Lip balms were excluded in my 2021 lip product declutter post, so today is the day I’m finally sharing what is in my collection. The photo above represents all the individual ones I have*, but not the duplicate backup products I also have. I’m very basic when it comes to the lips, and although I buy quite a few lip products, balms and glosses make up 70% of what I use. In fact, the percent of time I’m bare lipped (approx. 20% of the time) is higher than the amount of times I will actually pull out a lipstick or lip liner.
*Note: Those who keep up with my blog, especially declutter or full collection posts, won’t be surprised to know I found additional balms after the review. I will briefly discuss those at the end of the post, since they will be decluttered anyway.
I have very dry, sensitive, easily chapped lips. The Sarah Happ lip products do the most to treat those issues, so I’ll be reviewing those first.
Sarah Happ Lip System
The Sara Happ Process starts with the Lip Scrub, but I often skip this step and use the lip mask overnight, wash it off, and apply a balm afterwards. In my opinion, there isn’t anything particularly special about this lip scrub besides having larger sugar granules. The finely granulated ones that most people prefer don’t have the exfoliating power to do anything much for my lips. However, I’m sure there are still companies who make larger sizes. If there aren’t, at the very least I’d be more inclined to make my own DIY lip scrub over paying for expensive ones anymore.
The flavor of the Sarah Happ lip scrub I still have is Red Velvet, which seems to have been discontinued. There are currently Grapefruit, Peach, Vanilla Bean, and Brown Sugar flavors as part of their permanent line.
The Sweet Clay Lip Mask is the restoring/repairing element. It’s the single most important lip treatment in my collection. It does have a clay-like texture, a little like a paste, so it doesn’t spread easily on the lips. It comes with a tiny plastic spatula to scoop out the product. A little goes a long way, so I’m careful to only grab a little. After scooping, I spread it on my lips with my finger, though the extra product will stick to the fingers and is not easy to wipe clean without smearing some more. It looks like I went to town on a jar of frosting, so I only put it on right before bed. If you sleep next to a partner, you’ll have to skip kissing for the night!
I should mention that the official instructions say to leave this on the lips for up to ten minutes before wiping with a tissue. I prefer to use either a cloth or Viva paper towel (because it’s super strong) to remove it, but I also clearly prefer leaving it overnight. I don’t get the same results if I just keep it on for ten or even twenty minutes. The reason I can skip using a lip scrub with my method is because the mask hydrates and softens the lips, but also gets stuck to every crevice of the dead skin. By the time I’m ready to remove it, the wiping pulls away every bit of dead skin without ripping or bleeding because it has already been softened by the ingredients in the mask formula.
So, by using this mask, I can not only skip exfoliating, but I also inject so much moisture to my lips that I can go 3-4 days with nothing else on my lips before it starts to dry out again. This is a tremendous improvement to my usual needs of having to wear a balm every 1-2 days to avoid chapping. Once I forget or I wear a drying lipstick or some other drying lip color product, it’s extremely difficult to get my lips back to a healthy place. In those moments, only the Nuxe Balm, Lip Slip, and Sweet Clay can fix it. Of the three, using the Clay Mask and then following it with one of the other two balms is the ultimate fixer.
It is crucial that at least for a few hours after removing the Clay Mask, one should follow up with a lip balm. Even if it’s not a Sara Happ balm, as nourishing as the clay mask is, the lips need an occlusive to lock in the moisture that the clay mask just put in. And since it does contain clay, there’s still a small aspect of it that is going to be drying. This can be avoided by just following up the clay mask with a balm.
Sara Happ also recommends using the clay mask 3 times a week, but I’m negligent with my lips so I use it once a month or as needed to fix bad lip days. The amount I use, in the photo below, is significantly less than what is shown in website photos, but I feel I don’t need so much at once.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m allergic/sensitive to lanolin. Wearing a product that contains it will cause my lips to completely chap up and split within fifteen minutes to an hour, which takes a week to heal. During those moments, Vaseline was my best friend as it was the only thing I had that was thick enough to stay in place for most of the day. My lips respond very well to petroleum and therefore mineral oil. I mention this because I haven’t had an allergic lip reaction in many years. I know the Nuxe Balm was a fine replacement, but I haven’t had an opportunity to try my Sara Happ Products in response to an allergic reaction, so I don’t know for sure how well they would work. I imagine it would be fine because The Lip Slip One Luxe Balm does have mineral oil high up. I think that’s why it works so amazingly for me to moisturize and hydrate my lips, in conjunction with other ingredients my lips like such as sweet almond oil, macadamia seed oil, beeswax, etc. One of the complaints I’ve seen online (I believe especially in the “clean” movement) is the fact that this balm is so expensive when it’s “mostly mineral oil,” but no other company makes this combination of ingredients. It just works! It’s also more pleasant on my lips than wearing straight petroleum or straight mineral oil, so I’m perfectly fine with paying a lot to get these results in a more enjoyable experience.
Mineral Oil alternatives like Hydrogenated Polyisobutene tend to be hit or miss as to how effectively they work for me depending on the other ingredients within the formulations.
Sara Happ does have a second lip balm option, or technically “overnight lip mask,” called The Dream Slip. I like that the Dream Slip doesn’t have shimmer particles that the Lip Slip has, but the Dream Slip isn’t as hydrating for me. There’s a higher ratio of jojoba oil and beeswax in the Dream Slip over the mineral oil in the Lip Slip. I also prefer the consistency of the Lip Slip over the Dream Slip. The Dream Slip is $6 more expensive, so I personally recommend just sticking with the Lip Slip unless jojoba oil is a star ingredient for you. Also, there is a Dream Slip No. 2 in a squeeze tube, but I’ve never tried it.
Step 1 shows my lip state beforehand. Step 2 shows my lips with the Red Velvet Scrub on. Step 3 shows the state of my lips post scrub with some chapped bits still there, particularly on the upper lip. Step 4 shows my lips with the sweet clay mask on. Step 5 shows the condition of my lips after leaving the mask on overnight and washing it off. Step 6 shows my lips with the Dream Slip on the lips.
So, that’s how I use my Sara Happ products! The most essential items for me are the Sweet Clay Mask and The Lip Slip, but technically the Lip Slip could be skipped for those who already have a favorite holy grail lip balm. I buy my Sara Happ products from Ulta, but they don’t have the newest addition to the line: The Lip Elixir lip treatment oil. As intriguing as it appears, I don’t feel it’s a necessary product for me so I won’t be buying it.
Other Lip Products
Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm – It brings me so much sadness to say the formula for this has changed. It was my holy grail lip balm for years, then disappeared off the US website for years, and I ordered so many backups since it returned. Out of the three jars I’ve opened so far, they’ve gone bad after only 4-6 months. There is a six month period after opening symbol on the jar, but the lip balms lasted me well over a year in the past. Nuxe didn’t mention anything about formula changes, but SkinStore listed the change. They increased the Shea butter, decreased the dimethicone and grapefruit peel oil, and removed Candelilla wax. I found an ingredient list online from 2018 which predates the backups I currently have. According to the list, Nuxe removed BHT, which is a preservative. When I searched the new ingredient list, I didn’t see anything on it that is supposed to be a preservative.
This could explain why my current backups aren’t lasting very long if Nuxe removed one of or possibly the only preservative. For me, the formula change makes this a tiny bit less effective than it used to be, but my biggest issue is the length of time these last once opened. Even if I could overlook all that, the texture of this new reformulated balm shown on the website looks so ridiculously grainy. Thankfully my backups don’t look like that, but I can no longer recommend this balm. I will continue to use up what I have and love them while they’re still good, but it’s such a shame because the way this locked in moisture on my lips was unrivaled.
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask (Minis) – I use these as on-the-go balms, rather than overnight lip treatments. They do a decent job at repairing the look of my lips, but it was always a temporary fix. They feel nice and moisturizing, but not hydrating. They don’t actually condition my lips long term. I keep them in my different purses in case I’m in a pinch, having forgotten to apply balm before leaving the house.
I’ve gotten three minis so far just from gift with purchases or birthday reward gifts from retailers, so I’ve never had to pay for one and I get a new one pretty much each year. I love the smell of them and it makes me tempted to buy one of their new scents/flavors when they release them, but they don’t perform well enough for me to go through with the purchase.
The Nuxe Balm (at least the jars I have in my possession) and Sara Happ Lip Slip are leaps and bounds better than this product, but it’s still the one I compare most with other formulas since the best of other brands tend to be almost as good as this, but not quite enough.
Kaleidos Apple Glaze Softening Lip Mask – I’ve already reviewed this product here, but the short version is that this creates a cooling sensation due to the mint/menthol content, leaves a slight red tint on the skin from the red dyes, and the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask is nearly comparable to this one. Perhaps it’s the menthol that keeps it from being as hydrating as the one from Laneige. The one from Kaleidos is $8 for 7.5 grams and Laneige is $22 for 20 grams, so technically they are comparable at around 90ish cents per gram.
Something I didn’t mention in my review before that I find humorous is that Kaleidos has a note on the website clarifying that this is cranberry flavored, yet they put apple in the name. It’s quite the choice to call something apple, but give it the flavor of a different fruit entirely!
Nars Afterglow Laguna Lip Balm (Mini) – This product was one of two balms from the Sephora Favorites “Give Me Some Shine” Lip Set that I bought at the end of 2021 and didn’t start testing until February this year. It adds a warm colored orange-brown tint to the lips and the sparkles in it are so fine that I can’t see the particles on my lips, but they add a pretty shine.
I had low expectations, so I was impressed that this keeps my lips moisturized for 4-6 hours if I don’t eat and if I apply a very thick layer. However, with a thick layer, I have gotten that inner white ring that sometimes happens with balms.
Like the Laneige, this is something I just wear on short notice or for the pretty effect it has from the tint and shimmer on the lips. It’s a little more hydrating than the Laneige but slightly less moisturizing. If I want something to actually repair and condition my lips, rather than a temporary fix, I reach for the Sara Happ instead. As much as I like this, I’m not certain if I’d spend $28 on the full size.
Huda Silk Balm Hydrating and Nourishing Lip Balm in Blush – This is the other balm from the set I mentioned in the Nars section above, and another product I had low expectations about, despite the hype it gets. I was very pleasantly surprised that this keeps my lips hydrated for a minimum of six hours and it can last longer without needing to be reapplied depending on the kind of food or drinks I have that day. It easily lasts on my lips when I wear it overnight. This contains Sodium Hyaluronate, which is supposed to aid in drawing in that hydration, but they go as far as to advertise this as being able to give fuller-looking lips. The shine alone could do that, so I don’t put too much stock in that statement.
This is supposed to be a universal blush pink shade, but it’s not opaque enough to give my lips any sort of tint to them. I really like how this feels, and this actually does surpass the Laneige in being able to both hydrate and keep in moisture. I have to build this one up, but that’s because such little product comes out of the tube in one go, so I have to dip back in several times to adequately coat my lips in this gloss style balm. I will continue to use this, and this product is the reason I haven’t felt the need to repurchase the Tower 28 Gloss I used up. At least not yet.
Colourpop x Mulan Lip Mask – This was part of the Fourth Ray Face Milk and Lip Mask Bundle. I really enjoyed it when I reviewed it before, but I stuck it in my skincare train case (mini case for skincare I’m trying to use up), but that case was abandoned and I forgot all about it. It’s about two years old and when I finally opened it up, I could see a clear blob where color had separated out of the lip mask. Most of the liquid was still yellow, but some sections were white as if in the process of separating too. I intend to clean out the inside and keep the container for DIY use.
Colourpop x Hello Kitty Snowkissed Lip Care Set – This set is part of the Fourth Ray Beauty sub brand of Colourpop and consists of the Peppermint Cookie Lippie Scrub and Lip Mask. This set is a little newer at just over a year. The texture of the lip mask is similar to the Mulan one. Both products used to have a delicious smell, but it has almost entirely faded by now. Because it took so long for me to try the lip scrub, I can’t say whether my experience with it was normal or not, but it was essentially like putting glue on my lips with bits of sand on it. It took 3 attempts to get all the stickiness off my face, two of which were using an oil based cleanser. I definitely would not use the scrub again. While the mask was enjoyable, I may as well stick to my top favorites and not purchase anymore lip masks from Colourpop. I am planning to save these containers for DIY purposes as well.
The Creme Shop x Hello Kitty Macaron Lip Balm in Mixed Berry and Rainbow Sherbert – I bought one of each and was gifted one as well. I purchased this purely for the packaging. They smell nice, but they do nothing for my lips.
Sun Bum Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 30 in Watermelon – I bought this as a cheaper alternative to the Supergoop lip sunscreen balm at $3.99 vs $9.50. I typically don’t need spf for my lips except during the hottest of days in the Florida summer. And spring too, I guess. It has very little staying power on my lips and barely moisturizes. I keep the tube in my purse so I can wear it on outings, but it’s not something I’d reach for to improve the state of my lips. The smell is fantastic though.
The Forgotten Balms
I found this in a drawer. The Oribe lip treatment is quite old and I just kept it for the packaging. It didn’t do anything really for my lips the few times I used it. The Juvia’s Place Nubian Glow balms should be good still, but I wasn’t a fan of the smell of Guava. I considered keeping Mango, but since I know I’m not going to reach for it over my other lip products, I’m going to proactively declutter it too.
The Homemade Balms
During those years that I was without the Nuxe balm, I attempted to recreate the formula and also create some tinted balms as well by mixing in some of my lipsticks. The tinted balms ended up being too waxy for my liking, but I kept the two best ones and only used them once. Although I had some empty jars from Michael’s craft store and empty lipstick tubes from TKB trading, I wanted to be more environmentally friendly by reusing the packaging that I liked from other brands (like the Tony Moly lip balm and discontinued lippie from Benefit Cosmetics).
Out of 10 jars, I ended up with only one balm that came close to Nuxe and only one other balm (pictured above) that felt nice enough on my lips to keep using. The one most similar to Nuxe lasted about a year before it turned. The one pictured above has to be at least four years old and I’m shocked that it still looks fine (although I wouldn’t use it now and it has since been tossed out).
I lost all my notes on the different measurements I attempted to use in my DIY experiments, so if I wanted to create my own, I’d have to essentially start from scratch again. The key ingredients I used though were:
Sweet Almond Oil
Sunflower Seed Oil (was lower in the ingredients but I put it higher to replace the olive oil)
Dimethicone (350 because I had it on hand already, but ideally I would use 100 or 1.5
Fractionated Coconut Oil (Caprylic/Capric triglyceride)
Cap-2 for oil based products (Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Hexylene Glycol)
Golden Vitamin E (Tocopherols, Natural T-50 Vitamin E)
Some of these ingredients needed to be melted, like the beeswax. Some needed to be added after it had time to cool down a bit, like dimethicone, but couldn’t be added too late or it would solidify before I could get to it and essentially ruin the texture I was trying to achieve. I used different sizes of beaker jars (10 ml to 100 ml sizes), pipettes, measuring spoons, and my Z-palette brand of Z Potter as the heating apparatus. The last five ingredients on the list I already had because I used them in my DIY eyeshadow formulas. Honey is always around for cooking purposes and I sometimes used Shea Butter for skincare, so it was just about buying the beeswax and oils. If I wanted to start making my own lip balms again, though, I would need to repurchase everything. At this point in time with me trying to use up the current lip products in my collection, I don’t know when I would attempt to make my own again. However, I’m still keeping my favorite containers from other brands just in case.
Some of the other balms I’ve used in the past were Burt’s Bees (in Mango), ChapStick, EOS, Fresh (Sugar Hydrating Lip Balm in Caramel), First Aid Beauty, etc. None of the ones from the past would make the top five on my favorites list.
That’s everything for today! Thank you for reading!