Come winter, putting on lip balm no longer simply feels like a nice thing to do—it's a necessity. During these colder months, you need to moisturize your lips just like you do your face and body. Without regular balm application, you'll be left with dry, cracked, itchy lips that you're tempted to lick for relief (which, by the way, is a bad idea, because it can lead to lip-lickers dermatitis), so be sure to keep a tub or tube of the stuff on hand (or at the very least, floating around in your purse or car console) at all times.
But! Not all lip balms are created equally, so you'll want to find a formula that truly lives up to its hydrating promise. According to derms, a good lip balm will moisturize your lips while sealing them to keep that moisture in and dry air out. This means looking for occlusive ingredients, like beeswax, petroleum jelly, and shea butter, which deliver on both fronts. Avoid anything that could potentially sting or irritate your lips (especially if they're already chapped or cracked!), including flavors, dyes, and fragrances. Additionally, you'll want to steer clear of menthol, which is often included in lip balm formulas thanks to its cooling properties but can dry out your lips.
- Ivy Lee, MD, board-certified dermatologist
To make sure you're using the best products on your pout, Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Pasadena, California is here to share her eight favorite lip balms.
Shop 7 of a dermatologist's favorite lip balms
“I really like the CeraVe ointment,” says Dr. Lee. “That’s a very bland and gentle one. I use it for cuts and scrapes at home, too.” It’s made with ceramides to restore and maintain the skin’s natural barrier, hyaluronic acid to attract hydration to the skin’s surface, and petrolatum to prevent and relieve chapped or cracked lips.
“I’ve noticed that a lot of my patients really like lip balms with a little bit of color, so the Burt’s Bee’s ones are very popular,” says Dr. Lee. This tinted lip balm is available in four shades and contains shea butter and botanical waxes to hydrate and soothe lips for up to eight hours.
“In terms of lip balms with sunscreen, I’m a big fan of the one from Elta MD,” she says. It uses zinc oxide to provide mineral protection from UVA and UVB rays. It’s also made with glycerin to provide moisture retention and skin conditioning; vitamins C and E to protect against environmental damage; and Hydromanil, a compound that provides immediate and long-lasting moisturization.
For another no-frills option, Dr. Lee loves Aquaphor Lip Repair. It uses a blend of vitamins, shea butter, and chamomile to soothe lips, seal in moisture, and prevent dryness—all while delivering a subtle hint of glossy shine.
If you want something with sun protection (which is always a good idea), Dr. Lee recommends Aquaphor Lip Repair Stick SPF 30 ($4), which uses chemical sun blockers to protect the lips from UV rays while vitamins and shea butter keep them smooth and cushiony.
Dr. Lee also loves the tinted lip balms from Fresh (our editors swear by them, too). They’re available in 12 shades and are made with sugar, which acts as a humectant to provide long-lasting hydration while conditioning, nourishing, and softening the skin. Plus, the formula includes protective vitamins C and E, soothing cranberry seed oil, and softening grapeseed oil.
Another great chemical SPF lip balm is this one from Supergoop! It’s clear and glossy, and made with a blend of grape seed extract, shea butter, coconut oil, sesame oil, and sunflower seed oil to protect, nourish, condition, and moisturize the lips.
“Among my younger patients, eos is very, very popular because it has this little cute packaging,” says Dr. Lee. Plus, it comes in a ton of fun flavors like strawberry sorbet, toasted marshmallow, and vanilla mint (note: if you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation, opt for a flavorless option). It’s made with nourishing ingredients like sunflower seed oil, beeswax, coconut oil, jojoba seed oil, shea butter, and more to leave your lips soft and cared for.
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