June 29, 2017

Inside the Branding Battle of the Balms


It’s 2017 and the days of using medical-grade chapstick are well in the past. After moving to D.C., I saw a wave of dryness ambush my hair, skin and nails, which drove me into product panic mode. I stocked up on Vaseline to fight off the perpetual dryness I was experiencing, but then I scrolled through Instagram. Whatever algorithm caught up with my search queries unveiled a slew of lip products. I succumbed to my weakness, considered my options and landed on two top balm contesters: Glossier’s Balm Dotcom and Lanolips’ Balms.

Now for starters, I never thought any new lip balm could top Vaseline, the OG lip moisturizer, but boy was I wrong. Despite Vaseline having my back for nighttime moisture, daytime application was a struggle—no one’s trying to stick their fingers in a pot of sticky goop while they’re in the office. I also learned that Vaseline doesn’t actually moisturize, it just sits on top of the skin and creates a barrier that prevents the skin from drawing moisture from the air. This led me into a rabbit hole of looking up all the ingredients in my balms and making sure they were all natural.

Long story short, I bought both balms I was considering, because the more the merrier and, low-key, the packaging for both was irresistible. After using both, here are my key takeaways for all the skincare enthusiasts and those looking for that perfect lip balm.

Glossier’s Balm Dotcom

It’s no secret that Glossier’s products have taken over our newsfeeds, but objectively speaking, their balms are the bomb. Balm Dotcom’s established a cult following for its multitasking abilities – it serves as a lip balm, moisturizer, cuticle cream and brow gel. On top of just being an overachiever, the balm also comes in 6 flavors with the newest flavor, Birthday Balm Dotcom, coming through a collaboration with Momofuku Milk Bar. Each balm is infused with natural ingredients that lock in moisture like beeswax, castor oil (which can help with eyebrow hair growth), rosemary leaf and more.

From a packaging standpoint, each of the balms has a unique design and scent that Glossier calls “mood-boosting.” After using the Birthday Balm, I was immediately taken back to the deliciously scented Strawberry Shortcake dolls I had as a kid. On top of the skincare benefits, these balms bring you nostalgia and add an aesthetic touch to your medicine cabinet or office collection of products (a glimpse of this in our Senior Brand Strategist’s Toolkit).

Lanolips’ Balms

What first drew me to the Australian brand, Lanolips, was the packaging: a millennial pink tube with a retro, clean aesthetic. But what’s really great about Lanolips is what’s in the tube. Each balm is 100% medical grade Lanolin, a wax secreted from the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals like sheep. Sounds kinda gross, but once you apply the product you’ll realize it’s ultra moisturizing and soothing.

The brand sells an original balm along with 2 flavored balms (Lemonaid and Banana), but the real MVP’s are the tinted balms. The 3 different colored balms provide just a sheer tint of color along with all the moisturizing benefits you’d get from a balm that lasts forever. Each of the colors is highlighted in a clear tube with a gold cap that looks timeless. After purchasing two Lanolips products, its clear the brand’s lanolin-based products are really upping the game in a competitive product market.