Battle of the Balms: Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment

This was one of the most aggravating balms I’ve ever tried, and that’s including the stupid TokyoMilk tin that I literally cannot open without asking for outside assistance. So while I will be as objective as possible about each of the performance categories, that doesn’t mean I’m not cranky about this product.

What is it? Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 ($24/.15oz at Sephora; I tried a half-sized mini) “moisturizes, protects, and smooths the lips in clear and sheer or buildable color,” with Vitamin C and E to smooth, soften, and provide defense against free radicals.

What is it REALLY? An irritatingly soft lip balm that WILL melt if you keep it in your pocket (we’re not even talking “hot car” territory) and WILL break off if you twist it up and WILL smoosh way too much product on your lips no matter how gently you press.

I have Tulip, a warm, juicy, HOT pink. It’s high-shine, high pigment (no matter what it says about ‘sheer or buildable color’ — one layer of this stuff was quite bright!). This stuff is so melty and slippery that I was always worried it was smearing off around my lips (a fear that was often justified). For whatever reason, this stuff got EVERYWHERE. I found it on my chin, twice. TWICE. AT WORK. ON MY CHIN.

You see why I’m annoyed by this?

Alright, let’s get to the point system so I’ll stop whining.

Speed in relieving dryness: This was pretty good — maybe ten minutes from application to “yeah, my lips are fine.”

Depth of hydration: Honestly, this did a pretty nice job. Not Bag Balm or Bite Agave good, but I definitely felt like it sunk down to the deepest layer (with repeated application).

Comfort: While this is very soft and thick and plush on the lips, it’s also slippery as hell and slides around all over the place. If slip isn’t a big deal for you (and considering how dry my lips are, you’d THINK I’d prefer slip over cling; you’d also be wrong), you might like this. I love how hydrating and cushiony this feels, but I don’t love finding it on my nose or chin.

Longevity: When talking/snacking/drinking (normal life stuff), this hydrates my lips for not quite two hours before I feel the need to reapply. It could use a little more wax to trap the moisture in, I think, since the product wears off pretty fast.

Ease of Use: Okay, so, I actually love the packaging on this. The metal tube feels luxe and screws securely onto the base of the lip balm, so at least you don’t have to worry about it getting all over the interior of your purse when it inevitably melts. Then again, IT INEVITABLY MELTS and the tip has an annoying tendency to break off if you press just a smidgen too hard too hard. And I hope you want a lot of product (and tint) applied, because this stuff melts against the lips and deposits a lot of product at once — I was never able to get a truly ‘thin’ application. I eventually resorted to smushing a bit on the top and bottom lip, then smearing it around with a finger.

Smell/Flavor: Good heavens do I love this smell. That’s the only reason people keep purchasing that, right? (And the cool tube, maybe. And the inexplicable “Influencer” hype. And the cachet of owning a $24-DOLLAR STICK OF LIP BALM) (I’d “can’t even,” but I legitimately adore a $22 stick of lip balm so I feel like I can’t say much) It’s a delightful pink lemonade kind of thing (not too sweet, not too tart). FORTUNATELY for those who love the smell, it appears that CoverGirl not-so-subtly came out with their own “Sugar Balm” with a similar taste, texture, tint, and scent. (Like, they seriously didn’t even try to pretend they weren’t duping this, and I kind of love them for how blatant it is.) I grabbed one of those because I’m hoping that a drugstore brand might get right what this brand got wrong. We’ll see.

SPF: Yes! SPF 15.

Tints? Yep — thirteen! Everything from untinted to shimmery nude to hot pink to deep berry to Bono. (And by that of course I mean special product packaging for Bono’s Project[Red] campaign.)

Does it moisturize and smooth? Yes. It is a perfectly fine lip balm. A NICE lip balm, even! Are there other expensive lip balms that I like more? Yes. Are there CHEAP lip balms that I like more? Also yes.


Fresh Sugar 4 4 4 1 3 Scent 1; Tint 1; SPF 1 19
Dr Pepper Lip Smacker 3 3 4 1 5 Scent: 1 17
Drunk Elephant Lippe 5 5 4 4 4 Scent: 1 23
Glossier Balm Dotcom 4 4 4 3 3 Scent 1; Tint 1 20
TokyoMilk Dark 4 5 4 4 1 Scent: 2 20
Vaseline Rosy Lips 4 5 4 3 2 Scent 1; Tint 1 20
Nuxe Reve de Miel 4 4 4 2 2 Scent: 1 17
Elizabeth Arden 4 5 5 3 5 SPF: 1 23
Lancôme Juicy Shaker 2 1 2 1 3 Scent 1; Tint 1 11
Smith's Rosebud Smith’s Rosebud 5 4 5 2 5 Scent: 1 22
Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask Bite Agave 5 5 4 5 3 Scent 1;  Tint 1 24
Bag Balm Bag Balm 5 5 5 4 4 — — 22
Jack Black Jack Black 4 4 4 3 5 Scent 1; SPF 1 22


Fresh Sugar .15oz $24.00 bullet 19
Dr Pepper Lip Smacker .14oz $2.50 bullet 17
Drunk Elephant Lippe .12oz $22 fat bullet 23
Glossier Balm Dotcom .5oz $12 tube, no applicator 20
TokyoMilk Dark .7oz $7 tin 20
Vaseline Rosy Lips .6oz $3.50 tin 20
Nuxe Reve de Miel .5oz $15 jar 17
Elizabeth Arden .5oz $22 tube, slant tip 23
Lancome Juicy Shaker .22oz $22 tube, sponge applicator 11
Smith's Rosebud Smith’s Rosebud .5oz $6 tube, slant tip 22
Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask Bite Agave .5oz $26 tube, no applicator 24
Bag Balm Bag Balm 8oz $8 tin 22
Jack Black Jack Black .25oz $7.50 tube, slant tip 22