Here's How Lip Oil Compares To Balms & Glosses

The lowdown on the buzzy beauty product.

Has the time come for lip balms to move aside and let lip oils get their shine on? You may have noticed that online and IRL, lip oils are popping up on pouts everywhere and seem to be the new hot item being launched by so many beloved beauty brands. But what does lip oil do, exactly, and how does it compare to your other lip care essentials?

First, know that lip oils aren’t the same as lip glosses or balms — though the lines can get a little blurry. As a general rule, lip oils aren’t typically thick and sticky like lip glosses can be; they’re thinner and offer the signature silky slip that you’d expect from an oil. That said, much like a gloss, they can come in a range of juicy tints. They’re also, well, oils, so they’re not as thick as a more solid balm.

With colder, drier weather circling the block, it’s important to properly moisturize and protect the delicate skin on your lips — regardless of how you choose to do it. So you may be wondering whether lip oils provide enough benefits for your skin and how they stack up against traditional lip balms. Read on for what dermatologists say about lip oils and whether they’re worth the hype.

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Lip Oil Vs. Lip Balm

Using a lip oil can be beneficial because oils create a barrier that protects the skin on your lips and seals in moisture, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, M.D. explains. Where lip oils may lack, though, is in their ability to actually add hydration to the skin. “Oils are not humectants, which means they do not have hydrating properties that are typically seen in traditional lip balms,” Zubritsky says. Lip balms, on the other hand, typically contain wax that acts as an occlusive to prevent moisture loss (similar to lip oils) but they also boast proven moisturizing ingredients, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Morgan Rabach, M.D. notes.

It’s worth noting that many lip oils may contain added hydrating ingredients in their formulas. For example, many products in this skin care category also contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that also has hydrating properties. Still, to ensure your pout is getting the moisture it needs, Zubritsky suggests pairing your lip oil with a lip balm that features heavy hitters like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, dimethicone — a protective emollient — or shea butter. Basically, if you want to get in on the lip oil trend without sacrificing all-important hydration, then a swipe of lip oil over a traditional lip balm to seal in the moisture is the move.

What To Look For In A Lip Oil

As for what to look for in a lip oil, Rabach favors argan, sunflower seed, and coconut oils in particular — three superstar ingredients. Zubritsky also recommends castor seed oil and hempseed oil — the latter being the non-psychoactive yet nutrient-, antioxidant-, and fatty acid-rich oil derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant. Also important: “Be aware of scents or dyes that can cause irritation,” Rabach cautions. Scroll through for some A-plus options to add to your beauty arsenal.

Shop Lip Oils

The Cherry-Flavored Lip Oil

This antioxidant-rich conditioning oil from Rihanna’s beauty brand features a deliciously sweet cherry seed oil, wild cherry extracts, and Barbados cherry extracts for a delectably nourishing elixir you’ll want to keep slathering onto your pout.

The Anti-Aging Option

With nourishing vitamins A, B5, C, and E along with a host of plant oils — like jojoba, sweet almond, rose hip, and olive oil — this option packs a lip-smoothing punch.

The Antioxidant-Rich Buy

This tube contains a blend of apricot oil, jojoba oil, and vitamin E, the three of which go to work nourishing and protecting your lips.

The Tinted Lip Oil

If you’re looking for a wash of color, these generously pigmented lip oils feature camellia, jojoba, and sunflower seed oils plus vitamin E for some more glam hydration.

The Fruity Lip Oil

Available in four fruity flavors, this budget-friendly option features a hydrating blend of fruit extracts and vitamin E.

The Plumping Lip Oil

Lady Gaga’s beauty brand includes this plumping formula that uses vegan collagen, prickly pear oil, and plant-based squalane to nourish, enhance the appearance of volume, and deliver a high-shine finish.


Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, M.D., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based board-certified dermatologist

Dr. Morgan Rabach, M.D., New York City-based board-certified dermatologist