There are few things more vital to a good makeup day—or more likely to get lost in the bottom of your bag—than a lip balm. If, like me, you’re currently in the market to find your new go-to lip balm or lip treatment, you’ve come to the right place. Ahead, the beauty team at Marie Claire rounded up the very best lip balms that you can buy right now. We’ve tried and tested almost every single option that money can buy—and these are the lip balms and treatments that stood out from the pack.
There are so many reasons to pick up a new lip balm this season. Maybe you have chronically chapped lips no matter the weather. Maybe you're a chronic user of abrasive products like lip scrubs and need to find something to get your dry lips back on the right track. Maybe you need a hydrating layer to wear underneath all of the lipsticks that you have in your collection. Or, maybe you’re a beauty pro who already knows everything there is to know about both lip stains and lip plumpers and are looking for a base product to condition your lips on no-makeup days. Luckily, the world is chock-full of lip balms for dry lips that come in just about every type of formula, from matte balms to others that look and feel like the best lip oil or your favorite lip gloss.
With so many options, it can be hard to discern what makes a good lip balm the best lip balm. Marie Claire spoke with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss, M.D to get some answers.
What Causes Dry, Chapped Lips
If you thought that winter was the only time of year when lips can get chapped and dry, think again. Dr. Idriss says that dry lips can be “caused by so many different factors, both externally and internally,” including the humidity in the air or extreme temperatures, both in the summer and in the winter. Plus, not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration that will cause your lips (and skin!) to dry out, so add this to the ever-growing list of reasons to get so much water throughout the day.
But the biggest cause of dry lips might surprise you: “The last and biggest cause of dry lips is licking your lips, one that I am guilty of,” she says. “By licking your lips, moisture is drawn out of them, causing them to dry faster. If you want hydrated, nourished lips, this is one habit you should try to break."
If you use topical treatments like retinoids or Accutane, they could be at the root of your dry lips issue. "Retinoids increase cell turnover, therefore dry lips can result as a side effect of topically applied skincare products, at least at the very beginning while your skin is adjusting," she says. "Keep them hydrated and you should be good to go."
What a Lip Balm Should Do
“A good lip balm should be nourishing and hydrating, while keeping your lips protected from pollution in the air and even damage from the sun if you choose one with SPF in it,” Dr. Idriss says. “Lip balm should soothe and calm dry lips without causing any irritation or inflammation.”
What Ingredients Make the Best Lip Balm?
"Traditional lip balms often contain ingredients like beeswax, carnauba wax, lanolin, or petrolatum,” says Dr. Idriss. “For lip basting I like to use non-traditional lip balms that melt into your lips for longer lasting hydration. Panthenol is one of my favorite ingredients in Bepanthen Nappy Rash Cream.”
Ahead, shop the best lip balms for dry, cracked lips, as recommended by Marie Claire editors and glowing reviews alike.
- Best Lip Balm for Super Chapped Lips: Lucas Papaw Ointment
- Best All-Around Lip Balm: Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
- Best Editor-Approved Lip Balm: Sisley Paris Nutritive Lip Balm
- Best Affordable Lip Balm: Blistex Medicated Lip Balm
- Best Lip Balm in a Pot: Rosebud Perfume Co. Rosebud Salve
Shop The Best Lip Balms
The products on this list have been vetted by Marie Claire's E-Commerce Editor, Julia Marzovilla (aka yours truly) and Marie Claire's Beauty Director, Deena Campbell; or Marie Claire's Beauty Editor Samantha Holender. Each and every one includes ingredients clinically proven to deliver hydrating results, is highly rated by reviewers, and provides hydration. While the *best* lip balm for you will vary based on personal preference, you truly can't go wrong with one of the items on this list. For a more personalized recommendation or if you have any concerns, check with your board-certified dermatologist.
Best Glossy Stain Lip Balm
Once upon a time, a lip stain and a lip gloss fell in love, got married, and created this iconic baby tinted balm from fresh. The stain-gloss formula is perfectly hydrating, not at all sticky, and comes in 12 bright shades—including everything from a basic clear option to one with a pale rose tint to a deep wine hue—that are so sheer and pretty, they'll look good on every skin tone. It comes in a handy wind-up tube, has nearly 900 five-star reviews on Sephora’s website, and has become a mainstay in the makeup bags of celebrities like Meghan Markle.
Pros: Comes in a tube; Has a wide shade range; Top-rated.
Cons: Costs over $20; Has a strong scent.
Customer Review: "I tried others but I keep coming back to this one. Very hydrating and the color is perfect. Like how it makes look my lips natural." — Sephora
Best Cult Favorite Lip Balm
This is the kind of product that works on just about every skin ailment, from burns to chapped lips. It's an all-around beauty lifesaver that you need to have on-hand. It’s thick in texture so it’s best applied at night, and comes in a tube rather than a pot. However, you will have to apply the product onto your finger rather than directly onto your lips. With over 1,400 hundred five-star reviews on Amazon, there’s a lot of good things you can say about it: One reviewer said that it “just simply works.” What’s better than that?
Pros: Top-rated; comes in a tube; Costs under $20; Can be used all over the body.
Cons: Still have to use your fingers to apply; thicker in texture.
Customer Review: "It has a light fragrance and it works great for overnight moisturizing." — Amazon
Pack of Three Lip Balms
"I test my fair share of lip balms, but I always, without fail, go back to this one. It leave no film whatsoever, has a slight menthol feel, and keeps everything smooth. I'm a big fan of applying it over my lipstick for a subtle shine." — Samantha Holender, Beauty Editor
Pros: Costs under $20; Editor-approved; Top-rated; Included ingredients like cocoa butter; Comes in a multi-pack.
Customer Review: "This is literally THE BEST chapstick out there! I have chronic dry skin, and with the weather changing and allergy season in full speed, my lips have been SO. CHAPPED. to the point where they are bleeding, and my lips have been this bad for at least a month. I’ve tried 3 different chapsticks before this one, and all of them weren’t helping at all. Finally I tried this one, and my lips healed completely within 3 days of consistently using it throughout the day! I was so amazed! This is definitely a 10/10 chapstick that I would recommend to anyone." — Target
Best Glowy Lip Balm
It's no secret that beauty editors (and the rest of the internet) are all obsessed with this balm from Dior. It’s not hard to see why: It's not too shiny or sticky, it doesn't smell like cupcakes and 2003, and it doesn't give you that gunky white line around your lips after a few hours. And, most importantly, it leaves your lips with the prettiest glow—I know, I know, but there's no better word for it—that sticks around through lunch (and second lunch). It’s definitely on the lighter side when it comes to hydration, so reapplication might be necessary.
Pros: Comes in a tube; Comes in multiple sheer colors; Promises 24-hour hydration.
Cons: Costs more than $20; Needs to be reapplied throughout the day.
Customer Review: "This Dior lip balm product was way more pigmented than I thought it would be - it’s also long lasting, a whole 5 hours and I still wouldn’t have to reapply it." — Sephora
Best Long-Lasting Lip Balm
"This balm (which my mom actually introduced me to) has been a mainstay in my handbag since I was old enough to buy anything with my own money. I love the subtle pink tint it leaves behind, the ultra-hydrating texture, and, of course, the size—It's nearly impossible to scratch the bottom of it despite the fact that I use it daily. The hydration lasts forever, but I love to reapply throughout the day for a naturally glossy finish. It really coats the lips evenly and leaves behind a shine, too.” — Julia Marzovilla, E-Commerce Editor
Pros: Costs less than $20; Editor-approved; Top-rated;
Cons: Heavily scented; Comes in a pot; Packaging can be tricky to open.
Customer Review: "I have been using this lip balm for a couple of years now. I have dry skin usually, especially on my lips. This is the best lip product I have used thus far. It’s very moisturizing and I appreciate that there are not many ingredients in it. It also looks very good when paired with a lip color on top." — Sephora
Best Hydrating Lip Balm
"Few lip balms impress me, but this baby repeatedly sends my jaw to the floor. The formula is unbelievably nourishing, extremely hydrating, and, most notably, stays on overnight. It's unique blend of oils and botanical butters leaves my lips feeling baby soft and looking plumped, regardless of the temperature or the wind. It'll be by my side all winter long." — S.H.
Pros: Editor-approved; Lasts a long time; Great for very dry lips.
Cons: Costs over $20; Comes in a pot.
Customer Review: "This is by far, the best lip treatment product. Sisley-Paris knows how to make excellent skin care and makeup products and this item is one of their best. It hydrates the lips for hours, leaves a beautiful glow on the lips and can be used as a base to any lip color product. It has an expensive price, but it is well worth it!" — Bloomingdale's
"For most of my life, Vaseline was my go-to lip product, I was practically raised on how multi-purpose it is, and the price point and efficacy can't be beaten. I changed my tune when a friend returned from a trip to Paris and brought this back for me. This balm is more of a lip mask than anything, moisturizing and long-lasting. It's super thick due to the honey and shea butter, and the fragrance of lavender and citrus is a beautiful touch. It's the perfect final step to my nighttime winter skincare routine. It makes me feel like royalty." — Brittany Holloway-Brown, Art Director
Pros: Costs under $20; Formula contains shea butter; Great for overnight wear; Has a light scent.
Cons: Comes in a pot.
Customer Review: "Super moisturizing and long lasting. It seemed like for several months this lip balm was out of stock. I hung on till new stock came in. I simply did not want to purchase something less than." — Nuxe
"After falling in love with Naturopathica’s sweet cherry enzyme peel (if you know, you know), I immediately sleuthed for other similar products. Enter: the sweet cherry conditioning lip butter (texturally, it’s more like a light balm), which is soothing and light smells oh so good. Unlike other balms, which can feel great when applying but need frequent reapplication, this product becomes more effective the longer you use it. I like to apply it, wait a few minutes, and top it with Vaseline to lock in all the moisture." — Lucia Tonelli, Social Media Editor
Pros: Has a light smell; Formula contains moringa seed oil; long-lasting; Great for wearing overnight.
Cons: Comes in a pot.
Customer Review: "I'm always on a hunt for a good moisturizing lip balm since my lips are always dry. I really love the texture of this lip butter and how it spreads on my lip. Super moisturizing and the slight red tint is really flattering." — Dermstore
Best Beauty Editor-Approved Lip Balm
"While this may be a mask, it's by no means exclusively for overnight use. I have this on hand at all times. It's deeply hydrating and give my chapped lips an instant hydration fix. Plus, the high-shine finish can't be beat." — Samantha Holender, Beauty Editor
Pros: Editor-approved; Includes ingredients like coconut oil and vitamin C; Top-rated; Can be worn day or night; Comes with an applicator
Cons: Costs over $20; Comes in a pot.
Customer Review: "i love this so much its perfect for winter dry lips and it smells AMAZING i use this everyday to wake up to soft lips and the applicator that it comes with is so cute." — Sephora
Best Top-Rated Lip Balm
"I always have a tube (or two) of this iconic lip balm from Burt’s Bees in my work bag. It's great for days when I just want something that I know is going to work. Plus, the scent (which is on the stronger side) is so iconic that I instantly feel transported back to my younger days. The texture is more waxy than balmy, which means that it won't cause the products I layer on top to slip and slide throughout the day." — J.M.
Pros: Comes in different shades and scents; Top-rated; Editor-approved.
Cons: Some reviewers said it wears off easily.
Customer Review: "I use Bert's Bees lip balm every day. I wear it under lipstick to keep from drying my lips out and it works. I have multiple flavors hoarded up and I carry a stick everywhere I go. This is the best lip balm I have ever used and I have tried many others that paled in comparison. The coconut and pear is my favorite flavor and it is not overpowering. I will buy again and again and again..." — Ulta
Best Cocoa Butter Lip Balm
"I have these Vaseline lip therapy tins in three different formulas: aloe, rose, and, of course, cocoa butter. Each formulation has a subtle, pleasant scent, and coats my lips with hydration without making them feel slimy. Pro tip: These balms are also perfect slathering on tiny cuts and dry patches, and I love using them on my upper lip to soothe redness after an at-home wax." — Gabrielle Ulubay, E-Commerce Writer
Pros: Costs under $20; Editor-approved; Top-rated; Lightly-scented; Included ingredients like aloe.
Cons: Comes in a pot.
Customer Review: "I love this stuff. I have very sensitive lips so it was hard to find a lip balm that didnt irritate them. Ever since I started using this my lips look and feel amazing. They are so soft and smooth. I will forever continue to buy and recommend this product." — Vaseline
Best Infuencer-Adored Lip Balm
"I can't get enough of this lip balm. Working in beauty, there's a lot of products that come across your desk. However, this one from Summer Fridays stopped me in my tracks because of how instantly hydrating it felt on my lips. Plus, the glossy finish is stunning. 10/10 reviews from me! I love the scent of this one, but be forewarned–it’s definitely on the stronger side. Also, I love how easy it is to apply. Could literally do it in my sleep at this point.” — J.M.
Pros: Top-rated; Editor-approved; Comes in a tube; Comes in different scents; Can be applied day or night.
Cons: Costs over $20; Strongly scented; Some reviewers say the texture is sticky.
Customer Review: "I love this lip balm, it’s perfect, thick but not too thick, the only thing is it is a little bit sticky, I don’t mind it though, I actually like it because it feels extra moisturizing. It smells amazing too." — Summer Fridays
Best Lip Mask
"This is the lip balm I keep next to my bed in the winter. Yes, it comes in a pot, but it comes with a little spatula to scoop out the product every time you use it. It has a thicker texture that literally coats your lips in the most luscious mask. And while it’s a bit pricey, the thick texture and larger size means that you won’t use it up quickly. While I love the OG colorway, it also comes in a rosy pink hue if you’re looking for something with color.” — J.M.
Pros: Editor-approved; Top-rated; Lasts a long time; Comes with an application spatula.
Cons: Costs over $20; Comes in a pot; Better used at night only.
Customer Review: "In love!! My lips were/ have been super dry for months. Me trying to find lip balms that worked and nothing did! I decided to use this beautiful lip mask. It’s thick in consistency and stays on the lips wonderfully. A little goes along way with this mask. Definitely will hydrate dry crusty lips." — Sephora
Best Glossy Lip Balm
There's nothing better than once-dry lips that now feel "revived," right? This balm from ILIA promises to do just that. It includes ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which seals in moisture from the air, and prickly pear oil, which moisturizes and protects the skin barrier for long-term hydration. Plus, it comes in a handy tube rather than a pot like other ljp balms of the same cosistency, which means that you won't have to stick your fingers in it every time you use it.
Pros: Has a glossy finish; Includes ingredients like hyaluronic acid and prickly pear oil; Comes in a tube; Can be used day or night.
Cons: Costs over $20; Some reviewers note it has a sticky texture.
Customer Review: "The perfect glass lips, moisturizing, lightweight and not sticky at all. Was a little suspicious because it was definitely pricey for a balm but wow its the perfect balm." — Sephora
Best Wear-Everywhere Lip Balm
Aquaphor is iconic for a reason: Celebrities like Beyonce, Meghan Markle, and Gwyneth Paltrow all swear by the brand to keep their lips feeling soft and plush year-round. I’ve found that this ultra-rich lip balm from the brand is best used at night due to the stickier, thicker texture and consistency, and can be applied to the general lip area (above the lips and around the chin), if you find that area also gets red and sore during the colder months.
Pros: Costs under $20; Comes in a tube; Includes ingredients like shea butter; Unscented.
Cons: Some users said it felt sticky on their lips.
Customer Review: "This is my go to lip moisturizer. It locks in moisture and has a beautiful shine. Love!!!" — Ulta
Best Classic Lip Balm
There's a reason this lip balm from Kiehl’s is called the #1. Thanks to top-tier ingredients like squalene, aloe vera, and vitamin E, this lip balm instantly soothes the lips while giving them the moisture they (desperately) need. This product gives lips a juicy shine that means you can pack away your lip glosses, as an added bonus. However, I’ve found that the texture is on the thicker side, which means that it’s best applied at night. The scent is also not super noticeable, so you can wear it to bed without smelling it all night long.
Pros: Costs less than $20; Unscented; Comes in a tube;
Cons: Best used only at night; Some reviewers said it felt oily on their lips.
Customer Review: "The reason i bought this was because the petrolatum was the first ingredient and i like using petrolatum on my lips, i really like the smooth and soft consistency and also the vitamin e in this, makes my lips really smooth and soft and doesn't have a weird taste" — Ulta
Best Luxe Lip Balm
Please don't hate me for including a $75 lip balm—I had to, it's that good. This is an opportunity for you to embrace "put your money where your mouth is," quite literally. La Mer has this innovative ingredient called "Miracle Broth," which is a mixture of sea kelp, minerals, and nutrients that has gone through a natural fermentation process to leave your lips feeling ridiculously smooth, soothed and hydrated. In other words, this lip balm is legit the best one that money can buy.
Pros: Top-rated; Can be used day or night.
Cons: Costs over $20; Comes in a pot.
Customer Review: "To me the con isn’t a price. You are getting what you’re paying for with this one. And you’re not buying this unless you have the $$$ to spare so Im not taking stars off for it being expensive. Luxury packaging, luxury brand, and a great product. My lips feel hydrated for about 48 hours after the smallest dab of this on the lips, and it has a pleasant tingling sensation as well." — Sephora
Best Updated Lip Balm
"Carmex is my go-to when I'm dealing with especially dry or chapped lips, so I always have it on-hand in the winter. Its thick formula stays on for hours without budging, and the results are always surprisingly fast. Plus, it's SPF protection makes it a vacation must." — G.U
Pros: Costs less than $20; Comes in a tube; Comes in a mutli-pack; Includes SPF; Comes in multiple scents.
Cons: Strongly scented; Thinner in consistency compared to other Carmex products.
Customer Review: "This is the only lip balm that I found to be comfortable for my lips. It glides on smoothly and does not have any waxy feel. I would recommend it for comfortable lips." — Walgreens
How to Apply Lip Balm
While you could just apply your favorite lip balm straight out of the tube or pot as you normally would, the experts have a better way that leaves your lips feeling softer instantly. Ahead, Dr. Idriss breaks down her favorite technique, which she calls "lip basting."
"Lip basting is my favorite technique to use when your lips are super dry and desperate for moisture," Dr. Idriss says of her cult-favorite technique. "It’s a really simple and nourishing technique that I suggest incorporating into your routine as often as you’d like—or whenever your lips need an extra boost of hydration. First, you start by buffing your lips with a chemical exfoliant. I like to use one that isn’t too high in concentration to avoid any unwanted effects. After you apply the chemical exfoliant and allow it to dry, the next step is to apply a thick layer of lip baster. Something rich in calendula and panthenol that really feeds your lips is great to use here."
If you're just starting out with lip basting, start simple. “Vaseline is a classic, no-fail lip product,” she says. “It is super occlusive and gentle, so it’s good for all skin types, especially those with sensitive skin. I even like to use it on my under eyes if they are looking or feeling a little dry. Another favorite of mine is Aquaphor, which is basically Vaseline plus Lanolin. An unconventional, but amazing lip product is the Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream—yes, you can use nipple cream on your lips. Homeoplasmine is another great product to help nourish and soften dry, cracked lips. It is basically Vaseline plus calendula, which has some anti-inflammatory properties and a skin healing formula. Lastly, Bepanthen Nappy Rash Cream is loaded with panthenol, one of my favorite ingredients to look for in a good lip product.”
Meet The Expert
Shereene Idriss, M.D., founder of Idriss Dermatology in NYC is an expert in facial rejuvenation who embraces spotlighting her patients’ unique facial features rather than morphing them into someone else. In a world amped up on filters, Dr. Idriss strives to combine a strong doctor-patient connection with her medical expertise and made a career of being honest and transparent with her patients, talking to them one-on-one about what they need (and what they don’t) and educating them about their skincare routines along the way. In 2018, she began posting informational videos from her bed to her Instagram account and quickly became known to her followers as the PillowtalkDerm. She’s since launched a YouTube channel and amassed a social media following of more than 800K. Dr. Idriss believes that subtle cosmetic changes can have dramatic results, and her goal is to help her patients and followers look—and feel—their best.