errands, or in the evening after I’ve taken my makeup off. In the mornings if my lips feel dry I will prepare the lips with lip balm after washing the face and let it sit a few minutes while I do the rest of my makeup (for me lips are always last).

I like to use lip balm for lip prep in the morning, but Gabby is right, not all lip treatments are necessarily good for priming the lips for lipstick wear. A long time ago, MAC used to make a clear lipstick product called Lipmix (now they have the squeeze tube versions) that I used for a lip primer. They discontinued it but released their MAC Prep + Prime Lip ($16) which is a clear primer in a twist up tube. I like that this is color-free and really helps to smooth out the surface of the lip. It has a moisturizing feel but dries to a slightly tacky-matte feel to help lipstick and lipliner glide on easily. It also helps lip products stay put. Some lipsticks and glosses have a high shine finish or a glossy sheer formula which have a lot of slip. Those won’t hold up much longer than usual with the MAC Prep + Prime, but for your regular lipstick formula and gloss, the Prep + Prime Lip helps extend the wear of my lip products and also helps it glide on better.

For lip balms, I have a lot in rotation. In this post I’ll focus mainly on the clear treatments I’ve been loving. I prefer lip balms in stick or squeeze tube format because I find them easier to apply, but the only stick lip treatment I use these days is the Caudalie Lip Conditioner ($12). One tube lasted me quite a long time, even with regular use. It’s smooth and lightweight without having that waxy feel. It has a soft lightweight citrus scent which is really nice. It soothes dry lips instantly. (Also in this Hand + Lip Duo Set.) Right now I’m on my second tube.

I’ve been a long-time Chanel fan, but haven’t always been a fan of their lip balms. The Hydra Beauty Nourishing Lip Balm ($50) is a newer one that they released (to replace their Hydramax). It has a really smooth and slightly hard texture. It’s smooth, lightweight and moisturizing. It has a soft hint of the fragrance used in the Hydra Beauty line. I like that it comes in a sleek-looking pot. It feels nice and smooth on the lips, but for me others are more hydrating. This is something I will use this to the end, but I probably will not repurchase. It’s a good one if you have normal lips. If you have lips prone to drying with lipstick use, you may need something richer.

By Terry Baume de Rose ($60) is a classic. It’s the most expensive lip balm I own, but it’s at the top of my list of favorites. It’s soothing, hydrating and feels super luxurious. It has a soft rose scent with a slightly pink tint, but it goes on the lips clear. One pot is very large and will last you a very long time. (You can see reviews of the tinted versions here and here.)

Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm ($12) is #2 on my favorites list. It comes in a little squeeze tube and has a clear gel-like formula. It glides on easily, doesn’t slip, moisturizes and feels amazing. There is a regular version as well which I also like. I prefer the Mojito one because it has a fun soft sweet lime scent without being too citrusy.

Last but not least is the Tatcha Camellia Moisturizing Lip Balm ($36, also in some holiday gift sets). It’s a clear jelly-like solid with a thin layer of crushed 24K gold leaf on top. If you’ve ordered anything from Tatcha you know how beautiful the packaging and presentation of all their products are (even their shipping boxes are packaged and sealed beautifully). I’ve been using the Tatcha Lip Balm regularly. It has a lightweight refreshing scent unlike any other lip balm. The gold flakes break off the surface and add a hint of gold shimmer to the lips, but it’s only on the surface. Some of mine transferred to the lid and I haven’t removed it. This one feels very nice on the lips and provides instant moisture and relief to dry lips. It’s a huge thumbs up from me. (Original review here.)

If I were to narrow down my top picks, the MAC Prep + Prime Lip is a definite must for me to prepare the lips for lipstick. For lip treatments, it’s a three-way tie between By Terry, Malin + Goetz and Tatcha.

I hope you found this roundup helpful! I would love to hear about your favorite lip treatments, especially with the winter season approaching with dry weather, I think most of us will be in need of an extra moisture boost.

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  • MAC Prep and Prime is a god send for lipstick! It is game changing! I love the Malin & Goetz one too!

    Zoe Newlove | Beauty Blogger & MUA

  • Huge fan of the Malin+Goetz one, it's nothing like I've ever tried! However, hands down my favorite lip balm is a standard, no frills one: Aquaphor! When my lips are down in the dumps, this is the only one that will revive it.

    xx Alyson

  • I have a thing for lip balms and I use many. I like a couple of Italian brands, IncaRose and Kiko, I have some Labello, a lip balm by Apivita, a Greek organic brand, do you know it? Then I like L'Occitane and Caudalie lip balm. I tried Nuxe but I didn't particularly like it. Now I would like to try Dr. Hauschka.

  • Hey Sabrina, you've got a nice collection here! My favorite lip treatments include Nuxe Reve de Miel, La Roche-Posay Cicaplast LΓ¨vres, Omorovicza Perfecting Lip Balm, Dior Lip Maximizer, and Aesop Rosehip Seed Lip Cream. If my lips are little drier than usual in the morning, I use the Aesop one as a primer. It is incredibly fine and non-greasy (it leaves almost no residue), but it hydrates very well!

  • Wow, so many choices! I just discovered lip primers last month. The only one I've tried is by NYX which I seem to like, though it is a little drying. I'll have to try one of these out next πŸ™‚
    Jenny // Mish Mosh Makeup

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree with Beauty Vanity – Aquaphor! I use it every night before I go to sleep. I have been using it for years and it's a staple for me. I can't say I own anything on the high end….I stick to Aquaphor and Chapstick. I do own the original Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, but I don't use it as often as the other two. – Zeynep

  • I love your blog, Sabrina. Your posts and photos are lovely and very helpful. My absolute favorite lip balm is pure lanolin. I use Lansinoh brand, which is marketed for another purpose, but it's the most moisturizing, comfortable product for my constantly dry lips. I actually learned about this tip from a commenter on another beauty blog about a year ago. I put it in little pots that I keep everywhere (nightstand, purse, etc.), and I never go without it.

    • michelle

      I second the Lanisoh (for nursing mothers)! I have mentioned before my chronic, dry and peeling lips. This and BITE Agave lip mask are my must-have products. I have recently added MAC prep n prime as I am desperate to wear all my new lipsticks! πŸ˜‰

    • michelle

      I had to come back here to add my new favorite HG lip product and that is AmorePacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment. It is pricey at $35 for .35 oz but takes very little and works fabulously. I am loving the texture; not too slippery, sticks around but is not waxy, sticky or gummy. Just perfect and my desperate lips are truly happy!β™₯

  • I've never owned a lip primer. Thanks for explaining these.

  • Kari

    I also love the Tatcha camellia lip balm and the Caudalie lip balm, but I keep finding myself going back to the Bobbi Brown lip balm. I have used it for years and love both the consistency and the packaging. (My handbag can be quite a hostile environment, so a metal tin that screws closed is a miracle for me.)

  • Anonymous

    I've tried all that you've mentioned and none did anything for my lips be it hydration or as a lipstick primer. The By Terry dried my lips horribly, as did the Malin + Goetz and the Mac. A friend gifted me a little tub of Lauren Huttons Good Stuff Hydrating Balm and it was amazing. I order multiples and keep them everywhere, give them as gifts, etc. and all agree… nothing worlds to hydrate your lips as well as this balm.

    As for lipstick primer, a surprise find came via a Secret Elf gift: Sephora's own Lip Balm. At $5, it is the best primer I have ever found in my decades of wearing lipstick

  • If you haven't tried it already, give the Burt's Bees lip balm a go. I love it!

  • I also love By Terry. Dr. Haushka, Nuxe, and Brut's Bees are my other favorites. I honestly don't understand the Jack Black hype. It's good but not great.

  • Mac Prep and Prime sounds great and I don't have anything like it. I have the Malin + Goetz lip balm and I really like the formula, but when I got it the tube was half empty. I had to squeeze it so much to get anything out. Have you had that experience as well? I get REALLY dry lips and my favorite lip balm is CV Skinlabs Skin Balm. It is unscented and not particularly luxurious to use, however it will heal and hydrate the most dry and cracked lips. When all else fails CV Skinlabs works!

  • So many lovely lip products, I'm terrible at looking after my lips & in the winter they really suffer. I do like the Caudalie Lip Conditioner & need to repurchase that.

  • Anonymous

    My favorites are: Cle de peau is great as a primer under drying lipsticks and also great for peeling lips. Makes them very smooth as I think it has retinol in it. By terry lip balm in a gloss container is an absolutely divine treatment. I have By terry in the jar as well, but really find it Personally in a gloss container better. Very convenient on the go too. I do like to apply by terry in the jar for over night sometimes. Like Tatcha lip balm, but not Love. Will not repurchase. Love Dr. Hauschka lip balm in the jar a lot. Purchased it multiple times. That one is Fantastic for over night as I do find sometimes By Terry rose scent a little bit too strong. Hauschka is paraben free and has very nice herbal soothing scent. Also like Hauschka Lip care stick. So I alternate most of the times beetwen those two: By Terry and Hauschka. And Cle De peau is Great as a lip primer.

  • Anonymous

    Also strongly recommend for anyone who wants to try Hauschka products including their lip balms to purchase it from Pharmaca.com. They always have great deals on their website.its 30% off now:). Plus, they always attach nice samples with purchase.

  • Kristina aka cubicledweller

    Great post, just in time for winter! My favorites are La Mer the lip balm, Chanel Rouge Coco Baume, Say Yes to Coconuts lip balm, and EOS lip balm. I don't use any type of lip prep products. In your post, I'm most intrigued by Tatcha! I want to try some of their products soon!

  • Jo

    The best thing I've used on my lips both overnight and first thing in the morning as prep is the Kanebo Sensei Cellular Performance Total Lip treatment. I stopped using it for a while and tried something else and my lips became very chapped and dry. It is pricey but one bottle lasts about two years.

  • Anonymous

    thanks for this post Sabrina. I really like using Rosebud Lip Salve. I bought the By Terry one after thinking about it endlessly, and it actually makes my lips peel…I was surprised and disappointed. anyways, I would love to hear which lipstick brand/kind makes your lips feel the most moisturized / work best for your sensitive lips. thanks so much!

  • I have three favorites. I love Tatcha for prepping my lips and to apply whenever my lips are feeling dry. It is light and yet it keeps my sensitive lips feeling soothed, soft, and moist. Overall, it is my favorite. While I sleep, though, I like something heavier since it has to last throughout the night. ByTerry Baume de Rose with it's heavier texture and satin like feel is perfection. It is also heavy enough to protect my lips from drying lipstick formulas and so whenever I wear a matte formula, I always use Baume de Rose before applying the lipstick. When I need to touch up SPF on my lips, I reach for good old Jack Black. I've been using it for years and years. Because it is actually a men's product, it is not real shiny or gooey so it doesn't interfere with my lipstick.

  • Love the Chanel

    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

  • At night I use a French ointment called Homeoplasmine. It soaks right in, but I don't think it is really much different than good ol' Aquaphor. I keep a tub of Nuxe Reve de Miel in my purse and I love it. It's light orange blossom/honey scent always gives me a boost. Can't wait to try the Prep and Prime. Have been looking for a product to keep lipstick in place longer. Also will be a good stocking stuffer for my daughters. Love your blog – I devour every post and have found many, many fantastic products through your research.

  • Anonymous

    Very informative post. My favorite lip balm is also the Dr. Hauschka in the little pot. I recently tried the La Mer and the original Malin&Goetz und Dr. Hauschka is unbeatable in my book. Great texture, very soothing and smells so good.

  • I use the MAC prep+prime myself.. I don't know how I ever did without it.
    Xoxo Nathalie

  • Sabrina,

    I love the look of your blog. It is absolutely beautiful. It reads like a magazine. You know, I haven't paid to much attention to lip balm. I've just been using a generic brand that moistens and protects but I've been thinking I needed something more — something to serve as a canvas for my lipstick. Your informative article has confirmed those thoughts. I think I will try the Mac. My daughter loves it and has gotten me to buy several of the products.

  • How does the By Terry Baume de Rose compare to the Dior Creme de Rose? They look so similar!
    I don't really have a favorite lip balm because nothing works perfectly, but I think I'll give these a try.

  • By Terry Baume De Rose is one of my favourites too! you should think about trying Nuxe Reve De Miel and Dior Creme de Rose – they're both amazing lip balms too πŸ™‚

  • The only one that I've tried out of this list is the Caudelie one. I've been meaning to get the Malin + Goetz one for a while now, but just haven't gotten around to it.

  • Can't believe nobody has mentioned Sara Happ! She makes the best lip balm and balm gloss (color less), it makes my lips survived in sub zero weather in the arctic!

  • I use L'Occitane's but I definitely want to try Chanel's.
    Lots of love, xx


  • michelle

    I am anxious to try some of the more obscure mentions made by commentors–I am desperate and have about tried it all. I appreciate the post and the great feedback-I've made a list! πŸ™‚

  • Dayna

    I've followed your blog since the beginning & don't think I've ever commented on a post (I'm a silent reader). I just had to come back to this article & thank you so much for this! I've wasted countless dollars on lip treatments over the years, as my lips stay dry no matter what I seem to do. I can't tell you how many times I've tried a new lip balm / treatment & wound up with lips in worse shape than I began with. However, upon your rec I ordered the Caudalie Lip Conditioner. I've been using it for 2 weeks now & I'm in love! My lips truly are in better shape & look so good thanks to this l/c! Thank you so much for this post πŸ™‚