High End Lip Balm Comparison: Estee Lauder, YSL, Caudalie

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I may not be consistent about many things, including skin care, but I am obsessive about applying lip balm.  My morning routine generally goes like this (some steps change order but lip balm application never varies):  get up, brush teeth, put in contacts, take shower, apply lip balm, apply skin care, apply hair products, blow dry hair, clean hands, apply makeup, go into other room to have breakfast, realize all lipstick has been eaten off, re-apply lip balm and lipstick.

So which lip balm do I reach for?  It depends on where I am and what mood I’m in.  In order of price, my top three lip balms are the Estee Lauder New Dimension Plump + Full Expert Lip Treatment, YSL Shine Oil-in-Stick in number 42, balm minuit, and the Caudalie Lip Conditioner.

You’ll see a theme here which is that these are all twist up balms.  I prefer not to use balms that I have to dip my fingers into due to bacterial, although for a great balm I am willing to make an exception.  I’ve also just found over the years I tend to use pot balms less than their twist up counterparts.

Estee Lauder Lip Plumper

The Estee Lauder lip balm is generally what I put on in the morning when I’m sitting at my vanity getting ready.  I love applying the balm and letting it sink in while I continue getting ready.  By the time I’m ready for lipstick, my lips feel well nourished and ready for lipstick.  The Estee Lauder lip balm is, as LisaLisaD1 said, “yummy.”  It is soft, emollient, but it doesn’t move around on the lips.  It fills the lip lines (perhaps this is part of the plumping?) and makes the lips look plumper without ANY tingly feeling.  To repeat, this does not plump by any uncomfortable sensation at all.  This plumps by being softening and conditioner so lips look healthier and – dare I say it – younger-looking.   It is not slick or shiny or waxy – it is just like putting a soft protectant on your lips that stays in place.  If the word “umami” could describe a cosmetic feel, that’s the word I would use to describe this balm.

Fragrance is personal, but this has no discernible fragrance as far as I can tell.  I like this so much that I actually dug into the bullet and scraped out with a beauty spatula the remaining bit of balm that wouldn’t twist up any further.  I’ve never done that with a lipstick before, if that tells you how good this product is.

The other end of the Estee Lauder lip plumper is a serum that you’re supposed to apply around the outside line of your lips.  I don’t really use this side, unfortunately, and think it is a wasted part of the product.  I will continue to try it, but the star of the show is the balm.  Another reason I apply this one at home as part of my skin care regimen is the size of the tube.  The packaging is rather bulky, owing in large part to the serum’s container.  If Estee Lauder could hear me, I would encourage them to forgo the serum entirely and put the balm into a nice slender container like the Clinique “almost” lipsticks or a regular Estee Lauder lipstick bullet.

This is .32 oz and retails for $42.  (I couldn’t find how much of the .32 oz is the lip balm versus the serum and would really like to know this.  If anyone knows, let me know in the comments.)  I would try to buy it during a sale or when there’s a gift with purchase.

YSL Shine Oil-in-Stick, 42 Baume Midi Minuit

Okay, so technically this is a lipstick, but I use it as a lip balm.   I picked this up initially for a friend of mine.  I wanted to get her a sophisticated lipstick for her birthday, but after swatching the shine oil-in-stick colors in store, I wasn’t sure what color lipstick she would like, so I swatched the clear shade because I know she likes clear balms (this Jouer one is her favorite).  Maybe it was the lights in Sephora, but the swatch made me gasp.  It has the most beautiful soft gold and pearlescent shimmer.  (Indeed, it is listed by YSL as a “sheer shimmer” shade.)  Do not be afraid of particles, because you can’t feel them at all.  After I scooped up the purchase for my friend, I couldn’t get it out of my head for myself.  Fast forward a few months and after a tough week I splurged and bought myself one.

Of course the packaging is luxurious – YSL and Guerlain tie in my opinion for best packaging. The gold carvings make this feel like something on a 1920s hollywood starlet’s dressing table.  This balm has a bit more slip than the Estee Lauder plumper, probably because according to the website, it is 65% oil, and does not stay on as long as the Estee Lauder.  This has YSL’s signature sweet mango scent that I love, and the nice thing with the clear balm is, you can enjoy the smell without worrying about whether you’ve smeared color on your above your lips or on your drink.

Given the luxurious gold packaging, the sparky gold shimmer, and the beautiful scent, I keep this in my fancier handbags for reapplication while I’m out at an event or at a work event or the like.

This has .04 oz. and retails for $37.

Caudelie Lip Conditioner

Before I discovered the Estee Lauder and YSL balms, my champion and go-to lip balm was the Caudalie Lip Conditioner.  I love everything Caudalie does, so I decided to try out their lip balm.  This product does not disappoint.

The balm is free from parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, does not contain animal ingredients, and is not tested on animals.  Like their other products, this has the antioxidant grape polyphenols that typify the Caudalie line.  It also has apricot oils, but is much less slick than the YSL oil stick.  In fact, this is the waxiest of the three balms, but it does not detract from the conditioning in the slightest.  It has a slight scent to it like the other Caudalie products do, but to me the smell is clean and fresh.  I can’t take strong scents, and so this is just perfect.  A hint of citrus and vanilla – like a very faint lemon cupcake.

This is my daily use lip balm – not for special occasions, but when I’m trekking around the city.    I keep this in my bag and whip it out when I feel my lips chafing.  Whereas I used to use lip smackers for this purpose, I have graduated to the more elegant and refined Caudelie Lip Conditioner.

This is .15 oz and retails for $12, so is the least expensive of the three, which is why this is the only three for which I have a backup tube.
Let us know in the comments if there are other lip balms you like, or if you’ve tried these.

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