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We’ll answer the question on everyone’s mind first—yes, you do need SPF in your lip balm. After all, the skin on your lips is just like the skin on the rest of your face and is susceptible to burning, sun damage, and even skin cancer.
Because lip skin is thinner and more delicate, however, a lip burn is seriously painful (just ask anyone who’s experienced one). And somewhat ironically, many people forget that they need to apply sunscreen to this sensitive area. You’re likely using a lip balm already, so why not make it one that contains SPF? There are more standout formulas out there than ever before, ones that are so darn good you’ll forget you chose them for their protective prowess.
Swipe on any of these best lip balms with SPF and you’ll see what we mean.
Best Overall: Sun Bum Lip Balm SPF 30
Super, super creamy, this balm, a favorite of Byrdie’s Commerce Editorial Director Jessica Mahgerefteh, hydrates lips just as well as it shields them from damaging UV rays. Credit a base made with aloe and cocoa butter for mega-moisture. But arguably the best part is the lip-smacking fruity flavors—coconut, pineapple, banana, pomegranate, key lime, and mango—that are incentive enough to keep swiping this on. Use it alone or layer it over any lip color for added protection.
Best Drugstore: Aquaphor Lip Protectant & Sunscreen Ointment SPF 30
Your beloved tube o’ Aquaphor just got a major upgrade, thanks to a dose of broad-spectrum sun protection. Still, it delivers those same hydrating benefits, with plenty of shea butter, glycerin, and beeswax to quench a parched pout. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick, this one is a great option for those with dry or cracked lips. "The ointment maintains all the great benefits of Aquaphor with the added bonus of SPF 30 protection," she says. "It's also free of fragrance and preservatives, making it especially good for those with sensitive skin."
Best Tinted: EleVen by Venus Williams Perfect Form Lip Balm SPF 15
Formulated with 20% zinc oxide, this silky tinted balm offers SPF 15 protection from UVA and UVB rays while shea butter and bayberry fruit wax deeply nourish and soothe the lips. It’s available in two universally flattering pink shades, and the lineup also includes a clear shade and a vibrant red, so there’s a shade for every situation or occasion. Plus, we love that the packaging is made from PCR and other recyclable materials.
Runner-Up, Best Tinted: Fresh Sugar Lip Balm with SPF 15
This beloved cult classic may be lauded for its creamy texture and gorgeous, sheer color, but did you know that it also boasts an SPF 15? All of the 12 shades—ranging from clear to rosy to berry to red—have it, ensuring that your lips stay protected. Though it is those beautiful tints that keep us coming back to this tube anytime we want just a little something to perk up our pout.
Best Natural: W3ll People Nudist Lip Butter
Given the fact that we inevitably end up ingesting some of the products we put on our lips, it makes sense that you might want to go with a clean lip balm. This one fits the bill, using several different organic oils for hydrating purposes. Even the sun protection is natural, non-micronized mineral zinc, a rarity given that many lip products use chemical sunscreen ingredients. It comes in both a clear version, as well as two tinted options.
Best Multitasker: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
What’s better than a multi-purpose color stick that you can swipe on lips, cheeks, and eyes? One that contains SPF, of course. This newbie delivers gorgeous pigment on all those spots—it comes in three shades, a berry, blush, and bronze—along with a hefty dose of sun protection. Not to mention that you can easily layer and mix and match the colors wherever you apply them. Sold.
Best Budget: Carmex Classic Medicated Lip Balm SPF 15
Byrdie Associate Editor Holly Rhue recommends stocking up on this affordable option; a three-pack of this classic stick rings in at just a few bucks. Pick up a whole bunch and keep one in every purse, pocket, you name it. It’s the original beloved formula, which boasts camphor and menthol to help soothe chapped lips, but with added SPF 15 sun protection.
Best Hydrating: Kiehl's Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 30
When your lips are chapped to begin with, protecting them from the sun is more imperative than usual; after all, exposing them to the sun is only going to dry them out even further. This crazy creamy pick offers the best of both worlds, thanks to a coconut oil base that keeps lips hydrated for up to 12 hours, plus broad-spectrum SPF 30. There’s a clear choice, as well as five tinted versions, too.
Runner-Up, Best Hydrating: MDSolarSciences Hydrating Sheer Lip Balm SPF 30
Dr. Garshick is a big fan of this hydrating balm from MDSolarSciences. “It comes in a few different shades and offers SPF 30 protection, all while also providing hydration with avocado, shea, and olive butters,” she says. “It’s also gentle, so it’s safe to use even by those with sensitive skin.” While all of its shades—Bare, Blush, and Ruby—are sheer and universally flattering, we’re especially loving Ruby, a gorgeous red with blue undertones. Plus, the formula is creamy, not sticky, and is 100% vegan and gluten-free.
Best Splurge: Clé de Peau UV Protective Lip Treatment
As the name suggests, this is truly more of a lip treatment than a basic lip balm. The ingredient list is similar to that of a in a fancy moisturizer, boasting smoothing Japanese pearl, tone-evening theanine, plus an array of herbs and botanicals. These all work together to improve the look of lips, while sunscreen and antioxidants offer necessary protection. The natural rose scent is subtle and sophisticated, and this also pulls double duty as a great lipstick primer.
Best Gloss: Supergoop! Lipscreen SPF 40
Gloss fans will appreciate the sheen this protectant delivers. While you can use it on its own, it’s best swiped over your go-to lip color, instantly imparting a soft shine, and, most importantly SPF 40 protection from the sun's rays. It also has sunflower oil for added hydration, never a bad thing.
If you’re going to be out in direct sun all day, it’s best to avoid any kind of shiny finish on your lips as it can attract rays. Save this for everyday use instead.
Best Oil: COOLA Classic Liplux Organic Hydrating Lip Oil Sunscreen SPF 30
For those who prefer a lip oil, Dr. Garshick suggests reaching for this product from sun care experts COOLA. “It combines SPF 30 protection with lip hydration, as it contains vitamin E and camellia and jojoba oils,” she says. “It leaves the lips looking healthy and plump while still being protected. It also contains an antioxidant-rich plant complex for additional protection.” Plus, the universally-flattering golden shade looks great on literally everyone.
Best Sport: Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 50
Be sure to swipe this on before your next outdoor run, swim, or beach volleyball game. It’s hydrating, yes, but more importantly, it delivers an impressive SPF 50 to protect your pout from getting scorched during your workout. Not to mention that it’s also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, so you don’t need to worry about reapplying it if you’re swimming or sweating.
Best Unisex: Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm
Packed with emollients and conditioning ingredients—think shea butter, vitamin E, and avocado oil—it’s choice for hydrating even the most chapped of lips. Bonus points for the addition of antioxidants that act as back-up for the sun protection it provides. There’s a flavorless option, but we suggest one of the yummy flavors—mint, lemon, grapefruit, and ginger, or black tea and blackberry.
We’re giving top honors to the mega creamy Sun Bum Lip Balm SPF 30. The aloe and cocoa butter base deeply nourishes and moisturizes your pout while protecting it from damaging UV rays. Plus, the fruity flavors are absolutely delicious! When we’re looking for something with a bit of color, we’re reaching for the MD Solar Science Hydrating Sheer Lip Balm SPF 30. Not only does it boast SPF 30 protection, but it also deeply hydrates with a trio of plant butters and imparts beautiful, sheer pigment. And finally, when we’re planning to get sweaty, there’s no better choice than the Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 50. It provides impressive SPF 50 protection and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it a great choice for any outdoor or water-related workouts.
What to Look For in Lip Balms with SPF
Adequate SPF Protection
According to Dr. Garshick, it’s important to find a lip product that provides adequate sun protection, which, in her opinion, is SPF of at least 30. “In general, it's recommended to treat your lips with the same protection you would the rest of your skin as they can be susceptible to sun damage, leading to skin cancer and aging,” she says. “I recommend SPF 30 or higher, and also to reapply every two hours or sooner if swimming or sweating.”
A Hydrating Formula
Dr. Garshick also says to look for products that are hydrating. “Because the lips are thin, they can become more susceptible to dryness, so it’s helpful for any lip balm, with or without SPF, to help hydrate the lips to boost overall moisture,” she says. “This feature can also make it more enjoyable and easy to wear SPF on your lips as it often makes it easy to apply and reapply and keeps them looking hydrated and plump.”
Avoid Heavy Fragrance
Lastly, Dr. Garshick recommends avoiding any product with heavy fragrance if you have sensitive skin. “Because the lips and the skin around the lips is thin, it can make it more susceptible to irritation,” she says. “For this reason, those with sensitive skin should stick with products with minimal fragrance or other common skin allergens to prevent any reaction or sensitivity from developing.”
Meet the Expert
Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD is a Board-certified dermatologist at MDCS: Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology, at Cornell University.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough lip products with SPF from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.