Lip balm preference is extremely subjective. Do you like your balm in the form of a stick, a pot, or a tube? Do you prefer it gooey? Waxy? Cooling to the touch? Or is a wet blanket of gleaming gloss more to your liking? That said, what most good lip balms have in common are the ingredients. Shea butter is huge, of course, as is cocoa butter, and then there’s a long list of oils (coconut, olive, chamomile, argan, and so on). Below, we’ve rounded up 16 of our favorite balms with high-quality ingredients, with enough variety in texture, forms, and shape to satisfy just about everybody.
For the Minimalist
When Chic Matters Almost as Much as Clean
Sofia Coppola is a fan of this shea nut oil, olive oil, and beeswax concoction — and Cap Beauty and Goop have both given it high marks. Its variety of shades — from French Melon to Persimmon to the pale gold Fete — offers something for every skin tone, but it’s also available sans color.
If You Want More Than a Little Tint
If a lip balm and a lipstick had a baby, this cushiony formula would be it. Depositing a little more pigment than most tinted balms, its eight shades range from shimmery sand to a deep wine. Can’t decide what you want? Creator Gran also makes sheer versions where all you have to do is choose between cinnamon and peppermint flavors.
If Your Lips Are Sensitive
After years of seeing patients experience adverse reactions from drugstore ointments, Seattle dermatologist Heather Rogers created this occlusive salve. Made of castor seed oil, caster wax, and glycerin, it feels (and looks) like a petrolatum-free version of Vaseline.
The Super-Slippery One
Created by spa guru Susanne Kaufmann, this stick feels so slippery, it’s surprising that it doesn’t come in the form of a butter that you swipe out of a jar. Never fear — despite its soft outer layer, the formula (made of jojoba and castor seed oil and bees wax) is quite sturdy. It will not squish into mush or break off into your hands.
The One That Also Tints Cheeks
If You Want to Soothe Your Lips and Your Mind
The formula contains not one modicum of tetrahydrocannabinol (a.k.a. THC), nor is it made from weed. But the hemp-derived CBD in this balm imparts a comforting sense of calm, and all three scents — cocoa, peppermint, and rose — are so good that you’ll probably want to take a deep whiff every time you apply it.
The One That’s Incredibly Rich
For the Bourbon Lover
If You’re Obsessed With Candles
The Slick One
The One That Helps With Lip Lines
It probably takes at least a few weeks for the hyaluronic acid in this stick to actually diminish lip lines, but it certainly makes lips feel plumper the minute you swipe it on. Maybe it’s the tri-peptides working over time at boosting collagen production, or the violet leaf extract’s antiseptic properties providing that slight tingle. Comes in an untinted version, too.
If You Want Shimmer
If You Can’t Give Up Your Gloss
It comes in a tube, is applied with a wand, and makes lips look glossy — so you’d think it would be called a gloss and not a balm. But the shea and mango seed butters give it a distinctly smooth, whipped, non-lip-gloss feel. As a bonus, the sheer pale pink shade, called Hint Hint, works on every skin tone.
The Classic We Can’t Quit
There’s lots of reasons why this beeswax balm has stood the test of time. It instantly soothes lips with the mildest undercurrent of peppermint. It isn’t shiny, glossy, or waxy. And a $9 for four, it’s still the best deal in town. I have one in my car, one in my purse, one on my bedside table, and one in nearly every jacket I wear.
If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.