Lip Balm Testing and Recommendations for Winter Weather

December 14, 2015
Winter Lip Treatments Balms

Above: Tray from J.Crew (similar here and here), Clare V Wallet Clutch, Celine Knot Bracelet, Gorjana Crossover Cuff

I’ve been testing a number of new-to-me lip treatments, balms and oils since late fall. I did a roundup of rosy red tinted lip treatments for holiday last month, but it’s been a year since I rounded up what I’ve been testing and loving in the non-tinted version. Today after weeks and weeks of testing, I have thoughts on 16 different lip balms in multiple formulas to share today. I’ve split the lip balms into three categories: the pots, the tubes, and the squeeze tubes.


Potted Lip Treatments

Fresh Dior Chanel Tatcha Nuxe Lip Balms

Some of my favorite lip balms formulas are in pot format even though I prefer the tube or stick version so I don’t have to stick my finger in. I’ve raved about the By Terry Baume de Rose so many times I thought I’d round up some others I’ve been testing.
  • Fresh Sugar Nourishing Lip Balm Advanced Therapy ($30) – I had high hopes for this one as I really like the stick sugar lip balms but find they can get soft and be prone to breakage. One in pot format seemed more ideal for a soft formula, but this one is actually harder in texture. I had to take a lip brush to break the surface and get enough product for my lips. With just fingers I could barely get anything on and the result was a barely-there veil of moisture. If you dip into the surface and dig out enough of the product to layer on the lips, it makes the lips feel moisturized, smooth, slightly minty and cool but without the tingle. Unfortunately it doesn’t give the lips a long-lasting moisturized feel. I would say the effects are immediate and temporary for fall to winter weather. It would be better suited for warm weather.
  • Nuxe Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm Rêve de Miel ($19) – This is one I bought in the limited-edition packaging, but the formula is the same as the regular pots with the white caps. This is an ultra creamy highly concentrated rich balm that smells like honey and grapefruit. I find it on the thick side of creamy so it really coats the lips with a cushion of moisture. It stays put and doesn’t slide around. It comes in a hefty glass jar. The scent is very natural and barely has any taste. I like this one for an ultra rich and creamy treatment.
  • Chanel Hydra Beauty Nourishing Lip Care ($50) This is one I used up and repurchased. I go back and forth with this one, mainly because it comes with a very high price tag. It’s smooth and lightweight in feel but does moisturize the lips. If you read my post from last year I said I would probably use it to the end but not repurchase (well I ended up repurchasing). It’s a good basic lip balm that works for me, but I think others like the Nuxe or the Clarins Lip Oils have a deeper more moisturizing treatment and more affordable.
  • Dior Crème de Rose ($28) – This has been on my radar for years and I finally bought it and tried it this year. It’s super smooth and creamy without the greasy feel. It has the most lush rose scent, similar to By Terry but slightly less floral/sharp which makes it easier for those with sensitive noses. It’s very hydrating and the effects truly make a difference in the moisture of the lips.
  • Tatcha Camellia Nourishing Lip Balm ($36, also in the Travel Kit and several other holiday sets) This is an extra special lip balm. It’s such a unique formula. The base is a clear jelly-like balm that smells refreshingly sweet. It’s dewy and adds the perfect amount of moisture to the lips and feels lightweight. It’s topped with a thin layer of 24-karat gold leaf that gives it an ultra luxe look. It’s a winner and I really can’t imagine life without it.


Lip Balms in Squeeze Tubes

Amore Pacific Laura Mercier Lip Balm L'Occitane First Aid Beauty Bite Beauty Malin+Goetz

Squeeze tubes are the best format for lip balms in my opinion. They’re compact, easy to use and don’t require fingers. Many come with angled applicators which makes it easier to apply these days. A few new ones along with tried-and-true favs:

  • Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment ($35) This is something I tried because so many of my readers raved about AmorePacific. This is a tiny tube of balm but the formula is excellent. It offers instant relief to super dry lips. There were a few days my lips were painfully dry and this helped restore them to their natural state. I would say that it’s almost entirely scent and taste-free. I can’t detect any scent but it’s possible there’s a slight natural scent to it. Out of all the tubes, this is in my top 3.
  • Laura Mercier Infusion de Rose Lip Balm ($24 or in the Rose Infusion Set* for $110) This is a new launch from Laura Mercier. It was first exclusive to the Rose Infusion Set, but you can purchase it separately now at Laura Mercier. It’s a nourishing lip balm that smells like soft roses. It has Rosehip Seed, Kukui, and Macadamia Seed Oils helps soothe and comfort lips – I really like the way this feels on the lips. There is a slight floral taste to it – it’s not bad or too strong, but definitely noticeable. I really like the way it hydrates the lips.
  • L’Occitane Shea Butter Lip Balm * ($25, from the Hugs and Kisses Set) is one of the most gentle lip treatments for super sensitive skin that’s still hydrating. Since it’s lightweight the lasting power isn’t as long as some other treatments, but it still does the job at adding moisture and soothing the lips. Many lip treatments make my lips go numb (like Kiehl’s and almost all the drugstore brands), whenever I’m in doubt I go with L’Occitane.
  • L’Occitane x Pierre Hermé Pamplemousse Rhubarb Lip Balm ($25 from the Voyage Trio Set) is part of the Pierre Hermé Collaboration. It has the most delicious grapefruit scent to it and adds a tiny bit of moisture. As a quick fix it’s good, but the formula is pretty light in terms of moisture and texture. If you don’t mind reapplying the scent is heavenly, but if you’re looking for a deep treatment, you may want to pass.
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy* ($12, or in the FAB to the Rescue Sampler Set $32 and Freshen Up Duo $15) This is a life-saver for dry lips. It’s got a minty scent which I’m not the biggest fan of, but it’s a pleasant mint. It’s super smooth and emollient and has just the right texture of creaminess to it. It gives the lips instant relief and really helps with dry lips.
  • Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in Champagne ($26, swatched here, Smashed swatched here) is a tinted treatment, but it’s pretty much clear. This is one of the best lip treatments I’ve tried. It’s super plush and hydrating. I use it on no-makeup days and it fixes dry lips like magic.
  • Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm ($12) is a long-time favorite. There are two formulas of lip balm, both are equally good. I think the Mojito one is fun because it’s scented in a fun mojito flavor. It has a clear almost gel-like consistency. I like the way this feels on the lips the best out of all the lip balms. It’s moisturizing and you can feel it, but it’s not heavy or greasy.


Twist Up Sticks and Oils

lip oil clarins hourglass nuxe lip balm caudalie lip balm

Last but not least, a few others in oil and stick format:

  • Clarins Instant Light Lip Confort Oil in Honey* ($24) Lip Oils were really popular this time last year. I tried a few different brands and found I didn’t really like the concept of oils because many just felt too runny and thin. The Clarins is phenomenal though. It does offer instant comfort and a natural shine. Honey is pretty much clear on the lips but it has a thickness to it which prevents it from feeling like it will slip off your lips. Cafe Makeup did a review on the pink version. I think her thoughts and review are excellent.
  • Hourglass No. 28 Tinted Lip Treatment Oil in Icon* ($42, review here) is also tinted. I’ve tried both the original clear and tinted version. Both have a really good nourishing formula I find unique and extremely hydrating. The red one is fun for holiday and pretty sheer/natural so if you’re a neutral lip lover like me, it’s definitely wearable. It’s one of the deeper treatments I’ve tried for lips – it has a press pump to dispense product. I think it’s definitely worth the splurge.
  • Nuxe Lip Moisturizing Stick Rêve de Miel ($9) is something I’ve loved and used up. The stick for right now is probably too light in the sense that it doesn’t give me enough moisture. If you’re a Reve de Miel fan, go for the pot instead.
  • Caudalie Lip Conditioner ($12, also in this Winter Favorites Set or Winter Duo) this is my favorite twist up tube balm. It has a really nice fruity fresh scent and taste to it. It glides on the lips easily. It hydrates my lips nicely. I used up the tube from last year’s post and repurchased it in one of the duos.


If you’re looking for a new lip treatment I hope this roundup helps give you some ideas of what to try. My bottom line:

Top Formula Picks for Fall/Winter Weather

Most hydrating formulas:

AmorePacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment
Bite Agave Lip Mask (any of the colors)
Dior Creme de Rose
Nuxe Rêve de Miel (pot)
Clarins Lip Oil

Best for everyday, lightweight but still moisturizing:

Caudalie Lip Conditioner
Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm
Tatcha Camellia Lip Balm

Best in luxury:

Hourglass Lip Oils

Ones I’d pass on if I could do it over:

L’Occitane Pierre Herme Pamplemousse Rhubarb – nice but not hydrating enough
Fresh Sugar Nourshing Lip Care – just not what I expected

As always, I’d love to hear about your favorites! If you have any tried and true – please share in the comments. 

Some press samples included in this post indicated with a * from L’Occitane, Tatcha, First Aid Beauty, Hourglass, Clarins.

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  • Pixi also just released a new lip exfoliator that comes in a squeezy tube and it's great!


    • Oooh, thanks for letting me know … off to investigate!

  • The Nuxe one sounds perfect! x
    Emma | Emmys Beauty Cave

  • I live for the Nuxe Reve De Miel, it stays on my night stand and I use it every single night. I also love the first aid beauty one but I find it separates after awhile.

    La Belle Sirene 

    • That's dedicated love there! Good to know on the FAB one 🙂

  • I love Avene Cold Cream Lip Cream. It comes in a squeeze tube.

  • Kim

    A friend turned me onto the Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy and it's been a lifesaver. My lips were constantly dry and I had tried all kinds of balms (Fresh, Dior, La Mer) & treatmens (Hourglass, Bite Agave Mask, AmorePacific) but this keeps my lips consistently soft and crack free without having to use a ton of balms. You use a pea sized amount morning and night…that's it.

    I do like First Aid Beauty or Malin + Goetz for when I'm snowboarding or in really cold weather. Aquaphor is good as well.

    • Hmmm … I wonder if the stick version is better than the tube! I used Aquaphor a long time ago but it makes my lips numb:( My lips are so sooo weird.

  • Anonymous

    I really like Sarah Happ's lip balm. For me, it just works so well. I'm going to try the Clarins lip oil next and I have the hourglass tinted lip oil which I think is fantastic. Cheers, Cherie

    • Oooh that's a good one too!

  • Thanks for the great post! I consider myself a lip balm junkie and have tried a lot of different formulas over time. I just recently got my hands on the Bite Beauty Lip Mask and the Fresh Sugar Treatments and I'm completely blown away. I used to wear Carmex all the time, because I like the tingling sensation so much, but over the time my lips kind of dried a bit when using it. My most recent purchase is the Royal Apothic Tinties Lip Butter in kissed. The packaging is to die for, but the product unfortunately isn't. I'll stick to Bite&Fresh and your post inspired me to repurchase an old favorite, the Nuxe Rêve de Miel 🙂


    • Oooh which is your favorite Fresh Sugar Treatment?

    • I really like Petal because it is nearly invisible on my lips and I can get away with a 'no make up-make up' when wearing it. I purchased their Sugar Lip Delight mini set and I'm still testing all the colors. Rosé is also a great option for everyday. I'm not too crazy about the Advanced Therapy in the twist up stick though. I really wish that Fresh would be available around my parts because I still need to try the one in Passion.

  • This is such a perfectly thorough rundown! So helpful. Thanks 🙂

    • Glad you liked it Kelsey!

  • Very useful and extremely money saving post, many thanks for sharing! Have you tried the Clinique's Repairwear Intensive Lip Treatment by any chance? It's pretty wicked 🙂

    • Thanks for the recommendation, I haven't used Clinique skincare in so long so I haven't tried the lip treatment. I will check it out though 🙂

    • You welcome Sabrina! It's like the one from By Terry but in a stick, if that makes sense, haha!

  • Caudalie and Malin and Goetz are two of my favourites. I also absolutely love the lip balm by Elizabeth Arden's 8 hour cream, both in pot and twist up stick.

    Inma x

    • Hi Inma – thanks for the rec on the Elizabeth Arden – I've heard good things about it!

  • I love this post Sabrina!! I so needed it today. I'm going to splurge on a couple of these for myself. (Amore pacific and Caudalie)
    One question I have though…which do you think works best for under lipstick?

    • Hi Soni – glad this post helped! Unfortunately lip balms don't help extend lipstick wear – especially the ones in this post. I think Caudalie would work better out of the two you listed because it's not as emollient. The best primer for lipstick I've tried is actually the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Magic – I didn't include it in the roundup because I used up my pot. But the review is here:


  • This is going to sound SO STRANGE, but CO Bigelow makes this product called My Favorite Night Balm….and it is FANTASTIC. I've gone through tube after tube of this stuff!

    • Ahhh I used to love CO Bigelow when it was at Bath and Body Works (not sure if it's still available there). The formulas made my lips go numb too 🙁 such a bummer because I remember the scents were so good!

  • Hello Sabrina, My two holy grail lip balms are the Bobbi Brown pot lip balm (SO GOOD!) and the Jouer lip conditioner (amazing, and comes in nice tints as well as clear). I am a lip balm snob since I live in Denver, which is incredibly dry. Neither of these have ever failed me! I also really like the Charlotte Tilbury lip scrub to keep my lips from flaking. Great review, as always! Take care, Kim

    • Hi Kimmie – thanks for the tip on Bobbi Brown and Jouer – I'll have to investigate once I use some of the ones I have up. I've heard great things about Jouer!

  • I love the Nuxe pot and the Caudalie Stick! Glad you liked them too!

    • Great minds think alike xoxo

  • Thanks for this review. My favorites are:
    Luxury: La Mer (you have to try this one if you haven't already), Dior, Tatcha
    Daily use/multiple repurchases: Clarins Moisture Replenishing, CO Bigelow Rose Balm
    Ones I want to try next: Herbivore, Jo Malone Vit E, Omorovicza
    Ones that I regret buying: Eve Lom Kiss Mix, Dr. Jart, Jack Black

    • Thanks for the detailed list!! Good to know on your misses. I have tried La Mer but it was a long long time ago, I'm not sure if they reformulated it or not.

  • Anonymous

    I have the La met and think it is overrated. Plus, I don't love the smell/taste. The same goes for the Malin&Goetz – too gooey but I have the regular not the Mojito. The Clarins I bought after your review and love it. It is so moisturizing and nice to put on. My favorite is the Dr. Hauschka lip balm in the pot. It is soothing, lasts, gives a lovely sheen, smells good…

    • Thanks for the input Tanja! I recall the La Mer I tried (probably a decade ago) being really strong in scent. Thanks for the rec on Dr. Hauschka – I have a tube, will have to investigate the pot too 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I have the La met and think it is overrated. Plus, I don't love the smell/taste. The same goes for the Malin&Goetz – too gooey but I have the regular not the Mojito. The Clarins I bought after your review and love it. It is so moisturizing and nice to put on. My favorite is the Dr. Hauschka lip balm in the pot. It is soothing, lasts, gives a lovely sheen, smells good…

  • Thanks Sabrina for the awesomely detailed round-up! I've been eyeing some of these and now feel like I can make a more educated decision on what to try. Might give the Bite and Clarins a go as my lips have been acting up even more lately. My lips are stupidly dry/cracked/peeling and the few things I find to help are La Mer's balm, Aesop Rosehip Seed Lip Cream (it's actually a lightweight cream like a lotion for your lips but it's so effective, especially if you lock it in with a waxy layer on top), and Le Metier de Beaute's Sheer Brilliance lip gloss (I wear the clear one as a lip balm/lip treatment), and I use Peter Thomas Roth's UnWrinkle Lip as a nighttime treatment. The PTR does have a slight tingling/burning sensation on application sometimes, particularly if the lips are broken in places, but it really helps reduce the appearance of lip lines, which I struggle with, and it's also a super emollient lotion consistency.

    • Interesting on the Aesop! I've been intrigued but when it comes to Aesop I've been super cautious as many items have such a strong scent and my nose is so sensitive. If you like it I will check it out though 🙂

      I definitely think the Bite Beauty is worth looking into. Amore Pacific is also really good 🙂

  • Anonymous

    As someone with really sensitive lips, thank you for this post! My go-to (I'm closing in used pot #4 and gloss #2) is By Terry Baume de Rose, but I know you're already familiar with it. My lips burn, crack, and bleed naturally once winter comes- By Terry is the best I've found so far.

    I really loved the treatment effect of the Shiseido Benefiance lip balm (I've used 3 tubes), and it's perfect for under lipstick. One to skip (although it smells lovely)- Farmacy Lip Bloom. They smell great but do nothing to my lips. I'm currently trying Alterna's lip balm (Ulta has a great travel kit that includes it), and I've ordered AmorePacific.

    • Thanks for the tip on Shiseido + lipstick combo! Will check it out once I work my way through the ones I have (which I suspect will take a long time, lol).

      I hope you like the AmorePacific as much as I do, I really like it for an unscented effective balm for instant relief.

  • I've always loved your photography skills and your comprehensive reviews/suggestions!

    Love from Indonesia,

  • Anonymous

    As a sufferer of chronically dry skin and lips I can relate to this post! I can't even handle lip liners they dry me out.
    I tried the Chanel balm, and it's terrible as a lip balm IMHO. It literally lasts 15 mins and my lips get MORE dried out. For heavy duty parched lip treatments, Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream (unscented) is terrific, it's a thick ointment for overnight winter dehydration. The Clarins oil is a bit goopy but good. Sara Happ's lip balms are terrific, seriously moist and gentle, great for anytime. The Dior Addict Lip Polish is so under the radar, it's a fantastic gloss, not flavored, very moisturizing and long lasting. On the other hand, the Dior Creme de Rose left me underwhelmed, esp. when I forgot about it in a purse and a few months later it had turned yellow and rancid-it has a low level spf I think, not a fan of that one.

    • Interesting how some balms dry out lips. I will definitely have to check out the EA one. Sorry to hear the Dior didn't work 🙁

  • I loved the Malin+Goetz first time I tried it, I also have to give credit to EOS as there balms work so well on my lips – just seal it off and let them rehydrate themselves, sounds a lot like 'Fresh sugar lip balm', but its easier to apply as you can just roll it on.. gets easier the longer you use it!


    • Hi Cheryl, so glad you love the Malin + Goetz! EOS gets so many raves, don't know why I haven't tried it yet.

  • Great roundup! I also love using pure Lanolin on my lips all year long- Lano Lips is a good brand, as is Lansinoh (which you can find at the drug store in the baby aisle!)I also like using it under lipstick to help lips stay hydrated and avoid flaking in the winter months.

    • Thanks for the tips Christina!

  • Nice review Sabrina! Thanks!

    Have you try the Rodin one? It's my favorite, I'm in my second "pot". It mells a little bit of jasmin. I don't like jasmin, but this smells so nice and light, and gives the lips a nice sheen like the By Terry Baume de rose.
    I like the By Terry, I went through one pot and now I have a tiny one. My problem with it is that the smells is soooo strong that it can trigger a migraine (I'm a migraneur).
    Here, a link to the Rodin one, it's sooo chic. They sell it at Beautyhabit:
    I need to try the Clarins one and the Nuxe that you recommend.

    • Hi Lucia – I ordered a Rodin one and it arrived completely damaged. The entire contents had melted and soaked through the box – it was such a heartbreaking situation! It wasn't even during the hot months. I've been meaning to try and pick up one in store instead, just haven't made it yet.

  • Love this post Sabrina! I do like the La Mer but quite pricey! I would like to try the Tatcha one as I have just started trying a few of their products that I am loving Happy Holidays!

    xx Caitlin Confidential

    • Happy Holidays to you too Caitlin!!

  • God I am so jealous of all your lip balms! My favorite ones are definitely Nuxe (in the pot) and First Aid Beauty. Also I really have been meaning to try the Jack Black one 🙂
    Feel free to check out my blog also x

    Claudia | http://www.maximalista.co.uk

  • I didn't realize L'Occitane made lip balms! I'll have to go check them out, as I love their hand creams! My favourite lip balm at the moment is Too Cool for School's Dinoplatz lip balm. It smells like grapes, and it's absolutely divine.

    brooke | brooke elise

    • The Too Cool For School balms look so good. I've been meaning to check them out at Sephora, of course everytime I go in the store I get distracted by all the other items and always forget lol.

  • Wow you really put some time and research in this!! Thanks for trying every lip balm possible haha! I really like the sound of the Fresh one! I too like the stick but I agree, I am so scared that I am going to break it! So it's a shame that it was so difficult to use! I might be sticking with the stick haha:)

    Shannon Sage

    • I've broken like 3 of the Fresh ones 🙁

  • I'm honestly a lip balm hoarder! I love the Nuxe (pot), Rosebud, CO Bigelow Night Balm, Kiehls, and L'occitane Shea Butter (twist up stick). And you can never go wrong with simple Aquaphor. Seriously love trying new lip balms. The Tatcha one sounds amazing!

  • My lips are so dry. I have been loving my Hourglass Oil in Icon. The Burberry First Kiss Balms have been making my lips happy too. I have the Caudalie stick and now have a list of others to try. I think the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask just might be my next purchase!
    Love this review!

    • Thanks Petunia, glad you liked the review! The Caudalie stick is my favorite stick balm. Yes the Burberry First Kiss Balms are quite amazing – I love the way they feel!

  • The Dior Creme de Rose is hands down my favourite. I tend to have a lot of problems with products on my lips, and it's one of the only lip balms I've ever repurchased. If I have a bad reaction to something, or if the weather turns suddenly and my lips get very chapped, it's one of the only things that works to soothe them. I love (LOVE) Tatcha in general, so I ordered the Camellia Lip Balm last time I ordered my skin care. Unfortunately, it seems to crack my lips rather than moisturize them 🙁 I've noticed I have a problem with their facial oil as well, so I'm thinking I might be sensitive to the Camellia oil. It's too bad, I had high hopes for that one. At least I have my go to Dior.

    • Oh no! Yes you might be sensitive to camellia oil 🙁 I hope the Dior one never changes.

  • Banish Chapped Lips by Emu Bliss has become my absolute favorite. It actually made my lips look better. I prefer natural ingredients in my skincare and this line fits the bill. They all contain emu oil which seems to be the ingredient that makes the difference. Here's the link if you want to check it out: http://emubliss.com

  • You should try clarins hydraquench lipbalm in the blue tube. It is phenomenal. I also love biotherm lip balm . I have the dryest lips in the world and have tried most of the ones available on the market. I find that these two help the most. I also have been faithful to Lush chocolate whipstick for almost a decade.

  • I love the Nuxe as an overnight treatment. My other faves are the La Mer lip balm (the absolute best), Diptyque lip balm (strong fragrance though), Sephora's super smoothing lip butter, and Glossier Coconut Balm Dotcom! Thanks for the recommendations…. the Amore Pacific and Tatcha are next on my list to try!

  • Among all the lip balms I own, I really love the Caudalie one!