Lip balms-1Share on Pinterest

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

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.

Read on for what I found, plus a list of the very best lip balms.

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.”

That’s where lip balm comes in. Lip balms are products made for replacing lost moisture and creating a protective barrier to prevent further damage.

But not all balms are created equal.

“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.

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

Petroleum

“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.

Wax

“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,” Kirsten Carriol, the CEO and founder of LANO, says. “A great, natural, lip-compatible balm will wear off seamlessly and always leave your lips feeling better than before.”

Essential oils and synthetic fragrances

Dr. Sarah Villafranco, founder of Osmia, advises avoiding menthol and all synthetic fragrances, too. And if your lips are irritated or sensitive, she recommends being 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.”

A note on editorial testing

Sifting through product descriptions and customer reviews can be overwhelming. We’re here to make researching products easier.

In some cases, that means having our writers and editors test products to see how they perform in real life. In others, we rely on crowdsourcing reviewer feedback from retail sites.

This article contains a mix of both approaches. Our writer has tried hundreds of lip products over the years, so she selected eight of her favorite balms to start this list off. The other 12 balms are contributions from Healthline editors or picks that stood out from our research.

Pricing guide

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

Best lip balm overall

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.

Pros

  • multipurpose
  • cruelty-free
  • single ingredient

Cons

  • thick texture
  • pricey

Best luxury lip balm

Henné Organics Luxury Lip Balm

  • Price: $$$

Billed as a luxury lip balm, this product from Henné is 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.

Pros

  • made with organic ingredients
  • available in pot or stick form
  • cruelty-free
  • made in small batches

Cons

  • pricey
  • some reviewers dislike the scent

Best lip balm for sensitive lips

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:

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.

Pros

  • made without essential oils
  • long lasting

Cons

  • not sold at many retailers

Best organic lip balm

Ogee Sculpted Lip Oil, Clear

  • Price: $$$

This moisturizing lip oil from Ogee is packaged like a chunky lip pencil. It glides on nicely 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.

Pros

  • easy to apply
  • comes in a variety of shades
  • organic

Cons

  • pricey
  • some reviewers report problems with the packaging

Best multipurpose lip balm

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!

Pros

  • multipurpose
  • can be used for the whole family
  • cruelty-free

Cons

  • can be messy to apply due to packaging

Best lip balm for dry lips

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 an effective lip balm that does its job.

Pros

  • effective
  • cruelty-free

Cons

  • not vegan

Best natural lip balm

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.

Pros

  • comes in several colors
  • can be used on cheeks and lips

Cons

  • pricey
  • not sold at many retailers

Best CBD lip balm

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 right amount of color.

Pros

  • nongreasy
  • comes tinted or untinted

Cons

Best nongreasy lip balm

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.

Pros

  • large size
  • simple ingredients list

Cons

  • not vegan
  • some reviewers dislike the smell

Best soothing lip balm

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Therapy

  • Price: $$

Healthline Copy Editor Jen Anderson calls this product her “holy grail lip balm,” noting, “I searched high and low for a lip balm that wouldn’t upset my incredibly sensitive lips. My lips will get red and puffy if I use anything with irritating ingredients, and a few times I’ve had pretty bad allergic reactions to lip products.

“This lip balm helps so much. It has colloidal oatmeal, which helps soothe my lips when they’re feeling sensitive and dry. When I use it consistently (which I do — I keep one in my car, purse, and on my bedside), I’ve noticed softer lips and less dryness.”

Besides the colloidal oatmeal, other powerhouse ingredients include:

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

Pros

  • cruelty-free
  • hydrating
  • soothes irritation

Cons

  • thick texture
  • some reviewers say it separates in the tube

Best overnight lip balm

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 a bargain, and it’s a favorite of several Healthline editors, who say it’s “amazing” and that they use it nightly.

Pros

  • more affordable than other options
  • moisturizes with ceramides
  • works overnight

Cons

  • contains peppermint oil

Best overnight lip mask

LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask

  • Price: $$$

Another product that works the night shift, LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask is a favorite of Healthline Editor Catherine Clark. “I’ve used Laneige for a long time and it’s lovely and moisturizing (and smells amazing),” she says.

The moisturizing factor is thanks to superstar ingredient 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, and sweet candy. 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.

Pros

  • works overnight
  • comes in several flavors

Cons

  • pricey
  • some reviewers say the results don’t last

Best volumizing lip balm

Biossance Squalane+ Rose Vegan Lip Balm

  • Price: $$

Biossance Squalane+ 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.

Pros

  • adds fullness
  • vegan

Cons

  • some reviewers say it’s more of a gloss than a balm

Best softening lip balm

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.

Pros

  • softens and adds fullness
  • cruelty-free

Cons

  • pricey

Most splurge-worthy lip balm

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 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.

Pros

  • made with organic ingredients
  • hydrating

Cons

  • pricey
  • not sold at many retailers

Most affordable lip balm

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 $5 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.

Chapstick’s Sea Mineral Complex includes blue sea kale and algae. Users credit long-term use with consistently soft lips.

Pros

  • affordable
  • works overnight

Cons

  • thin consistency

Best exfoliating lip balm

​​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 doesn’t include parabens or sulfates.

Pros

  • exfoliates and hydrates
  • makes lips look fuller

Cons

  • difficult packaging

Best simple lip balm

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.

Pros

  • a little goes a long way
  • few ingredients

Cons

  • pricey
  • some reviewers say it melts easily

Best on-the-go lip balm

Kosas Kosasport LipFuel Hyaluronic Lip Balm

  • Price: $$$

Kosaport LipFuel Hyaluronic Lip Balm is a favorite of Healthline Editor Brittany Ladin, who brings the tinted version everywhere she goes. Part of what makes it such a cinch to carry around is the packaging, which lays flat in pockets and purses.

Plus, it copies the natural shape of your lips, allowing the balm to nourish even the hard-to-reach inner corners.

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.

It comes in tinted and untinted versions, though Ladin prefers the tinted. “I use it on my cheeks for some color, as well as my lips,” she says.

Pros

  • easy to apply and carry
  • hydrating
  • comes in several shades

Cons

  • contains peppermint oil

Best tinted lip balm

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.

Pros

  • comes in several shades
  • sheer, buildable color

Cons

  • pricey
  • some reviewers say it’s more of a lipstick than a lip balm

What’s the best lip balm for severely chapped lips?

Look for a balm that’s free of petroleum and instead contains humectants and plant-based fatty acids.

Can lip balm make chapped lips worse?

It might.

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

“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.”

Does tingling mean your lip balm is working?

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.”

No one has to put up with 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 that 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.