Lip-Balm Smackdown: We Have A Winner

There are few worse symptoms of winter skin woes than chapped lips — and, once the cycle of dryness and flakiness starts, it can feel impossible to solve. The problem is, there are about a million different lip-balm products on the market, and we'd hypothesize that maybe a third actually provide the lasting hydration we need to survive the polar vortex. This is no time for subpar lip potions, okay?
In an attempt to find the best balm of the bunch, we staged an old-fashioned Product Smackdown and asked four staffers to weigh in on four different parched-pout cures. Read on to learn how each lip product measured up, from a newfangled organic salve to old-fashioned ChapStick (yes, the one in the black tube), and tell us: Which balm do you rely on to keep your pout silky smooth all winter?

Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page!
Who: Isabel Cafaro, video production coordinator
The Contender: Smith's Rosebud Salve
"I don't really have a lip-care routine — I just slap on whatever color I feel like wearing that day. Right now, my lip balm of choice is Baby Lips from Maybelline in Peach Kiss, for when I don't want to wear lipstick but still get a bit of color. I love trying new lippies, so when I was assigned Smith's Rosebud Salve, I got excited. I've always wanted to try it."
"It was totally torture to avoid applying any lip balm before the shoot! The cold was making my lips extremely dry, and I kind of felt naked. I guess I'm more dependent on lip stuff than I thought."
"The first thing I noticed about Rosebud Salve was its amazing smell: A mix of rosewater and baby powder. But, I was afraid of its texture. It seemed sticky, and that's one of my lip-balm pet peeves. Surprisingly, it wasn't sticky at all and absorbed into my lips nicely, leaving behind a slightly shiny finish."
"I reapplied the lip balm only three times throughout the rest of the day. I think that's a new record for me! I usually reapply every hour on the hour, if not more. With Rosebud, my lips felt moisturized all day long. I probably didn't even have to reapply as much as I did."
"My lips felt so smooth and awesome after using Rosebud, and that's just after one day! This cold weather we've been having has just been tearing my lips apart, and Rosebud has been doing a really good job at repairing them. So, I'm keeping it! Smith's Rosebud Salve officially has a new fan."
$6, available at C.O. Bigelow.
Who: Jem Michael, producer
The Contender: Hollow & Ridge The Balm
"I use lip balm, lipstick and lip gloss like it's my job....mostly balm during the day, and gloss at night. I also use Fresh's lip scrub...but for some reason my lips are still really, really dry. I was really excited to try something and organic. I've really been trying to switch over to organic products, but its super-tough since they typically don't pack that moisturizing punch that I need."
"My lips were in pain the morning of the shoot, and I was nervous they'd bleed (typical). I'd say that my lips crack and bleed once a week in the winter. This lip balm smelled really lavender. It was not easy to apply, and since it's cold, the wax and butters were hard. I actually had to almost dig it out with my finger, but once applied, it gave me a simple matte look."
"I reapplied the product frequently throughout the day (about five to seven times). I definitely had to reapply more than I typically do, but I think its because I couldn't get as much as I normally use. And, I might just be used to the goopy feeling I get with things like Vaseline. I kept it in my pocket and it warmed up a bit, but it still really didn't coat my lips."
"To be honest, I'm not 100% sure that there was much of a change. I like the idea of something more natural, but I think I might like the feeling when my lips are a little bit more greased-up. I loved the packaging and smell, but I think after it runs out, I'll go back to ChapStick."
$6, available at Hollow & Ridge.
Who: Samantha Yu, editorial assistant
The Contender: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
"This winter, I've become passionately devoted to Blistex Lip Medex. It's cheap and it works! It's always in my pocket, on my bedside table...everywhere I go, it goes. I also use Fresh Sugar Lip Polish about once a week, and I feel that the two products do a relatively good job of moisturizing my chapped lips."
"I love trying new beauty products, so I was psyched to try out Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream (LOVE their Custom Color Foundation)! On the morning of the shoot, my lips were dry, flaky and uncomfortable, so once I was allowed to apply the Eight Hour Cream, it was a HUGE relief to finally moisturize my lips."
"The first thing I noticed about the Eight Hour Cream was its size. This is a larger product than I would usually reach for. I tend to pick items that can fit in my back pocket or in a tiny clutch. Like I said, it's gotta stay with me 24/7. The scent was slightly floral, with a little spice. I applied a very little amount with my finger and my lips immediately felt hydrated. I also noticed a surprising amount of shine given how little I had put on...a major plus!"
"I applied the cream about three times throughout the work day (definitely fewer times than I usually apply my Blistex). My lips felt great at the end of the day — moisturized, shiny, and smooth."
"I would definitely keep using this product. In fact, it's sitting on my desk right this moment, and it will likely stay there... and I'll continue to carry my Blistex with me for when I'm on the go!"
$19.50, available at DermStore.
Who: Anne Cassard, design project manager
The Contender: ChapStick Original Lip Protectant
"I normally use Philosophy lip gloss in a tube in any number of delicious flavors...peppermint, vanilla bean, etc. I almost always use this high-shine, colorless gloss, but I'm simultaneously almost always trying to get myself to wear alternative colors and other consistencies. For me, the tried, true, and consistent winner is the gloss, though. I might never change."
"Chapstick triggers major nostalgia for me. It must have been the first beauty product I was allowed to get my paws on, and it was sort of a 'cool' accessory during the winter time in Michigan when I was a little kid, so I had a moment when I applied it for the first time! It did apply easily, and the subtle scent is unmistakable. The texture is smooth, but it doesn't feel like it layers on terribly well. It looks super-matte once applied... I have to say, I missed the shine factor!"
"I probably applied it throughout the day about 15 times or so. That has partly to do with how accessible the product is (always in my pocket) and how easy it is was to apply quickly. I do think it was nicely moisturizing."
"My lips definitely felt well-balanced and much better than they did when I was shot in the morning! I'm sticking to my original just because, as I've said several times now, I don't think this product is has the visual impact I want a product to have. I like the added shine of a gloss, even though it's still very simple and colorless. Sorry, Chapstick. Maybe my 8-year-old self would feel differently?"
$1.59, available at Walgreens.

Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page!

More from Skin Care


R29 Original Series