The 16 Best Lip Balms of 2023

Aquaphor Lip Protection + Sunscreen is our top pick.

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Lip Balms

Travel & Leisure / Kevin Liang

Whether you’re headed to a sandy beach or snowy resort, it’s important to pay extra attention to your skin when traveling — and that includes your lips. “A dry environment, which includes an arid climate but also cold weather (which has low humidity) and artificially heated air, makes the environment lower in moisture,” explained Dr. Dan Belkin, a board-certified dermatologist with New York Dermatology in New York City. The skin on your lips is thinner than the skin on the rest of your body, added Dr. Belkin, and “the lips are often the first area to dry out because of this.”

Therefore, it’s recommended to keep lip protection handy, especially while jet setting. “Lip balms are great for nourishing dry, chapped lips,” said Dr. Asmi Sanghvi, a board-certified dermatologist at PFRANKMD in New York City. But not just any balm will do. It’s important to consider the ingredients. Dr. Sanghvi reaches for products containing castor oil, ceramides, hemp seed oil, mineral oil, petrolatum, or shea butter. Sun protection is also a crucial consideration: “SPF is very important in lip balms, especially if you tend to have dry lips, because dry lips are more easily burned,” added Dr. Sanghvi. 

Sifting through the countless options on the market can be overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed it down for you and identified the 16 best nourishing lip products on the market. Our favorite is Aquaphor Lip Protection + Sunscreen because it’s affordable and contains sun protection as well as dermatologist-recommended ingredients. But, if you’re searching for other options, such as scents or tints, our list has something for everyone.

Best Overall

Aquaphor Lip Protectant & Sunscreen Ointment SPF 30

Aquaphor Lip Protectant & Sunscreen Ointment SPF 30


Why We Love It: The wallet-friendly find soothes lips while protecting them from the sun. 

What to Consider: It can feel a bit thick on your lips.

When it comes to lip balms, a top-quality product doesn’t necessarily have to come at a high price. Aquaphor’s drugstore staple is a rich tube of goodness that proves just that. Its leading ingredient is petrolatum, which is a nourishing element recommended by Dr. Sanghvi. Castor oil and shea butter up the hydration as well, which makes this a great companion for trips to cold, dry climates. Still, it’s equally suited for trips to sun-splashed locations. Broad spectrum SPF 30 helps protect lips against UVA/UVB rays and the damaging effects of the sun.

The balm is preservative- and fragrance-free, so it’s apt for sensitive skin. The clear ointment can be squeezed from the tube and applied directly to the lips via a plastic applicator or transferred to the lips from a Q-tip or clean finger — but if you prefer your product in a tub or stick instead, Aquaphor makes those as well in a variety of sizes. It can be slathered liberally on dry or chapped lips as often as needed.  

Price at time of publish: $4

Size: 0.35 ounces | Scented: No | Sun Protection: SPF 30

Best Natural

Burt’s Bees Moisturizing Lip Balm

Burt’s Bees Moisturizing Lip Balm

Burt's Bee

Why We Love It: This budget-friendly balm hydrates with beeswax, shea butter, and vitamin E. 

What to Consider: Dr. Sanghvi prefers products “that are not directly applied to lips to reduce the amount of friction incurred.”

Beeswax is the hero ingredient in this all-natural lip-softening balm. Other notable additions include shea butter, vitamin E, coconut oil, and fruit extracts — and it’s formulated without parabens, phthalates, petrolatum or SLS. The lip balm, which swipes directly onto your lips, comes in a variety of fruity scents such as pomegranate, coconut & pear, and cucumber mint — or, if you prefer unscented, that option is available as well. It has a matte finish.

Price at time of publish: $4

Size: 0.1 ounce | Scented: Yes, with unscented option | Sun Protection: None

Best Sustainable

Malin + Goetz Lip Moisturizer

Malin + Goetz Lip Moisturizer


Why We Love It: The natural and cruelty-free balm comes in recyclable packaging.

What to Consider: It’s on the pricier end.

Dr. Belkin is a fan of this hydrating lip gel, which uses a blend of fatty acids that offer a layer of nourishing protection. The fragrance- and flavor-free balm absorbs quickly and does not require constant application. Malin + Goetz co-founder Matthew Malin, who has rosacea, eczema, seborrhea, fragrance allergies, and dry skin, formulated this product to be safe for people with sensitive skin. The cruelty-free vegetarian balm is housed in a tube made with PCR recycled plastic. Apply directly to the lips, or with a Q-tip or clean finger, using the squeeze-tip applicator.

Price at time of publish: $15

Size: 0.3 ounces | Scented: No | Sun Protection: None

Best Vegan

Sephora Vegan Hydrating Lip Balm

Sephora Vegan Hydrating Lip Balm


Why We Love It: The wallet-friendly balm comes in a clear version and four tints.

What to Consider: There isn’t any sun protection.

Sephora’s budget-friendly balm is packed with plant-based ingredients such as conditioning avocado and cucumber butters and soothing and softening squalane. It’s vegan and formulated without parabens. The product has a cushiony texture, which glides easily onto lips to moisten and nourish them for a healthy-looking pout. There are three fruit-inspired sheer tinted shades — a raspberry pink, a cherry red, and a berry purple — as well as a clear option. All four have a satin finish. 

Price at time of publish: $5

Size: 0.35 ounces | Scented: Not listed | Sun Protection: None

Best Tinted

Fresh Sugar Lip Balm

Fresh Sugar Lip Balm


Why We Love It: A multitude of shades provide buildable color.

What to Consider: It’s quite pricey.

Fresh’s cult-favorite Sugar Lip Balm offers 12 gorgeous shades — including a clear option — that provide buildable color. Standout hues include rose (a rosy pink), cocoa (a deep brown), and icon (a classic red). If you layer it on, the color payoff is so good you can even forgo your lipstick. Still, its sheerness plays on your lips’ natural color for a flattering finish. 

The balm is named after its standout ingredient, sugar, which is said to have a long-lasting, hydrating effect. Furthermore, cranberry seed oil helps smooth lips while grapeseed oil softens them. Vitamins C and E further protect the lip skin. The product, which can be swiped onto lips directly from the tube, is formulated without parabens or phthalates. 

Price at time of publish: $25

Size: 4.3 grams | Scented: Not listed | Sun Protection: None

Best with SPF

Supergoop Lipscreen Shine SPF 40

Supergoop Lipscreen Shine SPF 40


Why We Love It: The SPF-forward balm also has soothing and nourishing ingredients.

What to Consider: If you want a natural look, the glowing finish might not be ideal.

Whether you’re headed to the shore or the slopes, days filled with outdoor adventuring require sun protection on both skin and lips — yes, your lips can get sunburned! Supergoop’s glossy product brings SPF 40 protection without the greasy, sticky feeling of common sunscreens. Beyond that, it offers all the nourishment you’d expect from any lip balm. Antioxidant-rich grape seed extract helps reduce the visible effects of free radicals, while a blend of shea butter with coconut, sesame, and sunflower seed oils conditions the lips to keep them soft and moisturized. Apply it via the felt-tipped wand either to bare lips for a glossy natural look or over lipstick for a shiny finish. The product is reef-safe and cruelty-free and is housed in environmentally-conscious packaging.

Price at time of publish: $22

Size: 0.34 ounces | Scented: Not listed | Sun Protection: SPF 40

Best Drugstore

Vaseline Healing Jelly Cocoa Butter

Vaseline Healing Jelly Cocoa Butter


Why We Love It: This classic product is enriched with moisture-locking cocoa butter. 

What to Consider: Be sure you’ve washed your hands before sticking your fingers in the product tub.

Vaseline has been on shelves since 1870, and it’s stood the test of time. This more recent lip-specific formula is non-sticky and melts right onto lips to provide long-lasting relief for dry and chapped lips. It’s enriched with cocoa butter to help lock in moisture, which is easily lost in cold or dry weather. The petrolatum-based cream finishes with a natural, glossy shine. It comes in a handy 0.25-ounce mini container, which is easily tossed into a bag or pocket for on-the-go use. 

Price at time of publish: $2

Size: 0.25 ounces | Scented: Yes | Sun Protection: None

Best Scented

Glossier Balm Dotcom

Glossier Balm Dotcom


Why We Love It: Nine delicious flavors helped this do-all gloss reach cult status.

What to Consider: The new formula has key differences from the beloved original.

Glossier’s cheekily monikered Balm Dotcom has risen to cult status. Still, the brand recently refreshed their bestselling formula with some key differences. The multi-purpose balm has gone vegan and done away with petrolatum and lanolin as ingredients. Now, it’s made with castor jelly, which gives the same occlusive barrier sans greasy finish, as well as synthetic beeswax, hydrating vitamin E, and a natural emollient blend. There’s also shiny new packaging with a locking cap (goodbye, purse spills) and an applicator tip.

What hasn’t changed: the delicious scented tints, including birthday (vanilla buttercream with subtle shimmer), mango (fresh and juicy with a peachy-rose tint) and the returning fan favorite, wild fig (jammy and fresh with a slight coral tint). If smells and colors aren’t your thing, the original is fragrance-free and clear.

Price at time of publish: $14

Size: 0.5 ounces | Scented: Yes, with unscented option | Sun Protection: None

Best Splurge

La Mer The Lip Balm

La Mer The Lip Balm


Why We Love It: The velvety texture is so luxurious.

What to Consider: It has a hint of mint, which Dr. Sanghvi said can cause stinging.

To understand why a lip balm could cost $75, take a look at the ingredients. La Mer’s secret sauce for their luxe balm is dubbed the Miracle Broth, a potent anti-irritant made from a blend of sea kelp, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Supposedly, the cell-renewing elixir floods skin with energy, and brings it to its healthiest state. Beyond that, the product, housed in a gorgeous green and rose gold 0.32-ounce tub, has a luxurious velvety texture when applied to lips (the brand recommends tapping it on lightly with a finger) and offers a refreshing hint of mint. The cruelty-free balm is formulated without sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, and more common harmful ingredients.

Price at time of publish: $75

Size: 0.32 ounces | Scented: Yes | Sun Protection: None

Best Moisturizing

ILIA Lip Wrap Reviving Balm



Why We Love It: The balm hydrates instantly and over time.

What to Consider: It’s pricey.

The rich treatment is formulated with moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, castor seed oil, and hyaluronic acid — all of which can help smooth and soften lips. It also has exfoliating properties, as papaya enzymes sweep away dead skin cells for an overall silky feel. The skincare-powered formula replenishes the lips' moisture barrier, helping them stay hydrated over time. It’s suitable for all skin types, but parched lips will find it particularly soothing. When applied directly to lips via the tipped applicator, it finishes with a smooth, clear sheen. Plus, it’s housed in a luxe-looking tube. 

Price at time of publish: $24

Size: 0.34 ounces | Scented: Not listed | Sun Protection: None

Best for Chapped Lips

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy


Why We Love It: It’s packed with healing ingredients to soften chapped lips.

What to Consider: It doesn’t offer sun protection.

This healing balm is a favorite for Dr. Sanghvi. Formulated with plant extracts and fortifying humectants, it hydrates with help from glycerin and shea butter and prevents moisture loss thanks to colloidal oatmeal extract. Other key ingredients include hyaluronic acid, jojoba, and vitamin E. The cruelty-free, fragrance-free gel can be applied directly to lips via the tipped applicator as often as needed. It’s suitable for all skin types including sensitive and acne-prone skin. 

Price at time of publish: $12

Size: 0.5 ounces | Scented: No | Sun Protection: None

Best Glossy

e.l.f. Ride or Die Lip Balm

e.l.f. Ride or Die Lip Balm


Why We Love It: Like all e.l.f. products, this glossy balm comes at an affordable price point.

What to Consider: It lacks sun protection.

The tinted balm stands out for its lip gloss-like finish. It comes in seven sheer shades and smells including a warm caramel color with a warm brown sugar scent, a deep berry tint with a cherry scent, an orange peach hue with a peach scent, and a clear formula with a mint scent. The gel is infused with jojoba oil to help seal in moisture and treat chapped lips, and it’s vegan and cruelty-free. Squeeze the product from the tube onto a clean finger or a Q-tip before applying to lips. 

Price at time of publish: $6

Size: 0.42 ounces | Scented: Yes | Sun Protection: None

Best for Graceful Aging

OleHenriksen Pout Preserve Peptide Lip Treatment

OleHenriksen Pout Preserve Peptide Lip Treatment


Why We Love It: The vegan balm helps restore firmness in lips.

What to Consider: The citrus scent may not be for everyone.

This new lip treatment is loaded with skin-supporting peptides, kokum butter, and mango seed butter to promote hydration and plumper lips. It’s designed to counteract volume loss and help smooth fine lines, which can happen with age, and to restore bounce. Cloudberry oil gives an added boost of moisture, to keep lips feeling their softest for longer. The orange-colored cream can be applied via the applicator tip and has a fresh, citrusy scent and smooth texture. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and comes in recyclable packaging.

Price at time of publish: $22

Size: 0.4 ounces | Scented: Yes | Sun Protection: None

Best Healing

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Lip Treatment

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Lip Treatment


Why We Love It: The ultra-creamy treatment is great for sensitive skin.

What to Consider: The twist cap is not the most secure.

Particularly parched lips can find relief in this handy little stick that’s packed with healing goodness. The ultra-nourishing, ultra-creamy lip treatment hydrates and conditions with key ingredients such as coconut oil, jojoba seed oil, beeswax, vitamin E, and shea butter — all of which work together to help provide a smooth, supple pout. Better yet, it’s hypoallergenic, so it’s well suited for sensitive skin. The waxy stick is cruelty-free, gluten-free, and paraben-free as well. It can be applied directly to lips, which is perfect for on-the-go use because it doesn’t require hand washing first. 

Price at time of publish: $8

Size: 0.15 ounces | Scented: Not listed | Sun Protection: None

Best Overnight Lip Mask

LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask

Why We Love It: It softens and hydrates while you sleep.

What to Consider: The sweet scents may not be for everyone.

Overnight is an optimal time to provide your lips with an extra moisture boost so you wake up with a hydrated pout. Laneige’s bestselling leave-on lip product is designed for exactly that. The treatment — which relies on shea butter, murumuru butter, and coconut oil to prevent flaky lips and vitamin C to protect for external aggressors — is meant to be applied right before bed and left on while you sleep. Another prime time to use it: while you’re on a long flight, since plane cabins are known to dry out skin and lips. The night balm is available in delicious variations including berry, pumpkin spice, gummy bear, sweet candy, and vanilla. 

Price at time of publish: $24

Size: 0.7 ounces | Scented: Yes | Sun Protection: None

Best Plumping

Buxom Power-full Plump Lip Balm

Buxom Power-full Plump Lip Balm


Why We Love It: The balm nourishes, plumps, and provides subtle color at the same time. 

What to Consider: It has a tingling sensation when first applied.

The Buxom brand name is basically synonymous with plumper lips sans needles. The beauty label offers a variety of pout-volumizing lipsticks, glosses — and a nourishing balm, which is the perfect way to treat your lips while adding a little extra flair. Wear it under a like-toned lipstick or on its own. Each of the four hues — sheer pink, mauve, brownish nude, and coral — has a unique reactor that works with your individual pH levels and provides a flattering custom shade with a satin finish. Still, it has plenty of hydrating ingredients including pumpkin seed oil and beeswax. The cruelty-free product is formulated without parabens or mineral oil. 

Price at time of publish: $19

Size: 0.17 ounces | Scented: Yes | Sun Protection: None

Tips for Buying the Best Lip Balms

Consider the ingredients

“Lip balms typically rely on what we call occlusive type moisturizers, usually thicker waxes, oils, or silicones that create a protective layer on the skin and prevent water loss through the ‘skin’ or mucosa of the lip,” explained Dr. Belkin. “The main ingredient could be petrolatum (like Vaseline), dimethicone (a type of silicone), or waxes like carnauba wax or beeswax. The FDA has actually cleared certain of these as over-the-counter active ingredients, meaning they are considered safe and effective as a skin (or in this case lip) protectant.” 

When selecting a lip balm, it’s important to read the fine print. “You want to look for the following ingredients: castor oil, ceramides, hemp seed oil, mineral oil, petrolatum, shea butter,” added Dr. Sanghvi. “These are all very hydrating and safe for even sensitive skin.” It’s worth noting, however, that Dr. Belkin said castor oil “has been shown to cause hypersensitivity in the form of allergic contact dermatitis,” so use that one with caution.

Think about the applicator

While some balms can be applied directly to lips, others require application via a product scoop or your finger — the latter is not ideal for certain instances where it’s difficult to wash your hands prior to application. “Most lip products are anhydrous, which means oil or wax-based and not-water based, which means they do not support bacterial growth the way water-based formulations do,” noted Dr. Belkin. “As long as the finger applying the product is clean, these products should be relatively clean and stable.” 

Products applied directly to lips are better suited for excursions where a sink and soap may not be readily available. However, according to Dr. Sanghvi, products that are applied directly to lips can create unwanted friction on the skin. It’s important to consider where and when you’ll be using the balm to decide the most appropriate packaging, and in some cases, you’ll want to invest in multiple kinds of containers for different circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What should I avoid in a lip balm?

    While scents can add an enjoyable quality to a lip balm, certain fragrances and flavors can cause unwanted effects. According to Dr. Sanghvi, common culprits include cinnamon, citrus, mint and peppermint. “These ingredients can cause irritation, burning and make chapped lips worse,” Dr. Sanghvi added.

    Furthermore, “essential oils should be used cautiously because of the risk of an irritant or allergic reaction,” said Dr. Belkin.

  • Does lip balm dry out your lips?

    Lip balms are meant to hydrate, but certain ingredients can actually do the opposite. “Any of the following ingredients can actually dry out the lips,” said Dr. Sanghvi, citing camphor, eucalyptus, lanolin, menthol, phenol, propyl gallate, and salicylic acid.

  • Should different lip balms be used during the day versus at night?

    One important consideration for a lip balm worn outdoors during the daytime: sun protection. “With significant sun exposure a lip balm with SPF should be used,” said Dr. Belkin, “at least on days with a high UV index.”

    Nighttime is ideal for slathering on an extra hydrating product that may be too greasy for daytime use. “I prefer thicker lip balms at night, such as white petroleum,” said Dr. Sanghvi. “This will seal in hydration as you sleep.”

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this story, Talia Ergas used her experience as a beauty editor — and habitual lip balm wearer — to find the very best products for a variety of circumstances. 

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