Lip Balm Review: Nuxe, Bite, Laneige, Chapstick, Burt’s Bees…

Lip Balm Review: Nuxe, Bite, Laneige, Chapstick, Burt's Bees...

I have large lips so they tend to dry out quickly, so effective lip balms are one of my obsessions. I’ve been trying out some products to try to keep my lips moisturised overnight – here’s a review of:

  • No Frills Budget Options
    • Chapstick Cake Batter
    • Chapstick Dual Action Hydration Lock
    • Nivea Pure and Natural Lip Care with Chamomile and Calendula
  • More Fun Options
    • Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
    • The Face Shop Lovely ME:EX Dessert Lip Balm
  • “Natural” Lip Balms
    • Nuxe Rêve de Miel Baume Levres
    • Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask
    • Moogoo Tingling Honey Lip Balm
    • Burt’s Bees Moisturising Lip Balm with Mango Butter

Lip Balm Review: Nuxe, Bite, Laneige, Chapstick, Burt's Bees...

No Frills Budget Options

Chapstick Cake Batter

Chapstick Cake Batter (around $4 for 4 g) is a limited edition lip balm from Chapstick that’s now part of their regular collection. I’m a huge fan of their menthol-free lip balms, and having it in a delicious vanilla flavour just takes the cake (ha!). It’s also reasonably hard so it lasts quite a while. This has been a staple of my routine for a while. The only complaint I have is that if my lips are dry and aren’t hydrated, it doesn’t work so well, so I put some face moisturiser or toner on my lips first – I’d much rather have both steps in the one product though.

Ingredients: Petrolatum, Paraffin, Mineral Oil, Octyldodecanol, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacryladipate-2, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Arachidyl Propionate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Beeswax, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Isopropyl Myristate, Flavor, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Benzyl Benzoate, Cetyl Alcohol, Triacetin, Titanium Dioxide, Methylparaben, Saccharin, Alumina, Propylparaben, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Silica.

Chapstick Dual Action Hydration Lock

Chapstick Dual Action Hydration Lock ($5.25 for 4.4 g) (now rebranded as Day & Night) would’ve potentially answered my prayers above, but it fell short because it still ended up being a two-step product, and while it was better at hydrating my lips than the plain Chapstick, the lack of humectants was still noticeable. I did really like the design of the double-ended tube though!

I find it a little strange that it’s been rebranded from a two-step layering product to a separate day and night use product – I think they weren’t really sure where they were going with the product, which may be why there was that lack of humectants. Interestingly the Moisture Lock end has sunscreen ingredients in it, and in the US it’s labelled SPF 12.

Hydration (Night) Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Jojoba Esters, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Beeswax, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Tocopheryl Acetate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Octyldodecanol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Tocopherol, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Flavor, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Stearate.

Moisture Lock (Day) Ingredients: Petrolatum, Paraffin, Isocetyl Stearate, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Oxybenzone, Beeswax, Isocetyl Lanolate, Isocetyl Myristate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lanolin, Carnauba Wax, Mineral Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Linoleate, Methylparaben, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Fragrance, Propylparaben.

Nivea Pure and Natural Lip Care with Chamomile and Calendula

I’ve been a fan of Nivea lip balms ($4.49 AUD for 4.8 g) for ages (see e.g. , and they all tend to work really well for me. My lips just seem to love heavy occlusives! This version is unfortunately discontinued, but I really liked the fragrance – it was very floral and soapy, which was great for making me snack less.

Ingredients: Octyldodecanol, Microcrystalline Wax/Cire microcristalline, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Cetyl Palmitate, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Polyisobutene, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Myristyl Myristate, C20-40 Alkyl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Glycerin, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cire de carnauba, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Beeswax/Cire d’abeille, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Extract, Calcium Carbonate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Water/Eau, Neohesperidin Dihydrochalcone, BHT, Fragrance/Parfum, Titanium Dioxide, Blue 1 Lake.20

Read more

Vitamin C Oil Serum Review: Kiehl’s, A’kin, Holy Snails, MooGoo

Vitamin C Oil Serum Review: Kiehl's, A'kin, Holy Snails, MooGoo

In my last post I reviewed some water-based vitamin C serums containing ascorbic acid (Paula’s Choice, Ultraceuticals and Ausceuticals). Today, I’m looking at some oil-based serums containing a slightly modified version of vitamin C: ascorbyl isotetrapalmitate.

There are a few reasons to use a modified version of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) instead of the real thing. Since ascorbic acid isn’t soluble in oil, it can’t be the main form of vitamin C used in an oil-based product. Instead, oil-based bits are added to the structure of ascorbic acid to make it mix well with oil. This usually results in chemicals called vitamin C esters. The most popular ones are ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (also known as tetraisopalmitoyl ascorbic acid or ATIP), tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THDA, which seems to be the same molecule with a different name) and ascorbyl palmitate.

The advantage of using an oil-soluble vitamin C derivative is that it penetrates the skin more easily than water-soluble ascorbic acid. The advantage of using any vitamin C derivative, both water- and oil-soluble, is that they’re a lot more stable than unaltered ascorbic acid. For example, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate has a shelf life of over a year compared with a few weeks or months for ascorbic acid. The downside for all these derivatives is that they need to be broken back down to ascorbic acid to have its full antioxidant, collagen-boosting effect on your skin, and this isn’t always efficient. For vitamin C esters, the enzyme cytosolic esterase is responsible for this conversion. Additionally, many of these esters aren’t very well studied, so their effectiveness is less certain.

Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate is the most popular oil-soluble vitamin C, and while there aren’t many studies on it yet, it seems that it does convert to vitamin C in the skin, and help with UVA and UVB damage (possibly via an antioxidative effect). Here are some products containing ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate that I’ve tried out:

Vitamin C Oil Serum Review: Kiehl's, A'kin, Holy Snails, MooGoo

MooGoo 3 Vitamins Serum

Australian natural skincare brand MooGoo have two ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate serums: 3 Vitamins Serum ($24.90 for 25 mL) which contains an unspecified amount of ATIP, and Super Vitamin C Serum ($34.90 for 25 mL) which contains a whopping 25% ATIP (I love it when companies make it easy to find percentages!)

I’ve only tried the 3 Vitamins Serum. Apart from ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, the other two vitamins are natural vitamin E and panthenol, which can turn into vitamin B5 in the body (pro-vitamin B5). Vitamin E works in tandem with vitamin C to give a stronger antioxidant effect, while vitamin B5 can potentially act as an anti-inflammatory and promote skin repair. The base of the serum is jojoba, squalane and olive oil decyl esters, which are all skin-conditioning emollients.

My skin responded well to this, and it gave a nice smooth look to my skin the next day. However, the brightening effect wasn’t as strong as with other vitamin C serums, probably because it contains less vitamin C. It comes in a handy pump bottle. The things I didn’t like were the smell (it smells like soy sauce at first, though the odour goes away quickly) and the stickiness it left (probably the panthenol – it’s a humectant). The product also separated a bit – again, I’m blaming the panthenol.

Ingredients: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Squalane, Olive Oil Decyl Esters, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Tocopherol, Panthenol.

Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparation with Brightening and Pore Minimising Complex

Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparations ($140 for 20 mL + 2 x 5 mL = 30 mL) is an interesting concept. A Kiehl’s consultant assesses your skin with you and you come up with your 2 key skin concerns that you’d like to target (out of 5). You get 2 tubes of “complex” tailored to your concerns, and a dropper vial containing the base (“skin strengthening concentrate”). Once you get home, you squeeze the complexes into the base, give the bottle a shake and you’re ready to go! It’s a really clever way for Kiehl’s to stock 10 different serums without making the decision difficult for customers – picking 2 concerns is a much less stressful task than trying to understand 10 serums so you can work out which one is best for you.

Unsurprisingly, I was given two complexes containing ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate as the second ingredient (Brightening and Pore Minimising), since vitamin C is going to solve all my skin problems. (The other complexes available are Visible Redness Neutralising, Wrinkle Reducing and Texture Refining – I have no idea whether vitamin C are in those as I can’t find the ingredients lists online.) The Brightening Complex also includes scotch pine extract, which is where the much-hyped pigmentation-fading ingredient SymWhite 377 comes from (unfortunately no independent studies available). Pore Minimising Complex has the featured ingredients salicylic acid and samphira (Crithmum Maritimum or sea fennel) extract, which again is hyped for pore clearing though there aren’t any independent studies (it’s used in some pore-clearing products from Phytocéane and ZO Skin Health).

The finished serum feels very luxe and spreads really well on skin, thanks to squalane being the top ingredient in all three components. It’s very nicely skin-smoothing. However, it’s impossible to tell how much vitamin C is in this product – you can usually get a very rough estimate with a straightforward ingredients list, but with all the mixing and separate components it’s impossible. It’s also on the pricey side. I think this is a great product if you’re lazy and want one serum that targets your skin concerns without thinking too much about active ingredients and layering, but if you’re a hardcore skincare nerd you’ll probably prefer a more straightforward vitamin C serum.

Read more

Moogoo and Dusty Girls review


I recently had the opportunity to try out some products from natural Australian brand Moogoo, and their associated cosmetics line Dusty Girls. Moogoo are a cult brand for people with sensitive skin, so I was excited to try it out for myself.


Moogoo and Dusty Girls are on the natural marketing side of things, but they’re relatively sensible – though not always consistent.

For example, they have these encouragingly sensible statements that I wholeheartedly agree with, and address common myths that natural (and non-natural!) brands often exploit for sweet sweet profits:

  • We don’t claim that everything not natural is dangerous. Sometimes science can concentrate the beneficial effects from natural ingredients. And we use those ingredients ourselves. However, we do feel that some skin care products use poor quality ingredients because they are cheap and easy to manufacture in large quantities.
  • If there are no preservation ingredients shown on the label, then the product will become contaminated with bacteria very quickly, just like any food. The bacteria cannot be seen or smelt. A poorly preserved cream can cause serious skin infection and eye damage if used on the face. Grapefruit Seed Extract and Essential Oils have been proven many times to be unreliable methods of keeping products free from bacteria. In our opinion, a tiny amount of an effective preservative is much safer on the skin than a large amount of bacteria. 
  • These “trials” and “studies” are not independent. They are performed by the company or its ingredient supplier. The trials are generally not published, are often not supplied when requested, and not able to be reviewed by scientific peers as all studies should be. This makes them meaningless. To find out if the ingredient has any peer reviewed evidence, try using Google Scholar which searches scientific articles (
  • Therefore, if a cream is priced at $250 for 30ml, we would assume it has better ingredients. Unfortunately this is not the case at all. The price is dependent on the target market, not the formula.
  • [citing the EWG] Many websites claim that almost anything else with a chemical name is toxic without providing the full references. Presumably the aim is to shock people. (BURN!)

But they also have statements that are a bit dubious:

  • Moogoo pride themselves on not using certain ingredients such as paraffin oil (or mineral oil). They have some incorrect information on their site on this topic, such as that Aqueous Cream causes irritation due to paraffin oil, when in reality it’s probably due to the fact it contains SLS or preservatives or pretty much anything apart from the paraffin oil – I think this is a bit careless, since it’s information you can easily find with a quick Google search (here are some sources).

Read more