It’s been awhile since my last indie lip balm review, huh? Well, never fear – I have a new beloved Etsy balm brand to share with you guys.
Well, “new” may be a tad incorrect. I’ve been using this brand almost exclusively since I first discovered them in January 2015! To date, I’ve made my way fully through 6 of their balms, and am alternating two more at the moment. I’m already plotting my next order, so as you may be able to tell, this is a positive review! However, if you’re familiar with my past lip balm breakdowns, you know that we’re gonna go a little bit more in depth than that, right?
So let’s get right down to it!
The brand in question is called Live Beautifully Body. I believe that I first stumbled upon their shop while looking for some sort of coffee-based balm; once I found their shop and noted their roughly ten kajillion flavors, I knew I had to at least spring for one of their multi-flavor kits. Called “anthologies”, you can either purchase one of their themed sets (curated into sets like “Herb Garden” which gives your Orange Sage, Lemon Fennel, and Crushed Mint balm flavors, as an example) or pick your own. My initial purchase was a custom 3-balm set, with Strawberry Rose, Brandy Coffee, and Warm Hot Chocolate as my selections.
Beyond the vast amount of choice in flavorings, the ingredients list also really appealed to me. Let’s break it down:
Beeswax, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Mango Butter, Apricot Kernel Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Coconut Oil, Natural Flavors & Oils, Vitamin E
If you’re even remotely literate about moisturizing agents, you’ve probably recognized that this balm is formulated with a metric crap-ton of emollients. Shea butter, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter and vitamin E are mainstays of moisturizers for face, hair and body that probably need no explanation; likewise beeswax is incredibly common in lip balms (thanks, Burt!).
Mango butter is a fruit-sourced, creamy butter that packs a lot of moisturizing punch. It’s becoming more common as an ingredient in bath and body products and has also received some hype as being particularly soothing to burned or irritated skin.
Macadamia nut oil is a non-greasy oil that’s very similar in profile to human sebum as well as rich in fatty acids, meaning that it works very well to restore and retain moisture to human skin.
While there is some buzz about coconut oil and mango butter providing natural SPF, as far as I’m aware it’s an incredibly small factor and as such the one downside of these balms is that they aren’t truly suitable for sun protection. If you are intending on spending time in the sun, I would either layer over or replace these balms with a true lip sunscreen.
So we see that this ingredient list has much potential, but how does it play out in practice?
Answer: very, very well. This balm formulation is, to be blunt, a significant cut above most indie lip products that I’ve tried in almost every way possible. Well, obviously, or I wouldn’t be continuing to purchase them over and over, right?
For me, there are five important aspects when deciding whether a lip balm works for me or not: texture, longevity, absorption, moisture, and flavor/scent. So I’ll move through each point, one by one.
Texture: Ideally, a lip balm will have a decent amount of slip and smoothness to it – few things are grosser than gritty, crumbly, overly thick and pasty lip products. However, on the flip side, a balm that has too much slip will wear off your lips almost immediately, forcing you to constantly reapply and burning through the product like wildfire.
Live Beautifully Body balms hit the happy medium for me: they are smooth as butter and, upon contact with your lips’ natural body heat, emulsify quickly and apply easily. However, the slip and absorbency is balanced so that you don’t have to worry about the balm sliding right off your lips (or into the corners of your mouth, which I’ve had happen before). There’s really nothing to complain about here, it’s one of the best smoothness-to-thickness ratios that I’ve ever experienced.
The only thing I’d mention as a possible negative here would be that because they do melt easily, you need to be careful in hot weather or if you’re parking yourself in front of a heater during the winter. On really hot days, they never totally melted, but if I screwed the balm up too far and wasn’t careful, the warm weather would have made the balms just fragile enough that I could easily “break” the balm’s stick form.
Longevity: I seem to get a few hours per application. If I apply this overnight, I’ll probably have to reapply once whenever I inevitably wake up for some reason (bathroom, forgot to turn off my text alert volume, loud-ass train going by, etc etc) – considering that I keep my bedroom probably more arid than is ideal, that’s pretty good!
Absorption: As mentioned above, the absorption is fast enough that you don’t have to worry about the slippery balm sliding off – however, it also doesn’t absorb so fast that you’re constantly having to reapply. It might be a touch too slick for application of a lip color immediately after using the balm, but I think after a minute or two of letting the balm absorb, you’d be golden.
Moisture: No complaints here – I’ve used this across all seasons and found it sufficiently moisturizing. The only period where I had any trouble was right as it got super ice cold this winter, but that’s because I forgot to bring out the humidifier! A couple nights with my favorite lip mask and I was right as rain and back to using these balms exclusively with no issues. So if you live in the driest climate imaginable, you may not find this quite moisturizing enough, but if you either pair it with a night treatment or use a humidifier, you’ll be set.
Flavor/Scent: To date, I have tried ten flavors from Live Beautifully Body – Strawberry Rose, Brandy Coffee, Warm Hot Chocolate, Warm Apple Cider, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Blackberry Jam, Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Orange as my order choices, and Southern Peach Rose and Cotton Candy Dreaming in the form of free sample jars. Each flavor has been markedly different and very true to its flavor description, which I appreciate. I’ll give a very short run-down of each flavor that I’ve tried, though admittedly the first three are becoming somewhat faint in my memory!
- Strawberry Rose: Very sweet strawberry, not the plastic-y Bonne Bell type, either. The Rose is not overpowering, and they combine for a nice floral-fruity mix that I found very appealing. I’d definitely buy this one again.
- Brandy Coffee: I don’t remember this one that much as it was the first flavor I opened – well over a year ago! I do recall it having a very strong, true coffee scent, which was appreciated as it’s exactly what drew me to the brand initially. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how the brandy element featured – it’s simply been too long.
- Warm Hot Chocolate: Classic milky chocolate flavor with an interesting creamy note to replicate the “warmth” and melting marshmallows. I really enjoyed this one! The creamy note wasn’t too vanilla-y or too cupcake/plastic-y like some other indie brands tend to veer into for their “marshmallow” flavoring. Definitely a win!
- Warm Apple Cider: Truly exactly as it says on the tin – this was an absolute doppelganger for warmed, spiced cider. Note that the flavors with spice in them could irritate very sensitive lips; however, if you were/are able to use any sort of “plumping” balms/glosses/etc, you should be fine. It’s a very mild tingle, maybe a fraction of what I experienced when I’d use one of those cinnamon-reliant plumping glosses that were so trendy several years back!
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: As with most pumpkin pie scented/flavored products, this is primarily the spice, not so much the pumpkin. For most people, that’s probably a plus (I’ve had people argue with me that nobody actually likes pumpkin, we’re just all dumb and fooled by the spices), however, I legitimately do like the pumpkin flavor in my pies and would like to see it a bit more present in this flavor. Same warning for the spice applies here as above with Warm Apple Cider.
- Blackberry Jam: This one had a really nice tartness, reminiscent of a Zinger tea, if you’ve ever had those. I used this when it was just turning from Summer to Fall and it was a fabulous seasonal choice! There wasn’t much of a sweet jamminess to my nose – it seemed more of a blackberry tea to me. Regardless, I really liked it and would easily repurchase.
- Chocolate Orange: Hey, I have this one on right now! Well, I’ve loved chocolate oranges since I was a little kid, and all I wanted was a balm that replicated a good-quality chocolate orange (I say good-quality, because I’ve had some nasty, plastic-chocolate-tasting choco oranges before… urgh). This is a clear milk chocolate and sweet orange combo – nothing extraneous. The flavors are balanced and, on the downside, it tastes so true to source that it’s making me crave a real chocolate orange like crazy!
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate: Another very up-front and true scent; this is the warm milky chocolate that is present in the Warm Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Orange balms, but paired with a pleasant, not-too-strong mint. Well, just as with the beverage, I don’t like it when the mint overpowers the cocoa nor when the mint is too weak, but I think this balm strikes a good balance.
- Southern Peach Rose: Okay, here’s the thing about peach (and mango, actually) – it SO easily becomes overbearing to my nose. This balm does a good job of side-stepping that particular pitfall, as neither the peach nor the rose is too punchy and overpowering. I can see myself ordering a full tube of this in the summer!
- Cotton Candy Dreaming: Very, very sweet, as expected of cotton candy! It’s very pink, sugary vanilla. If you like hyper-sweet (which is likely if you’re looking into cotton candy scents, right?), this should be up your alley indeed.
So, to wrap things up: as you can probably surmise, I’m pretty happy with these lip balms and will continue to purchase from Live Beautifully Body. I’m thinking I’ll snap up the ice cream anthology once the weather gets warmer! They have a lot of other products that I haven’t tried at all (honestly, I’m still working through so much bath/body/skincare stuff from my Memebox binge days…), so if you’ve tried any other their other items, please let me know your thoughts!
Disclaimer: This review is 100% my own thoughts and not sponsored in any fashion. I purchased all products with my own money.