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If you’ve ever heard that beauty is pain, tinted lip balms put that notion to rest. No mirror? No problem. Tinted balms are super easy to apply and are a low maintenance option for a pop of color. With all of the hydration and nourishment you need found in these magical little pots, tubes, and sticks, you can give your pout some TLC while taking your look up a notch.
Whether you love a less-is-more, cool girl kind of look or prefer to go full-blown glam with every given opportunity, a tinted lip balm should surely be in your beauty cabinet. "The best part about quality tinted lip balms is that you’re getting the best of both worlds," says makeup artist Tai Ceme. "You'll get lasting, buildable color, plus a lip treatment.”
From luxury brands to drugstore options and somewhere in between, we’ve got you covered. Read on for the best-tinted lip balms on the market.
Best Overall: Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm
The Clinique chubby stick was my personal first-introduction to a bit of color play as a teen—it was good then, and it’s good now! With 15 satin-finish shades ranging from sheer and natural to bold and vibrant, there are plenty of hydrating options to choose from. The jojoba oil, mango butter, and shea butter create a rich, creamy texture that goes on smooth for easily buildable color.
Best Budget: e.l.f Cosmetics Ride or Die Lip Balm
This tinted lip balm checks a lot of boxes. We’re talking vegan, cruelty-free, and intensely moisturizing for a great budget price. The rich, heavyweight balm is infused with jojoba oil to repair chapped lips, leaving them plump and hydrated. You’ll also love the sheer wash of color and natural fragrance.
Best Drugstore: Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm
No need to break the bank for a hydrating, all-natural smooch of color! Look no further than your local drugstore. With shea butter and botanical waxes to keep lips moisturized for up to eight hours, you’ll definitely want to keep this handy stick in your purse or tote. The shimmer-free shade range includes flattering shades of pinks, reds, and violets—perfect for an everyday look.
Best Splurge: Dior Addict Lip Glow Color Reviving Lip Balm
Bring on the glow with this ultra-hydrating lip balm. It has Color Reviver technology to react to your lips’ moisture level to release active ingredients. Long story short, it’s the balm that keeps on giving. The formula is enriched with mango butter and cucumber loofah to moisturize all day long and leave a natural flush of color unique to you.
Best Hydrating: Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm
Kiss chronically chapped lips goodbye with this healing lip balm. It's been clinically tested and has had proven results for smoother, better-looking lips. Plus, it protects lips for up to a full eight hours, and of course (you know why we’re here), it comes in beautiful shades of pink for rich, natural-looking color.
Best Shade Range: Fresh Sugar Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 15
There’s a reason why this smoothing lip balm is known as a cult favorite. It has the sun protection you need, the hydration your lips crave (hello grapeseed oil!), and the sheer, buildable color you want. The formula is infused with sugar to prevent moisture loss, so you can count on long-lasting hydration. It also comes in 15 shades with a classic satin or shimmer finish, so you have plenty of options.
Best Long-Lasting: Honest Beauty Tinted Lip Balm
This hydrating formula slips on easily and stays on for up to eight hours of hydration. It’s infused with avocado oil to leave your lips feeling smooth and moisturized, but never sticky or waxy. Whether you’re looking for a soft nude or something more vibrant, swipe it on for a sheer look or keep on building for more noticeable color.
Best Subtle Color: NARS Afterglow Lip Balm
When it comes to ingredients, color pay off, moisture, and texture, this comforting lip balm fires on all cylinders. It comes in six universally flattering colors, no matter your skin tone, and it protects and conditions your lips hours after application. This is also a great product to introduce yourself to new colors. Curious about a red shade but not quite ready for the real deal? Turbo is a great place to start.
Runner-Up, Best Subtle Color: BLK/OPL Lip and Cheek Tinted Balm
On days we’re craving a dewy, barely-there makeup look, these sheer tinted balms from BLK/OPL do just the trick. Available in two universally flattering shades—a slightly shimmery nude and a pinky rose gold—these balm sticks provide the sheer wash of color we’re craving and can be used on both the lips and cheeks. They also have plenty of skin-care benefits: Vitamins E and C offer antioxidant protection while a blend of chamomile oil and cocoa and shea butters revive dry and damaged lips and skin.
Best Buildable: ILIA Beauty Tinted Lip Conditioner
You seriously can’t go wrong with this no-fuss lip color that feels like a balm yet looks like a sheer lipstick. The familiar lipstick shape of the stick makes it super easy to apply on the go while the hydrating, buildable formula offers better-than-your-lips color. Swipe it once or twice for an everyday look or apply more for a bolder look.
Best Natural: Kari Gran Lip Whip Color Balm
This whipped color balm has grown in popularity for its super nourishing formula and buildable color, but it also scores major points for its natural ingredients. “This is my favorite balm because it’s a clean product," says Ceme. "I also love that it feels very nourishing and hydrating, but has real staying power with color that lasts for hours."
Best Rouge: Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Lip Balm
If you’re looking for what Byrdie contributor, Emily Algar calls “the french-girl lipstick of [her] dreams,” then you are in the right place. It comes in five shades of rouge that offer a muted stained yet hydrated look. You’ll love the effortless color, and the balm is comprised of moringa butter to glide on smoothly while protecting your lips.
Best with SPF: Coola Suncare Mineral Liplux Organic Tinted Lip Balm SPF 30
Your lips need sun protection too, and this hydrating SPF 30 balm has you covered. Not only does it protect from UV exposure, but it’s also nourishing and super softening. You’ll also love that it comes in fun, unique colors, like Coral Reef and Purple Sky.
Best Multipurpose: Glossier Balm Dotcom
Barely-there makeup lovers, rejoice! This hydrating balm is packed with antioxidants and natural emollients to nourish dry, chafed skin. It’s formulated with heavy-duty moisturizers like castor oil and beeswax to hydrate and seal in moisture without irritating sensitive skin. Whether you’re looking for a subtle shimmer or a sheer red tint, you can apply this do-it-all balm wherever you need extra moisture.
Best Multipurpose, Runner-Up: Olio E Osso Natural Lip & Cheek Balm
When it comes to a low-maintenance beauty routine, the fewer products, the better. This moisturizing facial balm is the ideal multitasker with clean, natural ingredients that offer a hydrating boost of color to lips or cheeks. It has nourishing ingredients like olive and shea oils, and it comes in a flattering shade range that you’ll love as a blush or a lip tint.
Best Lightweight: Innisfree My Lip Balm
Korean beauty brand Innisfree delivers again with this moisture-booming balm. The lightweight formula is full of good-for-you ingredients like sunflower seed oil and jojoba oil to give your lips a natural-looking tint sans stickiness. It’s perfect for your “no-makeup” makeup days, and you can also dab the balm onto your cheeks for a natural, flushed look.
Best Plumping: Buxom Power-full Plump Lip Balm
Get your most supple, plumpest lips yet with this moisturizing balm. Inspired by Buxom’s best-selling glosses, these tinted balms have the plumping effects that so many love without the shine and texture of a gloss. It goes on like silk and reacts to your lips’ pH for your own unique pink to nude shade.
There are plenty of tinted lip balm options out there, but the Clinique Chubby Stick is at the top of our list for its hydrating formula, creamy texture, and wide shade range. Fresh Sugar Lip Balm SPF 15 is also noteworthy for its shade selection and long-lasting hydration. On a budget? Look no further than e.l.f. Ride or Die Lip Balm that offers heavyweight hydration and smooth, sheer color.
What To Look for When Buying a Tinted Lip Balm
When Ceme is on the hunt for a new lip balm, she says, “First and foremost, I look at the ingredients. I like to make sure that they're natural, clean, or naturally derived.” Hydrating oils like avocado oil or grapeseed oil are great places to start, and you’ll also want to look for emollient ingredients like shea butter, sugar, and botanical waxes to lock moisture in.
Consistency is a major thing to keep in mind when considering a lip balm. "A thicker consistency tends to last longer,” recommends Ceme. Essentially, leave the watery formulas to glosses that are more focused on shine than hydration.
Not all tinted lip balms are created equal. Some are simply there to hydrate and offer a slight boost to your natural lip color, while others perform more like a sheer lipstick. Determine the sheerness or opacity of the look you’re going for to guide your shopping decisions.
What’s the difference between lipstick and tinted lip balm?
It might seem like there’s not much of a difference between a tinted lip balm and a lipstick, but in fact, their formulas separate them. "The difference between a tinted lip balm and lipstick is that lipstick isn’t necessarily hydrating, while a lip balm is supposed to be nourishing and hydrating," says Ceme. "You’ll also see a difference in the actual pigment payoff that you're getting. With a balm, you’ll get a lighter, more sheer color, while a lipstick’s primary concern is color."
What causes chapped lips?
If you feel like you’re constantly reaching for your lip balm, there could be a couple of factors at play. The environment is often the number one culprit. Dry air in the winter months or sun exposure in the summer can cause moisture loss, so be sure to use a protective product. You also want to be sure that you’re drinking enough water to stay hydrated, as chapped lips are often a sign of dehydration. And finally, take a look at your balm’s ingredient list. Alcohol or synthetic fragrance in large amounts can do more harm than good.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Kindra Moné has been creating fashion and beauty content since 2013. Whether contributing to some of the top women’s lifestyle magazines or working in-house with global brands, Kindra has collaborated with some of the most knowledgeable beauty professionals in the industry. When she isn’t writing or trying out Instagram recipes, she’s giving wellness tips and sharing fashion news on her podcast.
How We Test Tinted Lip Balms
Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain products; you can read more about our product review methodology here.
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 tinted lip balms from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business 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.