Nothing will divide a group of beauty lovers like asking them what their favourite lip balm is. There’s something about its ubiquitousness that feels intimate—it’s the first thing many of us reach for in the morning, and the last step in our nighttime routines. But I, for one, can’t commit to a single formula. From old-school waxy sticks to jars to squeeze tubes to lipstick-worthy bullets, I’ll happily swipe on any new formula that lands on my desk. And while you’re bound to find handfuls of half-used lip balms in every single one of my bags, there are some products I go back to again and again. Here are my MVPs.
Best lip balm for on-the-go
Burt’s Bees Advanced Relief Lip Repair
This unassuming little squeeze tube may look like a run-of-the-mill drugstore balm, but it packs a seriously impressive amount of hydration. Made with the brand’s signature beeswax to condition and protect, as well ultra-hydrating shea butter, jojoba oil and echinacea, it deeply hydrates without leaving a hint of stickiness behind. On a recent trip, it earned its spot in my tightly curated collection by keeping my lips soothed and hydrated for hours through long travel days and cold-weather activities (even an attempt at winter surfing!).
Best lip balm for overnight hydration
Tatcha The Kissu Lip Mask
Hands down one of the most moisturizing balms on the market, Tatcha’s lip mask lives on my nightstand. It contains Japanese peach extract to calm irritation, three rose extracts to smooth and camellia oil to nourish. The thick, jelly-like texture forms a protective layer on lips, which I find strangely comforting, and it’s the only overnight treatment I’ve found that actually stays put throughout the night without absorbing too quickly or smearing on my pillowcase.
Best lip balm for intensely chapped lips
Boscia Cherry Blossom and Bakuchiol Resurfacing Lip Repair
Formulated with lactic acid to exfoliate and smooth, bakuchiol to rejuvenate and plump and cherry blossom to protect and repair, this lip treatment is like a supercharged serum for your lips. It soothes, hydrates and gives my pout an instant glow-up, but it also works over time to banish chapped spots by resurfacing them.
I was initially nervous to try this souped-up balm—Lactic acid? On my lips?—but it’s gentle and delivers on its promise to keep lips smooth and soft. Plus, the lightweight gel formula applies like a dream, sinks in almost immediately and feels nourishing for a decent amount of time, though I guarantee you’ll want to reapply over and over again.
Best lip balm for a pop of colour
Dior Dior Addict Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm in Rosewood
When lipstick feels like a chore but I still want to feel put-together, this balm is a lifesaver. It contains lip-loving ingredients like cherry oil, shea butter and waxes, but it also provides a hint of a tint that lasts a surprisingly long time.
It comes in an array of shades—including Rosewood, a perfect barely-there pink on me—and it gives lips a glowy, plumped-up look. The luxe packaging doesn’t hurt either; I feel incredibly bougie pulling this out of my bag.
Best lip balm for a luxurious vegan option
Glossier Balm Dotcom Universal Salve in Wild Fig
I’ve recently rekindled my relationship with the bestselling Balm Dotcom. I’m not sure why I ever put the beeswax-and-castor oil concoction aside, but the new vegan formula with its revamped applicator is permanently back in my rotation.
Not everyone is a fan of the updated formulation, but I much prefer the 2.0 balm’s thinner consistency, and the slanted tip that makes it easier to apply straight from the tube. I’ve been loving Wild Fig, a tinted addition to the permanent collection that imparts lips with a wash of colour.
Best lip balm for a mess-free application
Fenty Skin Plush Puddin’ Intensive Recovery Lip Mask
This Rihanna-approved formula is a conditioning and plumping blend of coconut, castor and jojoba oils, pomegranate, vitamin E and Barbados cherry extract. It’s thick and well-suited to overnight application, but it’s also totally wearable during the day as it goes on clear with a beautifully glossy finish.
I love that it immediately makes unsightly dry patches disappear and that it stays put through chatty meetings and coffee breaks without getting slick. I’ve even used it on my extra-dry cuticles in a pinch. But the best part is the mess-free, twist-up dispenser that means I don’t have to stick my finger into a jar and the surface can be cleaned easily—genius!
Best lip balm for a plumper pout
Jouviance Plump & Go Plumping Lip Balm
Though it doesn’t come out until April 2023, this guava-flavoured balm—packed with mango and shea butters and vitamin E for hydration, plus hyaluronic acid, plumping peptides and a blurring complex—is worth keeping on your radar. I got a sneak peek and it’s been a favourite ever since. You heard it here first!
$29, jouviance.com. Available in April 2023.
Best lip balm for makeup prep
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask in Sweet Candy
No lip balm round-up would be complete without Laneige’s beloved (and ultra-viral) sleeping mask—and it’s absolutely worth the hype. It contains coconut oil, shea butter and murumuru seed butter, as well as vitamin C and a patented antioxidants-rich complex. Though it’s touted as an overnight lip treatment, I use it in the morning to prep my pout for what’s next, whether that’s red lipstick, a tinted lip oil or a no-makeup day. It comes in the OG Berry scent as well as Vanilla, Gummy Bear and—my favourite—Sweet Candy, with a few limited-edition drops throughout the year.