I miss lipstick. Or rather, I miss it in the outside world. At home, I now wear it constantly, such is my thirst for cheerful colour during these dark times. But when I’m on the move, a once-essential product has become problematic.
The feeling of lipstick against mask is distracting and unpleasant. Most lipsticks leave kiss prints on fabric, and lose definition from the friction. The overall effect is the opposite of lipstick’s usual upscaled smartness and ultimately seems more trouble than it’s worth.
Still, I mostly loathe lipgloss and I’ll be damned if I’m going out bare-lipped, face covering or none. So, in extremis, I’ve reclassified tinted lip balms as going-out wear. Sheer tints give enough colour to feel one’s makeup is pulled together and complete, while not being bold or precise enough to smudge, feather or stain a covering dramatically. And they give lips a helpful basting of moisture, too.
My current weapon of choice is Honest Beauty Tinted Lipbalm (£10) in Lychee Fruit, a beigey, ever-so-slightly peachy nude that makes no mess after an hour under a mask. There are other shades – all of them lovely – but this one goes well with the camels and browns of the season. Another favourite is Nars Afterglow Lipbalm (£23) in Dolce Vita, an elegant, wearable dusty rose that almost passes for lipstick. The slim, sharp bullet means I barely even need a mirror.
There are some terrific high street options, too. Maybelline’s Baby Lips Lip Balm (£3.99) is an old favourite, and the most hydrating of anything here. Peach Kiss is my choice for autumn, but Cherry Me is ideal if you’re missing your red lipstick and long for a pop of vibrancy. Lip balm experts Burt’s Bees have more shades (six, from pale, peachy beige to a deep red) in the classic, high-quality and ethical balm that made them famous, for just £5.99 a pop.
I can’t be doing with colour-adaptive balms – that is, those that react with your skin to produce your perfect hue – primarily because my own natural pH seems adamant they should all turn a particularly sickly shade of Barbie pink that makes me look 12 years old. Your mileage, of course, may vary. If you’d like to try your own luck, I commend the moist, comfy, unsticky formula of Dior Lip Glow, a gratifying treat at £28.