We’re blessed to live in an era with plentiful options for giving our lips a flush of color. We can pick from products that’ll paint our lips in baby pink, shimmering reds, silvery blues, and everything in-between. But there’s an important step we need to address before we even get around to choosing from the many liquid lipsticks that we ooh and ahh over while scrolling through Instagram.
We’re talking, of course, about lip balm. You don’t need to be a fan of liquid lipsticks to crave smooth, crack-free, and plump lips, but it’s pretty key to nailing the look! And, regardless of your lip color choices, having healthy lips is a goal we all strive for.
The good news is that there are plenty of options for taking care of our lips that go beyond the waxy tube in your pocket. To find the very best, we asked some of our favorite beauty editors and writers for their top picks.
Keep reading for the products they rely on for attaining super smooth lips:
“I love wearing bright lipstick, so making sure my lips are smooth and hydrated is really important. I like to start with the French Girl Lip Polish—it has sugar to gently exfoliate and oils to hydrate—and the peppermint makes my lips tingle a little. Next I put on the Boundless Oil from 8 Faces. I’m obsessed with this stuff. It’s light enough that it sinks right in but is still super hydrating. I wait about five minutes then apply lipstick. Right now Ilia’s deep berry “Arabian Nights” and Rituel de Fille’s cool lilac “Hex” are my favorites.”
— Margaux Anbouba, assistant beauty editor, goop
“I’m constantly misplacing lip products but I’d be devastated if I ever lost my Pat McGrath Labs Lip Fetish Lip Balm. Pat McGrath herself gave it to me at one of her launch events. It’s sold out EVERYWHERE so I was honored to receive one! The packaging is gorgeous—who can resist those chic gold lips? But it’s truly the formula that makes it superior. It’s not too greasy, not too heavy, and works great alone or as a primer underneath my favorite lip color. I’d happily pay full price for this product. When my lips feel super dry, I love to use Clinique’s Pep-Start Pout Restoring Night Mask. It’s super rich and a great rehab after one too many matte lipsticks.
— Janell Hickman, beauty editor, BET Digital
“Confession: I loathe wearing lipstick—and to get away with naked lips, I keep a few products in rotation. I’ve been using Fresh Sugar Lip Polish to exfoliate forever—a tiny dab buffs away flakes and it smells incredible. During the day, the goal is to protect and moisturize, so I always have a Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 25 (sans tint) in my bag. At night, a little bit of LanoLips 101 Ointment goes a long way and restores my chapped lips overnight.
— Adrianna Barrionuevo, beauty editor, Brides
“My favorite lipgloss is Kopari Coconut Lip Glossy. I discovered it last summer when a publicist pitched me the brand and sent over a ton of products. #workperks. Ever since then, though, I’ve been hooked and continue to use it. I love that it’s transparent, and that it’s a gloss that is actually hydrating. A lot of glosses are surprisingly drying, but this one always makes my lips soft—and it’s not greasy either. The formula is perfect. It’s that product I always have in stock because running out would be a nightmare. I normally put it on in the mornings after I’ve done my skin care and gently scrubbed my lips with a damp washcloth. And I ALWAYS put it on before I put on a matte lipstick, too. Makes gliding matte formulas across my lips a breeze.”
— Essence Gant, beauty editor, BuzzFeed’s As/Is
“The first time I got my hands on Oribe’s Lip Treatment was as a gift from a friend. And let me tell you my relationship with lip treatments, scrubs, balms has always been love/hate, well, until I came across Oribe. I used to apply balm throughout my day, almost every hour, and it was becoming exhausting. Fast forward, I found that every night before I went to bed if I applied this lip treatment, it would absorb, hydrate and work it’s magic over night. This product single-handedly cut out any need for excess balm throughout my day. It’s a bit pricey but sometimes the price is well worth it!
— Anaa Saber, contributor, WhoWhatWear
“My favorite lip care product is the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask. I first discovered it when it launched about five years ago, and was instantly a big fan. The brand recommends using it overnight since it’s a little heavier (and more hydrating) than your typical balm, but I find myself slathering it on at work too! It really is one of the only products that leaves my lips feeling soft and moisturized even after the product has worn off. Bite recently launched a maple version with a tiny bit of bronze shimmer that smells and looks incredible!
— Kara McGrath, deputy fashion & beauty editor, Bustle
“I’ve tried scrubs, serums, and treatments for lip smoothing, but they’re all either messy or ineffective so I’ve resigned myself to reapplying lip balm every hour or so. If you want to make your lips look instantly juicier, KNC Beauty’s Lip Mask is like a big glass of water for your mouth. It’s made with plumping ingredients like cherry extract, vitamin E, and collagen that upgrade your lips in less that 10 minutes.
—Julie Schott, beauty writer
“I’m a big believe in wearing a super hydrating lip balm overnight—one that’s still on my lips in the morning. Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 does exactly that: It lasts for eight hours so I wake up with lips that are more moisturized than when I went to sleep. To keep the feeling going all day, I love Nivea A Kiss of Care & Color in Sheer Berry. It’s that perfect stained, something-but-nothing shade, plus lots of moisture”
—Dawn Davis, senior editorial director, Makeup.com