The 18 Best Lip Balms and Treatments in 2024

Pucker up with balms from brands like Blistex, Summer Fridays, and more.

Best Lip Balms: Vaseline, Dr. Paw Paw, ILIA, Maybelline New York, Summer Fridays
(Image credit: Vaseline, Dr. Paw Paw, ILIA, Maybelline New York, Summer Fridays; Brittany Hollow)

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.

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. 

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

"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
Dr. Shereene Idriss, M.D.

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.