Originally published 9/22/21
Ahh lip balm. I suppose it’s not the sexiest of the makeup family, but I’ll bet it’s one of the most reached for items in anyone’s stash. And as I mentioned in my post about switching to clean beauty, one of the very first things I knew I had to swap out were my lip products, with a clean lip balm being #1.
While I wouldn’t call it an obsession (that’s really such a strong word) of mine, I have always had a particular weakness for all lip products in general. They have far and away always been my favorite cosmetic, all the way back to Lip Smackers, Village Lip Lickers, Kissing Potion and my first frosty Wet ‘n Wild lipstick (my fellow children of the ’80’s are feeling me here, right?!).
Having dry skin much of the year, my lips are easy to chap, and I’m sadly prone to cold sores if I don’t stay on top of things (one bad sunburn on the lips as a teenager = lifetime of keeping cold sores away!). Needless to say, I’m constantly applying. I’ve got lip balms stashed in my purse, car, various places around the house, my beach bag…I always have a lip balm in reach!
When looking for the perfect lip balm, I need it to:
- Be clean (obvs)
- Preferably have peppermint essential oil in the ingredients – I learned long ago that peppermint was hugely effective at keeping cold sore outbreaks away, so my first order of business was to find a replacement for my previously beloved Jack Black Intense Therapy mint lip balm.
- Have some serious staying power – meaning I need it thick. So many lovely lip balms out there are more like an oil or lightweight gel, and that just won’t cut it. I need old school, Chapstick-style, not-coming-off-until-I-wipe-it-off power.
Below you’ll find my current top picks for clean beauty lip balms, including best daytime, night treatment, multi-purpose, tinted, and best all-round clean lip balm. And new this year, the best balm/lipstick and balm/gloss hybrids!
My CLEAN LIP BALMS ‘It List’ (updated)
Best Clean Daytime Lip Balm (aka purse lip balm)
KOSAS | Lipfuel
Kicking it off with one I couldn’t do without. Great job of sealing in moisture, and while not quite ye olde Chapstick (though I call it my clean chapstick), it feels like butter and has terrific staying power. It also checks the mint box, though for those that don’t like it overly minty, this is actually fairly subtle (for you fellow mint-lovers, I’ve got your truly minty lip balm below!). And the tube shape…it’s simply the perfect container for your purse, wallet or pocket. Baseline (clear) is a staple for me and I use it daily, but the tinted options are lovely for a wash of color too.
Best Clean Overnight Lip Treatment
FITGLOW BEAUTY | Night Lip Serum
I’ve been through many tubes of this now, it’s just that effective (and I’ve tried several overnight lip treatments). I’ve seen the lines that are trying to form around my lips fade away, and the pucker still feels moisturized in the morning. This one I have come to love so much that I gift it, as it’s definitely a splurge for most folks (stock up when sales hit!!). And while it is on the spendy side for a lip balm, I consider it an element of my skincare routine…and since I only use it once a day, one tube lasts quite a long time. Literally checks all the clean boxes too: Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free and Cruelty Free. Definitely one of my favorites for an effective, clean lip balm, and has a cult following for a reason.
Best Clean Tinted Lip Balm
ILIA | Balmy Tint
I’m forever searching for a great tinted lip balm…I find as I’m getting older that I want some color, but not necessarily all of the shininess of my lip glosses. But so many tinted lip balms I’ve tried are not usually very…tinted. Then Ilia’s Balmy Tint walked into the room! This feels like a creamy, buttery lippie that shows as a sheer lipstick. Color is definitely buildable though! And the vanilla scent is DIVINE. I love the shade Memoir which is a warm mauve, and Faded for that 90’s-style brown lip…too good.
Best Clean Multi-Purpose Lip Balm
OLIO E OSSO | Lip & Cheek Balm
Many have tried, but I’ve yet to find a multi-purpose stick balm that feels as good as these. Filled with nourishing oils, these natural lip balms come in a lovely range of shades, and again in a fab container that’s great to go anywhere. My top 2 faves are 6 and 12. No. 6 is a very subtle bronze that makes a great summer highlighter, or in the Spring when my legs are blindingly white I’ve even swiped it up my shin for a bit of color! I’ve even dabbed some on my eyelids for an easy summer look. No. 12 is a warm plum with just a hint of gold shimmer to it…gorgeous and universally flattering. And that citrus smell…so refreshing!
Best Lip Balm with SPF
SALT & STONE | Sunscreen Lip Balm
Finding a clean replacement for my old favorite SPF lip balm has proven challenging, especially one with a minimum SPF of 30. Most SPF lip balms sit in the 15 range, and while that’s ok for the average day it doesn’t cut the mustard for serious sun time. I’ve tested any clean lip balm that I could find that had the higher SPF, and I must say there’s not a lot of options. My guess is the high concentration of zinc presents a challenge for makers: offsetting drying effects, whitecast and the scent of zinc that some folks are adverse to. Most I tried were more of a liquid lip balm, and while lovely and glossy, don’t have the staying power I need for serious protection.
Luckily I came across Salt & Stone’s Sunscreen Lip Balm this past summer, and it became the one-and-only in my beach bag. SPF of 30, very little whitecast (not that I care on the beach), water resistant, reef safe, moisturizing, the price is right ($10), organic and goes on like a lip balm should (think good ole chapstick).
Best Clean Lip Balm for Cold Sores
SAHAJAN | Lip Karma in Mint
For those that suffer from $%#&ing cold sores, a lip balm with peppermint essential oil is key to keeping them at bay as it is known to be highly effective as virucidals. I’m so freaking glad I found this one at the end of the year, and it’s also now ALWAYS in my purse. I’d grabbed the Chai version as a stocking stuffer for my chai-loving daughter, and we loved it so much I grabbed the mint one for me. Super hydrating and feels so lovely on, and the mint version is a mint BOMB.
Along with being a kickass lip balm, Sahajan partners with Plan International’s Because I am Girl Initiative, and every Lip Karma purchased provides one day of school for a girl, so that she can decide her own future! Definitely one of my favorite finds of the year!
Best Clean Budget Lip Balm
TREAT | Jumbo Organic Lip & Eye Balm
There is just something about a big fat lip balm! And you can’t beat the price…that’s a lot of natural lip balm (and organic, no less!) for $13.99. I always have one of these in my purse. Tons of flavors (though not all organic), but the Marshmallow Moisture Stick and Matcha & Mint Tea are my faves. The former is a great emergency moisturizer to have on hand for anything from lips to face to cuticles and smells DIVINE! And the latter is wonderful for on-the-go under-eye depuffing and moisture. I’ve also dabbed it under a stuffy nose…it’s super minty (but also very sweet!), and sometimes I just take off the lid to take a deep refreshing breath.
Best Clean Balm/Lipstick Hybrid
RMS Beauty | Liplights Cream Lip Gloss
So yes, this is not technically marketed as any sort of lip balm. But I’m saying that the texture is definitely that of a lipstick and lip balm hybrid. Packed with soothing botanical butters and lip-plumping peptides, it has the FEEL of a lip balm. It’s also not super glossy…more like a high shine lipstick. Colors are vivid, so don’t think tinted lip balm, no no; you can make the color as opaque (or not) as you’d like. And speaking of color, the shade Rumor is the shade I’ve been hunting for and I’m THRILLED. They describe it as a dusty mauve, but I’d call it the perfect brownish mauve, and I’ve been trying to achieve this color with mixes of lippies and lip liners to no avail. It’s become my go-to lippie!!! One piece of advice…it’s in a metal artist’s tube (love, totally recyclable) which can initially be tricky: squeeze a teeny bit at a time from the bottom until product emerges. I went a bit too far the first time and had to decant what came out into a container (oops). And while it looks small, a little bit goes a loooong way. It will take ages to go through it, even as much as I’m using it! Can’t wait to try other shades, including Bare, which is a subtle pink shade that “reacts to your body’s natural pH for the perfect personalized flush of color”.
Best Clean Balm/Gloss Hybrid
RÓEN BEAUTY | Kiss My Liquid Lip Balm
With all of the hybrids launching this past year, I needed to add in these categories. I am as much a gloss girl as I am a balm girl, so when I saw these I jumped right in. Sooo glad I did, because this lippie is AH-MAHZING. The texture is so unique…it’s definitely a balm/gloss hybrid: ALL the shine of a glossy gloss but none of the stickiness, AND has the cushion of a lip balm (magic?!). So not only are you getting color and shine, but tons of nourishment, protection and hydration from plant-based botanicals that include mango seed butter, avocado, grapeseed and coconut oils. Annnnd it’s a bit minty, which you know is always my jam. Lola is the perfect easy (and sexy) nude, and I’ve got Jude, Dodi and Charlie on my wishlist…I will have them all *insert evil laugh*!
Best All-Around Lip Balm for Dry, Chapped Lips
Kari Gran | Naked Lip Whip in Peppermint
I used and loved the OG tinted Lip Whip long ago and was a big fan. But when it comes to keeping something in my purse, I much prefer a tube, so it kind of fell off of my radar. With the closing of Clove+Hallow last year I was on the hunt for a replacement of their fantastic Lip Mask, and luckily I came across Kari Gran’s NAKED Lip Whip! It’s thick (definitely feels like a lip mask) and nourishing…feels very protective, and has been perfect during the cold weather months when my lips tend to get super chapped. This right here is the clean Vaseline dupe you’ve been looking for, but so much better…more hydrating, more staying power, more minty (though I wish it had a wee bit more! There’s also a cinnamon version if that’s your jam) and more youthful-looking lips! It is in a jar, but this stays on my nightstand to be used first thing in the morning so not a deal breaker. And it lasts through lots of coffee AND breakfast. Definitely my pick for best natural lip balm for dry, chapped lips. A wintertime savior!
A few more fantastic clean lip balms….
These are other favorites of mine that are definitely worth checking out:
- Kinfield’s Lip Rescue – This is a fabulous lip balm, and in fact the only reason it’s not featured above is because this girl likes her minty lip balms MINTY. If they hit this with some more mint action I’d be in heaven. I keep this one in my bathroom and use it daily, so it’s definitely a good one! (promo code HAPPYMEDIUM15 gets LITHM readers 15% off!)
- Ouli’s All-Purpose Beauty Ointment – made from Grecian olive oil, this balm does it ALL. Lips, eyes, hair, cuticles, scrapes or burns, safe for babies, makes a great natural highlight or eye balm. It’s one I always love to have on hand and a top pick product for me. I don’t grab it as much for my lips as I do other things and that’s the only reason it didn’t make the lip balm ‘It List’. But it’s still a must-have.
- Erin’s Faces Tinted Lip Balms – I simply love the minty-vanilla scent of these, and the mint packs a decent punch. These fall into the barely-there wash of color variety of tint, but that makes them easy to apply without a mirror! The color Crushed is my fave…like a sheer wash of Clinique’s Black Honey.
Tracey is the founder and writer of Life in the Happy Medium. She’s also a freelance graphic designer, Mom to 2 teens, Wife, and Friend to a tribe she holds dear, who’s prone to some fairly serious car singing and dancing much to her family’s chagrin (old school R&B is where it’s at!).
From cleaner beauty to healthy-ish eating, she’s blogging here to share favorite finds that keep her happy in the middle.
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Thank you so much for putting this together. I’m always on the lookout for a great lip balm. I’ll for sure give some of these a try.
Report back on how you like them! I’m testing a few new ones now, so I may be updating this list soon ;).
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