The One Beauty Splurge That's Totally Worth It

Luxury doesn't have to mean a Chloé bag under the tree. Often, the ultimate expressions of it are simple, everyday items that are made with extra care, packaged with attention to detail, or just feel better to use. Can you find cheaper versions of these dream products? Sure. But, the experience makes the splurge worth the indulgence.
Take the humble tube of lip balm. The simple salve needn’t cost a lot. And, an effective balm ranks alongside your cell phone as a top must-have, phantom-limb item. While our lips are equipped with glands that constantly moisturize, those glands often lose the hydration battle when radiator heat, dry weather, and cold winds come into play.
“The lips are really resilient in the sense that they sustain a lot of movement and are constantly going from wet to dry," says Chris Adigun, MD, a North Carolina-based dermatologist. "But, in the winter months, they can’t keep up with the wet-dry fluctuation, on top of dry air and cold temperatures, and it becomes difficult to maintain hydration. Once your skin gets very dry, it takes just a little bit of stress and they become very susceptible to cracks.”
To help your lips stay supple, Dr. Adigun says you need a product that will serve as a protective barrier against moisture loss and the elements. Dr. Adigun points to barrier-protecting emollients, like petrolatum, dimethicone, and wax-based products, as well as ingredients that can make a balm less gritty in consistency, like coconut and olive oils.
Balms, at any price point, are well-equipped to fight dry and cracked lips. But, as the seasonal shopping, dealing with family, and general getting-around conditions become considerably more complex thanks to the weather, it’s nice to experience a heavenly scent, chic design, or richer formula.
Here are our favorite luxe balms to treat yourself with this season.
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This jar shot to cult-classic status back in 2003 and has stayed put ever since. It's a fave of both models and Hollywood stars due to its ability to effectively heal chapped lips. Rose-essential wax works to smooth the pout, and shea butter adds a moisturizing effect. The lovely scent is a much appreciated bonus.

By Terry Rose Balm, $60, available at Barneys New York.
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Beauty editors swear by this your-lips-but-better balm. The pink, glossy formula enhances your natural lip color, while mango butter and loofah extract eradicate flakes all winter long.

Dior Addict Lip Glow, $33, available at Sephora.
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Photo: Via Rouge Bunny Rouge.
Remember the sweet smell of Strawberry Shortcake dolls? This balm perfectly captures that scent of our youth and leaves a slight gold sheen on the lips. While we love the hand-drawn flowers on the tube, don’t be fooled: The formula is very grown-up, with a texture that’s nicely balanced between waxy and soft, and a weighted case that reads more chic than cute.
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Photo: Via Lancer Skincare.
Many lip plumpers burn like the dickens and can dry out lips. This one produces a mild tingly sensation, but thanks to ingredients like shea butter and triglycerides, it hydrates, too. We also love the metal tip, which ensures the formula doesn’t mix with our lip color when we layer it on top for a boost of shine.
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Photo: Via ReVive.
Oil-packed lip serums can be goopy and messy. But, this sleek silver wand — which comes with a brush applicator — has a creamy, not greasy, consistency. Even better, it fills in the crevices and lines of our lips to create a perfectly smooth canvas.
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Photo: Via Tata Harper.
This balm (which faintly smells of fresh raspberries) is neither sticky nor overly waxy. Its small-batch, farm-raised ingredients — which include exfoliating meadowsweet, alfalfa, calendula, and comfrey; and antioxidant-packed apricot kernel, rhubarb, açaí- and green-tea oils — make it a perfect pick for those who want to protect their lips the natural way.
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Photo: Via La Prairie.
Celebrity makeup artists have long sung the praises of this eye and lip potion — though we couldn’t help but balk at the price. After getting our hands on the double-decker, mirror-equipped compact — and, of course, its super soothing treatments (a creamy gel for the eye area and a smooth balm for the lips) — we are officially converts. As if the product itself weren’t luxe enough, it comes in a gorgeous leather zip-up case.
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Photo: via Zelens.
Naturally rosy lips are wasted on the young. Fake a Brooke-Shields-in-Blue-Lagoon pout with this antioxidant-packed nourisher, which slowly amplifies lips to their own shade of natural pink with every swipe.
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Photo: Via Burberry.
Get a Popsicle-stained look year-round thanks to this tinted balm. We love that this waxy formula is smartly packaged in a magnetic case with reflective sides.
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Photo: Via La Mer.
Believers in La Mer’s Miracle Broth — a signature elixir concocted from seaweed — will love this minty balm. Bonus: It's packaged in a pot wide enough to touch directly to the lips — no dipping of dirty mitts required. Just kiss it and go.
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Photo: Via Chantecaille.
Rose, lavender, and aloe merge with vitamin E, shea butter, and macadamia-nut oil to make a balm that smells deliciously good. The smooth formula doesn't deliver too much shine, and the architectural packaging is perfect for lovers of modern design.
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Photo: Via Sisley.
This grown-up balm hydrates and soothes without the gloss: Its formula is more tacky than slick, and it leaves the most subtle of shine. Encased in a red, velvet sleeve, this silver tube also makes a chic gift for the Stephanies, Sarahs, and Siris in your life.
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Photo: Via Clé de Peau Beauté.
Macadamia-nut, jojoba, and sunflower oils converge in this smooth, hydrating balm. We especially love the finish — just luminescent enough to make lips appear more full, but not overly glossy.
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Photo: Via Laura Mercier.
Housed in a pearlescent lipstick tube, this ultra-soft balm glides on easily, deposits light shine, and doesn’t require frequent reapplication. We knew this weightless formula was a keeper when windblown hair didn’t stick to our balm-covered lips.
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Photo: Via Marc Jacobs Beauty.
Marc’s modern packaging is enough to make us swoon — and the screw-top lid ensures balm doesn’t break free in the bottom of your bag. It's a great pick for those who want a thicker, waxier formula than oil-filled blends can offer.
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