I'm an Unapologetic Lip Balm Snob—These Are the Only Ones I Recommend to Friends



You could say I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to ineffective lip balms. (Ironically, some of the most "iconic" or "best" lip balm brands have been the most underwhelming offenders.) Perhaps, it's because I'm a native Minnesotan who endured years of below-freezing temperatures (and perpetually chapped, sucked-dry lips), but I have annoyingly high standards when it comes to lip balms and reviewing their *actual* efficacy. I mean, how many times have you applied a lip balm from a well-known brand only to become confused and irritated 10 minutes later when your lips feel thirstier and more sandpapery than they did to begin with? It's an unfortunate yet common phenomenon, and regardless of price, brand name, or fancy ingredients, certain lip balms just work 10 times better for 10 times longer than others. 

Being the unapologetic lip balm snob that I am, I've tried hundreds of the best salves, balms, tubes, and sticks on the market, and it's actually quite shocking how few really get the job done. So I've whittled down your thousands of choices to the top 11 I consistently recommend to my friends and family. From a few new finds that have served me well since moving to dry, hot climates like Los Angeles and Tucson to my trusted standbys I've used since my high school and college days in Minnesota and Wisconsin, below you'll find all of my editor-approved lip balm brands and, because I can't stop just there, some of my other favorite beauty products from said brands. Keep scrolling! 

Augustinus Bader The Lip Balm

You heard it here first—lip balm is Augustinus Bader's newest skincare foray, and let me just tell you… This stick of magic is good. I was visiting my parents near Tucson, Arizona, when I tried a sample from the brand ahead of the launch, and in all honesty, I had low expectations. Although many have tried, pretty much all lip balms ultimately fail to heal and resurface my cracked, completely dehydrated desert lips. I applied one quick slick of this lip balm in the morning, and I kid you not, I didn't have to re-up until right before bed. This lip balm has a nice, silky finish with zero stickiness, and I love knowing that AB's signature ingredients—TFC8 and oils from allergen-free sources like sunflower, avocado, grape, and olive—are providing an extra hit of TLC. 

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Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Treatment Lip Balm

I know this is a roundup of 11 lip balms, but if I had to whittle this edit even smaller, like to my top three, this cult-classic intensive formula from Fresh would most certainly be in the mix. Sugar (which helps bind moisture to your lips), sea fennel, and orange extract work in harmony to hydrate your pout for a full 24 hours (a claim I can vouch for!), and the unique mix also helps iron out wrinkles and lines so your pout looks fuller and plumper to boot. 

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Rosebud Perfume Co. Strawberry Lip Balm

Another projected member of my chosen lip balm trio? This OG best seller from Rosebud Perfume Co. It's affordable, it smells like juicy, fresh-picked strawberries, and I've been using it and recommending it to all of my friends since high school. The recipe is simple: pure, surgical-grade petroleum jelly, lanolin, white beeswax, and the brand's trade-secret strawberry flavor. 

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Bite Beauty Agave+ Daytime Vegan Lip Balm

Yes, this lip balm is another personal favorite, but I've interviewed so many celebs and models who cite it as their go-to lip quencher as well. Bite Beauty specializes in all things lips, so it's really no surprise this delicious little balm moisturizes and nourishes with unparalleled talent. It has the most addicting vanilla-orange scent (IYKYK), and the luxe blend of agave nectar, mongongo oil, and cocoa butter keep lips topped up with essential fatty acids and vitamins. 

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Glossier Balm Dotcom

No article highlighting the best brands of lip balm could ever be complete without Glossier. Balm Dotcom is practically legendary, and while the castor oil-, beeswax-, and lanolin-spiked formula provides supreme shine and hydration, the nine whimsical flavor profiles give us a kick of Lip Smacker nostalgia we really appreciate. My personal faves are Birthday (which has a touch of sparkle), Mint, and the newest member shown above, Wild Fig. 

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Tata Harper Be Adored Tinted Anti-Aging Neuropeptide Lip Treatment

For those of you looking for one of the all-time best lip balms that's also organic and natural, I highly recommend Tata Harper's selection. I'm partial to this raspberry-tinted number called Be Adored, but there's also a non-tinted version called Be True that boasts all the same lip-loving perks and ingredients like high-quality oils from olive and apricot and other key hitters like green tea–seed oil, alfalfa extract, and açaí fruit oil. 

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Nars Afterglow Lip Balm

I don't know if I've gone a day in my life without applying one of Nars's stunning Afterglow Lip Balms since I first discovered them a year or two. Yes, they keep your lips smooth, dewy with moisture, and shiny, but the subtle kiss of color they impart depending on your shade du jour is so, so pretty. It's the perfect extra touch whether you're wearing it bare or on top of another lip color. I love Orgasm and Deep Throat the best. 

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Burt's Bees Moisturizing Lip Balm 

I've been a Burt's Bees chapstick girl since middle school, and my nostalgic infatuation with the famous lip balm brand has yet to wane. Its trademarked mix of responsibly sourced beeswax, cocoa butter, and coconut oil keeps your risk for painful chap and peeling at bay, but the flavors are equally addicting. Everyone needs at least one cherry chapstick in their arsenal, and we love this Wild Cherry one, in particular. (Though, the Original, Honey, Vanilla Bean, and Pomegranate are also known crowd favorites.) 

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Apa Beauty Lush Lip Balm

This is a new obsession. I'd been a fan of Apa's unique collection of whitening lip/mouth/teeth products for years, so I was chomping at the bit to try this luxurious lip balm. The brand did not disappoint! Not only is the packaging gorgeous—I'm a sucker for pretty pots and jars—but the formula also really, really performs. I especially love to use it as a moisturizing product-binding pregame before I apply lipstick, lip stain, or gloss. It's the perfect base. Oh, and if you're someone who likes a touch of minty-cool freshness in your balms, you'll love the lightly tingly combination of peppermint oil anchored by shea butter, jojoba, and sweet almond oil. 


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Indeed Labs Hydraluron+ Volumising Lip Treatment

I only just tried this hydrating and volumizing lip balm from Indeed Labs a few weeks ago, but considering how sweetly it's treated my lips while I've been residing in the desert, it's sure to be a new staple. I'm always a fan of anything that gives my lips a little jolt of plumping action (as this one does), but I can't stand formulas that sting or burn or that leave my lips feeling dry and tight. Ultra-filling spheres, pomegranate sterols, coffee, tea, and tropical fruit extracts keep things dewy, tight, and pillowy. Plus, the subtle sheen is so flattering. 

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Weleda Skin Food Lip Butter

This handy Swiss-made lip balm is an extension of the brand's beloved Skin Food line, and it's just as rich, decadent, and effectively hydrating as the rest of the Weleda family. (Fun fact: the brand has been around for over 100 years!) A little of this stuff goes a long way, which makes the $7 price point all the more alluring. The ingredient roster features key botanical MVPs like sunflower-seed oil, chamomile, and calendula.

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