Move Over, Lip Balms — These Lip Serums Treat Dryness & Flaking Much More Effectively


If you can’t stop reaching for your EOS egg or your tin of Rosebud salve, it's not necessarily that your lip balm is making your lips drier — it's more likely that your balm just isn't doing its job of thoroughly quenching extra-chapped skin. The fix? Start using one of the best lip serums, which can treat dryness more effectively than a standard lip balm, since serums are made up of smaller molecules that can more easily penetrate your skin (as opposed to sitting on top of your skin like most lip balms do).

Just like your favorite hydrating serums for dry skin, a good lip serum should be packed with conditioning emollients, like fatty oils and antioxidants, to help repair and soften flakey skin. Certain humectants, like hyaluronic acid, are key for sealing in all that moisture. And if you’re after plumping effects in addition to hydration, look for a serum that enhances your skin’s collagen production. Protein-building peptides do the trick, but hyaluronic acid works wonders for boosting your skin’s elasticity, too.

These five lip serums suit a range of skin care concerns, budgets, and formula preferences, but they’re all intensely effective at healing extra-dry lips. You can apply your favorite lip balm over the top of any of these serums, but I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t need to.


The Overall Best Lip Serum

Formulated by an esthetician and a plastic surgeon, the IMAGE Skincare Ormedic Balancing Lip Enhancement Complex is a deeply hydrating lip treatment that’s safe for people to use after receiving injectables or fillers. But it’s equally as effective for people who prefer to avoid needles, since the formula’s collagen-enhancing polypeptides can naturally boost your lips’ fullness.

This powerful lip treatment hails from IMAGE’s Ormedic line, which fuses the brand’s signature physician-backed, clinically-tested ethos with natural botanical ingredients. Here, avocado oil works to nourish dry, chapped skin, while antioxidant-rich Vitamin E and coenzyme Q repair damaged skin cells and promote healthy cell turnover. That all translates into cell-deep softness and suppleness, which’ll last way longer than those few, fleeting moments of relief you get from your basic lip balm.


The Best Plumping Lip Serum

PCA Skin’s products are formulated by in-house chemists (the brand created the legendary Jessner Peel, for some more context), so the PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Lip Booster may not be your go-to choice if you prefer products whose ingredients you can pronounce. Case in point: This serum features active ingredients like peptides Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, which stimulate collagen production for plumper, softer lips.

But because it was formulated by and for professionals, even this lip serum’s scariest-sounding ingredients are totally safe for most skin types. Some of these ingredients are derived from botanicals, too, like tocopherol (aka Vitamin E), a healing and moisturizing antioxidant. But this lip serum’s titular hyaluronic acid does the real hydrating-and-plumping work here: A single molecule of this naturally occurring substance can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it a powerful source of moisture retention at a cellular level — and, in turn, the appearance of fuller lips.


The Best Drugstore Lip Serum

When in doubt, go for a classic. Especially if that classic costs less than a latte.

Reviewers are obsessed with this Blistex Conditioning Lip Serum, a deeply moisturizing remedy from a classic drugstore brand. One desert-dwelling reviewer says this highly concentrated formula — which is packed with hydrating standbys like beeswax, avocado oil, olive oil, and Vitamin E — worked wonders to heal their dry, cracked lips.

Another rave reviewer called this treatment a “godsend.” “I slather this on before I fall asleep,” they wrote, “and the dry skin literally falls off in the morning.” Kind of gross, but also the stuff of fantasies when it's winter or your lips are particularly flakey and dry.


The Best Natural Lip Serum

For a clean, "natural" pick, this Hanalei Lip Treatment is formulated with just a handful of ingredients, most of which you can find at Whole Foods. Naturally powerful occlusives like beeswax, shea butter, olive oil, safflower seed oil, and grapeseed oil are all used to seal in moisture, but kukui nut oil is the star ingredient here. Historically, native Hawaiians used kukui oil to treat rashes, sunburns, and eczema, since this antioxidant- and fatty-acid-rich oil is packed with healing, soothing, and moisturizing properties. Hanalei pairs this powerhouse oil with agave nectar, another native Hawaiian plant extract that’s both hydrating and soothing for extremely dry lips.


The Best Natural Lip Serum That Doubles As A Gloss

Technically, this INIKA lip serum is a replenishing lip treatment, but you can treat it as makeup, too. On the treatment end, this serum features 91% organic ingredients to hydrate, repair, and detoxify parched lips: think restorative shea butter, antioxidant-rich orange essential oil, calming jojoba oil, and healing sea buckthorn oil. But its tube and spongy doe-foot applicator are reminiscent of a lip gloss, and it delivers a similarly silky, non-sticky sheen just as your favorite lip gloss will. Use it alone, or swipe it over top of that lipstick you always wished you could wear, if only it weren’t so drying. You’re welcome!

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