Lip balm does not usually register high on the beauty thrill scale. For tweens not yet of an age for class-A cosmetics, its permutations in flavour are engrossing stuff. But once you've experienced the hit of proper lipstick and the instant transformation of full-on colour, barely there balms get relegated to non-make-up status – a functional bit of kit, but hardly pulse-quickening.

An emerging alternative mood in beauty may call for a reassessment; after several years of maximal make-up, fashion's inevitable volte-face is underway and this new look is as pared-back and understated as the previous was bold and theatrical.

It probably won't come as a surprise that this "minimal" aesthetic requires not fewer products, but different ones – and alongside them, a shift in our sensibilities. Subtle intensification of what's natural is key and so, although you may not find yourself debating strawberry versus cherry-flavoured Chapstick, lip balms' comparative capacities to plump, smooth and add gossamer-weight shine may yet become a subject of interest.