"I wrote 63 songs this year. They're all about Jeter." Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls' Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don't forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: April 12, 2013

Submitted by on April 12, 2013 – 8:09 AM50 Comments


My lips need help. Years ago, I had this stuff from Clinique that was a lip lotion. It was supposed to smooth and moisturize at the same time. The texture was lotion-y, not waxy. Of course, this was about 12 years ago so it's long discontinued.

I'd like to find something similar. A lot of the time I find the standard lip stuff feels like it just sits on top of my lips, rather than soaking in and doing any actual moisturizing. In my arsenal I have Burt's Bees (who doesn't, really), something from I Love Carrots, Lush something or other (it's in a tin and is mostly cocoa butter), and a tub of something that is mostly avocado oil from Cracker Barrel that I bought in a fit of desperation on a road trip. When things are really bad, I put a good bit of Aquaphor on my lips before bed. (A lifesaver when I had pneumonia and was mouth-breathing for a couple of months.)

But it all just sits there, coating. There has to be something out there that is more absorb-y.

Thanks in advance,

I only have five million lip balm things because none of them do what I want


Hi Sars,

My mom and I are looking for a book that she was reading years ago and was unable to finish when her father (my grandfather) died suddenly back in 1987. It was a book that was about two women, who turned out to be lesbians, who were starting a bookstore in Boston. Probably the book was recently published, and probably by an author who was fairly well known at the time. She would love to be able to finish the book, but can't remember the name or much else about it. 

Many thanks!


Be Sociable, Share!



  • Stella says:

    About lip moisturizer… why not regular lotion? Your lips are just skin after all. They sell those little mini travel-sized tubs that you can put it in to carry in your purse. I'd try to just find a nice good quality lotion or thicker facial moisturizer and use that. Worth a shot! Way cheaper than buying some specialized lip lotion, too :)

  • AbbyG says:

    Lip Balm,

    The only lip balm I'll use is Blistex Lip Medex. It comes in a little blue tub and looks like petroleum jelly. Sounds gross, but it is the best. It's the only one I've found that doesn't just sit on my lips and can feel the difference after I've used it. Especially good for when you are a mouth-breather, either through habit or because of a cold, and your lips get so dried out.


  • Erin W says:

    Re: chapstick, I am very fond of Palmer's Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick. It's not lotiony, but it's more soft than waxy and I think it will have the absorbency you're looking for.

    (And this is coming from a deviated-septum-continual-mouth-breather right here.)

  • Robotarmygeneral says:

    I love MAC's lip conditioner, it soaks in and some times I even use it as a gloss over the top of stain. For smoothing I like Tarte's lip exfoliant.

  • Kate Smith says:

    I recently bought a tub of coconut oil, and have been using it as a moisturizer. It works great on my lips, but it has a distinct coconut smell. (The reviews varied widely in whether users found it to have a strong scent, but I can smell it plainly.)

    Anyway, it was less than $10 from Amazon, so perhaps worth a try. Note: this stuff goes from opaque & solid to liquid oil at about 72 degrees, so be careful when you open the jar.

  • Kat From Jersey says:

    I've found that Carmex lip balm works wonders, and is very absorb-y. I get it at my local drugstore, for cheap. The one I use is in a little jar/tub. It's more vaesline-y, and soaks in right away. I use the unflavored one, but I think it may come in other flavors. I've tried so many other types, and find them all way too waxy. Good luck!

  • Lisa M. says:

    I like carmex for lip balm, particularly the chapsticks (over the little tubs). but what is even more helpful (for me) is drinking more water. I find that the state of my lips is a really good index for how dehydrated I am, and the thing that improves them the fastest is drinking more water. This makes me pee more, which is suboptimal, but it's what works best and quickest for me.

  • attica says:

    Whenever I tell people what kind of lip moisturizer I use, they boggle, but I'll tell you what's awesome, absorb-y and not fragrancey: Dr. Scholl's Ultra Overnight Foot Cream. Do not get put off by its being labeled foot cream. Labels mean nothing! Dr. Scholls is not the boss of you! You eschew convention!

    Seriously, put it on once and enjoy moistness all day. It's also easy on the wallet and can be found in wee travel sizes, handy for purse-carrying.

  • Lindsay says:

    For lip balm, I am currently using Blistex Deep Renewal — highly recommended, and seems like it might be just what the poster is looking for.

  • Miglet says:

    Lip – it sounds like Clinique's All About Lips which hasn't been discontinued. It's definitely a lotion, not a balm, and I know they've had it for 10+ years.

  • M. Nightingale says:

    What about plain petroleum jelly (Vaseline) for your lips? Works better for me than anything else.

  • Laurie says:

    I agree with AbbyG on the Blistex Lip Medex, which I affectionately call the 'Blue stuff'. I also have five million lip balms because I had a friend who was worried I'd somehow get addicted to it (cue the eyerolling here), but at the end of the day, it's the last thing I put on before bed and whenever I need a bit of moisture during the day.

    I actually hate the Burt's Bees lip balms… I find my lips are dryer after it evaporates than they were before I put them on.

  • Meg says:

    Straight, plain Vaseline (brand name, not generic, which I've found is not as good). Chapstick has never worked for me as it always feels too dry and waxy, but the Vaseline really does feel more moisturizing. I started using it when I was on Accutane, which causes your lips to turn into a dry, cracked, bleeding horror show. It was the only thing that helped.

    Only the plain kind, though – the kind they sell in a tube (with a red top, I think) has flavoring that ruins the consistency, in my opinion. If you want a small tube to keep in your purse, I made one by emptying out a Chapstick tube, dialing the plunger back down, and then filling it with Vaseline (they do sell it in big sqeeze tubes which makes the filling go easier). The one bad thing is you usually have to apply it with your finger since it's not solid.

  • Jennifer A. says:

    Jack Black lip balm is not lotion, but it is the absolute best. I've tried everything from drug store to Chanel Hydramax, and I will never even try anything else again, because there's nothing better.

  • Jenny says:

    For really damaged lips (i.e. when I have a cold) I use Desitin on them overnight. Obviously won't work when you are out of the house, but heals the chapped, dry, flaky and painful cracked lips quickly.

    For what it's worth, Desitin is my go-to, when it comes to colds. I used to get terrible colds that would make my nose and lips really red and really sore. When I was little my mom would slather Desitin on my face overnight and I would HATE it. But it worked like a charm. And now that I am grown, I do the exact same thing.

  • Bria says:

    Rose Baume by Terry is hands-down the best stuff for lips I've ever found. It's stupidly expensive, but a little goes a long way. I put it on morning and night and find that it does an amazing job of keeping my lips smooth/moisturized. And it smells like roses.

    True story – I bought myself a container of this stuff as a little treat right before my daughter was born last summer. In the general L&D kerfuffle of people moving stuff around the delivery room, it got lost sometime during labor. I didn't discover this until I was in my recovery room a few hours later. Hormones be damned, I LOST MY SHIT over it. I was so, so mad at my mom and husband (there may have been gulping sobs accompanied by "but! you! guys! knew! how! important! it! was! to! me!") Um, yeah. Heh. Postpartum tantrums are awesome.

  • doriette says:

    Have you ever tried Smith's Rosebud Salve?

    My aunt's been using it since I was a little girl. She absolutely swears by it.

  • Kyle says:

    I use Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream on my lips (sometimes – right now I have I think four or five different lip concoctions within arm's reach). It's mostly glycerin and petroleum jelly, I think, and it sinks in better than lip balm but is much thicker than most lotions.

  • Lucy says:

    I was going to suggest the Palmer's suggested above, but also the light blue Nivea Lip Care. Fantastic. My sister and I used to hoard the stuff (as Labello) from trips to Europe before it was available here. You can now get the Nivea stuff at pretty much any drug store.

  • Sue says:

    I'm a big fan of the Lush (although the UK preparation is better than the US, so that might be part of it). Kiehl's lip balm #1 is awesome, and has helped keep my lips moisturized through several midwest winters. Kiehl's stores are also quite liberal with the samples, so it's worth heading over to them and asking questions about lip treatments and balms.

  • Stanley says:

    I swear by Kiehl's Lip Balm #1:,default,pd.html?start=6&cgid=face-eye.

    It's got more of a Vaseline-y texture, but I find it moisturizes very well and really soaks in.

  • ebstarr says:

    Blistex is great – they have a pink tub thing that has lip balm with cocoa butter. It was recommended to me by a cross-country skier who said the whole team used it to protect their lips from harsh wind/cold.

    Fresh's lip treatment is much more expensive, but I love it and it makes my lips feel amazing.

  • Honey Wheeler says:

    Lip Balm:
    I find that Dior's "Creme de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm" keeps my lips very soft and soaks in well. I apply a generous portion at night before bed. (Admittedly it is quite spendy for lip balm.)
    For day I am partial to Kiehl's Lip Balm # 1 – added bonus, it has sunscreen in addition to Vits. E and A. Hope this helps!

  • Krissa says:

    Steer clear of anything with petroleum products in it if you don't want that sitting-on-the-skin feeling. I love coconut oil for my lips (and the rest of my skin.)

    Make sure you're hydrated in general, though, and your lips'll stay nice and soft. If they get a little rough, I will scrub mine with a tiny bit of sugar and a drop or two of olive oil or coconut oil. Feels great!

  • Bubbles says:

    I'm the girl with the lips and I swear I have no frickin' clue how my searches failed to show me that All About Lips still existed. But I'm also a stuff junkie, and look forward to trying the other options people have thrown out. (Especially since I've got an pre-interview interview with a small publishing company for an editor gig after three years of stay-at-home-mom/teaching online and I'm so excited.)
    Hydration is also something I just all around know I need to work on. >.< I'll go fill my water bottle up now.

  • year of the cat says:

    According to makeup artists, the best emollients are in the under-eye cremes, so you can try those as well as a pre-treatment at night.

  • Elisa says:

    I have been using Blistex medicated lip ointment since I was a teenager. I had the same problem, I felt that everything else just sat there like a wax coating on my lips. I'm talking about the little white tube, the balm looks like lotion and it comes in the red box. I live in the desert and it has worked really well for me.

  • mel says:

    I've used Natural Ice (by Mentholatum) lip balm for years, because it is the only one I've found that doesn't feel waxy. I tried and rejected the Yes to Carrots and Burt's Bees lippies, and always come back to this stuff.

  • indoorkitty says:

    I second the Jack Black recommendation. It absorbs super fast too, I use it as a moisturizing base for lipsticks too.

  • Abigail says:

    Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment – expensive but very nice. I got a freebie sample from Sephora and now I'm addicted, those bastards. It does last, so the PPU isn't too bad. But prepare for sticker shock.

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    I can't help with the book title, but it might be worth contacting a gay and lesbian bookstore and asking. If you can find one in Boston they might know!

  • flyingbird says:

    My lips get more chapped from the peppermint in Burts Bees balms, and I hate the sweet/mediciney/fruity smells from a lot of other lip balms–the best I've found is Neutrogena Lip Moisturizer with SPF 15. Light, unscented, seems to sink in quickly for me. Definitely not waxy at all, pretty weightless, but really moisturizes well for me. I use it once in the morning, and once at night before bed, and it's done the trick to keep my lips moisturized during the winter. I think I found it at my local grocery store.

  • camilleon says:

    OK, so this is an extreme suggestion for the lip cream. Like, EXTREME. But Guerlain makes a combination eye and lip cream called Orchidee Imperiale Eye & Lip Cream. I've been using a sample of it for a couple of weeks now and can vouch for its absorption on the lips. Definitely does not feel like something is coating my lips or just sitting on the surface. Here's the catch: The stuff's about $200 a jar. Yeah, I know. Lookit, I don't advocate spending that kinda dough on a cream (a cream!). I do, however, advocate taking advantage of the sample system. So go to a fine department store (Neimans, Saks, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, etc.) that carries Guerlain and ask for a sample of the stuff. If you're only applying it at night before bed and once more in the morning — instructions are twice a day, after all — then a sample should last you a good long time. Keep the jig up by visiting the Guerlain counter at different stores or the same counter at different times. It's shady as all get out, I know, but $200! FOR A CREAM!

  • Daisy says:

    @Kelly, I think your book is maybe The Education of Harriet Hatfield by May Sarton. It's about a lesbian woman who opens a bookstore in Boston after her partner dies, and May Sarton is a well-known author like you say. The problem is that this book wasn't published until 1989. Normally I would ask if you were mistaken about the date, but I imagine you would know something like the year your grandfather died! Still, at least your mom can take a look at it to rule it out.

    I liked the suggestion above to call a gay bookstore in Boston. I imagine there must be one; if there isn't, try the reference or readers' advisory desk at the Boston Public Library.

  • Darryl says:

    Re: lips, I use Carmex, which is the Buckley's of lip balms. Tastes/smells awful, but it works. Genuinely moisturizing, not waxy like Burt's or Chap-Stick. My lips only get dry on occasion, but I keep a tin of Carmex in my bag at all times.

    I also second the recommendation for plain ol' hand cream, particularly Glysomed (if you're in Canada; easier access) or Norwegian Formula. I've used both of these on my lips in a pinch and MAN, do they moisturize.

  • Dchan says:

    1. Drink water all day ( or a shot of Gatorade if dehidrated),
    2. exfoliate with toothbrush,
    3. Apply Neosporin to heal lips,
    4. Maintenance with lipbalm of choice (in order of preference):
    A. Carmex
    B. Palmer's cocoa butter tub or balm stick
    C. The Body Shop's Hemp lip treatment (not the chapstick)
    D. Clinique's All About Lips (low rating due to cost, not effectiveness).

    Good luck!

  • Jo says:

    Sounds like you've gotten your answers, but I'll add to the coconut oil recommendation. works on skin, lips, you can cook with it .. you should be able to buy a jar in the heath food section of any major grocery store chain. It's solid at room temperature (by "room temperature," I mean, "the freezing temperature inside a grocery store"), but will liquify if it gets warm in your kitchen. I keep it in the fridge so it stays solid and then rub a few slivers on my face or hands when my skin gets dry.

    If none of the other things you try work, you should go to a Sephora and ask them for a bunch of little samples so you can see if they have anything that works. If you have an Origins, they might have something too and they'll give you samples. Lush has something that's a lip sugar scrub that I didn't like because it didn't stay on like my Burt's Bees, but you might like them. Sounds like you have access to a Lush, so you could give them another shot. A lotion made actually for lips sounds awesome, though. I'll have to go ask Clinique for a sample of it.

  • Melissa says:

    I'll second the recommendation for the Blistex in the pink tub. It's called DCT (for Daily Conditioning Treatment) and I put it on every night before I go to bed. My lips are always super smooth and never chapped!

  • Sherry says:

    Another vote for Carmex. It really works, and it's not expensive. Win-win!

  • MizShrew says:

    This is the stuff I like for lips: Weleda Everon Lip Balm. Seems to actually do something instead of just coating the lips.

  • Cat_slave says:

    If you can find it I can recommend Bepanthen for dry lips. It seems to be marketed as a "nappy rash cream" online, here i Finland it's just sold at the pharmacy in two colours, one lighter (blue) and one thicker (pink). The pink one is what I use on my lips, and the lighter one for all kinds of small wounds. It helps the skin regenerate, as it contains vitamin B5, or so they say :-)

    Blistex (the one sold in a little white tube, not the chap stick) is also a great relief.

    Kelly: Try contacting Calamus bookstore. If you find out which book it is, could you please post back? It sounds nice.

  • Julie says:

    There's a Neosporin brand lip balm that's really good. It comes in a tiny white jar, and it should be on the shelf with the lip stuff, not the bandaids and whatnot. It has the consistency of eye cream–it's not an ointment like Carmex.

    If you want something in a tube, Whole Foods' honey vanilla chapstick is great–not lotion-y, but it's not as waxy as capital-c Chapstick, and it smells lovely. They have other scents, but for some reason, honey vanilla has the best texture.

  • Fiona says:

    Seconding the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments. $22, but fantastic! They also come in tints now, which I love.

  • Kemmi says:

    If you can get it, Balm Balm is really great. It's a mixture of shea butter, sunflower, beeswax, jojoba & calendula, 100% natural & organic, and it does melt on to your lips, rather than coat them. It's about £3 in the UK, but I've no idea if it sells in the states.

    That said, you could look for things with similar components– that is, a lot of "soft" lipids, like shea butter and sunflower with very low melting points, rather than more solid ones, like beeswax.

    You can also use it as a rich moisturiser– my mum's got very, very sensitive skin on her hands that will dry and crack through very easily, and she does use this sometimes, just because it's so little she always has it in her pocket.

  • Leigh says:

    Thirding the Fresh Sugar lip treatments, although I've found the tinted ones don't work as well and they taste too petroleum-y for me. I also love the Nivea "A Kiss of Smoothness" but only the one in the blue tube; the others feel too dry.

  • Niki says:

    Wait, what!? Nivea is Labello? Man, I adored my Labello. This is…maybe more exciting to me than it should be. ;-)

  • Sandman says:

    Seconding Cat_slave's recommendation of Blistex lip ointment in a squeezable metal tube. It's very different from the firmer, stick-style balm, and it's the only thing I used for years – when I was younger (I don't know, droolier?) I had fairly severely chapped lips a lot, and it worked better than anything else. Its texture is relatively light, and it's absorbed into the skin readily. There's a some menthol and camphor (I think) in it, so it has a certain medicinal feel, but I always found it soothing. I want to say it's the original form of Blistex, but I don't see it as much anymore. Maybe it's not marketed as widely?

    I also like Dermalogica's lip balm – it forms a good barrier to protect the lips, especially in winter, but its texture is not-too-hard, not-too-soft (for me) bit is a little more waxen, so it may not be what the writer is looking for.

  • Sandman says:

    Also, the Dermalogica's a little spendy, even if a little goes a long way.

  • Sandman says:

    Huh. I guess Blistex Ointment is still around, but the tube is no longer made of aluminum (?). I'm out of date. I do remember seeing the plastic version, however:

  • Wren says:

    I'm a fan of the lip stuff from First Aid Beauty (FAB) called "Ultra Repair Lip Therapy." It's available online several places, and in stores at Sephora. It's more lotion-like and very healing. It comes in a tube and absorbs well.

    For a more traditional lip balm, albeit one that I think feels MUCH nicer than Burt's Bees, etc, is a brand called Crazy Rumors. As a bonus, they have lots of fun "flavors," and they're very moisturizing while still feeling "light" on the lips (i.e. not coating them).

    I tend to use the the FAB balm at night and the Crazy Rumors stuff during the day. Hope that helps!

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>