Beauty Wednesday: Tinted Lip Balms

Tinted Lip Balms - Swatches and Reviews | CorporetteI have an unhealthy addiction to tinted lip balms, and given that I really tend to jettison my heavier lipsticks during the summer months, I thought now would be a perfect time to round up a few of the various tinted balms I’ve tried, with pictures, swatches, and more. I’ve always found tinted lip balms to be great for a fast and easy beauty routine, from my days as a stressed-out student, to a time-starved lawyer, to a busy mom now — they’re generally a no-mess application, with a moisturizing feel, and if you’re lucky, SPF to boot.

This is obviously not an exhaustive survey, just the various products that I’ve bought and tried and still have in my current collection.  (I’ve also owned Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment in the past, but don’t seem to have it any more — looking at Sephora it looks like they have a ton of new colors, AND they all have SPF 15, so I may have to try them again.)  Here’s my report, comparing and contrasting them all to everyone’s favorite: Clinique Black Honey

#1. My lips, bare. I must apologize in advance for how much we’re going to be looking at my lips in this post — it feels a bit like the visual equivalent of saying “orange orange orange orange” over and over again.  Nope, I never noticed how unsymmetrical my lips were before either.

plain lips

Here are the tinted lip stains I’m rounding up today… note that I have done absolutely ZERO color correction on any of these pictures.  (I tried — particularly for the picture of the paper with the swatches — but every time I or someone else did the color correction so the paper read as white, the lip tint colors looked different… so I decided to use the originals.) Some notes:

  • Kat’s favorites: 2, 3, 4, 5 (probably because of color alone)
  • Most moisturizing (IMHO): 9, 10, 13
  • SPF: 7, 9 (and Fresh)
  • Organic: 4, 6, 10
  • Most variety/colors to choose: 2, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12 (and Fresh)

Tinted Lip Balms - Swatches and Reviews | Corporette

Tinted Lip Balms - Swatches and Reviews | Corporette

Tinted Lip Balms - Swatches and Reviews | Corporette Tinted Lip Balms - Swatches and Reviews | Corporette

#2. CoverGirl Lipslicks Smoochies Lip Balm, Tru Luv 235, available at for $4.99. I have two of these in the roundup because I bought the pinker one (#12) after trying it on at a Fashion Week thing, then deciding it was too pink for me, but liking the feel and scent enough that I wanted to try another color from the 18 available (!).  I do like #235 (the one pictured below), but it is VERY light — and the color doesn’t get that much darker if layered.  This is truly a “MLBB” kind of shade — my lips but better. As it turns out, has a coupon that lets you save $4 on TWO Covergirl Lip Products — so if you wanted to try them, now might be the time.  (Ooh, and they have a Jumbo Gloss Balm, which I totally have not tried but now want to.  See? I tell you, it’s an addiction. The balm sticks like Clinique’s Chubby Stick could be another roundup entirely, I suspect — anyone have any favorite stick balms?)

tinted lip balm - smoochies tru lov 235 CoverGirl Lipslicks Smoochies Tru Luv 235 tinted lip balm - smoochies tru lov 235 paper swatch tinted lip balm - smoochies tru lov 235 swatch

#3. Cover Girl Lipslicks, Edgy.  I’ve sung the praises of this tinted balm before — I hope it hasn’t been discontinued, but it does seem like it’s hard to find at the moment.  (I must have bought it in bulk a few years ago; I have three or four tubes laying around the apartment!) At the moment, it’s available at Amazon and possibly at your local Wal-Mart.  You can see why this is one of my all-time favorites (since my teens, seriously) — it’s not too pink, not too red, just a slight darkening of your lips for more definition.  It goes on evenly enough and lightly enough (the color gets darker if you layer) that I’ve been able to apply without a mirror.  Compared to the newer CoverGirl Lipslicks, the newer ones have a fruitier, fresher scent than this one, and a very similar feel.

tinted lip balm - lipslicks edgy cg-lipslicks edgy lipslicks edgy swatch tinted lip balm - lipslicks edgy arm swatch

#4. Yes To Carrots Color Lip Balm, Soft Plum, available online at Amazon for $5.97.  I generally like this affordable, organic line (particularly for maternity skincare), and this balm is similar to the other products — it’s advertised as being 99% natural, free of parabens, phthalates and SLS, without any animal testing.  After taking these photos I realized that I like this tinted balm more than I thought I did!  It’s a great color, and even though it’s a bit drier than I normally like for a balm, it’s still hydrating.  It isn’t sticky or shiny at all. I wish the tube had a slant to it (it’s just flat) and that it had SPF, but otherwise it’s great.

tinted lip balm - yes to carrots plum Yes to Carrots Plum yes to carrots plum swatch tinted lip balm - yes to carrots plum arm swatch

#5. Clinique Black Honey, $15 at Sephora and Nordstrom. The classic! I like that this one goes on very smoothly, and while you need a mirror to apply the tube is small enough that you can get a precise application without liner. Nice feel. I do wish it had SPF in it and was just a touch darker, but that’s me. They recently expanded the line to include more colors — I just finished a tube of another color (Honey I think? They may have discontinued the expansion because I can’t find it anywhere for a link!).  I was glad to have it, but came back to Black Honey in the end.

tinted lip balm - clinique black honey dupes Clinique Black Honey clinique black honey swatch tinted lip balm - clinique black honey arm swatch

#6. Badger Lip Tint & Shimmer – Garnet/Opal, available at Amazon for $4.99.  This one is advertised as being 94% organic (USDA certified), tinted with safe USP-grade minerals. This is a brand I trust for some of my son’s products (bug spray and the like) — so I’m bummed that I dislike this tinted balm so much. The color is heavy enough that you need lipliner and a mirror to apply it, but it doesn’t go on evenly, and as soon as you smack your lips together it clumps up in weird places. One of the alleged pros here is the second gloss, an “opal shimmer” — again, it’s not my cup of tea (either worn alone or on top of the gloss), but I swatched it as well below. I may just throw this tube out when I’ve finished the post, honestly.

tinted lip balm - badger garnet Badger Lip Tint badger garnet swatch badger opal swatch tinted lip balm - badger garnet arm swatch

#7. Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20, Healthy Blush 20, available at and Ulta for $8.99.  I love that this one has SPF in it, and it has a nice color.  (It comes in six colors, so you have a variety to choose from.)  The downside to me is the super-wide, curved tube — I generally consider myself to have lips that are on the fuller side, and it was just way too wide for me to use without a mirror (honestly, I probably could have stood to use a lip brush).  I really hope they change the packaging because it’s one of the few nice colors with SPF.

tinted lip balm - neutrogena revitalizing fresh plum Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20 neutrogena revitalizing fresh plum swatch 2 tinted lip balm - neutrogena revitalizing fresh plum arm swatch

#8.  Lipstick Queen ‘Medieval’ Lipstick, $22 at Nordstrom. This one is marketed more as a lipstick than a balm, but I’ve always found the color sheer enough (but definitely layerable) to consider it as a balm in the same realm as Clinique’s Black Honey. It’s a bit of a pinker, fresher color than Black Honey, and I like the story behind it — “During medieval times, when lipstick was considered a sin, women used lemon to stain their lips a see-through blood red, impossible to detect as anything other than a sensual, melancholic hue. That exact look has been recreated in one simple shade, Lipstick Queen’s Medieval.” I’d say you do need a mirror to apply it.  It’s very moisturizing, which isn’t surprising since it’s really just a tube of Vitamin E and pigment.

tinted lip balm - Lipstick Queen Medieval Lipstick Queen 'Medieval' Lipstick Lipstick Queen Medieval swatch tinted lip balm - Lipstick Queen Medieval arm swatch

#9. Nivea Lip Care, a Kiss of Cherry, available at for $2.99.  Hooray for SPF 10!  (Can you tell I’m a bit of a fanatic about sun protection?)  It’s has a VERY light color that is not very layerable.  It has a nice mositurizing feel and a no-mess application.  If memory serves Nivea does make a few different tinted balms, but markets them each as a separate product entirely (instead of multiple colorways within one product) — I may try another.  The tube here is less than great also — a wide, fat tube, but the tint is light enough that you don’t really need a mirror to apply it.

tinted lip balm - Nivea Lip Care Cherry Nivea Lip Care A Kiss of Cherry Fruity Lip Care Nivea Lip Care Cherry swatch tinted lip balm - Nivea Lip Care Cherry arm swatch

#10. Madison Street Beauty, Cerise Lip Sheer – Tinted Lip Balm — was $5.99, now $2.40 at Etsy. I found out about Madison Street Beauty through a friend’s Facebook page — she was really psyched that they were having a huge sale. I clicked over, and the prices were so low (and it was one of those days where I apparently needed some shopping therapy) that I wound up buying two lip glosses, three eye shadows, and a nail polish, all for under $18 or so.  I like that the brand focuses on environmentally friendly packaging, with all natural and vegan ingredients, and the quality of the stuff has been, I’d say, higher than drugstore quality (I particularly like the eye shadows).  In terms of a review, this balm has a very light color and a moisturizing feel.  It has a no-mess application, and I would say the color is layerable. They have a ton of colors to choose from.

tinted lip balm - Madison Street Beauty Cerise Madison Street Beauty Cerise Madison Street Beauty Cerise swatch Madison Street Beauty Cerise arm swatch

#11.  Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm, Grape Vine, available at for $3.99. I bought this one a while ago, then lost the tube, and then found it again, so it’s kind of like a new product all over again.  I like the feel and the scent of it, but it is a slightly uneven application.  The color does not really layer.

tinted lip balm - Maybelline Babylips Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm, Grape Vine Maybelline Babylips swatch Maybelline Babylips arm swatch

#12. CoverGirl Lipslicks Smoochies Lip Balm, Luv U 215, available at for $4.99. This is the color that I bought after trying it at a Fashion Week thing (the makeup artist selected it for me).  It’s a beautiful pink, but in context with the rest of my coloring just isn’t MY pink.  Like I said earlier, I liked the feel/scent/wear enough that I bought a second tube in another color (#2, above).

balm stain swatches Covergirl Lipslicks 215 luv u CoverGirl Lipslicks Smoochies Luv U 215 Covergirl Lipslicks 215 luv u swatch Covergirl Lipslicks 215 luv u arm swatch

#13. Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor, available at Nordstrom for $25.  I think this one belongs in a different category, along with all of those grown-up versions of mood lipsticks such as Dior Addict Lip Glow, Smashbox’s O-Glow, Sephora’s Color Reveal Lip Balm, and others. (See, yet another category we could round up — any favorite mood lipsticks, readers?) This one has a SUPER light application, but a nice moisturizing feel (similar to the other Lipstick Queen product, above).  It has a no-mess application because it’s so light.  I would say it isn’t very layerable (the color doesn’t get more blue after multiple applications).  But: being able to pull out a blue tube of lipstick and put it on nonchalantly without a mirror? Pretty cool.  (I did swatch this one on my arm, but it came out poorly so I’m showing you the one right next to it for context also — that’s Black Honey with it, in the final picture; the black arrow is pointing to the swatch of Hello Sailor.)

tinted lip balm - Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor swatch Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor arm swatch

I must say: I have a new respect for beauty bloggers who do this all the time — swatching and photographing take forEVER! Readers, which are your favorite tinted lip balms? How do you switch up your makeup when it gets hot outside?

Oh, and bonus question: which are your favorite pale nail polish colors (for interviewing or otherwise)?  Shout out your favorite colors (and brand please) and I’ll try to do a round-up for next month’s Beauty feature.



  1. I’ve never found a tinted lip balm I loved. The colors always feel a little off on me somehow. What I tend to use the most is Smashbox O-Gloss, which is really more like a balm than a gloss and looks amazing on everyone, no mirror to apply needed. For moisturizing, I stick with plain old Smith’s Rosebud salve.

    For the nail polish round up, my all time all around favorite is Essie Pink Glove Service. It almost doesn’t look like you’re wearing any color but it makes your nails look so pretty and so healthy – it’s like magic.

  2. Wanderlust :

    For nailpolish, I love Essie’s “Angel Food” and “Fiji.” Both are pale pink in color and pretty opaque.

  3. I posted a week ago about how I just can’t do lipstick, so I’m excited to try some of these balms.

    I recently discovered China Glaze “Innocent” and really like it as a neutral polish. 1 coat does it for me. I’m a little picky when it comes to nail polish functionality, and I really like China Glaze because it has a slightly thinner brush than OPI, but the formula seems more similar to OPI (rather than essie) so I find it lasts a bit longer.

  4. I have been going makeup free for the last month, with just sunscreen and primer to help control the oil. Some days I put on mascara, but with the humidity makeup just seems way too heavy. I don’t usually wear much to begin with: foundation, shadow and mascara.

  5. Kiehl’s tinted lip balm is awesome as is Burt’s bees (red dahlia. Watch out for Burt’s bees’ “rose” though. It was entirely awful!!

    • I love “rose”! It’s my go-to since I drink so much water all day lipstick just fades away. I have like 5 tubes of it stashed in different bags. Perhaps you got a bad tube? Or maybe just different strokes for different folks.

    • +1 for Burt’s Bees Red Dahlia. It’s darker than many and is a color that goes with pretty much anything and flatters most skin tones.

      • Me too! I love Burt Bee’s b/c it is ALL NATURAL and no paraffin’s or something like that. I normaly do NOT even like lip balm’s but this one is different. It is run by a beekeeper who use’s the beezwax to make it I was told. Margie use’s it and gave me some at the HAMTON’s when I had none and did NOT want my lip’s to get sunburnt. The manageing partner’s brother made a big deal out of slathering me with sun block and he got his greasy hands to close to area’s where those paws should NOT have been. FOOEY on him. I told him I do NOT put sunblock under my batheing suit but he said I should just in case the batheing suit shifted. Myrna told me he was just trying to get cheep thrills by sticking his hand where it did NOT belong. DOUBEL FOOEY. Next week, Myrna and I are goeing to Ocean City, NJ by OURSELFES — no men grabbeing at our tuchuses. YAY!!!!!

    • Seattle Freeze :

      Burt’s Bees Red Dahlia is my daily go to. I hardly ever wear anything else – I must have 3 or 4 tubes spread between desk, vanity, and bags.

    • TO Lawyer :

      Hmm I’m intrigued – do you ladies have fairly pigmented lips? I love the idea of tinted lip balms but they generally don’t have enough pigment for me. I may have to try the burt’s bees one.

      • As for me, I do not. I’m pale as milk, light light pink lips. I prefer red dahlia for the reason that it’s some color, not just balm.

    • I use the Burt’s Bees pomegranate chap stick as a functional tinted balm. It doesn’t have any shimmer, but it’s got a touch of color and is glossy enough when I don’t feel like wearing real lipstick. I like the looks of that Lipstick Queen Medieval, though. (And it’s cruelty-free! Thanks to the person a few weeks ago who posted about cruelty-free beauty products. I’m not buying anything new that does animal testing and I’m replacing things with cruelty-free products as I run out of them…although how I’m going to survive without my Bobbi Brown blush is a question for another day…)

      Favorite interview nail polish is Butter’s Tea with the Queen. It’s a neutral, pinky tan and makes me feel like Kate Middleton.

      • SA-litagor :

        Ditto on the Burt’s Bees pomegranate. I’ve been using that for years and gotten so many compliments on it. Highly highly recommend!

      • Anonylicious :

        For some reason, the Burt’s Bees Pomegranate balm smells like a chilli dog to me. It wasn’t just a bad, tube, either, because I tried two. My sister thinks I’m crazy, but my mom smells it, too. I wonder if it’s one of those things, like how cilantro tastes awful to some people.

        Otherwise I loved it, but I just can’t deal with the smell.

    • I’ve been wearing the Burt’s watermelon lip shimmer basically since I started wearing makeup. It’s just the right shade of pink for my face – whenever I’ve tried pink lipstick I think I look weird.

      I’ll have to try the red one – the only proper lipstick I wear is red-red, but man it’s a PITA. Especially in the summer. A red lip balm would be a nice casual option.

  6. Anonymous :

    I get french gel manicures (with clear, not pink base) every 2 weeks. I absolutely love not having to worry about my hands.

  7. for pale polishes, nothing beats essie’s ballet slippers, except maybe ballet slippers with a coat of mademoiselle (also essie) over it.

  8. Anon Worker Bee :

    I like Deborah Lippmann Turn Back Time which is technically a “rejuvenating base coat” but after 2 coats is a very nice neutral that has good staying power.

  9. Inspired by the recent conversation about cruelty-free cosmetics here, I recently bought Tarte’s Lipsurgence Skintuitive Lip Tint & really love it. It’s easy to apply without a mirror and non-drying.

    The color it adjusts to for me is a bit more daring than one I’d normally pick (it’s a little bit brighter & pinker), but I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it.

    • Diana Barry :

      I have a TON of the Tarte sticks. I just bought a new Enchanted (pinky-rose) today since I went through it (that never happens to me!). I also have a few of the Clinique chubby sticks in the fig and raisin.

  10. If you can find it, Korres brand tinted lip balms are amazing, for moisturizing, tinting and spf. Their dark plum is the best I’ve ever had.

    • Maddie Ross :

      I love the non-pigmented Korres lip balms (and Korres products in general), but their color palette for the lips doesn’t work for me. Everything I’ve tried has a bit too much yellow in it.

  11. I like tinted lip balms mainly because they tend to fade quite evenly so if you forget to touch up no-one knows you had one on in the first place. I like the Body Shop ones

  12. Burts Bees Strawberry and other light pink burts bees colors. I don’t do real lipstick, just that kind. And if it wears off, no problem — no bleeding lines or anything.

  13. I just got a gel manicure for the first time. Has anyone had experience with gel manicures damaging their nails? I like the fact that they last but I’m a bit concerned about this.

    • I disliked the way it felt when they removed it, the one time I had shellac (assuming this is the same thing as what you’re referring to). It felt like part of my nail was peeling away. It didn’t actually do long-term damage, but they did feel thinner for a while. I don’t think I’ll get one again.

      However, many people I know love shellac.

    • Anonymous :

      If done correctly, they don’t damage the nails at all. If your nails are damaged, gel polish serves as protection. I have been getting gel manicures every 2 weeks for at least 3 years and my nails look and feel fantastic. Switching over to gel manicures is the single best beauty decision I ever made.

    • Clementine :

      Don’t let them use the dremel (power sander mini thingy) on you! Ask if they can please file them instead. If they can file them , it just roughs them up a little bit so the gel sticks really well, but some techs get carried away with the Dremel.

    • Anonymous :

      I have very weak nails and gel damages them, to the point that when I went for my last manicure, the manicurist told me I needed to take a break from gel. Apparently peeling the polish off instead of having it soaked off removes a layer of nail. Oops. The manicurist also suggested I take biotin, and after a couple of months my nails do seem stronger and thicker.

  14. Housecounsel :

    Nothing beats good ol’ Black Honey for me. But that doesn’t stop me from trying every new thing that comes out and I will probably have to try all of your suggestions as well.

    I like Essie’s Ballet Slipper and Opi’s Sweet Heart on my nails.

  15. I love Black Honey and have worn it for years. I have the Neutrogena one in “Sunny Berry” #30 and I like it a lot. Gotta have SPF. I totally agree about the weird tube – clearly designed by aliens who don’t have lips of their own – but it’s a nice product inside.

  16. Anonymous :

    Revlon Lip Butters – I like Pink Truffle for a “my lips but better” look.

    • Covergirl Natureluxe Gloss Balm Hibiscus 215 is “my lips but exactly the same.” It’s a freaky exact match. My BF was like “why did you buy a lipstick that’s the same color as your mouth?” Well I didn’t know it would be!

      It does have SPF 15 and a nice texture so I wear it anyway.

  17. I picked up Covergirl Smoochies in 2 Cute and really like it. I may even like it more than Black Honey.

    • I love, love, love Sugar Lip Treatment in Honey. Worth every penny of the $24 cost, and I’m pretty cheap. Moisturizing, SPF 15, and good color without looking heavy. Not too pink, either.

  18. Lady Harriet :

    As far as stick balms go, I love the Jordana Twist n Shine balm stains. They’re really cheap ($2.99-3.29 depending on the store), cruelty free, and they stain your lips with color that actually lasts. There’s no SPF, but I wear a plain lip balm with SPF underneath. The color is more intense than the ones you’ve shown here, but I like intense lip colors so that’s great for me. My favorite color is Tropical Frenzy, which is a great hot pink. I also have Rock n Rouge, which is a pinkish red with a little bit of shimmer. I don’t care for the shimmer, but it’s not too noticeable. I know the color Honey Love is very popular as a “my lips but better” shade for many people, but it just looked brown and shimmery on me. It was so unflattering that I returned it.

    It’s not sheer, but the Clinique Different Lipstick in Sweet Honey is the exact color of my lips.

  19. Covergirl Edgy lip balm is my all time favorite!!! I have re enter spent a fortune trying to find a replacement. Still no luck and I’m on my last tune of edgy. Wish I could find it somewhere