lip balm

Squee! Mini-Review: Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm in 04 Crystal Red

Call me Voxy. Some months ago – never mind how long precisely – having a bit of mad money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me at Sephora, I thought I would cruise about a little and see other parts of the world of cosmetics. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to buy a lipstick as soon as I can.

(Melville is giving me the stinkeye from his grave. I can feel it.)

So, last summer, feeling a little spleenish, I was looking around for summer collection items beyond what Sephora carries. And I found, on several beauty blogs, these delectable, lipsmacking photos of Clarins Crystal Lip Balms in red, orange, and pink. They were completely translucent and looked like they were made of some kind of ice or gel. Popsicle-like. Totally drool-worthy. I searched for them for months, but to no avail — because I didn’t know they weren’t released in the US. (Duh. I am such a dork sometimes.)

But this year they are being released in the US. At last! For years weeks days I stalked the Clarins website, pacing the deck, harpoon (in the form of a credit card) in hand. At last, the white whale — which is to say, the Crystal Lip Balm collection — was sighted! And, in an utterly undramatic fashion, I bought the one in Crystal Red.

I know. Anticlimactic.

But wait there’s more! It arrived today, and it is AMAZEBALLS. From the swatches I’ve seen on UK blogs, the versions put out in previous years were pretty much completely translucent. They looked gorge in the tube but on lips translated to only the slightest hint of color. This year’s version seems to be more pigmented — there’s a solid core of pigment surrounded by a very lightly tinted translucent balm. It’s so lightly tinted it’s effectively colorless. When I swatched it on my hand I was surprised.

Then I went ahead and put it on my lips. It is fabulous. It is a totally wearable not-too-intense shade of red. I can’t really call it a balm, though — the pigment makes it feel like a lipstick when it’s on your lips. It’s not drying but I didn’t think it was particularly moisturizing either. I didn’t do a wearlength test (hence why this is really only a mini-review), but it lasted a couple of hours for sure.

I immediately went back on the website and purchased two of the other three shades: Crystal Pink and Crystal Coral. I was wondering about the fourth shade, Crystal Violet, but based on how much pigment is in the Crystal Red, I suspect it would be way too purple for me. But we’ll see.

These should be on counters shortly but they are available now from (limited edition) for $24.50. Through 4/24 you can get free shipping with code MOM.

UPDATE! The other two colors I ordered arrived today. The pink is much less pigmented than the red and does feel more like a balm (though still not entirely); the coral is almost as pigmented as the red and it is fairly bright. It is OK for my skin tone but going much brighter than that would be a bad idea.  I wore the red to school the other day, through one of my longest teaching days, and got about 3 hours’ wear out of it before I had to reapply. It stained a little bit, but less than I’d have anticipated. Still a win all around, though.

Close-up and hand swatch!


You can barely see that on either side of the red pigment there is a tiny bit of shiny balm, almost totally colorless.

Review: AmorePacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment

Or, why I actually think you should consider spending $35 on a lip balm.

This is going to be the Winter In Which Voxy Finally Decides To Stop Ignoring Her Unattractively Dry Lips. No, for realz this time. Yes, I know I said that the last three years. But this year I really really mean it, pinky-swear.

To this end I have a variety of products winging their way to me, but this is one I discovered last spring that I think is fantastic. Yes, it is $35. Which means that if you apply that first, and then a Guerlain Rouge G lippie on top, you have an $82 lip.

I don’t know why I mentioned that.

Anyhoo, this product is the best lip balm I have ever tried, which given the price tag is a good thing. There are two great things about it: 1. it clings to lips like no other balm I’ve tried, and 2. it is just glossy enough to make it look like you’ve put something pretty on even if you haven’t. Of the two, #1 is the reason it’s worth the money. It feels like it just wraps itself around your lips. It’s not goopy, it’s not sticky, it’s not oily, and it’s not waxy. It’s perfect.

So of course you are asking “if it’s so perfect, why do you still have a dry lip problem? Huh? HUH?” and the answer is that it’s my fault because I am very bad at proactive dry skin care. Instead, I wait until it’s an emergency and my lips are cracked and bleeding before I decide to do something about it. (See resolution, above.) Since the Sephora Friends & Family sale is still on until 11/2, if you want to give it a try, you can pick it up for 20% off, so it will only run you $28. If your lips are desperate for some help, and I mean threatening-to-go-on-strike-and-walk-off-your-face desperate, this is a lifesaver.


AmorePacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment: $35 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Come on. I have to say Poor, because even though it is an excellent product, it’s 35 frigging dollars.

Purchase again? I just did, since I thought I lost my original tube. Fortunately, I found it, so now I have one for home and one for the purse.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: MAC Tendertone Lip Balms

mac lipbalm 1What? Limited edition, no longer in production? Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Alas. Joe says it is, in fact, so. Joe also says, though, that you can still get these products at your local CCO, Amazon, or (sometimes) on eBay (watch for scams). And there seems to be a lot of pom-pom-waving for MAC bringing this product back, which is understandable because They Are Awesome.

Whereas the Korres lip butters are clearly a lip care product first and a lip color enhancer second, these are a glamour product first and a lip conditioner second — but you would never know it from the lip-feel. In the top photo, the pink shade is Sweet and Nice, and the coppery shade is Deep Sigh. These look deeply pigmented in the container but go on (with a brush, preferably) smooth, glossy, and sheer. There is a little bit of shimmer in the coloration of the product, but there’s absolutely no glitter on the lips. Very sophisticated. The lip-feel is luscious, the formula lasts for several hours, and, when worn over bare lips, it wears off without any crustiness, dryness, or blotchy color. They’re also SPF 12, which is a nice perk, and even though they’re called “balms” they’re as glossy as any tube gloss. They are smooth and totally un-sticky.

I <heart> these so much I can hardly stand it.

mac lip balm on

Only disadvantage: they’re heavy in my purse. I know — if that’s all I’ve got to complain about, it must be a pretty darned good product, right? Well, OK, I can find something else to complain about. They’re heavy in my purse because the glass base is unnecessarily large and weighty, which also (not coincidentally) has the effect of making you think there’s more product in the container than there actually is, and you know that deceptive packaging drives me nuts.

These glosses last a couple of hours on the lips; if you were just going out and smiling at people, you’d probably get five hours out of one. (That’s Sweet and Nice I’m wearing there, by the way, over bare lips.) However, if you teach or are otherwise talking all the time, it will wear off more quickly, but that’s OK. Like other MAC lip products, there is a slight vanilla/fruity scent to the product, but it’s quite subtle.


MAC Tendertone Lip Balms: I hardly know what price to assign this product, since reseller prices change all the time, but it’s currently $11.95 on Amazon.

Provenance: Purchased (via CCO).

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good, I think. Because of the way the glass base refracts light, it’s hard to tell the actual size of the pot of gloss inside the container. If it turns out that I run out after having only had them for two weeks, I shall be revising this estimation tout de suite.

Purchase again? You bet your bottom dollar.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: Laura Mercier Stickgloss


I rarely use the term holy grail (HG) to describe makeup or skincare items (I can be so fickle sometimes). But if there ever was an item I might apply the HG honorific to, this is it. Beginning of the tale: I’m a fan of Laura Mercier and have been for many years. Her makeup colors are suited for professional women and women des ages certaines, as the French say. The relationship was cemented on my 30th wedding anniversary 18 months ago. Dear husband (DH) and I had dinner reservations at a posh restaurant across from Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. We arrived early, too early to just sit and drink until our table was ready. So I asked DH if he minded if I browsed cosmetics at Saks while he browsed men’s. Gallant soul that he is, he consented. I forget what propelled me over the Laura Mercier’s counter that day, but there I wound up. The very nice makeup artist proceeded to create a natural macquillage for me, one I could duplicate myself easily. I was happy to buy the neutral eyeliner, lipstick, and eyeshadow he used to create a natural look.  And when I returned home, I signed up for e-mail updates from
Fast-forward to last spring and the new collection arrived in my e-mailbox, featuring a shimmering stickgloss in a color called Tiger Lily, a goldy peachy pink, perfect for fair-skinned, auburn-haired moi. (Note that the color used for this post is the stock photo from Laura Mercier’s site and not Tiger Lily.)  I ordered it toute de suite from the site (free shipping helped). And fell immensely in love. The lip gloss has enough body it doesn’t feel as if it will fall over when you apply it, the color is fantastic (and look good with a variety of lip liners), the texture is smooth as silk and moisturizing. It has no taste or fragrance (I like that a lot in my lip products). As expected from a gloss, reapplication is de rigueur. The one drawback is that it costs $20.00. But as the ad says, I’m worth it.

Laura Mercier’s site describe the stickgloss thusly:
Laura Mercier Stickgloss cares for your lips while delivering colour in a sheer and sophisticated finish.

* Part Lip Balm, part Lip Colour and part Lip Glace
* Provides a sheer wash of colour, creates dimension and adds fullness to the lips
* Ultra-hydrating and longer wearing than a traditional Lip Glace
* 0.12 oz./3.5g
The tube look small but the weight is average for lipsticks or stickglosses. I’ve already repurchased. And next time I’m at a Laura Mercier counter, at Saks or elsewhere, I’ll be trying the other colors as well.

Verdict: Excellent.
Provenance: Purchased.

Review: Korres Lip (and Body) Butters

korres pomegranate lip butterI know it seems like even though this blog is only a few weeks old, it’s already been kind of lippy. That’s actually unusual, because up until now I haven’t been that much of a lip fanatic. (You would not believe how much having this blog has changed my skincare and makeup habits. Of course I have to wear lipstick! I have a responsibility! It is my sacred duty!)

Here’s the review in a nutshell: run-don’t-walk to your nearest Sephora or ULTA and pick up the amazingly fantastic Korres lip butter. “Full price” for this is only $9, so I’m marking it a steal even though it feels like a splurge.

A full-size container of the Pomegranate Lip Butter came with the Sephora sampler pack I mentioned previously (which is made of win, by the way; more reviews to follow but I have three rave products already, of which this is one!).

But considering that November is All Largely Somewhat About Skincare, I figure I can get this in under “skincare” just as easily as under “makeup,” because it is without a doubt the most fabulous-feeling lip product I have ever had the pleasure to apply, and that includes hot fudge.

Some other time I’ll get into my rant about lip balms, waxes, and other supposed dry-lip solutions. (Do you know what’s in Carmex? Yeeesh.) So you can safely assume I didn’t have high hopes for this product. As has happened several times recently (DuWop Circle Block, Almay Smart Shade foundation), I am pleased to be wrong, wrong, wrong. The lip-feel of this product is nothing short of extraordinary.

Not only that, but the color is fantastic: a sheer translucent full-bodied pink with a hint of melon. Gor. Geous. This is a product with some fragrance, but I don’t find it obtrusive: it’s a delicious fruity scent.

I do, of course, wish it had more staying power. But it’s easy to reapply and feels so good that frankly you might want to apply every hour just for the sybaritic pleasure of it.

There are several other shades available, besides the scrumptious Pomegranate: Guava, for those of you who prefer an untinted lip butter, and tinted butters in the following shades: Quince, Wild Rose, Jasmine, Plum, and Mango. Bonus: you can also use them on your cheeks if you’re out of blush. (OK, I sometimes do that anyway, but these are specifically approved for that.)


To up the “skincare” legitimacy of this entry, I’ll also mention that I recently tested a sample of the Korres Guava Body Butter, which I liked but which I didn’t feel like plunking down $29 for. (I mean, really.) They have a sampler/gift kit that has three smaller-but-still-reasonably-sized tubes in it (Guava, Quince, and Fig), which was, I think, $24.50? Something like that. Anyway, still too expensive. But as it happened, my next stop on the way home was TJMaxx, and lo and behold, what did I discover in TJMaxx but the exact same body butter 3-pack for the low low price of $6.99. Well, now, that’s a different story. I may review these later as part of a hand/body cream round-up.


Korres Lip Butter: $9

Provenance: Purchased (part of Sephora sampler pack)

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent

Purchase again? You bet your sweet lips I will.

(Have you used these products? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Want ’em? Let us know in the comments!)