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Kanebo, $60
By far the most powerful balm hydrates even extra-dry lips instantly—and tastes like you’re inhaling gasoline. A big bottle mitigates the cost. (At Barneys New York.)

Sisley, $53
Offers just enough shine and moisturizes well, but it’ll disappear after your first cup of coffee. Chronic balmers should find a cheaper option. (At Saks Fifth Avenue.)

Cle de Peau, $45
Initial waxiness gradually ends up feeling rather light as absorption occurs. It lasts through lunch and will work well as a base for lipstick. (At Barneys New York.)

Shu Uemura, $16.50
Although it’s thick on application, lips still feel dry afterward. The minimalist packaging is quite chic, however (121 Greene St., nr. Prince St.; 212-979-5500).

bliss, $14
The slanted applicator allows for even distribution and prevents unsightly buildup on the edges of lips. Very glossy for those who like a sexy pout (888-243-8825 or

Clinique, $11.50
Not too shiny or sticky, it’s well suited for unobtrusive “hello” kisses during the workday, but not thick enough for outdoor winter activities. (At Bloomingdale’s.)

M.A.C, $11.50
Anyone with a manicure will find the tub annoying, since balm gets crammed underneath nails when applying. The plus side: Leftovers double as hand moisturizer. (At M.A.C stores;

Jack Black, $6
More sophisticated packaging than most drugstore brands, and lips are still moisturized after it wears off—but the balm is difficult to squeeze through the tiny hole. (At Sephora stores;

Photo: Davies and Starr

ChapStick, $2.69
Still the best deal, it’s long-lasting, has SPF 30, moisturizes while protecting against the cold, and works as a primer or alone. (At Duane Reade stores.)

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