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.
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.
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. And you get two for $8 dollars.
Mediterranean-inspired (and -based) skincare brand Maapilim mixes jojoba and sweet almond oils into its proprietary lip balm, which comes in a tiny jar instead of a tube or spreadable stick.
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.
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.
Derived from vegetables and blended with grapefruit, cedar atlas and orange rind, Aesop's Lip Salve smells nice and hydrates the skin. That's all you can really ask for, right? It also comes with an angled applicator for easy use.
Unlike most other drugstore lip balms, meaning lip balms you're guaranteed to find in 7/11 or CVS, Burt’s Bees’ classic Beeswax stick is free of toxic chemicals and unnecessary additives. Founded by the late Burt Shavitz, a famously reclusive beekeeper from 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.
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.
Let's be real: Le Labo's brick-and-mortars can do a number on your respiratory system. There are just so many potent scents inside there. The brand's Lip Balm doesn't swing with the same clenched fist, but it smells nice just the same. Plus, it's infused with shea butter and olive oil.
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.
F. Miller fuses the traditional chap stick form with something more formulated — and designed, I guess. Minimalist all the way down to its ingredients, its foundation comprises beeswax, olive and jojoba oils and peppermint.
It may sound off if I call this the "status" lip balm, but it is. Augustinus Bader is an excellent brand that's been pushed into the mainstream by cameos in Succession and chatter on social media. It's good stuff, though, so don't be lured purely by its popularity.
Here's another Lip Balm that (at least) smells like a cocktail — but not just straight booze, more the accoutrements. A range of fatty acids absorb into the lips fast, meaning you'll be moisturized more instantly.
Grown Alchemist's Vanilla and Watermelon (not a weird combo, I promise) Lip Balm mixes jojoba oil and antioxidants to not only soothe chapped or cracked lips but permanently repair your lips' texture.
This Denmark-made Lip Balm makes light work of chapped or split lips. Its base of nutrient-rich oils and other botanicals mends the lips' appearance but also moisturizes deep down for long-term benefits.
Considering Oars + Alps' Shin-Free Lip Balm comes in a pack of three, $4 dollars a pop is pretty good — like gas station level good. And this version is far better for you: Vitamin E and shea butter combines forces, while the formula proves water- and sweat-resistant.
Kiehl's longstanding best-seller, Lip Balm #1, features a formula comprising squalane, aloe vera and vitamin E. All of these hydrate immediately while restoring deep down over time.