It's wintertime - granted mid-almost-late winter, but winter nonetheless. These subzero temperatures can wreak havoc on your skin, and it's more important than ever to find the right products to keep your skin soft and supple before the cold destroys the largest organ on your body - your skin. If nothing else, please please please protect your lips. The wind can turn your luscious lips into a mess - and while corn flakes might look nice in a bowl with some milk, that whole flaky/dry thing doesn't translate well on a face. I know when I'm talking to someone, I focus a lot on their lips, and if they have gross lips, I spend the entire conversation wondering in my mind what they could have done better to protect them. Of course, I end up missing the whole point of the conversation and have to throw in empty "uh-huh"'s and head-nods to seem like I'm still listening, but whatever. The point is - lips are important, and if you treat yours horribly, it will show.
Sometime during my freshman year of college, this fascination with lip protection became my latest beauty kick. Of course, by the time I completed high school, I had tried my share of different balms - the million varieties of Chapstick and Blistex, for example. But during my junior year of high school, I found out that the levels of menthol in Chapstick actually dry out your skin until you reapply, eventually making you dependent on the product. I switched to Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm (pictured above) - a cult favorite. And even today, this simple $3 tube of lip balm is one of my favorites. But again, freshman year of college arrived, and with it, a desire for a bigger, better, and more expensive skin care regimen. I've tried out a few different balms, and I hope that my experiences will help you find the right balm/protection program for you.
In need of some lip-lovin, I headed to the Benefit counter at Sephora and purchased Benefit Lipscription - a lip exfoliator and balm duo that should be used one to three times a week to achieve soft, supple, kissable lips. Step one: exfoliate using the jojoba-enriched scrubbing beads to slough off dry skin and expose a fresh layer of dermis. And Step two: Smooth on the silky lip balm. I thought, for $30, this stuff has to be amazing. Well, it was. But I feel I could have achieved the same results with something much cheaper. I still have the lipscription program stashed away in my cabinet, and use it once a week or so to exfoliate. When it runs out though, I'll head to the Body Shoppe, where for $10, I can purchase 'Lip Scuff.' It resembles a tube of lipstick, but instead of a pigment, there is a wealth of exfoliators and scrubbing beads. I'm sure that this stick of "Scuff"will do the same exact thing that the jojoba scrubbers did in the Lipscription (not to mention, at a fraction of the price). I will, however, admit that the lip balm included as part of the lipscription program is among the best I've ever used. It made my lips incredibly soft, and the moisture lasted for hours. So, should you head to Sephora and pick it up? I would say no. If Benefit ever released the balm alone, I would definitely purchase it again, but until then, no.
Soon after I experimented with Lipscription, I headed back to Sephora to get something a little cheaper to keep on myself all the time, so I didn't use up all of the Benefit balm before the exfoliator was used. I found Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm. The lady behind the counter also assured me this was an amazing balm, and that she used it too! The practical shopper in me said no, but the product-whore in me pulled out the cash. Luckily Jack Black (no relation to Nacho Libre) makes this lip balm much more afforable - only $7. Since I purchased it early in 2007, I have been most devoted to this lip balm. It makes my lips feel buttery soft, and the hint of mint adds that extra kick. Being a guy, if I'm not careful, the Intense Therapy Lip Balm will look very glossy, but that's easily taken care of with a kiss or a blot. Should you purchase it? Definitely.
Very recently, I decided it was time to switch it up again. After a considerable amount of online research (reading reviews, ingredients, etc.) I headed back to Sephora (I'm sure you can tell how much I love this store) and picked up a tube of Fresh Sugar Lip Balm. It's a little on the pricey side ($22.50), but does it's job well. It lasts forever, smells divine, and looks very sleek in a bag or on a counter. The scent alone will bring me back to this balm in the future, but the price may make me think harder about doing so. That being said, I think it's a great value for all the protection and moisture it provides my kissers.
If you are fortunate enough to afford it, I also suggest you try La Mer Lip Balm. If you're as big a beauty buff as me, you know that La Mer is the cream of the crop. So you can imagine how good their lip balm would be. I only tried it on once and was satisfied. But at $45, I think that the cheaper balms listed above do a fine job, and I personally won't be purchasing this any time soon. If you want another more affordable option, check out Rosebud Salve - I've only used this once or twice, and was surprised by how much moisture it offered and how great it smelled. It's relatively cheap and can be found at your local Bath and Body Works.
Finally, before you put on that lip balm, make sure your breath is fresh and your teeth are white. I suggest Rembrandt Intense Stain Whitening Toothpaste. I didn't really have any stains at all - let alone intense ones, but I figured this would be the strongest whitener in a toothpaste I could find, and boy, was I right! I used this toothpaste for a week, and I wasn't the only one who noticed my brighter new smile. No messy trays or gels - as the commercials say, but as an added bonus, not even those flimsy strips. For fresh breathe, I suggest Marvis toothpaste. It does what any good toothpaste is supposed to do, and looks amazing on your counter (the original one in the green tube is my favoite! I've tried the mint and jasmine one in the purple tube, and it took forever to get used to the taste). For those who need a little more help in the breath department, check out BreathRx. A specially formulated toothpaste, tongue spray, and mouthwash come with this kit, designed to stop bad breath in it's tracks. The reviews for this program all sound amazing, so I feel pretty confident that it would be a good buy, and at only $7 at CVS, who wouldn't want to?