Best Lip Balms Tested & Fully Reviewed
Dry air, cold winds and indoor heaters that are common during the winter months create the perfect storm for developing chapped lips. For runners and outdoor enthusiasts in particular, finding good lip protection and restoration is essential when constantly exposing your face to the elements. When lips become cracked and dry you may find yourself going through tubes and tubes of lip balm with few results. Finding the best lip balm can be a trying chore as many people react differently to common key ingredients. We put together the following list to give you some diverse options for the most effective lip balms to cure, moisturize and protect your lips year round.
- Jack Black Intense Therapy
- Quality Ingredients
- Coola Suncare Liplux Sport
- Water Resistant
- Supergoop! Fusion
- Effection Sun Protection
Best Lip Balms
1. Jack Black Intense Therapy
This formula features 3 active ingredients: Avobenzone and Octinoxate to protect from the sun and Petrolatum which protects the skin. It also has lanolin which works wonders for some but can potentially cause irritation for others. Other ingredients such as shea butter and avocado oil work to soften dry lips while Vitamin E oil and antioxidant-rich green tea extract protect from free radical damage.
With an SPF of 25, this lip balm protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
The texture of this squeeze formula goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly into lips without leaving them feeling sticky. It seems to stay on well even while eating or drinking.
This product is available in 5 flavors. Although this lip balm is targeted toward men, the flavors and scents are fairly gender neutral. Natural Mint & Shea Butter seems to be the favorite with a hint of mint that is not overpowering. Shea Butter & Vitamin E has little flavor or scent and works well for those who prefer no flavor. Lemon & Shea Butter, Grapefruit & Ginger and Black Tea & Blackberry are a little more divisive. Many users love the flavors but some find they linger in the mouth just a bit too long.
The bright blue tube is small enough to fit in most pockets without too much added bulk. The squeeze top releases lip balm slowly to allow for a more controlled application.
Price on this product may range between 7.50 and 10 dollars a tube. The price seems steep for many but if the typical drugstore brands are cutting it for you, it may be worth the investment. A few users feel disappointed that the small tube does not feel completely full considering the cost but most find that a little goes a long way.
Good results for people with chronically chapped lips
Nice flavor options
Some flavors linger too long
2. Coola Suncare Liplux Sport Lip Balm
Naturally hydrating aloe, shea butter, coconut oil and avocado butter moisturize lips while beeswax locks in moisture.
With an SPF of 30, this balm stays put in sweat and water and needs only be reapplied every 80 minutes for effective sun protection.
The smooth texture glides on easily over chapped lips. It goes on clear with no white residue and melts into lips quickly for easy coverage.
Available in an unscented original flavor or peppermint-vanilla, this sunscreen lip balm manages to avoid the chemical aftertaste. The original flavor truly seems taste-less and the peppermint-vanilla is subtle and not overpowering.
The bright blue tube of this balm is a bit wider than your standard chapstick. It is easy to grab in the bottom of a purse or beach bag but is a bit bulkier for storing in pockets.
Although the tube is larger, at around 12 dollars, it is still one of the more expensive lip balms on this list. If you are a fan of organic and natural ingredients that will provide reliable sun protection, Coola may be worth the investment.
Organic natural moisturizers and antioxidants
No chemical flavor
3. Supergoop! Fusion
Active ingredients Avobenzone, Octinozate and Octisalate protect from the sun. Shea butter moisturizes and Acai provides free radical protection.
Supergoop! is serious about SPF protection and this SPF 30 lip balm is no exception. The organic formula penetrates lips rather than sitting on top providing more reliable protection through an active day.
Users are pleasantly surprised by the smooth texture and glossy finish of this lip balm. It does not feel tacky or sticky and stays on lips for a decent amount of time.
This Supergoop! formula is available in Acai or Mint. Both flavors are subtle, smell good and do not linger too long.
The squeeze tube container is small and easy to apply.
At just under 10 dollars a tube, this is not a good budget option. However, if you are serious about preventing aging lips, this effective sunscreen is worth considering.
Effective sun protection
Better flavor & texture than most SPF balms
Moisturizing shea butter
Not the best for damaged lips
4. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Intensive
Traditional beeswax is boosted with honey and propolis extract to help nourish skin and keep moisture locked in. Colloidal oatmeal also helps to calm and soothe dry and damaged skin.
Unfortunately, this balm does not offer any SPF protection.
The firm balm may require a little warming with the fingers as it can be a bit hard when cold. Once warm it is applied easily and has a slightly thicker texture that sits on lips as it works to soothe and repair.
Subtle mint flavor provides a pleasant and soothing taste without much tingling or lingering taste.
This balm is available in small container to applied with your fingers. It is not ideal for using on the go but it is probably best to keep this pricey balm in a safe place.
Around 20 dollars, this is by far the most expensive lip balm listed. Despite the mind boggling price tag, users who really struggle with dry, cracked lips cannot recommend this enough. Many would recommend using this sparingly when lips get rough and choosing a less expensive SPF balm for day-to-day wear.
Soothing oatmeal soothes irritation
Repairs persistently dry, cracked lips
Great for overnight use
A little goes a long way
Not ideal for daily wear
5. Portland Bee Balm
Those who struggle with allergies and sensitivities love the simple, three-ingredient recipe. This lip balm consists of beeswax from Pacific Northwest bees, organic cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil and organic California extra virgin olive oil. Although this product does not cause irritation for most, the Oregon Mint flavor also contains peppermint oil which some people find to be an irritant.
Unfortunately, this natural lip balm does not offer any SPF protection.
This lip balm goes on very smooth. The large amount of beeswax in this formula gives this lip balm a thicker feel that seems to stay on the lips longer than typical chapsticks. Users find they need to reapply less often when using this product.
This lip balm is available in an unscented flavor that smells very faintly of honey or Oregon Mint. Even the mint flavor is subtle and not overpowering.
The small, standard chapstick tube is easy to store and carry just about anywhere. Some users complain that the label comes off pretty easily but it does not interfere with using this lip balm.
Portland Bee Balm can be found for a bit less than 5 dollars per stick. It is certainly not the cheapest option available but it is made from good ingredients and supports a small business. According to many long-time users, a little goes a long way and they do not need to reapply constantly, so it may have a competitive value after all.
Simple, 3-ingredient formula
Unflavored scent for allergy sensitive
Stays on lips without need for reapplication
Few reports of irritation
6. Aquaphor Lip Protectant Plus Sunscreen
Shea butter moisturizes while petrolatum locks in moisture, creating a barrier from further drying and damage.
This lip balm offers SPF 30 protection and users find that it forms an effective barrier against sun and wind burn. The smooth formula goes on clear and does not leave behind any white residue.
This squeeze tube lip balm has a creamy texture. It is not too gloopy or sticky but goes on smoothly with just a bit of sheen.
Reviewers seem divided on the taste of this sunscreen. While it has no added flavor, some users find the added sunscreen to have a bit of a chemical aftertaste while others feel it is completely tasteless.
A slanted applicator top and squeeze tube design makes application easy and smooth. The bottle is quite small and fits easily in most pockets.
Price ranges on this product but it typically can be found around 5 or 6 dollars if bought in a value pack. It is a great mid-range option if the budget brands just aren’t cutting it.
Moisturizes and protects
Moisturizes and protects
Some users report a chemical aftertaste
7. Banana Boat Sport SPF 50
Active ingredients avobenzone, octocrylene and oxybenzone protect from the sun while cocoa butter and petrolatum moisturize.
With an SPF of 50, this lip balm offers serious sun protection. It is a good option for long runs outside or days at the beach as it is very resistant to sweat and water.
This lip balm is soft and smooth despite its stick formula. It does not feel greasy or too waxy Unlike many sunscreen chapsticks, it goes on clear and does leave a white residue behind.
Most users find this lip balm has little to no flavor. A small minority report a bad sunscreen taste but most are in agreement that the taste is much better than other sunscreen lip balms.
This small standard chapstick container is small enough to fit in any pocket and the bright packaging makes it easier to find at the bottom of your beach bag.
This lip balm is typically around 2 or 3 dollars and is a great bargain for reliable sun protection.
Sweat and water resistant
Does not repair damaged lips
Can cause irritation when used a lot
8. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula
Cocoa Butter serves as an effective natural moisturizer that helps rehydrate chapped lips. Vitamin E oil provides some antioxidant properties to smooth out long-term damage and works with petrolatum create a barrier to lock in moisture. Vitamin E and mineral oil in this product may cause irritation in some users.
With an SPF of 15, this is not the strongest sun protectant on this list but it does offer some protection for day-to-day wear.
The cocoa butter in this lip balm gives it a creamier texture than most beeswax balms. It goes on smooth and clear and does not need to be reapplied too often.
Cocoa butter gives this lip balm a chocolate smell that most users love. It does not have a strong flavor but works well to mask any chemical flavor that is common to sunscreen chapsticks.
The small tube has an oblong shape that prevents it from rolling off the table. It is still small and fits easily into most pockets.
At less than 2 dollars a stick, this is a good budget lip balm.
Oblong tube prevents rolling
Good cocoa butter scent
No chemical aftertaste
Potentially irritating mineral oil and Vitamin E oil
Vitamin E oil in this product can be a divisive ingredient among dermatologists. On one hand it seals in moisture very well but some people react to it and find it becomes an irritant after prolonged use.
With an SPF of 20 this lip balm provides good protection for day to day wear. It stays on well but may not stay on as reliably during activity as a sport balm.
Softlips stands out for its buttery soft texture that melts into lips as it glides on.
This lip balm has a pleasant mint and vanilla flavor that is subtle and does not linger on lips too long.
These little sticks are thinner and longer than a standard chapstick tube. User like the slim design and find them easy to store in a variety of places.
Softlips is easy to find for less than 4 dollars a tube. It is a comforting classic that users love to have stashed all over their home, car and work.
Pleasant vanilla-mint flavor
Slim stick design
Vitamin E oil may be irritating for some
10. Burt’s Bees Beeswax
Burt’s Bees is made with 100% natural ingredients. Moisturizing coconut oil and antioxidant-rich Vitamin E helps to hydrate and soften lips. Beeswax and lanolin create a natural barrier for keeping moisture in and a hint of peppermint oil offers a refreshing tingle and subtle flavor. This winning combination works reliably for many people but some users may develop reactions in response to the peppermint oil, lanolin or even Vitamin E.
Unfortunately, this famous bee balm has no SPF protection. The brand does offer some options with SPF but they do not seem to be nearly as popular as the original formula.
This balm has a smooth but waxy texture that coats lips and leaves them feeling a subtle tingle.
A tingling peppermint flavor adds a refreshing note to this classic balm.
The standard chapstick tube is easy to store in any pocket or purse.
Price may range but Burt’s Bees can typically found for about 2 dollars a tube. Dedicated fans stock up and have these chapsticks stashed all over their home, office and car.
100% Natural Ingredients
Refreshing peppermint tingle
Potentially irritating ingredients
Smith’s Rosebud Salve
SPF: Unfortunately, the Rosebud Salve does not have any UV/UB protection.
Texture: This salve may be a little thicker than some other balms but goes on smooth and buttery and isn’t greasy. It does have a petroleum feel that will be different from even thicker balms that use ingredients like beeswax.
Container: Smith’s Rosebud Salve comes in a small, easy to palm or pocket tin container. The design on the top is simple and charming, and the tin is strong enough to hold-up against long-term use. It is a little more susceptible to heat and may not be very appealing to people who prefer a stick balm or don’t like the mess. The good news it’s also available in a compact tube, so you do have options.
Value: This little tin is a little more expensive than some other drug-store options, but it does go the extra mile to provide great healing protection. You can also use it as a cosmetic cornerstone; it’s great for priming your lashes or eyebrows, highlighting your cheeks, or as a cuticle oil. You can even use it as a soothing cure-all on minor scrapes, burns, and other dry skin.
- Lightly tinted
- Cruelty free and Vegan
- Great for cosmetic and minor medical uses
- Comes in a tube container too
- No SPF
- Melts easily in tin
Criteria We Used to Determine the Best Lip Balms
Lip balm recipes vary widely but the most effective balms have elements that moisturize and repair with others to form a barrier to protect and lock in that moisture.
There is some bad press about petrolatum but dermatologists suggest most of it is undeserved. The biggest concern is really that petrolatum sits on top of the skin. This is great for locking in moisture but it also can lock in other ingredients that may be irritating.
Beeswax is a more natural alternative to petrolatum and offers a more breathable barrier that does not lock in irritants quite as firmly. Some people with honey sensitivities may find themselves reacting to the propolis that often gets mixed in with the beeswax.
Lanolin is a naturally occurring waxy oil produced by sheep to lock moisture into their wool. When extracted for a lip balm it performs that same, effective barrier to keep moisture in and prevent further damage.
Coconut oil is a wonderful natural moisturizer. The addition of coconut oil can add some softness to the balm that allows for smoother application and better-dispersed coverage.
Vitamin E Oil:
Vitamin E is rich in antioxidants and has smoothing properties often recommended to treat the appearance of scars. Dermatologists are a bit divided on its use in lip balms as it can be a relatively common allergen. If you are experiencing irritation with your lip balm, consider switching to a formula without Vitamin E to find out if that is the culprit.
Peppermint oil is a common additive for a pleasant flavor and refreshing tingle. This is usually the first ingredient to try skipping if you are having irritation from your favorite lip balm.
The delicate skin of the lips is sensitive to the sun and exposed most of the time you are outdoors. Some SPF protection for your lips is highly recommended for daily wear but is even more important for runners and hikers who will spend hours in the sun. Not all of our top 10 balms have SPF but it was weighted heavily in the ranking.
A smooth and soft texture is important for application and easy dispersal over the lips. We sought out balms that are easy to apply and do not feel too heavy or distracting.
Added flavorings can be a common culprit of irritation but sometimes it is nice to have a pleasant scent. Flavor is particularly important when it comes to sunscreen lip balms as they tend to have a chemical aftertaste that can linger after application. We looked for balms that have a nice flavor or no taste at all and never feel overpowering or stick around too long.
Whether you are the type of person who brings their balm everywhere or just stashes a bunch in convenient locations around the home, car, or office, the container needs the be easy to store and find. Consider your lip balm habits before deciding how important size and shape is to you.
Lip balms range in price from 2 dollars to 20. Typically more expensive balms feature higher quality ingredients that are more reparative or less likely to cause irritation. For many people, drugstore lip balms work just fine but if you are experiencing persistently chapped lips you may want to save yourself some time by investing in a higher quality balm.
Other Things to Consider
Finding the best ingredients for lip balm can be a serious challenge as many people can develop sensitivities to some of the most common ingredients. In many cases, common ingredients like Vitamin E, Lanolin, and even beeswax can work wonders for one person and cause irritation for another. The best thing you can do is pay attention to your own lips. A product could work for years and suddenly cause irritation. If you note major changes, try switching to a product with different ingredients. You can make an educated guess on what is causing the irritation but unfortunately, in most cases, it will be up to trial and error.
A good way to test whether a new product will be an irritant is to pick a small patch of skin on the top of your hand or inner arm and apply it there before using on an ultra-sensitive area like your lips. This may help predict whether a product will irritate your skin or be uncomfortable for you to use. If you start to feel any kind of discomfort, make sure to rinse off the area thoroughly. Don’t scrub or use anything rougher than your hand or a very soft washcloth to rinse off. And as always, if you have a bad reaction or are worried about a severe amount of discomfort don’t hesitate to seek medical help and call a poison control expert.
Some brands may have variations of their lip balms that are lightly tinted or have a little color in them so that they serve a cosmetic purpose as well. Burt’s Bees has expanded their line to include lipsticks as well as tinted lip balms that are as colorful as they are moisturizing. You may want to decide whether or not you want a tinted lip balm and how it may affect your cosmetic routine before you buy.
Q: How do I know if I am reacting to an ingredient in my lip balm?
A: It is difficult to know for sure if you are reacting to your lip balm, and if so, even more difficult to determine the ingredient. If you are experiencing increased dryness and irritation with your balm, the best solution is to switch brands. Pay attention to common irritants and try to ensure the ingredient list differs in the new balm.
Q: How do I treat chapped lips?
A: Apply lip balm! The lips do not have oil glands and cannot produce a good protective barrier. Applying lip balm creates this barrier so lips can heal. Additional moisturizing and soothing ingredients can help the healing process and improve lip health. Additionally, make sure you stay hydrated as this can be a common cause of chapped lips. If you find that you’re constantly licking your lips because they are dry or you are dehydrated, invest in a good water bottle that you can take with you. Your saliva can actually damage your lips or make them more chapped.
Q: How can I make my lips softer?
A: Chronically chapped lips and long-term damage can make your skin dry and rough and can even be painful. Not licking your lips and keeping hydrated can prevent your lips from drying out, but to get your lips soft again you’ll need to do some extra care. Use a food-safe exfoliator with mild grit or even a toothbrush to gently scrub some of the dead skin off of your lips. Once you’ve removed the dead skin you can use a lip balm or moisturizer to protect and hydrate. Some natural oils like almond oil and coconut oil can be very healing for chapped lips and applying these or an overnight moisturizer before bed can really help.
If you live somewhere arid or have a hard time with the dry air while you’re sleeping, consider getting a good humidifier. This can help keep your skin hydrated throughout the night so you don’t wake up feeling like you could co-star Arthur Byron in The Mummy.
Q: Is petroleum jelly really bad for my lips?
A: There are varied opinions about whether or not products like Vaseline that use petroleum (sometimes called petrolatum) are bad for your lips. When you apply petroleum products they create a barrier that seals in moisture which helps keep your lips hydrated. The problem with this is that it also traps in things that may be irritants for some, like mint or lanolin, so they are then trapped beneath the barrier causing your skin to become more and more irritated. Petroleum is generally okay to use on its own, just be aware of what you use with it and try to be knowledgeable about skin irritants and the things that may put you at risk.
- 6 of the Most Common Lip Balm Ingredients That Cause Dry Lips, Web Article, Dec 22, 2015 ,
- The Truth About Petrolatum, Web Article, Aug 27, 2012 ,
- 3 Common Lip Balm Ingredients That Irritate Your Lips, Nov 11, 2016 ,