Doctor-Approved SPF Lip Balms for Year-Round Protection

Sun safety never looked so good.

woman putting on lip balm on a beach
(Image credit: Getty)

I don't know about you, but I won't step out my door without applying my favorite sunscreen. Whether the weather is sunny or cloudy, hot or cold, UV rays can cause skin damage like premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer. But even if you're wearing sunscreen on your face, neck, and other exposed patches of skin, there's one part of the body you're likely forgetting about: your lips.

"The skin on the lips is much thinner than anywhere on the face and body," says Dr. Azza Halim, who specializes in anti-aging and aesthetic medicine. "The lips are unable to maintain water hydration and do not have the same barrier for protection as the face, which is why also lips get chapped easily and are more prone to dryness. Sun exposure contributes to water loss and can get sunburnt which in turn can contribute not only to chapped lips but fine lines and wrinkles as well."

To prevent fine lines and damage to the lips, it's essential to opt for a lip balm that not only contains moisturizing ingredients, but that also protects lips from the sun. Below, the best lip balms that provide SPF protection, including a few of Dr. Halim's favorites.

What to Look for in an SPF Lip Balm

First things first, when shopping for a lip balm, it's best to look for one that contains effective, nourishing ingredients. After all, dry and damaged lips are more susceptible to further damage.

"We know that the thinnest areas of skin, which also lack oil glands, are the lips, under the eyes, and the neck, which is why various products are needed to maintain hydration and moisture in those areas," says Dr. Hazim. "A few ingredients of benefit to look for in a lip balm include castor seed oil, ceramides, shea butter, zinc oxide, and white petrolatum to help lock in moisture, which is why some use Vaseline."

But before using your new SPF lip balm, it's best to ensure that your lips are ideal canvasses for product.

"Always exfoliate lips once a week with a gentle sugar scrub so that products can be absorbed," says Dr. Hazim. Then, once you've sloughed off all that pesky dead skin, your lips are ready for a nourishing balm. But, much like the sunscreen you use on the rest of your body, lip balm must be reapplied throughout the day in order to retain effectiveness.

"Lip dryness is a result of a lack of oil glands, and also a lack of protective barrier," Dr. Hazim explains, adding that licking one's lips or not drinking enough water can exacerbate dryness. Meanwhile, eating, drinking, and wiping one's mouth can remove lip balm and necessitate reapplication throughout the day.

She also says that certain lip balm ingredients, like fragrance and menthol, can cause dryness and lip sensitivity, so it's important to avoid these when shopping for a hydrating, protective lip balm.

The Best SPF Lip Balms

Meet the Expert

Dr. Azza Halim
Dr. Azza Halim, MD

Dr. Azza Halim is a board-certified doctor and anesthesiologist who specializes in anti-aging, aesthetic medicine, and regenerative medicine. She was trained at Northwestern University and is currently based in South Florida.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, fashion, culture, and politics both at Marie Claire and for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.