This guide to men’s lip balms includes everything you need to know about one of the most essential, yet overlooked, categories of men’s grooming products, including ingredients to avoid and the best balms for a wide variety of different concerns.
The Short List
Best Everyday Lip Balm: Baxter of California Hydro Salve Lip Balm
Verdict: Your daily lip balm doesn’t need to taste like a mojito, but it’s an invigorating bonus if it does. The flavor of Baxter’s Hydro Salve balm mimics the buzz of the famous cocktail, but its real draw is its base of grapeseed, jojoba and coconut oils. These ingredients work in concert to revitalize and hydrate your lips, and the long-lasting formula will help keep re-application to a minimum.
Best Drugstore Buy: Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
Verdict: Unlike some other drugstore lip balms, Burt’s Bees’ classic Beeswax stick is free of toxic chemicals and unnecessary additives. Founded by the late Burt Shavitz, a famously reclusive beekeeper who lived in rural Maine, the natural formula remained intact after the company was bought by Clorox in 2008. Don’t let that scare you—the ingredients are still all natural, the peppermint tingle is one of the few that lasts beyond the application, and the beeswax contains vitamin E, a natural moisturizer.
Often, the care our lips receive can have an inverse relationship to how important they are in our everyday lives. They make essential tasks like talking and eating possible — but without proper treatment and protection, they can become dry, chapped and sore.
Our lips deserve better, though it’s understandable why we don’t treat lip balm as a grooming essential. It’s a pretty recent invention. In the early 1880s, a doctor from Lynchburg, Virginia, devised what’s credited as the world’s first lip balm, a slow seller that caught wind only when the recipe was sold to another Lynchburg resident in 1912. The buyer, John Morton, owned Morton Manufacturing Company, responsible for the rise of the Chapstick brand.
Since then, lip balm formulas have become more complex and many don’t serve their original purpose of moistening and repairing lips. Chapstick and other mass-market lip balms contain ingredients that can dry out lips and become addictive. They also don’t protect your lips against the elements, especially the sun and cold. “A lot of mass-market lip balms don’t have SPF,” said Madeline Korosec, Men’s Grooming Merchant at Birchbox. Considering your skin needs protection year-round (the sun’s rays are just as damaging in winter as they are in summer) and that SPF balms slow aging, that’s enough to ponder the benefits of your regular drugstore lip balm.
That doesn’t mean you need a fancy balm, though people with dry lips, peeling lips, scent sensitivities or other conditions may benefit from these. Most people can get away using unspecialized sticks, and knowing your ingredients is key to finding the right balm. “Some good ingredients to look for in lip balm are beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter and a variety of natural oils,” Korosec said. “These are considered less harmful and less irritating.” We saved you the searching and label-reading, and found these balms that will moisturize, repair and protect your lips without requiring constant application.
Ingredients to Avoid
Many mass-market lip balms contain ingredients that dry out lips and irritate the skin. This seems counterintuitive, though some additives that provide short-term sensation, like petroleum jelly, provide no moisturizing benefit. Petroleum jelly is water-repellent and seals off pores, preventing moisture from entering or exiting your lips. Many lip balms also contain parabens. These chemicals combat harmful bacteria, but are carcinogenic. Studies have suggested that parabens can reduce testosterone levels and sperm production. Korosec said that some lip balms contain mineral oils and artificial colors and fragrances. These additives may make your lip balm look, taste and smell better, but can also irritate the skin. Look out for chemical sunscreens, like Oxybenzone, in lip balms with SPF. While Oxybenzone absorbs ultraviolet light, it mimics estrogen and can seep through skin and enter the bloodstream, altering sperm production. If your lip balm causes changes your body chemistry, then it’s time for something new.
Best Multi-Purpose Lip Balm: Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Lip Balm
Verdict: Considering the versatility of Dr. Bronner’s crunchy yet chic soaps, it’s no surprise its lip balm follows suit. The synthetic-free formula is filled with essential oils that soothe and repair damaged and dry skin anywhere on the body, and even has properties that heal new tattoos and brighten up old ones. Sounds too good to be true? Consider Dr. Bronner’s “All-One!” tagline, and you’ll find this lip balm is exactly what they mean by it.
Best Lip Balm for Dry Lips: Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25
Verdict: For those prone to cracked lips, dry lips or other lip ailments caused by weather or a rugged lifestyle, Jack Black’s Intense Therapy balm is a lifesaver. The potent mix of green tea, shea butter and avocado oil reduces inflammation, and helps condition and soften the lips without making them glossy. It’s a great version to have when winter rolls around.
Best Fragrance-Free Lip Balm: Aquaphor Lip Repair
Verdict: Not everyone wants their lip balm to smell like mojito, acai, or peppermint. For the fragrance-averse, Aquaphor’s Lip Repair is one of the few mass-market balms that’s both scentless and paraben-free. Designed for sensitive lips, the chamomile and shea butter base soften things up while sealing in moisture to prevent dryness.
Best Anti-Aging Lip Balm: Task Essential Lip Ace
Verdict: Neglect your lips for too long, and they’ll age faster than the rest of you. Task’s Essential Lip Ace helps reverse damage caused by perpetually dry lips, and the Swiss company’s formula firms and smooths lips with the help of oxygen and vitamin B5. The plumping properties of mustard sprout extract will help lend your lips a natural fullness.
Best Lip Balm with SPF: Supergoop! Fusion Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 30 – Acai
Verdict: Consider this the ideal beach day lip balm: Supergoop!’s powerful SPF level will protect your lips from harmful UV rays. Unlike many SPF lip balms, it doesn’t contain oxybenzone, so you can apply without fear.
This definitive guide to the best shampoo for men covers everything you need to know before buying your next bottle, including ingredients to avoid and the best brands for different types of hair. Read the Story