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Chapped lips have been a persistent skin care woe of mine since I was a kid. I’ve always blamed it on the dry climates I live in, and I slather on various lip products to keep them from getting really terrible.

But, whatever the reason, dry lips were just my normal. It wasn’t until I accidentally stumbled onto a truly effective lip product that I realized this was a problem that could be solved.

To find out the real culprit behind chronically chapped lips and whether there’s any truth to those beauty magazine claims that lip balms actually dry out your lips (yikes!), I reached out to a mix of dermatologists and skin care company founders.

I’m happy to report that, along the way, I found eight products that have made my chapped lips a thing of the past. Then Healthline editors chimed in to bring the list to 20.

Turns out, I was mostly right about the cause of my dry lips. Typically, climate and weather are largely to blame, along with excessively licking your lips. Even some medications may contribute to dry lips.

Also, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t helping.

“Our current need to wear masks dries out the lips even more,” says Dr. Brent Ridge, the co-founder of Beekman 1802. “The fabric wicks away moisture. And we often breathe more through our mouths when wearing a mask, which also dries out the lips.”

What about the idea that lip balm dries out your lips? As it happens, there’s some truth to it.

“Certain lip balms contain micro-abrasives or irritants that can cause your lips to feel drier, which creates a frustrating cycle,” says Sarah Villafranco, MD, and founder of Osmia.

It gets worse.

“A lip balm with the wrong ingredients can definitely keep unhappy lips in a state of distress,” Villafranco says. “Lip skin is very thin, and once lips get irritated, it’s easy to keep them that way.”

Kirsten Carriol, the CEO and founder of LANO, agrees.

“The wrong balm can absolutely cause further dryness or irritation,” she says.

Problematic ingredients often include:

  • excess wax, which sucks up moisture and dries out lips
  • synthetic fragrances
  • menthol
  • essential oils
  • camphor
  • petroleum
  • silicone

Villafranco advises avoiding menthol and all synthetic fragrances, too. And if your lips are irritated or sensitive, she seconds the need to be careful with essential oils in your lip care products.

“Essential oils that are particularly problematic are mint, cinnamon, and certain citrus oils, like grapefruit or lemon, which can cause trouble when exposed to UV light.”

You can find lip balms just about anywhere, from gas stations to drugstores, but that doesn’t mean they’re all worth using.

“Most lip balms are petroleum based, and they just coat the lip,” Ridge says.

This doesn’t actually address the issue, and as soon as you lick off that coating — and you will — you’re back where you started.

“If you’re using a balm with high wax content, the balm’s oils will wear off fast, leaving you with the waxy layer coating your lips. This can make lips feel tight and suck away moisture,” Carriol says. “A great, natural, lip-compatible balm will wear off seamlessly and always leave your lips feeling better than before.”

Ever noticed a tingling or mild burning sensation after applying a lip product? Some swear it’s a sign that it’s actively healing chapped lips, but there’s more to the story.

“Tingling is not necessarily a good or a bad sign,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s department of dermatology.

“In some cases, tingling may represent inflammation of the skin. In other cases, a fragrance may give off an artificial tingling sensation,” he says. “As a general rule, if you experience anything more than mild tingling or feel any discomfort, you should remove the product right away.”

And be wary of lip products that promise to plump.

“Any temporary plumping is caused by purposely irritating the lips,” Carriol says.

It’s one thing to avoid specific ingredients, but what about those you should actively seek?

“While silicones and other petroleum-based ingredients can help fill in rough patches and give the illusion of smooth skin, they don’t actually moisturize or heal the skin,” says Jenna Levine, founder of LINNÉ Botanicals.

For long-term nourishment, Levine suggests finding products with:

In general, the fewer the ingredients, the better.

“There’s no reason to get fancy with lip products,” Villafranco says. “You’re probably ingesting some of the ingredients if you’re a regular lip balm user.”

Believe me when I say I’ve tried hundreds of lip products over the years. Nothing really worked, so I just kept buying and trying new ones. But I can tell you definitively that the products here are the real deal.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$15
  • $$$ = over $15

LANO Lanolips The Original 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm

  • Price: $$

Back when I was brand new to the singular experience that is breastfeeding, I used a purified lanolin to soothe sore nipples.

Occasionally, in the dead of night, when I was half awake and fumbling through a feeding, I’d swipe some across my lips too. It was kind of thick and gooey, but it always did the trick, and now I know why.

“The molecular structure of lanolin naturally most closely resembles your skin lipids than any other ingredient (natural or synthetic), making it the most compatible ingredient to use on your skin,” says Carriol. “It’s proven to penetrate the skin layers and holds 400 percent of its weight in moisture. It’s also semi-occlusive, which means it’s a brilliant and breathable barrier that lets lips hydrate from within.”

Fast-forward to today, and I’m back to using lanolin pretty religiously. LANO’s 101 Ointment has the thick texture I vaguely remember, but the trick is to use it sparingly and warm it between your fingertips before application.

It’s a wonderfully rich balm that penetrates and seals in moisture not just on your lips or nipples, but also on your cuticles, elbows, knuckles, and more.

I also tried LANO Lanolips 101 Ointment Multi-Balm Minty, which is infused with peppermint and spearmint oils and vitamin E. There’s no tingling or burning, just moisture and a subtle shine.

Henné Organics Luxury Lip Balm

  • Price: $$$

Billed as a luxury lip balm, this product from Henné is wildly impressive. I tried it both in the pot and in the standard stick form.

The formula passed my put-it-on-at-bedtime-for-happy-lips-in-the-morning test with flying colors. It has a very subtle cocoa scent and a low-key sheen that moisturizes and really lingers.

Henné’s formula is 99 percent organic and made with just a handful of ingredients: coconut oil, avocado oil, jojoba seed oil, beeswax, shea butter, cocoa seed butter, and vitamin E.

I noticed the balm in the pot felt a little grainy on my fingertip, which is the crystallizing of the organic butters when the temperature fluctuates. They melt as soon as I rub the balm onto my lips, so don’t panic if the same thing happens to you.

The brand also sells other lip care products, like exfoliants, treatments, and tinted balms.

I like a little hint of color now and then, and the Luxury Lip Tint in the color Bare is pretty close to perfect for me. It’s dewy, sheer, and buildable, and you get a lovely tint along with the hydrating benefits.

While I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Rose Diamonds Lip Exfoliator, it was surprisingly effective. After massaging the sugar-heavy formula into damp lips and then rinsing, I was left with a smooth pucker. Add a quick layer of the Luxury Lip Balm, and I’m all set.

Osmia Lip Doctor

  • Price: $$

I’ve long been a fan of Osmia for its handmade soaps. Many months ago, I found the brand’s Lip Doctor effective for my dry lips when nothing else seemed to be working.

It’s specifically made for sensitive lips, without essential oils or castor oil. There are six simple ingredients, including:

  • lavender-infused organic olive oil
  • organic cocoa butter
  • candelilla wax
  • beeswax
  • organic avocado
  • argan oil

These make for a long lasting, deeply infusing balm that really does the trick. For anyone who consistently has issues with standard lip products, I think this is your best bet.

Ogee Sculpted Lip Oil, Clear

  • Price: $$$

This moisturizing lip oil from Ogee is packaged like a chunky lip pencil. It glides on beautifully and really melts into your lips.

It’s made with a mix of organic oils to combat dryness. Once those are absorbed, your lips are left feeling moisturized with a layer of beeswax and shea butter.

The tinted versions of this balm are conditioning lip treatments in a rainbow of flattering hues. They give you all the perks of a great lip color with the benefits of an ultra-moisturizing oil. Plus, the oversized pencil packaging makes application a breeze.

Ogee’s all about high performance certified organic beauty products. The brand has an impressive laundry list of certifications and standards. Pair those with a lip product that really does its job, and this one is a win.

Hello Bello Everywhere Balm

  • Price: $–$$

This is another product that technically isn’t just for lips. Plant-derived and certified organic ingredients combine in this hypoallergenic balm that can go pretty much everywhere — including your lips.

It’s a skin staple, no question, but I love a dab on my lips for a smooth, hydrated effect.

Yes, Hello Bello is technically a baby product company (and, yes, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are the co-founders), but the Everywhere Balm is worth picking up — no matter if you have kids or not.

Soothing and mild, it’s dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, pH balanced, vegan, and cruelty-free. And the best part? It works!

Beekman 1802 Pure Goat Milk Lip Balm

  • Price: $

Beekman 1802 is my go-to brand for soaps, shampoos, and lotions. Its goat milk-based skin care products are soothing, effective, and completely delightful. So it doesn’t surprise me that goat milk is a great addition to a lip balm.

“In our balms, we use goat milk to nourish the microbiome of the skin cells of the lip and then a combination of organic beeswax and shea butter for sealing moisture in,” Ridge explains.

The brand offers its lip balms in a few fragrances, but my favorite is the Pure Goat Milk Lip Balm. No bells and whistles, no shimmer, no fragrance — just a wildly effective lip balm that does its job.

LINNÉ NOURISH Lip Balm

  • Price: $$$

I’m a big fan of the small-batch freshness and efficacy of LINNÉ’s botanical skin care line, so I had high expectations for its lip balm. Spoiler: The NOURISH Lip Balm delivers.

The blend of mango butter, cocoa butter, pumpkin seed, jojoba oil, castor oil, beeswax, and calendula extract is densely nutritive and buttery soft.

The balm glides on smoothly but stays in place, which means my lips get that protective barrier they need against moisture loss.

I love the untinted version, but the brand also has tinted balms in a dusty nude and a rich berry. The brand plans on rolling out additional tints soon.

Pro tip: Levine says the balms can be used on the cheeks for a natural flush.

LINNÉ prides itself on being a champion of environmental stewardship. According to Levine, the company uses a portion of profits from this lip balm to support wilderness preservation organizations, like the Wilderness Society.

Vertly CBD Infused Lip Butter

  • Price: $$$

I once called Vertly CBD Infused Lip Butter the holy grail of lip balms. It’s a bold claim, but I stand by it.

Maybe it’s the full-spectrum CBD, or maybe it’s the mix of rich butters and oils. I don’t know why this particular lip balm works, but I can promise you that it does.

The name is fitting: Vertly’s lip butter feels rich like a butter. It goes on smoothly without greasiness or shine.

When I’m in the mood for subtle color, I’ll swap the sheer balm for the tinted version, which delivers the ideal amount of color.

The below are 12 more top lip care picks from Healthline editors.

Emu Joy Banish Chapped Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm

  • Price: $$$

This jumbo-size lip balm packs a powerful punch with a simple list of ingredients that includes emu oil as the star of the show.

Alongside coconut oil, beeswax, aloe oil, jojoba seed oil, and cocoa butter, this natural option contains no scents or flavors. It also boasts rave reviews from loyal fans, noting its nonwaxy, nongreasy texture.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Therapy

  • Price: $$

Loyal fans say First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Therapy provides relief and protection to their lips.

The colloidal oatmeal relieves and repairs dryness and irritation. Meanwhile, a powerhouse mix of ingredients teams up to soften and moisturize chapped lips. They include:

  • glycerin
  • hyaluronic acid
  • shea butter
  • squalane

It has a nonmatte finish, giving your pout a slight shimmer. But it’s nonslip, so it’s a cinch to layer underneath your usual lipstick or gloss.

Burt’s Bees Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment

  • Price: $

Burt’s Bees lip balms are something of a popular accessory, particularly during the winter months. You may get more mileage out of your daytime tube of lip balm if you make use of the brand’s overnight intensive lip treatment.

While you catch some Zzz’s, the ceramides, which the American Academy of Dermatology recommends for treating chapped lips, get to work repairing moisturizing skin. They may also protect against dryness and elements during the day, reducing the number of times you need to reapply.

Burt’s Bees Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment is also an accessible bargain.

LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask

  • Price: $$$

Another product that works the night shift, LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask contains nourishing hyaluronic acid. It also contains antioxidants that are meant to help lock in moisture and keep lips soft, smooth, and hydrated long term. Repeat customers say the smell is as sweet as the results.

It comes in various flavors, including berry, vanilla, sweet candy, and the recently released Sephora exclusive, gingersnap. To use, simply apply to lips at night and let your head hit the pillow — customers say they start waking up with plump, silky-smooth skin within days.

Biossance Squalane+ Rose Vegan Lip Balm

  • Price: $$

Biossance Squalene+ Rose Vegan Lip Balm combines hyaluronic acid and ceramides to moisturize and smooth lips.

Customers say it nixed dryness and cracking, leaving their lips looking and feeling as good as new. It’s also cruelty-free.

The balm comes in a tube, so it’s easy to apply on the go and stash in your purse.

Potential bonus: The wakame algae in the product may add noticeable volume to your pout without irritation.

KNC Beauty Supa Balm

  • Price: $$$

If there were an award for packaging, KNC Beauty Supa Balm might win it.

It comes in a cute pink tube with bold red letters. The product also smells like roses.

But the real question is, what can it do for your lips? Quite a few things, actually. Shea butter provides moisture and protection against chapping.

Fatty acids like kukui and moringa oil can leave your lips feeling softer and fuller.

Irene Forte Pistachio Lip Balm

  • Price: $$$

Irene Forte’s Pistachio Lip Balm uses several plant-based fatty acids and oils to help nourish and hydrate dry lips and protect against future damage.

Ingredients include pistachio oil (hence the name), olive oil, vitamin E, and shea butter. The balm is vegan-friendly and may be suitable for people with allergies.

The caveat: At $45, this product is an investment. If you want to treat yourself, give it a try.

ChapStick Total Hydration with Sea Minerals Overnight Lip Treatment

  • Price: $

Previous buyers say this treatment delivers brag-worthy results for a modest price — it’s under $9 for a 0.21-ounce tube. ChapStick’s formula is designed to hydrate your pucker while you catch some shut-eye so you wake up with softer lips.

The ingredients list includes some of the usual suspects for hydration and nourishment, such as aloe and shea butter, but the brand says its secret sauce comes courtesy of the sea.

Its “Sea Mineral Complex” includes blue sea kale and algae. Users credit long-term use with consistently soft lips.

​​Kinship Supermelt Vegan Lip Jelly Mask

  • Price: $$$

This two-in-one plant-based lip jelly mask works double time to hydrate and gently exfoliate the lips. By nixing dead skin cells through exfoliation, lips look and feel softer.

In the process, Kinship’s mask makes lips look fuller, giving your pucker a pleasant plumpness.

The ingredients list includes hydrating hyaluronic acid and papaya enzyme ferment, a gentle exfoliator. It does not include parabens or sulfates.

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Lip Treatment

  • Price: $$

This lip treatment doesn’t contain many ingredients:

  • coconut oil
  • organic jojoba oil
  • organic shea butter
  • vitamin E

That’s it. That’s the list.

And each ingredient has a distinct purpose: Coconut oil moisturizes, jojoba oil replenishes, organic shea butter conditions and vitamin E nourishes the lips.

Customers say it doesn’t require a large application. to leave lips feeling soft and smooth.

Kosas Kosasport LipFuel Hyaluronic Lip Balm

  • Price: $$$

Kosaport LipFuel Hyaluronic Lip Balm is designed to make application a breeze.

The packaging copies the natural shape of your lips, allowing the balm to nourish even the hard-to-reach inner corners. It’s also a cinch to carry around — it lays flat in pockets and purses.

But it’s what’s in the balm that matters most. Hyaluronic acid and vitamin E work together to lock in moisture, providing long lasting hydration. The peppermint oil gives it an uplifting smell.

ILIA Balmy Tint Hydrating Lip Balm

  • Price: $$$

The shea butter in this lip balm by ILIA nourishes and locks in moisture, helping fix and prevent chapped lips.

Seed oil Salicornia (sea succulent) also bolsters and replenishes lost moisture. ILIA gives customers their share of color options.

Choose from a neutral cocoa brown to a richer-but-still-subtle berry shade to match your mood or your outfit no matter what you’re wearing.

No one has to put up with chronically chapped lips. Get out of the habit of picking up a lip product from anywhere, and make a point of checking the ingredients list first. It’s worth spending a little more on a lip product that will really work — and won’t perpetuate that miserable chapped lip cycle.

Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.