The 20 Best Lip Balms and Treatments for Instant Hydration

Pucker up.

A woman wearing a white button up shirt and sunglasses outside applies a clear lip balm to her lips.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

To all the lip balms I've loved (and lost) before: thank you. Besides curing my dry, chapped lips, you've provided SPF coverage, a touch of color, and even a sweep of gloss every once in a while. To say I miss some of you is an understatement, but I do know I can always find at least one of the best lip balms ever floating around in the bottom of my bag.

There are plenty of reasons to keep a lip balm on hand—the biggest being hydration. "Lip balm provides minimal shine, making it suitable for both men and women. It also ensures a smoother application for lip liners and lipsticks without altering color or texture," notes celebrity makeup artist Renée Loiz. You can also wear a balm alone—it can condition your lips, combat dryness, and even impart added color, scent, or texture.

Our beauty team has tried and tested almost every lip balm option out there and spoken with experts to get their opinions as well. Ahead, discover our very favorites.

What to Look For in a Lip Balm

  • Hydration

"Think of lip balm as your lips' personal bodyguard. Lip balm protects the lips from the climate and the sun. It helps to moisturize, soften, and soothe the lips from dryness and chapping," says celebrity facialist and aesthetic nurse Natalie Aguilar, who counts a quality lip balm among her top-three daily must-have beauty products. "Plus, lip balm can add a touch of shine, creating a healthier appearance."

Protecting your lips with a balm—alongside drinking enough water—helps prevent water loss, saving you from dryness before it starts.

sydney sweeney applying laneige lip balm

"I’m partial to the strawberry, but I also like the vanilla one," Sydney Sweeney previously told Marie Claire about her go-to Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask.

(Image credit: Laneige)
  • Ingredients

If you're looking for a lip balm that'll provide a shield for your lips, try to find an occlusive moisturizer, which works by creating a physical, water-resistant barrier. "Traditional lip balms often contain ingredients like beeswax, carnauba wax, lanolin, or petrolatum,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss previously told Marie Claire. If you're looking for something that'll sink in? Try shea butter or jojoba oil. “I like to use non-traditional lip balms that melt into your lips for longer-lasting hydration," she adds.

  • Purpose

If you want a lip balm for lipstick prep, makeup artist Jonet Williamson has a tip: "Lip balm isn't really a base for lipstick but it does help to prep the lip and should be blotted away before lipstick application," she says. "Having lip balm on under a matte or long-wear lipstick can affect the way it wears and how long it truly lasts, so blotting is important."

The Best Lip Balms

Also Recommended

What Causes Dry, Chapped Lips?

Dry lips aren't a winter-only issue. You can place blame on the weather, licking your lips, or the fact that you forgot your precious water bottle (yes, I've bought into the Stanley Quencher hype).

Pamela Anderson wears her hair slightly wavy and her lips glossy as she smiles off camera.

I'm pleased to know and love the exact lip balm Pamela Anderson is wearing (Sonsie Basic Balm) in this photo. .

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"We often forget that the sun, wind, and heaters can cause dry, chapped lips. But I mostly notice that my clients have drier and less plump lips when they're not drinking as much water or fluids as they should be," Aguilar says. "It's important to gently remind ourselves that lips need a little extra TLC to stay smooth and hydrated."

Dr. Idriss adds that while topical skincare products like retinoids or Accutane can also be culprits, the biggest cause of dry lips is your tongue. "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," she shares.

How Often to Apply Lip Balm

Aguilar says that lip balm should be applied as often as you check your emails. "I like to apply my lip balm at least every one to two hours," she notes. "Or, for dry or cracked lips, every time you swipe up to unlock your phone, swipe on some lip balm too!"

Liz adds that if you're prepping your lips for makeup, you should opt for a silky, waxy balm instead of a glossy formula: "This way, it won't interfere with the lip products you apply afterward."

Meet The Experts

Renee Loiz Headshot
Renée Loiz

Renée Loiz is a top celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert with over 20 years in the industry. Renée is best known for her work with celebrities including Quinta Brunson, Cynthia Erivo, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Sherry Cola, Adele, Chelsea Peretti, Uzo Aduba, Danai Gurira, Thuso Mbedu, and Jaylon Barron.

When she’s not creating press-worthy red carpet and editorial looks for famous faces, Renee can be found working with renowned brands such as NARS, Beauty Blender, Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel, Sephora, Target, BuzzFeed, Adidas, and Warner Brothers. She is also known as the founder of Color May Vary—the ultimate guide to the best black-owned brands for beauty enthusiasts.

Jonet Williamson
Jonet Williamson

In 2005, Jonet began her journey in beauty working as a makeup artist for M.A.C. Cosmetics. With a willingness to learn and an eye for perfection Jonet moved to New York City in 2014 determined to further her artistry and career. Since then, her work has been featured in commercial campaigns (Dolce & Gabanna, Levis, Shea Moisture), editorials (Essence, L'Officiel), and tv & film productions (CBS, MTV, TNT).

Drawing influence from the art of painting her style is a fusion of hyper real skin, modern beauty elements, and abstract expressionism. Jonet Williamson also works closely with brands on content creation (Revlon, Shiseido, L'Oreal, Beauty Counter) and product development.

A woman, Natalie Aguilar, with brown eyes and brown hair smiling.
Natalie Aguilar

Los Angeles based licensed aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar works with many celebrities to keep them looking camera-ready. As the founder of N4 Skincare, Natalie brings 19 years of experience to her practice. She spent years training and learning from the best, where she mastered highly sensitive and technical treatments. Combining her medical knowledge with skincare, she also serves as a global educator for others in the skincare industry.

Shereene Idriss
Dr. Shereene Idriss, M.D.

Dr. Shereene Idriss is a leading board-certified dermatologist on a mission to demystify the world of skincare and cosmetic procedures. Over years of posting myth busting videos to social media from her bed, she's become known as the #PillowtalkDerm, amassing a global community of 3M+ Nerds.

Sophia Vilensky
Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a Freelance Beauty Writer at Marie Claire with a beauty, wellness, and entertainment journalism portfolio that includes contributions to Byrdie, Bravo, Teen Vogue, and Us Weekly. Growing up in a family of beauticians—and through her own personal studies—she developed an in-depth understanding of aesthetics, cosmetic product formulation, and beauty treatment development and has also held roles as a senior copywriter, content strategist, and proofreader for top beauty and wellness brands. Even so, you'd be hard pressed to find her with her hair and makeup actually done. Sophia is based in Minneapolis and is a 2019 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she majored in English and minored in cinema studies. During her time at the university, she was the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Minnesota Daily, earning the 2019 Editor of the Year award for her work. She connected deeply with the Twin Cities arts scene, collaborating with leading beauty professionals, designers, and artists. Graduating Summa Cum Laude, her thesis—a close-reading of Vanderpump Rules—was featured on NPR. When not immersed in writing or testing new products, Sophia enjoys watching reality TV, reading, and exploring the newest woo-woo wellness trends. Keep up with her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.