Battle of the Balms: CeraVe Healing Ointment

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of a fine contender in this Battle of the Balms : The Drunk Elephant Lippe.

RIP, Lippe. You will be missed.

I think it says a lot that I actually FINISHED an entire balm, though — especially considering that I literally have 20+ options floating around, and some of them are quite good. (And no, I didn’t finish it simply because there was a bitty amount of product — though it’s short and squat, it contains about one-fifth more product than the average lipstick bullet. I applied this regularly and it still lasted me a decent amount of time.)

Still, this means the Battle of the Balms is back on — there’s no way I’m spending $22 on another Lippe (even if I loved it like it was my firstborn child) (You: “… it’s probably a good thing you don’t have kids, Finch.” Me: “Weird how people keep telling me that”).

Let the games begin!

Up first in this season’s Battle Royale is CeraVe Healing Ointment* ($3.74/.35 ounce at Target; available in much larger sizes for significantly less per ounce, but I have no desire to throw a twelve-oz jar in my purse, so).

*Don’t worry, all y’all who have suggested new ones for me to test — they’re on the list! I just have to work through the ones I already own before I can justify buying more to try out. (#budgetlife)

Speed in relieving dryness: Pretty damn good — I get immediate relief, with an actual “hydrated” feel a few minutes later. Full points.

Depth of hydration: Also pretty damn good. It soaks so far down into your lips that the entire upper layer softens and gently wipes off, exposing the sensitive new lip skin (and making for a delightful kissing experience, if you’re one of those humans who’s into kissing or whatever).

Comfort: Texturally, this reminds me a LOT of Bag Balm — which is a good thing, in my book. It’s similarly soft and thin, but slightly less sticky (Bag Balm forms “stiff peaks” if you touch it and pull away, while this stuff makes “soft peaks”). It’s also comparably melty and glossy, while remaining thoroughly hydrating and comfortable. Big ol’ fan.

Longevity: Overnight, this works like a champ — I not only wake up with hydrated lips, but still have actual product on my lips eight- to ten-hours later. (I got ten hours of sleep, guys! Yay!) During the day, it performs fairly well but isn’t exceptionally long-lasting; if I’m drinking coffee, light snacks, chatting with clients, weeping at my desk, etc (normal life stuff), I can get a good two or three hours on my lips, and another hour or two of hydration following. It IS melty and thin, which means it wipes off more easily than (say) Bite Agave — but it’s also so hydrating that you don’t need a thick layer for it to work, and soft enough that it’s easy to rub your lips together and redistribute if some came off on your salad. (Or doughnut. Let’s be real.)

Ease of Use: It’s been an unusually glowing review, hasn’t it? ALAS, this product does not get full points for ease of use. Though it comes in a nice little purse-sized squeeze tube with twist-on cap, it has a flat open tip (akin to the Glossier Balm Dotcom or Bite Agave) that necessitates squeezing some out on your fingers to apply. (You CAN try to apply it straight from the tube, but that feels rough against the lips and is a tad messy.) Fortunately, the product isn’t as thick as the Bite Agave — so while the finger-needing is annoying, at least the squeezing doesn’t function as a hand workout. (True story: my classical piano teacher made me do hand workouts. Did you know there are hand workouts? There are.)

Scent/Flavor: It tastes of ‘nothing’ in rather the same way Vaseline does — it’s not flavorless, but it’s a non-flavor (probably because it’s mostly petrolatum, mineral oil, and paraffin). I’d rather have no flavor than gross flavor (what was it that I just recently tried that tasted terrible? Oh yeah, the Nivea Kiss of Care & Color. *shudder*).

SPF: Nope.

Tints? Nope.

IN CONCLUSION: BIG FAN. Though I could wish for a slant-tipped applicator (mumble grumble) or the inclusion of a fragrance (how about … lemon tea? That sounds nice) or SPF, this is an extremely effective, inexpensive, comfortable balm. Will it be replacing my current daytime picks (Smiths’ Rosebud-in-a-tube, Elizabeth Arden) or nighttime go-to’s (Bag Balm, Bite Agave)? No — but it is JOINING my nighttime routine, where I’ll be layering it underneath Bite Agave on the worst nights and wearing it on its own when my weak, delicate hands can’t deal with that damn Bite Agave tube.

Ingredients: Active: Petrolatum 46.5%. Inactive: Mineral Oil, Paraffin, Ozokerite, Dimethicone, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-11, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Carbomer, Panthenol, Water, L-Proline, Xanthan Gum.



Cerave Healing Ointment 5 5 5 4 4  — — 23
Nivea Kiss of Care & Color 4 3 3 2 5 1 18
Fresh Sugar 4 4 4 1 3 3 19
Dr Pepper Lip Smacker 3 3 4 1 5 1 17
Drunk Elephant Lippe 5 5 4 4 4 1 23
Glossier Balm Dotcom 4 4 4 3 3 2 20
TokyoMilk Dark 4 5 4 4 1 2 20
Vaseline Rosy Lips 4 5 4 3 2 2 20
Nuxe Reve de Miel 4 4 4 2 2 1 17
Elizabeth Arden 4 5 5 3 5 1 23
Lancôme Juicy Shaker 2 1 2 1 3 2 11
Smith's Rosebud Smith’s Rosebud 5 4 5 2 5 1 22
Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask Bite Agave 5 5 4 5 3 2 24
Bag Balm Bag Balm 5 5 5 4 4 — — 23
Jack Black Jack Black 4 4 4 3 5 2 22


Cerave Ointment .35oz $4.00 tube, no applicator 23
Nivea Kiss .17oz $4.00 bullet 18
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 23
Jack Black Jack Black .25oz $7.50 tube, slant tip 22