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SOS: Colored Lip Balms

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I am a huge fan of Fresh Sugar Plum Lip Treatment–the soft berry color, the light coverage–but paying $23 for lipstick was getting a bit expensive. So I started searching for something new, and a friend encouraged me to try a lip color balm.

Color balms in general are a great way to wear color on your lips without diving head first into a creamy lipstick or a shiny gloss.  It’s color for those of us who are looking for a subtle accent, not a bold pop.

Splurge: Clinique Chubby Stick Lip Color Balm ($17).  The first makeup I ever wore was Clinique, so I’ve been loyal to the brand for more than a decade.  I love their Stay Matte Foundation and their Lid Smoothie cream eye color in currant, so I decided to give their newest lip creation, the Chubby Stick Balm, a try.

Thanks to Karla Sugar, I was able to see what the colors would look like on my lips, before I went to Macy’s to pick one out.  Because I was looking to recreate the Fresh Sugar Plum, I chose Richer Raisin.

The balm went on smoothly and is very moisturizing.  It has a buildable color, so you can customize the intensity of the shade.  The color doesn’t last very long, I found myself re-applying four or five times during the evening.  I also liked how easy the pencil was to use, I could apply without a mirror and still get good coverage.

Steal: Revlon Colorstay Just Bitten Balm Stain ($6).  Before heading to Walgreen’s, I consulted a post on the blog Cheap as F***, and decided that the color Crush was closest to Fresh’s berry-purple hue.

Like the Clinique, the Revlon balm applies with ease and has a sheer, buildable color that can be adjusted for daytime or evening.  The selection of colors is good, but the hues aren’t quite as deep as with the Clinique balm.

As for wearability, unlike the Clinique, the Revlon definitely needs a chapstick underneath it.  It also feels a bit sticky on the lips after the second re-application if you don’t re-apply the chapstick as well.  On the bright side, the Revlon balm did seem to have more sticking power than the Clinique balm.  I only reapplied twice during my night out.

Verdict: The Clinique.  While the Revlon is an excellent inexpensive alternative, the Clinique is a superior product.  The colors are more intense, more mature and suitable for a wider variety of lifestyles and skin tones than the flatter, less glossy Revlon colors.  The Chubby Stick was hydrating without the addition of chapstick, and the re-application issue can be lessened with a bit of lip primer.

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    23 comments

  1. Jen says:

    Try the Jordana! It’s great color payoff, and super moisturizing. Also, cheaper than both Revlon and Clinique!

    January 22, 2014/Reply
  2. Meaghan says:

    I’ve tried the Revlon and liked it, although I’m sure a more expensive brand would be better. For those of us just experimenting with lip color, I find the Revlon to serve its purpose!

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    January 22, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I agree with that. I liked the Revlon, and it is a good buy at $6. I just struggle with dry lips, so the hydration factor in the Clinique was a better deal for me.

      January 22, 2014/Reply
  3. CB says:

    I’m a fan of the Fresh Sugar lip treatment as well. Is the six bucks savings really worth it to switch to the Clinique product?

    January 22, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Depends. If you wear the Sugar all the time and love it, probably not. I’m just trying to save a little here and there. If, like me, you don’t wear lip color often and just need something for once-in-a-while, then there’s no reason not to choose the $17 or $6 product.

      January 22, 2014/Reply
  4. Ugh says:

    You’re such a high end product whore

    January 22, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Classy.

      January 22, 2014/Reply
    • G says:

      Get over it. I find these Splurge or Save reviews helpful. In this case, having tried both products, I fully agree with Belle that the Clinique Lip Treatment is superior. Sometimes, what you pay for is what you get.

      January 22, 2014/Reply
  5. GingerR says:

    I think lipstick is a place to spend to get a color/texture that you feel is most flattering. It’s something everyone will see — right off. While I might not spring for a $60 lipstick I can spend $20-30 without much guilt.

    I find that I want lipsticks in multiple places -desk drawer, purse pocket, travel bag, bathroom chest- so I’m likely to put the expensive tube someplace I’ll use it frequently and not lose it. Less expensive versions can go into purse pockets/gym bags. If they get lost it’s not a big deal.

    January 22, 2014/Reply
  6. Erika says:

    I’ve been drooling over the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, but I couldn’t justify paying $23, so I went with Yes To Carrots Color Balm at $5.99 instead. 😀
    It’s not the same thing when it comes to richness of color, but I get a hint of a tint, and – like Fresh – it’s supposed to be more natural than many other brands.

    January 22, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Thanks for the recommendation. Which shade in the Carrots balm do you like?

      January 22, 2014/Reply
      • Erika says:

        I have to correct myself. What I have is Yes To Carrots C Me Blush Lip Tint in Ready Red and Sunset Pink. The red one is actually more of a berry color.
        I can’t find them on the Yes To website so the product has probably been discontinued. Just my luck!

        If you _really_ want to try they are still available at walmart.com for example, and for only $4.47! 😉

        January 23, 2014/Reply
  7. Christine says:

    Another thing that annoys me about the Fresh Sugar lip balms is how the product is a little too heavy. Between that and the bulky width of the stick, it’s hard to get the right amount of product in the right places, which is too much effort for a balm. I have three of the Revlon chubby sticks and really like them. The color lasts, they’re easy to apply, and it’s not so heavy and pigmented that you feel or look like you’re wearing lipstick. The low price means you can get several and try a new trend that you may not wear as often, like the bright pink ‘Lovesick’. I think the shades are flattering, but maybe that’s just my coloring or the fact that I haven’t tried the Clinique version yet. Won’t you spend more money reapplying a $17 product every 2-3 hours than you would adding a swipe of Burt’s Bees every so often to a $6 product?

    January 22, 2014/Reply
  8. ralish says:

    Has anyone tried the other Clinique Chubby Stick (I think it’s called ‘Intense Color’)? I love the Chubby Stick because it’s so moisturizing, but I do wish the color lasted longer. Does the “Intense” stick solve that problem?

    January 22, 2014/Reply
  9. Hanna says:

    THANK YOU! I love Clinique’s chubby stick but not the price, or the re-application. I also have drier than normal lips so good to know that Revlon would basically be a waste of money for me. I won’t mind the reapplication of clinique nearly as much now

    January 22, 2014/Reply
  10. Jenna says:

    Just this morning while using my revlon stick I was noticing how much chapstick I needed to make it work. While I’ll probably stick with Revlon for more out-there colors, I’m glad you posted this review, and I look forward to picking up the clinique chubby stick in an everyday color, especially for the winter.

    January 22, 2014/Reply
  11. Another Christine says:

    I used to swear by the Fresh Sugar lip balms but after taking a break and going back to them, I’m done with spending that much on tinted lip balm. Besides the price, I was getting very chapped from the product. I’m trying a variety of less expensive balms now – the tinted Burt’s Bees and the tinted Rosebud Salve. Both are working as well as Fresh in terms of the color staying power and I’m not getting chapped.

    January 22, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Is there a shade in the Burt’s Bees that is close to the Fresh?

      January 22, 2014/Reply
  12. KC says:

    I use Neutrogena’s MoistureSmooth Color Stick. It makes my lips feel moisturized with just the right amount of color that is not too glossy or too bold like the color a lipstick would leave. I also sometimes use it as a blush. They are currently $8.49 at the Neutrogena site. I just noticed that they have a color named “Rich Raisin”. I wonder how it compares with Clinique’s Chubby Stick. https://www.neutrogena.com/product/moisturesmooth+color+stick.do?sortby=ourPic

    January 23, 2014/Reply
  13. Christine says:

    I love the Revlon lip balms and have been obsessed with them for about a year! I love that I can have 7 colors in my purse depending on my mood. I actually don’t find the need to wear any sort of moisturizer with it at all. I just reapply after lunch and am good the rest of the day. And this coming from someone who used to be addicted to Chapstick. Granted, I’m a heavy night lip moisturizer so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it or not.

    January 23, 2014/Reply