The Best Lip Balm for Dry Lips
Do you struggle with peeling or burning lips? Maybe you’re just looking to ward off winter dryness with glossy lips. No matter what you’re looking for, we’ve provided a range of mostly drugstore lip balm options so you can find what you need.
Our top picks
What to look for in a lip balm
The skin on your lips is about a third of the thickness of the skin elsewhere, making them extremely delicate. In addition to this, they are constantly assaulted by drying saliva, harmful UV-rays and various acids from your meals. Your lips go through a lot, so take care of them with something moisturizing, hydrating and shiny to get the kissable pout you’ve been dreaming of. Lip balms provide a range of benefits, some of which may or may not be useful to you. Here are some things to consider before you buy a lip balm.
Finish – This includes whether the balm is coloured, glossy or matte.
Medium – Germophobes or those who frequently do manual labour, might cringe at the idea of having to dip dirty fingers in their products. While squeeze-tube or stick balms are more convenient and can be used anywhere at any time.
Ingredients – Some ingredients are more soothing than others, and some can be down irritating depending on your pre-existing condition. Here are some of the most frequent ingredients you might encounter and how they might affect your lips.
- Petroleum Jelly/Petrolatum – You’ll encounter this most frequently in your search for lip balms. This is a by-product of the oil industry, extremely refined for cosmetic use. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not actually moisturizing. Rather, it forms a barrier between your skin and the elements, meaning it’s great for sealing in moisturizing ingredients before going outside. However, this also means that it doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate from the outside, either. Thus, some complain of it not feeling breathable. It can also congest the skin around the lips, so take extra care when applying.
- Dimethicone – This is a silicone alternative to petrolatum, that does not feel as greasy or heavy on the skin, but also works to prevent moisture loss by forming a protective barrier. It is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores, and hypoallergenic. This is ideal for those with sensitive skin.
- Menthol – This is an alcohol compound that is responsible for that minty flavour and feeling. Anything that touts a cooling or tingling effect will often have this ingredient. It can irritate and further dry out the skin, but some do find the cooling effect pleasing or enjoy a minty flavour.
- Rich oils, butters or waxes– Any nourishing or moisturizing properties will come from the oils mixed into the base. Some – like beeswax or shea or cocoa butter—can even replace petroleum or dimethicone as the base. Other fatty ingredients that you can look for are vitamin E, coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc.
Our author – resident beauty enthusiast – spent a combined 20 hours researching various lip balms to see what frequently made top-lists and why, including researching what dermatologists and cosmetologists had to say regarding certain ingredients. We also searched for the best lip balms based on target ingredients and concerns to ensure that you can find the best product to address a specific need.
Then, we researched purchaser reviews, prioritizing those with at least 4-star reviews on most review sites, to find specific areas of praises and critiques. No matter what concern you choose to address or what product you purchase, we aim to make you confident that you’re making the right choice.
The best lip balm for sensitive lips & the best overall
Lanolips 101 Ointment
Lanolin is a wax secreted from wool-bearing animals. It’s widely used as a leather treatment and lubricant and its emollient properties have popularized it as a nipple cream for breastfeeding mothers. This same emollient property is what makes it such an effective chapstick, along with the fact that – as a humectant—it holds twice its weight in water. This means that it also has a smoothing effect on the lines and wrinkles on lips while delivering deep hydration.
However, it must be noted that although rare, some do have lanolin or wool sensitivities/allergies and thus, should avoid this product.
Lanolips 101 Ointment brings the multipurpose balm in a conveniently sized tube that can also be rubbed on hands and elbows. It also comes in additional scents and flavours.
- Multipurpose balm.
- Natural ingredients.
- Some users complain of the thin texture.
- Relatively expensive.
The best lip balm for men
Jack Black Moisture Therapy SPF 25
This fan favourite from a men’s care line doesn’t disappoint. Many users noted the non-greasy feeling, as it leaves behind a smooth matte finish, perfect for men who prefer a more subdued look for their skincare.
It also features adequate SPF 25 protection without the white-cast that typically occurs with high SPF products. While it is available in a wide variety of scents, it is flavourless meaning you won’t have a lingering taste in your mouth. The one frequent complaint from critics is a distaste for the thin, gritty texture of the balm.
- Absorbs quickly.
- Not greasy/shiny.
- Thin and gritty texture.
The best lip balm for winter
Vaseline Cocoa Butter Lip Therapy
In winter, what you need is something that will seal in moisture while forming a barrier against the cold, dry air. Vaseline is a tried-and-true product for the task, with a convenient tin for your lips. The famous emollient properties of petroleum jelly is why it’s a top ingredient in many other lip balms (including ones on this list). Vaseline will leave your lips soft, and you can even use it as an overnight lip mask to wake up to a supple pout.
Their small variety offers different benefits; the Rosy Lips leaves behind a subtle pink flush of colour and the Aloe Vera soothes and heals injured lips. However, we chose the Cocoa Buter formula for being further infused with the moisturizing butter and mild vanilla fragrance.
If you’re someone who finds it gloopy and unbreathable, simply spread a dollop across the lips and dab off the excess. Avoid rubbing the lips together too much to keep it in place. You can also apply it on top of medicated lip balms if you tend to them drying.
- Softens lips.
- Can be blobby if too much is applied.
The best lip balm with SPF
Aquaphor Broad Protection SPF 30
In looking for a lip balm with sunscreen, you’ll want one with at least an SPF of 15. This Aquaphor lip balm has broad-spectrum SPF 30 for protection against UVA and UVB rays. Its ingredients list also features glycerin – a humectant to attract water, castor oil and shea butter so you don’t have to sacrifice any of the moisturizing properties.
Its criticisms stem from its pungent scent and taste of sunscreen and the resulting texture. If you’re a fan of the original Aquaphor formula, note that it has a less slippery texture than the original. Those with sensitive lips or lip conditions have had inflammations resulting from its use.
- High SPF; UVA & UVB protection.
- Moisturizing ingredients.
- The smell/taste can be strong.
- Can inflame sensitive lips.
The best lip balm for matte lipsticks
MAC Prep + Prime lip primer
Matte lipsticks typically use a thicker, waxier base and less moisturizing oils to achieve that signature bold colour. Unfortunately, these heavy ingredients are also drying and prone to settle in fine lines on your lips. If you haven’t been able to have much luck with applying a regular balm under your lipstick, MAC Prep + Prime offers a moisturizing base for any mattifying lipsticks, while allowing the pigment to stay on for longer.
The formula isn’t too rich, ensuring that it won’t compromise the application or appearance of the lipsticks and will help the colour last throughout the day.
- Helps lipstick last.
- Moisturizing base.
- Reviews are a mixed bag regarding whether this is necessary compared to a regular lip balm.
The best lip balm to prevent cold sores
Cold sores are the result of HSV-1 which permanently lays dormant within the nerves. Having chapped lips, or exposing them to harsh environments, or having an already taxed immune system is the perfect environment for developing a cold sore (or fever blister). Enter docosonol, the ingredient proven to prevent the infection of healthy cells, and minimize the growth of cold sores.
Docoshield uses 10% docosonol in its lip balm; the same antiviral active ingredient found in Abreva. It is also formulated with jojoba oil, to moisturize and soften the lips, which will aid in preventing another outbreak.
- Same active ingredient as Abreva.
Unlike, docosonol which protects healthy cells, lysine is an amino acid that blocks the growth of HSV-1. Often found naturally in foods, it’s often taken as a supplement for those suffering during an outbreak.
Herpecin-L uses lysine to help mitigate the growth of a cold sore and shorten the duration. This balm also has vitamins C & E and an SPF of 30 to keep your lips protected during your outbreak. Remember, dermatologists recommend using only one lip balm during an outbreak to prevent the spread of the infection of healthy cells.
- SPF 30.
- Reduces severity of outbreaks.
The best natural lip balm
Burt’s Bees 100% natural lip balm
Does Burt’s Bees need an introduction? This popular favourite is known for being a natural cosmetics brand. Much of their products centre around the use of beeswax (hence the name), a natural secretion of female bees.
As a humectant, beeswax draws in additional moisture while sealing it in and forming a barrier between your lips and the elements, including offering slight UV protection.
What makes the Burt’s Bees balm superior, however, is further enriched with a variety of rich oils to nourish the lips, including peppermint oil to soothe and cool sore lips in addition to a wide variety of flavours and colours.
- Soothing ingredients.
- Beeswax is a known allergen.
The best vegan lip balm
Making the switch to an animal cruelty-free or plant-based lifestyle is already difficult. You may have to part ways with many fabrics and dyes that contain even small amounts of animal by-products. In place of animal by-products, such as lanolin or beeswax, Hurraw! Uses a variety of plant oils to comprise its ingredients list. It comes in a wide variety of flavours, including one that has an SPF 15.
- Many scents & flavours.
- Some users dislike the elliptical shape.
Frequently asked questions
How to get rid of dry lips?
Dry lips occur as moisture is allowed to evaporate from the lips, resulting in cracking, peeling, soreness and blisters. The key to keeping dry lips at bay is a combination of moisturizing ingredients, that draw in water, and ingredients that seal it in, so it can’t escape.
A lipcare routine of application of lip balm, coupled with exfoliating away the dead skin cells or flakes, and maybe even an overnight lip mask can keep your lips soft and kissable.
Eczema on lips?
Eczema or dermatitis can result from excessive dryness or an allergic reaction depending on what your triggers are. For the former, a balmy and hydrating product may be in order while avoiding high concentrations of menthol, camphor or peppermint oil that can further irritate dry lips. Of the products that appeared on this list, Vaseline, Lanolips or Hurraw! may be a match for you, depending on what you’re searching for. Your mileage may vary.
Alternative lip balms to try
If you didn’t find what you were looking for, here are some other lips balms we thought were good alternatives to the ones listed above.
Blistex Lip Medex
If your lips are really chapped, sore and blistered then you might find the Lip Medex formulation more helpful to your immediate needs. It’s available in both tube and pot form, so you can decide which medium is more suitable for you. However, while the menthol and camphor present certainly do soothe a sore lip, it is drying, especially in this more concentrated formula.
Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream
Okay, hear me out. I know this isn’t a lip balm. But if you like Lanolips, but can’t always shell out for the price, this is also just lanolin. It’s safe enough for babies, and many users have had luck using this as a lip balm. It’s essentially the same product for half the price.
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