You probably don’t put that much thought into lip balm. It’s something you pick up from wherever, you’re happy to have it when you need it, and, well, that’s about it. But unlike women, who have an average of 65 individual items in their handbags, men walk around with very few items on their person: a wallet with some stuff in there, cash, a phone, maybe some gum or mints, and perhaps a lip balm. Give or take a bit, that’s about all that most of us guys carry around.
With this in mind, your lip balm – and what is says about you – carries more weight than you think. It’s not on a level of your watch, of course, but if you’re on a date, for example, and you whip a lip balm out of a pocket, up-cap and apply. She’s looked at, and noticed, the brand. And if your date goes well, she may even get a taste of your lip balm later in the evening.
Lip Balms can be broken down into four categories:
1) The pragmatic – Chap Stick, Blistex, etc – inexpensive, and by far the most popular and biggest selling group.
2) The prestige – fancier brands with higher prices, such as Aveda.
3) The clinical – designed to treat a specific ailment – typically cold sores.
4) The girly – tinted, scents or tastes of strawberry, cherry, etc.
Pragmatic Lip Balms
These are what most men use on a daily basis. They often include SPF ingredients.
Best Daily Lip Balm: ChapStick, Moisturizer. (the Dark Blue stick). We don’t know what it is about this formula, but ChapStick just nailed it. Unlike the black or other ChapStick colors (called “Classics”), this one glides on smooth and is not too waxy, lasts for a while and works — it glides on smoothly, hydrates lips well and offers SPF 15 protection. Masculine blue tube is perfectly acceptable. Don’t confuse this with the lighter blue, “medicated” Chap Stick, which is something completely different. $2 – $2.50.
One note: according to dermatologist we spoke to, some people are sensitive to the oxybenzone in this product. If you find you’re getting those small white dots in the corners of your mouth of other irritation, discontinue use. Which, for us, would be like is like putting down the crack pipe.
Burt’s Bees – Beeswax. (the yellow stick with the yellow cap). If for some reason Chap Stick just ain’t for you – perhaps you want a product with ingredients that are more natural – the original Burt’s Bees lip balm, the Beeswax option, is a nice alternative. Made primarily of beeswax, it doesn’t glide on quite as nicely as the Chap Stick above, but it does match our #1 pick in staying power and effectiveness. Burt’s Bees adds a touch of peppermint, which is a nice tingly and refreshing point of difference. Cost is around $3.00 per stick.
Burt’s Bees now has a host of funkified flavor options like Honey, Açai Berry or Mango. If you have seriously dry lips or have a ski trip, winter hike or something like that on the horizon, also check out the Kokum Butter Ultra Conditioning option, although we’re not a fan of this product’s scent. ($4.00)
Nivea For Men. We like Nivea Lip Balm for Men for a few reasons. First, it’s one of the only low-cost lip balms created specifically for men rather than being uni-sex. The dark blue tube and promise of “no shine” fulfills its manly promises. Some men don’t like the “two step” packaging, which requires removing the inner stick from the outer and than twisting out, but we actually like the luxe feel of this attribute, although one-handed use isn’t possible.
For second runner up, we were torn between this option and arch competitor Neutragena’s Norwegian Formula lip balm stick, but this item has sadly been discontinued — Neutragena’s only lip balm is now its “Naturals” offering. Why? Why?
Prestige Lip Balms
Looking to make an impression? Up your ante with something special.
Aveda Lip Saver. The holy grail of lip balms, bar none. If we were millionaires it’s the only lip product we would use. Like ChapStick dark blue in the mass market, Aveda just plain got it all right. The product goes on perfectly, lasts a long time, and provides great moisture without ever being greasy.
On top of all that, it has a delightful smell. I once watched a man get into a heated argument with the clerk at the Aveda shop in New York’s Flatiron district of because he was not permitted to buy more than 12 at once (store policy). Yep, it’s that good.
Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1. Ah, good ‘ol #1… For many guys it’s the first balm past drugstore-level. And for good reason – the product works well – proving good moisture and coverage with little to no greasy feel. It’s masculine, and never “addictive” like, say, the Blistex tube, which keeps one want wanting more and more. $7.50 for a ½ ounce tube. The Facial Fuel stick is a men-only stick from Kiehl’s, but we’re more fond of #1.
Molton Brown – Men’s Lip Balm. We dig MB for so many reasons… Now the irreverent Burberry of skincare, every product has a story to tell, and each is of exceptional quality. If you’re looking for friends to ask, “hey, what’s that?” this “Protecting Vitamin Lipsaver” is your balm. At $18 for ½ ounce stick this is an investment of sorts, but it’s so long lasting that you really do use less per day anyway.
And the scent is just brilliant. Forgive me.