Lip balm: matte or gloss?

Lip balm review - Clarins Extra Firming Lip and contour balm

I’ve become quite the lip balm connoisseur in the last year, progressing from Burt’s Bees and Blistex (effective and affordable) to the upper echelons of lip moisturisation, courtesy of Chanel Hydra Beauty Nutrition and Creme De La Mer The Lip Balm. In all honesty, the cheap stuff is great and definitely does the job. But I can’t resist the lure of something as utilitarian as lip balm taken to the heights of poshness. Chanel’s Hydra Beauty Nutrition is just that bit nicer to take out and primp with; it leaves a shiny finish and lasts really well. La Mer is more matte, so perfect as a lipstick base. Both come in lightweight, portable pots which I find fancier than a squeezy tube or stick.

And then, lunching with a couple of retails PRs, as I pulled out my La Mer for a quick touch-up, the chat turned to beauty favourites. Next thing I know, a mystery package lands on my desk from Clarins – it’s the Extra Firming Lip & Contour Balm (above). (Clearly the beauty PR network is a tight knit one – thank you Clarins). This shea butter and raspberry seed oil infused balm promises to repair and soften lips as well as helping them to appear fuller and younger. I can’t comment on the supposed smoothing of fine lines, but I’d peg it at the same level as La Mer, pleasingly matte, without the mintiness. It has the same satisfying hydrating properties and lets you put lipstick on top without it sliding off. So, a kind of miosturising lip primer. Clarins Extra Firming Lip and Contour Balm costs £31 which gets you 15ml in a heavy glass pot. Not one to tote in your bag then, but a definite keeper for the desk or bathroom vanity.

YSL Lip Tint In Oil

For something entirely different, there’s YSL’s Volupte Tint-In-Oil (above, £23.50). This came out in January and has become something of a beauty bloggers’ holy grail product – a new balm-meets-gloss hybrid tinted in eight wearable shades. It comes with a wand applicator that scoops up just the right amount for mirror free application. Oil and colour are apparently not the easiest of bedfellows, but YSL’s ‘colour link infuser’ (beauty brands love to invent nattty new names for their technology) works by marrying the two, with the oils gradually dispersing while leaving behind a sheer lip stain.

Science lesson aside, is it effective? Yes indeed. I’ve been using Crush Me Orange, which delivers more of a ‘glow’ than an obvious gloss. It’s very pretty, moisturising and natural looking. Oh My Gold is similarly subtle but with added micro flecks of gold shimmer. (As I get older, I love beauty products containing these imperceptible flecks as they instantly counteract any skin dullness.) You can layer the Tint-In-Oil to build intensity, or stick with one coat for a subtle hint of a tint.

WORDS AND IMAGES: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl