(Cult Status)

How Fresh Sugar Lips Became The World’s Most Wanted Lip Balm

An inside look.

Courtesy of Fresh
Shades of Fresh Sugar Lip Balm

Cult Status is our series that highlights an iconic item from brands both established and buzz-worthy. In these features, you'll discover the fascinating history of how one extra-special piece exceeded expectations and became a forever product. This time, the focus is on Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment.

While lip balm may be the one product you'll find tucked in every pocket or handbag, it's certainly not the most glamorous product in your beauty lineup — that was before Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment entered the beautysphere and transformed the once medicinal, not-at-all-sexy lip balm category. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment is a unicorn lip balm; a balm ahead of its time, combining the superior comforting and conditioning benefits you look for in those classic, reliable drugstore staples, with a stunning sheer tint and the luxurious look and feel of your favorite fancy lip color. In short, Fresh Sugar Lips gave lip balm an upgrade, with an added bonus of beautiful packaging. Here’s an inside look into what’s made Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment a best-selling, forever product.

First, let’s start with the product history. The original Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 debuted in 2004 and was a hit from the start. "From the moment we launched our Original Sugar Lip Treatment, people immediately gravitated towards it," Lev Glazman, Fresh Co-Founder shares with TZR. “When it first launched, I particularly remember our Fresh team members constantly going to our conference room to use it — they really loved it. They kept saying how addictive it was and just couldn’t get enough. We knew then that this product was going be a great success, and all these years later it is still a staple for the brand," he adds. That Sugar Lips obsession was real. Nearly two decades since launch, the OG Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 maintains its spot in the top three best-selling Sugar Lip Treatments of the year in the US (2020), the brand shares with TZR.

Courtesy of Fresh

In the years that followed, the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment franchise continued to grow, first with a supercharged Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Advanced Therapy, then with ten additional tinted Sugar Lip Treatments in a range of complementary red, pink, and nude hues including Honey, Coral, Rose, Tulip, Poppy, Punch, Spice, Icon, Velvet, and Nude. “I love Fresh Sugar Lips because it's very moisturizing, sheer, feels good on the lips, and the color options are great for barely there, natural color washes,” celebrity makeup artist, Quinn Murphy shares with TZR. Since the launch, these coveted formulas have maintained an impressively loyal following, with two Sugar Lips sold every minute in the US, the brands shares with TZR. It’s hard to play favorites in a lineup of greatness, but the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Advanced Therapy, Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment, and original Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment have claimed best-selling ranks in 2019 and 2020, the brand reveals to TZR.

The name is as sweet as it comes, but the roots of Sugar Lips stem much deeper. “As children growing up in Russia, our medicine cabinets were filled with Western medicine and Eastern natural ingredients. So often our ingredient inspirations came from a time-honored ritual — for example, when we were little, our grandmothers used to apply sugar on our scrapes,” Alina Roytberg, Fresh Co-Founder, shares with TZR. Sparked by a sugar rush and endless curiosity, the brand began researching the ingredients in the LVMH Fresh Labs outside Paris. “We’ve uncovered some incredible curative and scientific properties behind these ingredients. In the case of sugar, it’s a natural humectant that helps retain moisture,” Glazman reveals to TZR. This means it's drawing moisture from deeper layers of the skin in order to serve and moisturize the outer layers in need of that added hydration. The result: a satisfying trifecta of soft, smooth, supple lips!

Courtesy of Fresh

Sweet tooth or not, the deliciously silky formula is packed with a boatload of other lip-comforting goodness that it’s no surprise it’s been a coveted staple for decades. “Fresh Sugar Lips combines sugar, grapeseed oil, meadowfoam and black currant seed oils as the key ingredients that work together to prevent moisture loss while softening rough skin,” Dr. Geeta Patel, DO, FAAD, a Board Certified Dermatologist and Owner of River Oaks Dermatology explains to TZR. It also contains powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E, which are known for conditioning and repair benefits. But the cocktail of lip pampering superheroes doesn’t stop there. “Fresh Sugar Lips contains one of my all-time favorite skin care ingredients, grapeseed oil,” Dr. Kristina Collins, MD, FAAD, CEO and Founder of Austin Skin dermatology shares with TZR. “I absolutely love grapeseed oil because it is naturally loaded with antioxidants that help defend your skin against free radicals,” she explains. As if that’s not enough lip-loving benefits, add a dose of SPF protection and a stamp of Sephora’s Clean seal, and you’ve got one stand out product with a whole lot of validated reasons why it’s a favorite.

Courtesy of Fresh

Now let’s talk about texture. There’s no denying the addictive texture of the buttery Fresh Sugar Lips bullet which makes it a treat each and every time you swipe it on. The soft-touch matte packaging and satisfying screw top only add to the uber-satisfying experience that makes this a lip balm unlike any other. With over 330,000 Sephora “loves” and over 9,700 glowing online reviews on Sephora.com, the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment obsession speaks for itself. But it’s not just the average beauty Joes and Janes of the world loving and swiping these buttery balms. Even Meghan Markle has been known to publicly swear by the formula, attributing Fresh Sugar Lips Treatment as the reason behind her soft, kissable lips, the brand reveals to TZR.

Heck, even professional makeup artists with access to just about every lip product and color under the sun continue to turn to this OG staple, time and time again. “Fresh sugar lip balms have been a staple in my kit for over a decade. They’re moisturizing, smoothing, and provide a protective layer with chic, subtle, color payoff. These lip balms look as good as they feel, which I love for my clients,” celebrity makeup artist, Meredith Baraf, shares with TZR. And we couldn't agree more! Which Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment is your favorite?

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.