Your skin can take a major hit during the cold weather season. When cracked lips become more of a regular occurrence, it makes sense that the best hydrating lip balms would become your go-to product. The dry winter air means your skin care routine probably needs a moisturizing boost to help combat flaky or parched, flaky skin. That includes chapped lips, which can feel irritated or painful or even result in bleeding. So, it’s a good idea to have a couple of go-to, nourishing lip balms in your bag. SELF spoke with dermatologists to learn more about their favorite lip balm products, and how to choose the best one for you.
What makes a lip balm hydrating?
“Lip balms can deliver a variety of moisturizing agents, ranging from shea butter and squalane to hyaluronic acid,” Audrey Kunin, MD, a dermatologist and the founder of DERMAdoctor tells SELF. “Ideally, in addition to hydrating [the skin], a lip balm will also help repair dry lips. This can involve the inclusion of mild exfoliating ingredients (think AHAs or PHAs) that help lift away dead or dry skin, or ceramides that repair the natural skin barrier.” Additionally, an occlusive ingredient, like petrolatum or shea butter, will protect the lips and help them retain moisture, Nicole Hayre, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of the Cosmetic Dermatology Center in McLean, Virginia, tells SELF.
What are some hero ingredients to look out for in lip balms?
When shopping for the best hydrating lip balms, Dr. Hayre recommends looking for products with “antioxidants such as vitamin E or vitamin C, and some hyaluronic acid to aid in hydration.” In addition to the ceramides, petrolatum, squalane, and shea butter mentioned above, Dr. Kunin adds that lip balms with glycolic, lactic, or lactobionic acids are also good to take note of in the ingredient list. As for your morning routine, Dr. Hayre recommends using an SPF lip balm during the day, which should contain “zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to further protect the lips from damage.”
What is the difference between lip balms, lip oils, and lip masks?
With so many lip products to choose from, you might be struggling to understand what to use and when. Keep this in mind, per Dr. Hayre: “A lip oil is oil-based and penetrates into the lip whereas a lip balm is a wax-based product that is more occlusive,” she explains. “Masks are thicker than balms. While oil-based may sound better initially, it is actually the occlusive properties of the balms and masks that prevent transepidermal water loss and help to keep the lips moist.” Simply put, transepidermal water loss is the amount of water that evaporates from the surface of your skin, which can contribute to overall dryness.
Now it’s time to get your lip balm on. Below, we’ve rounded up the best lip balms to keep your skin healthy and hydrated, according to dermatologists, customer reviews, and testers from our Healthy Beauty Awards.