Battle of the Expensive Lip Balms: Pat McGrath Lip Fetish vs. Dior’s NEW Lip Glows for Spring ‘18

Introducing the Contenders

Dior Addict Lip Glows in 101 Matte Pink, 102 Matte Raspberry & 009 Holo Purple (US$34 for 3.5g)

Pat McGrath Lip Fetish Lip Balm (US$38 for 3.5 grams; supposedly LE).

Emily: I'll just get one thing right out of the way: I've never been big on expensive lip balms. I usually prefer expensive everything so this is, I suppose, one of my eccentricities. (Is it endearing? Comment below, please.) As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get better than Lucas Papaw Ointment (preferably in the small tube with the slanted applicator) and Lanolips 101 Ointment (no slanted applicator sadly.) I can't get my head around the love for By Terry's Baume de Rose - meh. No thanks. Also, it comes in a JAR. Hello - whatever happened to hygiene???

Rachel: Oh my God. This is blasphemy. By Terry's Baume de Rose is as good as it gets and it comes in tube packaging as well.

Emily: Oh, right, you mean lip gloss packaging? Deduct 10 more points. Anyway, obviously, this is a rather contentious issue between us, as you've probably gathered. While Rachel and I don't agree on everything, we are generally sticklers for the LUXURY > DRUGSTORE rule.

Rachel: That's true. Unapologetic about it too.

Emily: Anyway, as I was going to point out before I got interrupted, a TON of luxury lip balms come in jars. So to all the high-end cosmetics companies, here's some feedback: packaging stuff in a fancy glass jar does not remove the grossness factor. I think the only appropriate context for finger-dipping is right after you've dined on obscenely expensive shellfish, preferably accompanied with copious amounts of bubbly. In that scenario, dipping one's digits in the finger bowl is totally okay.

Rachel: And just when you thought she seemed down to earth...

Emily: I ruined it. Yeah. One last point I want to make. Why is it that fancy green beauty companies - RMS, Kjaer Weis - insist on packaging all their 'no-preservatives-phenoxyethanol-paraben' products in jars? Helloooo, you're already exposing me to the dangers of toxic shock caused by mould. You're already refusing to acknowledge the fact that chemicals are our friends. Fungi and mould are not friend material. Apparently, these companies aren't getting that message clearly enough.

Anyway, I digress. In this post, we’ll be focusing on two very recent launches of luxury lip balms: a) Pat McGrath’s Lip Fetish Lip Balm (LE); and b) several of the new Dior Addict Lip Glows.

Now, readers, it is with a heavy heart that I confess that neither of these launches wowed me. Spoiler alert: Dior was definitely less disappointing, but c’mon Dior: do something new. You have the amazing Peter Philips at your disposal for goodness' sake - you can do better than rehashing the same old, same old, over and over again.

May the battle begin.


Emily: As most readers of this blog will know, the Dior Addict Lip Glows attained “cult” status a long, LONG time ago. Dior, aware of the hype, has responded by introducing several new shades in the Lip Glow formula over the past few years (all of which were supposedly limited edition but.....they’re not.)

Emily in Dior's OG 001 Pink Lip Glow

Given the enormous popularity of all these Lip Glows, it’s not surprising that Peter Philips decided to substantially expand the line-up for Dior’s Spring 2018 Collection. (Not surprising but, well, slightly lazy). There are now a grand total of TEN Lip Glows and if history is any guide, the new additions to the family are sure to be a hit. (BTW, if you need proof, well...we stayed up for several hours the night these were released, and engaged in tortured debate over which colours to get.)

Here is the complete Dior Addict Lip Glow family, as of the moment of writing. (New shades are denoted in italics):

“Original Glow: "The iconic finish: Born backstage and loved by Dior make-up artists for its custom rosy tint effect and subtle shine.”

Available in 001 Pink, 004 Coral, 005 Lilac, 006 Berry, 007 Raspberry, 008 Ultra-Pink

Matte Glow: A tinted balm with a velvety, matte finish for a soft blurring effect that enhances lips. Hydrating and nourishing, it has the same Color Reviver technology to flush the lips a soft pink. Works perfectly as a base with a matte lipstick.

Available in 101 Matte Pink, 102 Matte Raspberry

Holographic Glow: The same comfort and Color Reviver technology in an iridescent "Holographic" glow finish to enhance the lips.

Available in 009 Holo Purple, 010 Holo Pink

Dior's website stresses that the formula remains the same, regardless of finish or colour. The secret of the Lip Glow formula, we are told, “lies in the perfect balance between make-up and lip care, thanks to the famous 'Color Reviver' technology which reacts to the unique chemistry of each person's lips to give them a natural flush of custom color that suits each skin tone. Lips look fresh, full and radiant, as if revived from within.”

Rachel: So I just need to chime in here to cut through the ad-copy BS. The notion that one's unique body chemistry --> 'custom color' is complete nonsense, and I’m tired of hearing it in advertising pitches. I mean, when will it end? Remember those mood rings from the '90s? Side note: those things always turned like, muddy greenish brown on me instead of the cool cerulean blue I'd pictured. Anyone else relate? Okay, done whining. I thought that the color shift depended on body heat but it turns out that I’m only 50% correct. I prefer to be 100% correct and I usually am, but, on the bright side, being 50% correct is better than being 100% wrong. Anyway, according to this surprisingly informative post from Into the Gloss, “color changing” lipsticks all contain Red Dye 27, an ingredient that is colorless until it comes into contact with moisture. Lips are --- get ready for it, we all hate this word --- generally moist so there you go.

Rachel in Dior's OG 001 Pink Lip Glow

But the truth is that Red Dye 27-infused lip products turn the same color on everyone - since the formula is almost invariably sheer, the product will appear to look slightly different depending on your skin tone and how pigmented your lips are. (Just like any other lipstick). Whatever nuances exist, you’re going to end up with a rosy pink. The original Lip Glow in 001 Pink is, in my opinion, kinda the perfect shade for Dior...pretty and feminine and full of whimsy, like an afternoon cavorting around Paris. Basically, Dior's image before they hired Bella Hadid (ugh, bad move.)

The supposed-but-actually-not-LE versions added a slight twist on the 'rosy pink' - we've seen coral, lilac and berry versions. You may or may not be able to discern the difference in Emily's lip swatches. Let us know.

Emily in Dior's 006 Berry Lip Glow

Emily in Dior's 004 Coral Lip Glow

Emily in Dior's 005 Lilac Lip Glow

(Would you be able to tell the difference without the captions? Let us know in the comments.)

With the addition of the Matte and Holographic finishes, Dior has taken a step in a slightly different direction. For fans of the original finish, we should note that there are two new shades available (Ultra-Pink and Raspberry). Emily and I are longtime fans of the OG Lip Glow but we couldn't justify buying ALL of them so we opted for the new finishes. While Dior's Lip Glows may not be the most hydrating lip balm in the world, they're much better than a lot of other similarly priced formulas and god, how cute is that packaging? Read on to find out the brutally honest verdict on how the new Lip Glows we tried performed AND how they stood up against Pat McGrath's Lip Fetish Balm.

Dior Addict Lip Glow - 009 Holo Purple

I initally suspected this would be similar to the Lilac Lip Glow, with the addition of iridescent shimmer and perhaps a slightly more pronounced lilac tint. I was wrong. Lilac is a verrrrry subtle variation on the OG Pink. Oh well. I was worried that the Holo finish would be straight up glittery and feel gritty but Holo Purple feels smooth just like the original, putting my fears to rest. The shimmer is very fine, almost undetectable, and instead adds an illusion of fullness to the lips. Let’s be real here- the colors are not that different. They are tints and meant to be subtle. I for one have no issue owning multiple nearly identical lip balms, as long as I like the formula, so if it’s worth it or not will be entirely up to the individual. This was moisturizing and comfortable, and once the balm had worn off my lips were left with faint pinky-lilac tint.

One of the things I enjoy about the original lip glow is its smoothing effect on my lips- it’s not one of those “plumping” glosses whose ingredients list irritants like cinnamon oil to puff up your lips a la Kylie Jenner- but the formula melds with my lips and I feel like they look just overall smoother, soft and full, and Holo Purple does the same. Verdict: This one was a winner for me, but ONLY if you like the original lip glow formula, because it is not that different.

Dior Addict Lip Glow - 101 Matte Pink

I did not care for this the first time I put it on. In Dior’s defence, it was below freezing when it was delivered, the package had been sitting in my mail room for a few hours, plus my lips were unattractively dry. It tugged and I didnt feel that comforting meld-with-the-lips feeling I associate with a good balm, and then to top it off it turned patches of my lips bright pink. Not flattering. I persevered, however, and tried another day.

Turns out, giving it time to thaw into something other than a block of lip balm shaped ice makes a bit of a difference. It’s still not as emollient as the OG, which I expected since it has “matte” in the name, but it feels slightly moisturizing. The tint is a soft petal pink, pretty but I suspect it will barely show up on very pigmented lips. The pink is just a hair cooler than the tint I get from the OG pink Lip Glow, and there’s no shine to it- which answers the question of can a lip balm be truly matte- it turns out, kinda! I’d describe the finish as velvety. Verdict: Yes! I liked it and it will be perfect throwing in my bag for casual days, especially since the tint sticks around for a considerable amount of time. Caveat: it doesn't make my lips look quite as full as the original finish, but it does have a slight "blurring" effect.

Dior Addict Lip Glow - 102 Matte Raspberry

Well, surprise, surprise. This was better than I expected and it may be my favourite out of all the Dior Lip Glows I've tried. Only problem is that it’s so different from the rest of the Lip Glows that it doesn’t really feel like a Lip Glow, if that makes sense. Different finish? I say different formula. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Because of the matte finish, the Matte Raspberry Lip Glow feels less immediately hydrating when I first apply it. It doesn’t feel balmy in other words. Once it sinks in, within a minute or so, my lips definitely feel smooth, almost in a numbed sort of way. That may sound unpleasant. It isn’t - at least not for me and Rachel, but we do think that some people may not be fans. It has a cooling sensation that sort of feels a little bit menthol-y.

In my opinion, the Matte Lip Glows would have worked well enough to launch on their own, rather than under the existing Lip Glow range. Matte Raspberry is a better version of the Glossier Generation G lipsticks I own (Jam, Zip and Leo). I don’t know why the Generation G lipsticks are so popular (I bought them all at once, ‘k?) but the Dior Matte Lip Glows are what Glossier promises they’ll be - a “diffused, sheer, matte” wash of colour that gives you the effect of a “just-blotted” lipstick. The difference is that Dior’s Matte Lip Glows are superior. Fact. (Citation: Me.) Matte Raspberry has a much more pronounced tint than Matte Pink and is surprisingly long lasting. I still had a visibly pink stain on my lips after five hours of wear-time + dinner.

Interestingly, all of the Dior Addict Lip Glows are billed as “lip primers” on the official website. We call BS on this. The Glow finish is too emollient to use directly before applying lipstick - we know because we always have to blot before applying our regular lipstick on top of the normal Lip Glows. However, we think that the Matte Lip Glows are EXCELLENT primers (we have tested them, for the record) and we believe we can support that claim with (semi) scientific evidence. I was intrigued enough to put on my science hat - rarely worn - and read the ingredients list on the box. Pretty high up is an ingredient called 'methyl methacrylate cross-polymer'. According to Google, this is a “film former” and “viscosity-increasing agent” which, in English, basically means it’s like a smoothing primer. Bye, bye lip lines.

It turns out that Matte Raspberry is an A+ lip primer when used in combination with Pat McGrath’s LuxeTrance Lipstick in the shade ‘Pink Ultraness’. Matte Raspberry is pigmented and pretty enough to wear on its own but it really shines as a lip primer, especially if your lips are on the dry side and the formula you want to wear is not very emollient. For more neutral colours, you’d be better off choosing Matte Pink.

Bottom Line: We can’t promise that you’ll love the Matte Lip Glows and we advise you not to expect that they’ll be super moisturising. However, out of all the products that are reviewed in this post, Rachel and I found Dior’s Matte Lip Glows to be the most interesting and unique. Also the least ‘lip-balm’ like. We definitely recommend them as lip primers if it’s no biggie dropping $38 on a lip primer (remember - they’re tinted too!) A promising product that we hope to see come out in more shades.

Pat McGrath Labs Lip Fetish Lip Balm

Emily: Rachel and I both bought Pat McGrath’s limited-edition Lip Fetish Lip Balm (predictably.) Also predictably, we were all ready to love it, having paid $38 for it, and all that. (One hates to see one’s money go to waste.)

Sad news. This was SUCH an anticlimactic release after the LuxeTrance Lipsticks (which we've covered extensively here at the Beauty Blackout). The Lip Fetish Balm is your basic drugstore lip balm, only dressed up in much prettier packaging (we do love the white tubes and hope to see them used for a different formula.) The Lip Fetish Balm comes in just one shade, which is clear, so there was no need to agonise over what to pick.

Interesting side-note: we noticed that Pat’s Lip Balm contains 0.5g less product than one of her standard LuxeTrance or MatteTrance lipsticks, both priced at US $38 for 4g. That’s sort of weird because a normal person would tend to go through lip balm much more quickly. Even more confusing is the fact that this lip balm is limited edition. What to make of all this? That Pat McGrath wants us to buy backups by the dozen? Maybe, but since we really do love Pat, we’re gonna give her a pass on this one.

*Although Pat - its been two strikes now between this lip balm and the clothing line so you better believe we expect the new MatteTrance lipsticks to be all that and MORE.

Anyway, back to Lip Fetish. Let’s tackle the ad copy. I’m crunching my knuckles because, boy, do I love Pat’s ad copy. Please NEVER fire your ad-copy writers, Pat. They make me laugh out loud, for real. LOL.

Weirdly, there is no instruction manual included in the Lip Fetish box, so we had to figure out how to apply this balm ourselves. (I know - so technical and tedious.) However, you can find the full list of claims and instructions on Pat’s official website. So have no fear if you were looking forward to the usual over-the-top language and abuse of adjectives that is part and parcel of the Pat McGrath experience.

As usual, Pat’s ad copy team wastes no time in raising our expectations to epic heights:

“Keep your lips kissably soft for all your lust-inducing liaisons with LIP FETISH, the ultimate secret weapon for lethally luscious lips.”

Now, little disclaimer. Due to our efforts to get this post up for our readers ASAP, we were unable to embark on a comprehensive assessment of whether the Lip Fetish Balm really is the “ultimate secret weapon” for all our lust-inducing liaisons. (Shouldn’t it be the lust that induces the liaison, rather than the liaison(s) inducing the lust?) Readers: feel free to let us know your findings in the comments. All for the sake of science, naturally.

The Formula

The formula of the Lip Fetish Balm (according to the copy writers) can basically be summed up as “does EVERYTHING to PERFECTION”. Heck, it's possible that it could turn you into Aphrodite herself. Some key quotes:

“protects from free radicals with an antioxidant, vitamin-rich, anti-aging formula...”

“glides on flawlessly...”

"restores "softness and elasticity while serving major hydration.”

“repairs, restores and replenishes lips, keeping them sensually smooth and leaving them with a dewy, luminous finish."

There is no warning to USE WITHOUT CAUTION although Pat does hint at the “alluringly addictive” nature of her Lip Fetish Balm. (You’ll have to read on to the end of this post to find out whether we're able to co-sign this claim in good conscience).

Just a litle bit more turgid verbiage from Pat's ad copy team (because….why not?)

“transforms dry, chapped lips into a provocatively pillow-soft pout.”

“LIP FETISH is the captivating covert key to a killer kiss."*

*Obviously, Pat has somehow managed to avoid all the bad kissers out there (and they certainly do exist) because we doubt that LIP FETISH would do much to improve the depths of that dire level of suck. Pun (un)intended.

May the Critique of Lip Fetish Balm Proceed...

Emily, Okay, I will dismiss the first claim about protection from 'free radicals' as a) something I honestly don’t care about that much; and b) sounds like nonsense anyway.

We both think that the Lip Fetish Balm Glide glides on satisfactorily. 'Flawlessly?' Eh...Dunno?

As for 'restoring softness and elasticity' - with lips as perky as ours, we can’t possibly be objective judges here. That brings us to the “sensually smooth….with a dewy, luminous finish” part. Rachel found that it wore off quickly, and I concur. Alright, alright, we know you want us to cut to the chase. So we'll do it.

Rachel's provocatively pillow-soft pout, sporting several coats of Lip Fetish.

Neither one of us loves the Lip Fetish Balm. We both think it's pretty....meh. And since we’ve come to expect perfection from Pat when it comes to lip products, this was incredibly disappointing. (Although do note Deceit LiquiLUST Liquid Lipstick still takes the trophy as my personal ‘worst’ pick.)

We both found the texture of Lip Fetish to be thin, grainy and less than luxe. Instead of absorbing into your lips, it merely seems to....sit on them. As for hydration, this is just your average lip balm - nothing special. It isn’t going to make your lips worse, but it definitely isn't going to turn you into Angelina Jolie circa 2008, let’s put it that way. To me, Lip Fetish felt weirdly waxy, almost coarsely grained at times. And yes, the fact that the Lip Fetish Balm contains less product than the LuxeTrance and MatteTrance lipsticks really rubs both of us the wrong way.

On the plus side, there is no discernible scent or taste to the Lip Fetish Balm so to those of you who are picky about stuff like may add on however many points you wish.

The Bottom Line

We declare Dior’s Lip Glows in the new MATTE finish to be the winner of this battle. We do hope that Pat brings back the white and gold packaging for summer though. Would be perfect for a Tom Ford-style Lip Shine. PERFECT. (Do you hear us, Pat???)

-- Emily & Rachel