Who put Valentine’s Day in the lip-chapping-est month of the year? Honestly. Thus in this scent-duets post, we're pairing our Valentine’s fragrance recos with lip-brightening and soothing balms to cheer you up during February, the year's shortest month that somehow manages to feel like the longest.
For many of us, lip balm is a holdover obsession, begun in pre-teenhood when a tube of LipSmackers was as hefty as a roll of quarters and as talismanic as Hot Wheels were for boys. Beauty brands recognize and exploit this enduring love as much as they can. I will try any balm, especially the tinted transparent ones that promise that holy grail YLBB (your lips but better) deepening tint. And while my love of drugstore balms remains undiminished, I have been seduced by the pricier offering from ever fancier lines.
The upside of balm addiction is that even at the highest end, unlike a purse or a coat, a lip balm is inexpensive enough that even when you tire of it, and you’re on to the next, the financial fallout is relatively minor. (Or I’m just rationalizing. But it’s already been a long winter. Cut me some slack.)
chanel les exclusifs de chanel 1957
SCENT: Chanel 57 eau de parfum ($240 CAD and $200 USD at chanel.com and Chanel boutiques) is the latest release in their Les Exclusifs de Chanel line, blending eight (eight!) white musks with honey and orange blossom for a scent that’s all sexy allure (hello, honeyed musk) surrounded by a halo of light. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, it’s a seductive, but in a stealthy way (like wearing a black lace bra under your bulkiest winter sweater).
SENSIBILITY: Pair your Chanel 57 with some very fancy balm as armour against winter’s dry air and general seasonal cruelty. Omorovicza Perfecting Lip Balm, ($60 CAD at nordstrom.com and $45 USD at omorovicza.com), gently volumises with eucalyptus and plumping hyaluronic spheres. Or for subtly enlivened lip colour, Cle de Peau Lip Glorifier, ($65 CAD and $55 USD at nordstrom.com) a rose-scented transforming balm, gives lips a colour they call ‘cherry blossom’ (a soft reddish pink.)
nest wild poppy eau de parfum
SCENT: You need Nest's Wild Poppy eau de parfum (from $36 CAD and $27 USD at sephora.com) to dig yourself out of winter doldrums. Right away you get pear, apricot and raspberry, but let it warm on your skin and the summery Grasse Rose and Himalayan Jasmine rise up, giving you hope that one day you'll see flowers in bloom again (and if you’re in Vancouver, where spring has already started, well lucky you). Inspiring Fun fact: Nest’s signature floral bottles take their cue from the paintings of 18th-century artist Mary Delaney, who didn’t start painting until she was 72.
SENSIBILITY: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Fig, ($29 CAD and $24 USD at sephora.com) is a muted, gently flecked purple in the bullet, but on lips it performs the magic trick of deepening your lip colour without shrinking their appearance like dark lipsticks do.
bastide rose olivier eau de toilette
SCENT: Bastide Rose Olivier eau de toilette (from $42 CAD at Holt Renfrew and $32 USD at bastide.com), will transport you straight to Provence with its tangle of rose, violet and cedar and olive wood. It’s green and floral, and fairly pulsing with summer sunshine. If a fairy godmother in a shimmering pink gown offered you a magic potion for everlasting life, it would taste like this smells.
SENSIBILITY: Burt’s Bees original Red Dahlia tinted balm gave the best subtly red lips, like you’d been sucking on a Merlot popsicle. New Burt’s Bees All Aglow Lip and Cheek Stick in Dahlia Dew ($19.99 CAD at well.ca and $12.99 USD at ulta.com) is great transparent colour, wrapped about a hydrating coconut oil core for dewy and rosy cheeks as well. And unlike so many lip/cheek duos which are fine for cheeks but drying on your mouth, this feels good on the lips, but isn’t a sticky, flyaway-hair-magnet on your face.
narciso rodriguez for her oil musc parfum
SCENT: Narciso Rodriguez For Her Oil Musc Parfum ($130 CAD at thebay.com) is full-on sultry thanks to musk, patchouli and ambroxan (think earthy, woody, animalic) with some peachy-smelling osmanthus for lightness. And unlike spraying perfume, this is an oil that you apply to pulse points with an almost sinister-looking pointy black applicator. It’s the perfect mix of glamorous, earthy and almost (almost) dirty (but not really.) And it’s sexy as hell.
SENSIBILITY: Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey ($23 CAD and $18.50 USD at sephora.com) is a 1971 baby and a sentimental favourite. Ignore the name "Almost Lipstick." It’s a balm and it truly is universally wearable. It looks like a deep wine shade in the tube, but becomes a perfect transparent berry on the lips – a true Holy Grail product having endured, nay thrived, for nearly half a century. (Extra points for the sleek metal case.)
dior holy peony
SCENT: Dior Holy Peony ($285 CAD at Saks Fifth Avenue and $220 USD at dior.com) is a big floral for people who don’t think they like big florals. By adding apricot and the brightest of green leaves to peony and rose you get a crisply energetic but no less alluring floral scent. (Just picture yourself and a Hemsworth making out and rolling around in a flower garden. But one without thorns because this is a fantasy makeout garden.)
SENSIBILITY: Please pity us poor Canadians who can’t buy Korres Lip Butter in the shade Wild Rose ($18.55 CAD and $14 USD at revolve.com) in our own country. I got mine online from a US-based site, so I (obviously) had to get two. (Multiples are recommended when you're re-stocking. And that's right, it’s not shopping, it’s restocking.)
Anything here appeal to you? Have you ever thought about a specific lip balm to wear with a specific fragrance? Or specific makeup?
holtrenfrew.com, bastide.com and dior.com are non-affliate links