With Valentine's Day looming, we're all hoping for a big fat smooch from a very special someone, or at least a few very enthusiastic nobodies. But the mushiest holiday of the year also falls during one of the coldest months of the year, and you can't exactly pucker up for a makeout session with dry, chapped zombie lips.
As you may have read, lips are kind of my thing, and since I've invested time and money into making sure they're as plump as possible, I'm also extremely anal about keeping them hydrated. Anyone who knows me knows that I have at least two kinds of lip balm on me at all times. I've tried every just about every lip balm on the market in my constant quest for a plush pout, and I'm here to guide you through Valentine's Day and beyond, because even if you don't have someone to kiss, you can show yourself some love by indulging in a new, beauty expert-approved product. You can have a little lip luxury... as a treat!
Glossier may have earned a reputation as beauty products for people who are already pretty, but they put themselves on the map with this cult favorite product. Teenage girls and their annoyed parents line up outside the Glossier stores in New York and Los Angeles all year long just so they can ascend the millennial pink steps and nab a tube of their very own. The balm is goopy but spreadable, an ideal consistency for lip balm, and comes in an array of flavors and finishes, including a few with a light int. My favorites are Birthday, which has a subtle shimmer and tastes exactly like cake, and refreshing Mint.
If you're gonna keep running your mouth about Rihanna endlessly delaying her next album, you might as well do it with hydrated lips. Not only does Fenty Beauty's balm have a great formula — gooey, but a bit more liquidy than Glossier — it has my favorite applicator on the market, a wand that lets you apply balm without having to use your fingers. I love slathering this all over my mouth for a post-makeout look, and it's a great way to start your makeup routine if you're planning to wear a drying matte lipstick.
This brand is known for their various lip-plumping products, but the balm is the most subtle, yet effective. The shade Big O, a sheer pink, is perfect if you're looking for a "my lips but better" effect on a no-makeup day. The balm has a tingly effect that does visibly plump your lips — not as much as say, lip fillers, but it is noticeable. Of all the tinted balms I've tried, this one is my go-to because the color is sheer enough that if you're messy with your application, it's not super noticeable. This is the absolute best for creating DSLs — perfect for your next hookup.
Bobbi Brown is such a slept on brand! They make some of my favorite skincare products, and the extra lip tint is another great option if you're looking for moisture with a hint of color. I'm partial to Bare Nude — nude isn't an option you see a lot in tinted lip balms, which tend to lean more pink or red than beige. This is definitely on the pricier side when it comes to lip balm, but a little goes a long way and the product makes your lips feel cushiony for hours.
As an avid cannabis connoisseur, I was very intrigued when Milk started rolling out their line of KUSH products. The lip balm is definitely my favorite of the line, and comes in an array of tints. However, the sheer green OG is my favorite. The cannabis sativa seed oil calms chapped lips while the shea and moringa butter provide a 1-2 punch of hydration. The smell is subtle but divine, and this is a balm that sinks into your lips rather than sitting on top of them. Pro-tip: if you want to try out a range of Milk's KUSH products, there's a set that includes a mini lip balm that's the perfect size for a teeny tiny purse.
Not technically a balm, but as someone who uses Tatcha's Water Cream daily, I was so excited to learn they also had a lip mask, one that has the word kiss in the name, hello! The mask has a wonderfully syrupy consistency that's great as an overnight mask or a heavier balm on those super cold, super dry winter days. It also comes with a little gold spoon you can use to apply the product — the height of sophistication!
I know this is supposed to be a list of balms, but I'm a recent lip oil convert thanks to Dior. The cruelest part of winter is how drying it can be — ok, seasonal depression is pretty bad too — and oils become essential to my skincare routine during the coldest months of the year. This product gives your lips a super glossy look that's more glasslike than wet, and it comes in an array of shades — my current favorite is Berry, a purple that will leave you looking like you were just sucking... a popsicle. Get your mind of the gutter, sickos!
When it comes to beauty and skincare, I'll always go for something simple and effective, period. Aquaphor really is just that girl. I keep a tube of this by my bed and it's the first thing I put on my face after I brush my teeth in the morning and the last thing before I go to sleep at night. And it's so multi-purpose! You can use this on a new tattoo, a burn, or some inner-thigh chafing (better known to us thicc girls as chub-rub). No frills, no nonsense, no complaints. Aquaphor does have a lip therapy version, but I prefer the original — I'm also pretty sure they're the same thing. You cannot use too much of this, and I'll often just end up smearing it over the entire lower half of my face if I have some beard burn from whoever I was kissing the night before. My grandma has approximately 20 travel-sized tubes of these in her bathroom at all times, and I always grab a few whenever I visit — thanks grandma!
Welcome to "You've Been Served,"Rose Dommu's alternately irreverent and incisive look at beauty, ranging from the deeply personal to pop cultural — essays, product guides, interviews with artists/influencers/specialists and deep dives into the beauty industry's impact on internet culture.