my hobbies include skin-care

The 5 Lip Balms I Use to Keep My Mouth Moisturized (and Sometimes Colorful)

Whether or not you go for something with color is a matter of personal preference. Photo: Christian Anwander

Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger spends a lot of time with grooming products. It’s an obsession he’ll now be writing about for the Strategist. In his free time, he’s at work on a book (via HarperCollins) about football, the Marines, and World War II.

Back in the Middle Ages of the 1960s, when New York was still New York and not the sterilized, gentrified, homogenized, too-neatly-organized anality that it is today, I had two illicit pleasures. One was walking down 42nd Street in Times Square, where every sight and sound was an assault on the senses — good and bad but never indifferent — the way a great city is supposed to be. The other was going to Herman’s World of Sporting Goods to buy baseball caps of out-of-town major league teams.

Many years later, my new illicit pleasure is lip balm. It is quite a leap from hats to lips, but as your age becomes more and more flirtatious with mortality, it’s important to know your priorities.

The Chanel Hydra Beauty lip Care is smooth and supple and hydrating with the addition of camellia oil. It has no scent, which is far preferable to feeling like you have just smeared wads of Juicy Fruit on your lips. It lasts as long as the other lip balms on my list, which means a small jar is a small jar that will require other small jars if you keep using it. The only knock, and this is purely personal preference, is that it is translucent, and I like something with more pop.

3Lab Healthy Glow has a coral color and a hint of tint. It makes my lips feel plump and kissable, something I’ll wear when I feel like kicking it out in leather or PVC or latex with skull rings and boots and taking New York (or at least Starbucks) by storm. It has no discernible scent.

This balm is more subtle in color than 3Lab but still noticeable. The lengthy list of ingredients includes pastel oil, shea butter, and rose wax, hence the subtle smell of rose that mercifully doesn’t overpower. Its texture is the best of any I tried, very smooth and easy to apply evenly. It simply makes me feel luxuriant, and for reasons I cannot easily explain, I often feel like licking it.

My favorite — not by a lot, but still my favorite — is Tom Ford Lumière Lip Color. The texture isn’t quite as good as either the Chanel or the Terry, but I love the shine it gives my lips and there is just the right hint of color. I use the purple-tinged Aurora, but it also comes in Lumière, Glimmer, and Rougir, and I know I will have all the colors in a matter of weeks since your columnist, if nothing else, is clinically compulsive. It contains plant extracts and hyaluronic acid, an ingredient so seemingly omnipresent I may start adding it to my food to make my kidneys feel plump and juicy.


If the prices of all of the above turn you off, there is the steady and reliable Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in 14 different colors. It feels a bit pasty on the lips and the peppermint smell is a turn-off (so totally non-sexy), but the ingredients of vitamin E and beeswax offer both nourishment and protection. It also costs less than five dollars, which means you can get ten colors for less than the cost of any of the other products on this list.

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The 5 Lip Balms I Use to Keep My Mouth Moisturized