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    15 Best Lip Balms to Heal Your Dry, Chapped Lips, According to Dermatologists

    Experts explain how to find a lip moisturizer that actually heals the skin.

    best lip balms and moisturizers
    Courtesy of brands

    Dry, chapped lips are annoying any time of year, but the problem becomes more prominent in the fall and winter. Thanks to frigid temps and less humidity in the air, any natural moisture in your lips simply evaporates, leaving you with dry skin, flaking, or even cracks.

    “Unlike the rest of the skin which has a thick stratum corneum (dead cell layer) for extra protection, the lips do not, so they are even more prone to winter dryness,” explains Heidi Waldorf, M.D., founder of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics and associate clinical professor at the Icahn School of Medicine of Mount Sinai University.

    Beyond seasonal changes, your dry lips may also be a side effect of certain medications, like antihistamines (common if you have allergies) or isotretinoin (used for severe acne), explains Meghan Feely, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey and New York City who serves as a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology. “There is also a condition called allergic contact cheilitis, which can occur secondary to the use of certain toothpastes, cosmetics, and other ingredients in personal care products,” she adds.

    As tempting as it may be, the last thing you want to do is lick or wet your lips to try and find relief, says Dr. Waldorf. This will actually makes things worse, since that moisture will also evaporate and leave you feeling drier.

    That’s where a hydrating lip treatment comes in. Chances are, you have several lip balms tucked away in your bag, desk, or bedside drawer that were forgotten about because they simply didn’t work—so keep the following tips in mind when you’re on the hunt for one that will heal your lips fast.

    How to choose the best lip balm for dry, chapped lips

    Choose soothing ingredients: Both Dr. Waldorf and Dr. Feely say to look for products containing occlusive ingredients, which create a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss. Petrolatum, silicone, squalene, lanolin, shea butter, and waxes all fit the bill. Humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin (which pull water into the skin like a sponge) are also helpful. A mild steroid, such as 1% hydrocortisone, can reduce inflammation if your lips are in pain.

    Steer clear of irritants: While cooling agents like camphor and menthol feel good upon contact, they “will sting and aren’t necessary to heal or improve lips,” says Dr. Waldorf. Exfoliating ingredients (like salicylic acid or physical granules in scrubs) should also be avoided if your lips are chapped, since it won’t fix the underlying problem and can make your lips feel raw. Plumping ingredients like capsaicin aren’t a great idea as they will cause swelling.

    Mind your reaction: Even some traditionally helpful ingredients, like beeswax, can cause allergic reactions in people, says Dr. Feely. Lanolin, peppermint and coconut oils, propylene glycol, fragrances, dyes, and more can also stir irritation, so if you feel that your lip balm is making things worse, it might be time to see your derm.

    Know when to see a doctor: “If you have just a patch or spot of ‘chapped lips’ that is persistent, don’t assume it is just dryness,” cautions Dr. Waldorf. “In that case, you could have an actinic keratosis—a precancerous skin condition caused by excessive sun.” A lip balm that contains SPF can help protect you from harmful UV rays.

    Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to find a lip balm that works for you. Here, expert-approved and top-rated options that will take your lips from dry and chapped to smooth and supple.

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    SkinFix Barrier+ Lip Repair Balm

    This balm is so good, it won as the “best lip treatment” in our 2020 Healthy Beauty Awards. “This is a great everyday repair balm,” says board-certified dermatologist Heather Woolery-Lloyd, M.D., director of ethnic skin care for the University of Miami Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery. “It works well for chapped lips and has that hydrating, soothing action because it contains protective petrolatum as well as coconut and jojoba oils.”

    Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly

    Good ol’ Vaseline is a dermatologist favorite due to its simple formula of 100% petroleum jelly. It’s affordable, great for sensitive skin types, and gets the job done. You can also use it as a preventive treatment: Slather this on your lips if you know you’re going to be spending lots of time outdoors in colder temps—say, before you head out skiing or hiking—to keep your skin protected from windburn.

    Aquaphor Lip Repair
    $2.99 (30% off)

    Aquaphor is a go-to for a reason. It contains glycerin to draw in moisture, shea butter and beeswax to protect, chamomile essence to soothe dryness and cracks, as well as castor seed oil for additional hydration. What’s more, Aquaphor is free of fragrances, dyes, and preservatives, so it’s a great option if you have sensitive lips.

    4 First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy
    $10.20 (15% off)

    This nourishing formula is enriched with colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and glycerin for the ultimate soothing and smoothing trifecta, in addition to hyaluronic acid and squalane for extra moisture. The lip balm feels a bit thicker upon application, but quickly absorbs into the skin to plump and hydrate. The best part? It’s free of potentially skin-drying alcohol and irritating colors or fragrances. 

    5 Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25

    With more than 7,900 reviews and 4.7-star rating on Amazon, it’s clear that Jack Black has done something right with this ultra-conditioning lip balm, which includes beeswax, shea butter, green tea extract, lanolin, cocoa seed butter, and SPF 25. One reviewer raved: “I applied a very small amount and my lips got much better after three days. I never had severely dry lips but still it was a huge difference after I applied it, and the total healing time was about a week. If you have constantly dry lips you have to try it.”

    6 Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1

    This classic lip balm from Kiehl’s feels more like a light oil than your traditional Chapstick. It’s comes out solid from the tube, but immediately melts into the skin once it hits your lips. Infused with skin-protecting petrolatum and squalene, soothing aloe vera, and nourishing vitamin E, this simple balm will leave lips feeling softer in no time.

    7 ChapStick Total Hydration Tinted Moisturizer Lip Balm
    $3.97 (20% off)

    Chapstick’s tinted lip moisturizer is a total winner for those looking to amp up hydration without the fuss of an extra lip color. The extremely nourishing formula is packed with coconut, argan, rosehip, and jojoba oils for a smooth and creamy application, while shea butter seals moisture into place. The best part? It’s available in a range of flattering and diverse shades—from warm nude to dreamy merlot.

    8 Fix My Skin Healing Body Balm

    “Fix My Skin lip balm (or the larger balm) is ideal for irritated chapped lips because it contains 1% hydrocortisone, a mild steroid, to reduce inflammation,” says Dr. Waldorf. The fragrance-free formula also contains occlusive agents like shea butter and beeswax, and can also be used to soothe skin conditions like eczemapsoriasis, or even annoying insect bites.

    9 RMS Beauty Tinted Daily Lip Balm

    Another 2020 Healthy Beauty Award winner, “this is like a love child of a lipstick and a lip balm,” says Jessica Morse, clean beauty expert and founder of Bare Beauty. “The color is beautiful and lasts for hours, and it is truly moisturizing.” Choose the untinted version for a classic balm or one of the three natural shades for a nice pop of color—all of them contain jojoba and cocoa seed butter for lasting hydration.

    10 Coola Suncare Liplux Sport Lip Treatment SPF 30

    Yoram Harth, M.D., California-based board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDacne, recommended this sun-safe pick in our top lip balms with SPF list. It contains moisturizing raspberry, shea, and avocado fruit butters, as well as nourishing and protective vitamins and antioxidants. It glides on smooth, and instantly hydrates a parched pout.

    11 Bag Balm Skin Moisturizer

    For severely chapped lips, Dr. Waldorf recommends Bag Balm because it contains occlusive ingredients like petrolatum and lanolin with an antiseptic preservative. It “seals lips well overnight,” she says. What’s more, you can use Bag Balm on any part of your body that is dry, chafed, or cracked. Dr. Waldorf says it’s especially great for chapped edges on the nose when you’ve been sneezing or blowing into tissues frequently.

    12 Caudalie Lip Conditioner

    Dr. Waldorf also likes this pick from Caudalie since it’s “soothing and moisturizing,” thanks to shea butter, beeswax, several plant oils, and grapeseed extract. Not only does it repair and protect dry, chapped lips, but it’s also a nice beauty treatment on its own. If you find your lip color never glides on smoothly, apply this balm 10 to 15 minutes beforehand to ensure a smooth and even application.

    13 Kopari Coconut Lip Glossy

    This coconut oil-based balm-gloss hybrid is the perfect product for those that like a bit of sheen while treating their lips. Shea butter and squalane reinforce hydration for a smooth, nourished pout—all while excluding parabens, silicones, and iffy chemicals. The vegan, cruelty-free formula also never feels sticky.

    14 Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15

    A cult favorite, this hydrating lip treatment from Fresh earns a stamp of approval from Shari Marchbein, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine. It’s super nourishing due to its blend of plant oils, including: castor seed, grapeseed, avocado, wheat germ, apricot, jojoba, and more. Beeswax prevents moisture loss, while SPF 15 protects your lips from the sun. A great option for those who want something a bit more luxe, this lip treatment also smells slightly lemon-y to perk you up.

    15 Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask

    If you prefer a treatment that will rejuvenate dry, chapped lips as you snooze, you have to try this agave-based recovery lip mask from Bite Beauty. It’s infused with medical-grade lanolin, jojoba and olive oils, and beeswax to heal, moisturize, and protect overnight. The super thick formula melts down nicely, and a little goes a long way for healthier lips come morning.

    Additional reporting by Krissy Brady

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