Makeup and skin-care routines certainly vary depending on the individual, but whether you never leave the house without a full face of makeup, you follow a less-is-more approach to beauty, or you fall somewhere in between, one thing is certain: Lip balm is an essential. For many, a drugstore lip balm is the first beauty product they were introduced to as a child (hi, Lip Smackers). And as an adult, some variety has earned a place in every bag. But while everyone can agree on its importance, what constitutes as the best drugstore lip balm is up for debate.
When shopping for a new lip balm, you'll want to figure out what you're hoping to achieve besides smooth, soft lips. If you typically spend a lot of time outdoors, opt for a formula with an SPF of 30 or more to prevent your lips from getting sunburned and dry. If your lips are already dry or chapped, or you're in the midst of winter, reach for a medicated lip balm or ointment with a thicker consistency. Then, there are times when you just want your lip balm to look (and smell) good. Whether that means adding a sheer, glossy finish, a pop of color, or a fruity scent, the options are endless.
Ahead, find five of the best lip balms you can buy for under $10.
1. Best Medicated Drugstore Lip Balm
For dry, sore lips, a classic pot of Blistex's Lip Medex provides instant relief while keeping lips protected from further irritation. Camphor is the main pain-relieving ingredient in this formula, which can also be used to treat cold sores. Blistex also uses menthol for an instant cooling effect as well as several nourishing ingredients that hydrate lips and lock in moisture like castor seed oil, cocoa seed butter, and beeswax.
The three-pack of balms also has a nearly perfect 4.8-star rating on Amazon, with many reviewers noting that it's particularly helpful when treating dry, cracked lips. "Sometimes the corners of my lips crack, especially in the winter when the furnace is on," writes one reviewer. "Blistex works wonderfully to help heal that." Another confirms, "This stuff is great for chapped, sore, or damaged lips. It is so soothing and works fast — I can put it on chapped lips at bedtime, and in the morning, my mouth feels so much better."
2. Best Tinted Drugstore Lip Balm
If you prefer a balm that doubles as your lip color for the day, Maybelline's Baby Lips in Cherry Me is a must-try. Though the bullet looks like a beyond-bright red, once you swipe it over your lips, you're left with a sheer wash of pink-red color that gives you that healthy, your-lips-but-better tint. The Baby Lips line also includes colors like Peach Kiss, Grape Vine, Pink Punch, and Pink Wishes, as well as two clear shades: Peppermint and Quenched. No matter which balm you choose, each one contains ingredients like shea butter, aloe leaf extract, and honey to keep lips smooth.
With nearly 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, it's a true fan-favorite. One reviewer shares, "It has just the right amount of pinkish-red tint in it. If I'm going somewhere casual, I just apply the lip balm, which is very subtle. But if I'm going to work or out to dinner, I can darken it up by adding a lip liner. It's also very moisturizing and doesn't irritate my sensitive lips."
Another fan writes, "There are days when I wear no makeup, but use these to add a little color on my face — cheeks, lips, and lids." (Just be sure to designate a separate balm if you copy this user's lid highlighter technique so that you aren't spreading germs.)
3. Best Drugstore Lip Balm With SPF
Ideally, you're wearing some form of sun protection on your face every day. But for those instances when you're trading in the office for a day at the beach, you also need to be swapping out your usual lip balm for an option with SPF. The Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 50 provides a high level of protection from both UVA and UVB rays in a formula that's water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. While working to keep your lips protected from the sun through swimming and sweat, the balm also includes smoothing and soothing ingredients like vitamin E and aloe leaf extract.
"This works great. It's not sticky or gummy. It has no flavor ... Compared to most other lip balms, the tube is wider. It glides on smoothly. It feels sort of silky, not waxy at all," one reviewer writes. Another shares, "It kept our lips safe from the sun during a 7 day Barbados vacation!"
4. Best Tasting Drugstore Lip Balm
Okay, so you're not going to eat your lip balm. But there's an undeniable nostalgia that comes with a fruity or sweet-scented balm that makes owning at least one completely necessary. The Burt's Bees Pink Grapefruit Moisturizing Lip Balm is like a grown-up take on the flavored varieties from childhood thanks to its blend of natural ingredients that still smell like a treat. The brand even created a whole line of scents ranging from the classics, like Vanilla Bean and Strawberry, to more sophisticated combos like Coconut & Pear and Cucumber Mint.
Pink Grapefruit is one of the most popular flavors due to its addictive scent and conditioning abilities. Unsurprisingly, pink grapefruit seed oil gives the balm its citrusy sweet scent, but it's also rich in vitamins C and E to provide antioxidant protection while softening lips. There's a whole host of other nourishing ingredients in this balm, too, including sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and castor seed oil, making this balm an all-around winner on the fun and functional fronts.
5. A Cult-Favorite Drugstore Lip Balm
I'd be willing to bet that every beauty editor in the U.S. owns at least one tin or tube of Smith's Rosebud Salve. The lightweight and glossy balm is made with petrolatum, cotton seed oil, and a blend of trade secret essential oils and botanicals that have made it a multitasking favorite. Most popularly used as a lip balm, the Smith's salve can also be used to soothe minor burns, condition dry elbows, soften cuticles, and even treat diaper rash.
It's also an Amazon-user fave, with more than 700 five-star reviews. "[It] smells just like fresh roses and feels nice and buttery on the lips," writes one fan of Smith's. "In term of moisturizing … I haven't had the slightest chapped lips all winter, and I live in a really cold climate with harsh winters." Another user who gives the balm five-stars, adds, "This is super light while being extremely moisturizing. I've been using it on my lips before bed, and I rub the excess on my cuticles."
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