Gloss or balm? Now you don’t have to choose because my new favourite beauty category has arrived

woman applying lip gloss

Remember when the whole world discovered lip gloss? My memory’s a bit fuzzy on the exact chain of events, but it was sometime during the late ’90s or early ’00s—you know, back when we thought it was a good idea to wear velour tracksuits, trucker hats and thongs that peeked out from the back of our low-rise jeans. (Klassy.)

Anyway, during this era there were two must-have products: M.A.C Lip Glass and Lancôme Juicy Tubes. Surely you’ve tried them? These were what we might call first-generation lip glosses. Adequate, yes, but if I can be blunt? Not exactly an enjoyable user experience. (Constantly having to remove your hair from your lips whenever you stepped outside was mildly annoying. As was having your significant other recoil from kissing you.)

And this is why today’s post is dedicated to an idea whose time has come: the “gloss-balm.” A.k.a. my new favourite beauty category.

Like its name should indicate, this oh-so-clever new invention marries the best of a balm with the best of a lip gloss and produces the ultimate hybrid. It’s highly moisturizing, it’s non-sticky—and yet it delivers that hint of shine that we’ve all come to love.

Also? Once you try a gloss-balm, you will not be able to go back to lip gloss 1.0. Promise. Here are a few of my faves:

1. Josie Maran Argan Natural Volume Lip Gloss

editors picks josie maran 0409 Gloss or balm? Now you dont have to choose because my new favourite beauty category has arrivedIf you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll remember that I have a lot of love for this product (formerly known as the Plumping Lip Gloss). I know, it’s technically not called a gloss-balm, but really, the formula is the same in everything but name. It was the very first product I discovered that possessed this incredible texture, and it’s still a favourite. Plus? It’s all-natural, plumps your lips AND tastes great. What more could you ask for?

2. CoverGirl NatureLuxe Gloss Balm

CoverGirl NatureLuxe Gloss Balm Gloss or balm? Now you dont have to choose because my new favourite beauty category has arrivedSome gloss-balms are applied as traditional lip gloss wands, and others (like these) are solid sticks. Options, people! You may recall that this 16-shade “nature-inspired” lineup came out in January (Taylor Swift is the face) and my pick is the red one, called Sandstone. If anyone remembers Bonne Bell Dr. Pepper lip balm from back in the day, that’s exactly what it reminds me of, except glossier.

3. Givenchy Gelée d’Interdit Smoothing Gloss Balm Crystal Shine

Givenchy Gelee dInterdit Gloss or balm? Now you dont have to choose because my new favourite beauty category has arrivedThese puppies just landed at Sephora mid-April—but I’ve secretly been using my press samples non-stop for the past three or four months. Totally. In. Love. They’re at the super-shiny end of the gloss-balm category—that’s where the “crystal shine” bit comes in—but are both plumping and hydrating. Note: Only 10 of the above shades are available in Canada. I’ve tried Transparent Shine (clear), Sparkling Petal (pale pink) and the fabulous Vibrant Fuchsia, which is surprisingly pigmented.

4. Sephora Hello Kitty Sweet Gloss

Sephora Hello Kitty Sweet Gloss Gloss or balm? Now you dont have to choose because my new favourite beauty category has arrived

This was one of my editor’s picks a few weeks back, and despite the ridiculousness of grown adults using Hello Kitty items, it’s a great product. Again, it’s called a gloss, but I put it more in the hybrid category.

5. YSL Volupté Sheer Candy

YSL Volupte Sheer Candy Gloss or balm? Now you dont have to choose because my new favourite beauty category has arrived

YSL’s newest launch (out last month) is incredible, as per usual. There are six shades of these gloss-balm sticks, packaged in ultra-glam tubes that are the same size as lipsticks. I’ve tried Dewy Papaya (the sheer peach) and Succulent Pomegranate (sheer red), and both smell as good as the fruity names indicate.

6. Clinique Chubby Sticks

Clinique Chubby Sticks Gloss or balm? Now you dont have to choose because my new favourite beauty category has arrived

These were out in January, and if loads of colour is not your thing—and if you also enjoy pencil-style application (who doesn’t?)—then they should be right up your alley. They go on quite sheer; of the seven shades, I like Chunky Cherry and Woppin’ Watermelon the best.

Now, over to you:

Do you wear gloss or lip balm?
Have you tried anything from this new category yet?
Did you wear Juicy Tubes back in the day? What about Juicy Couture? Seriously, what was up with the word “juicy” in the ’00s?


Monday, May 9/2011 at 10:43 pm

Hrm, you know I tried the CoverGirl Gloss Balm in Hibiscus, and there was one huge thing I didn’t like about it: the taste. It tasted how my mom’s lipstick used to taste, back in the day — inexplicably odd, somewhere between wax and staleness. Perhaps I set myself up for disappointment, as I associate hibiscus with that delicious hibiscus iced tea at the mall I like so much? Lip products haven’t tasted that weird and nasty in years I think… even my mom’s lipsticks at the very least have no overpowering taste anymore.

My fave is a lip stain: Tarte’s Lipsurgence. I know it has neither “balm” nor “gloss” in the title, but neither do most of the products above, so it’s still valid! There’s a lighter payoff in shine than regular gloss but the moisture factor is just as good as a lipbalm, I often use it in lieu of one. Another one that comes to mind is the Korres Lip Butter I tried at the shop this last weekend — very moisturizing, very shiny. The color’s pretty intense too I think, with the color in the pot pretty much ending up what my lips looked like exactly after use.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 9:05 pm

Yeah, the CG scent is kinda different but I don’t find it offensive. Can see how some might though.

I love Tarte lip stain! I’ve only used a matte one so can’t comment on the other types – but find the one I have doesn’t dry out my lips at all. Korres is also amazing!


Monday, May 9/2011 at 10:55 pm

I’m a big fan of the Nars gloss pencils. The smell wonderful and the colour pay off is great. The Korres lip butter is pretty amazing too.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 9:05 pm

Two votes for Korres! I haven’t tried the NARS pencils yet (just the matte ones) but hear good things as well.


Marina (Makeup4all)
Tuesday, May 10/2011 at 7:38 am

I CAN’T wait to try those YSL! As for Givenchy – swatched them in the store and I think that i will have to go back and get a shade or two. I’ve been loving Dior Addict and Max Factor Xperience Boutique lately myself.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 9:07 pm

I think I like the Givenchy the best but that may be because we just got the brand here. I haven’t used Dior in years – are their glosses still super-iridescent? That was my main issue with them before. Wish we had Max Factor…


Tuesday, May 10/2011 at 11:50 am

Uh oh, I loved the Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker, might have to pick up some of the Cover Girl stuff.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 9:08 pm

I just got a Paul Frank Lip Smacker in the mail but it really is not the same. Dr. Pepper was the best. :-)


Nomadic D
Tuesday, May 10/2011 at 12:02 pm

Oh man! Now I want all of them! I totally remember the lip glass and juicy tubes days, I HATED them! And was against lip gloss in general for so long because of it. But lately I’ve been starting to get back into it. I love the YSL golden gloss, and even though it’s kind of sticky I love the Nars lip glosses too. I think I would like a balm/gloss hybrid even better though. But don’t you think that they tend to not last as long as a slightly tacky gloss? I’m not a big fan of reapplication, usually once it’s off, it’s off.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 9:10 pm

Good question. Out of all the products above, I think Givenchy and the Josie Maran are the longest lasting, because they’re the most gloss-like. I do think I reapply the YSL quite a bit.


Tuesday, May 10/2011 at 1:27 pm

My look & needs for the day dictate whether I reach for balm or gloss. In my mind I’ve got glosses that suit different purposes (shine, colour, both) but I never really thought about it until reading this.

I’ve got a few products that fall into this category, and I do like them for subtle colour & shine. I’ve also been shocked by the pigment in some ‘balms’, Burt’s Bees in Hibiscus & Tokidoki in Donutella have much more ‘tint’ than I anticipated. Definitely much more friendly to cups, mugs and other people too. ;] I suppose the downside is the need for more frequent reapplication.

Juicy Tubes have always been too sticky, though I can tolerate Lip Glass if I want pigmented gloss.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 9:12 pm

It’s true – everybody needs a lip product wardrobe! I really like these gloss-balms for day but can see why you might want a more traditional gloss for evening. The Givenchy probably ticks off the most boxes for me.


Tuesday, May 10/2011 at 2:16 pm

BIG lip gloss fan here. I’ve been trying to get away from them since this blog is all about the bright lippie for Spring/Summer … and you can’t really do that with a gloss. But, alas, I will be a gloss fan forevah!

Quick question: balms are supposed to be moisturizing, right? If so, then why does my Joe Fresh Tinted Lip Balm make my lips peel?? :(


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 9:17 pm

Uh-oh. Might be because of one of these ingredients: (I don’t have an ingredients list for Joe Fresh but am thinking it could be the silicone oil since it’s tinted.) Some other ones you might try are M.A.C Tinted Lip Conditioner or Korres Tinted Lip Balm… however I wouldn’t expect too much hydration from a tinted balm. I tend to just use regular ones when my lips are on the dry side… or you could try layering lip stain under a regular, more hydrating clear lip balm to get the best of both worlds.


Tuesday, May 10/2011 at 6:51 pm

The entire Josie Maran face line is already on my to-try list, might as well add lips to the list ;-) I saw that Dior is coming out with a “Dior Addict Lip Polish Smoothing Lacquer”. Apparently the applicator spins (man I’m a sucker for gimmicky makeup gadgets)


Tuesday, May 10/2011 at 6:53 pm

Nevermind, just realized that it’s the same as the old lip polish except I never realized the applicator rolls around!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, May 11/2011 at 9:20 pm

I love Josie Maran! I have her tinted moisturizer, lip stain, powder bronzer, powder shadow and cream blush/shadow palette. My only gripe is with the latter – because the products are on the natural side they don’t stay put very well.

Didn’t realize that about Dior! Am not really a Dior girl but will have to check out!


Monday, May 23/2011 at 12:22 pm

Chanel’s Rouge Coco shine is my favorite now, it has an amazing texture, its glossy and light at the same time, I think everyone must try it…


Monday, May 23/2011 at 10:20 pm

I have tried the Chubby Stick from Clinique in Fuller Fig. I really love the natural look of the color with just one swipe and if I want to build it I can. Also, I have tried
(although not listed here) Burts Bees tinted lip balm in Hibiscus. Love the color and the buttery feel of the gloss on my lips. Also it leaves a hint of color behind when it does wear off.


Ameerah Josiane
Wednesday, August 24/2011 at 12:59 pm

Hello kitty=cute


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