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We wholeheartedly love and appreciate a glossy lip. Whether bare or bright, there’s something about a high-sheen finish that’s always stunning, sophisticated, and sexy. The only issue? As much we love ‘em, most lip glosses admittedly have their fair share of drawbacks. Think of that annoying stickiness (heaven forbid you swipe on gloss while wearing your hair down), not to mention the repeated touch-ups needed to maintain said glossy finish. And more likely than not, they can end up drying out your lips, too.
That’s why lip oils are our latest obsession. The balm-gloss-stain hybrids are, in a word, ingenious. They’re also both a treatment and a cosmetic in one, giving you a beautiful shine and much longer-lasting hydration and relief from chapped lips than even a balm, says celebrity makeup artist Bryan Cantor. They can be clear or pigmented and, in short, combine the best of all your go-to lippies in a one-stop-swipe. Plus, there’s no wrong way to use them. “A lip oil can be used on its own, layered under lipstick for extra hydration, or over lipstick for extra shine,” says Cantor.
But the proof is in the pucker. Check out our roundup of the best lip oils we love and see for yourself what all the hype is about.
Best Overall: Clarins Lip Comfort Oil
Byrdie editors unanimously agree that this oil is hands-down (er, lips down?) one of the best there is. There’s no shortage of things to love, including a hydrating blend of jojoba and hazelnut oils for plenty of moisture and an oversized doe-foot applicator that’s specially curved to hug the contours of your lips. There are eight options available, some of which deliver a sheer wash of color, others that react with the pH of your lips for a personalized hue, and a few that simply have a yummy flavor.
Best Budget: Versed Silk Slip Tinted Lip Oil
It’s hard to decide what we like best about this formula: the super hydrating feel, beautifully sheer color, or the wallet-friendly price. Thankfully, there’s no need to choose because you get all three. A combo of jojoba, camelia, and sesame oils, plus vitamin E, adds tons of nourishing moisture, and the three shades are ideal for adding just a little something-something to your lips. (You can even dab a little bit onto cheeks in place of blush.)
Best Drugstore: Milani Moisture Lock Oil Infused Lip Treatment
Along with offering multiple different shades, each one contains unique oils meant to address specific concerns. The common denominator among all of them? A healing blend of jojoba, avocado, and tsubaki oils, plus plenty of eye-catching shine.
Best for Chapped Lips: Chapstick Vitamin Enriched Peach Tea Total Hydration
Nothing against the classic ChapStick, but this gives the OG a run for its money. Boasting vitamins C and E, along with omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, it can pretty much knock out chapped lips and dryness in one fell swipe. It’s super affordable, too, so we highly recommend stocking up and keeping one in your purse, your nightstand, at work…you get the picture.
Best Splurge: Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil
This splurge is well worth every penny, boasting several unique ingredients that do everything from increase moisture levels to improve lip texture to reduce the depth of wrinkles (as well as 14 different essential oils). The 24-karat gold-plated tip not only looks super luxurious, but it’s also antibacterial, a major boon for germaphobes. And no matter whether you opt for the clear version or one of the three tinted options, you’re guaranteed high-impact shine.
Best Plumping: Kosas Wet Lip Oil Gloss
Swipe on this pick if you’re looking to create the illusion of plumper lips. “It contains peptides to plump up your lips, plus healthy doses of hyaluronic acid and shea butter to add extra hydration,” says Cantor of one of his favorites. He’s partial to ‘Jellyfish,’ a clear shade, though it also comes in four pretty colors, too.
Best Color: Butter London Sheer Wisdom Lip Oil
Those who crave lots of color will appreciate the buildable pigment of this pick, one of our go-tos. One swipe delivers a sheer tint, though you can easily swipe on more coats for a more dramatic pop o’ color. Plus, no matter how many layers you add, it never gets tacky. Speaking of, there are six pretty shades to choose from, though someone always compliments us when we’re wearing the ‘Cinnamon Spice’ hue (just saying.) A long list of good-for-your lips oils in the formula deliver hydration and antioxidant protection, and we also appreciate the mess-free click-pen applicator.
Best Anti-Aging: Wander Beauty Lip Retreat Oil
“This contains tons of hydrating ingredients plus the powerful antioxidant niacinamide, which performs a plethora of anti-aging activities including protecting against environmental damage and minimizing fine lines and wrinkles,” says Cantor. Yes, please. The tube formula also makes it easy to squeeze out every last drop (trust us, you’ll want to), while the pointed doe foot applicator makes precise application a breeze.
Best Solid: Ogee Luxury Organics Tinted Sculpted Lip Oil
Love lip pencils? This pick is for you. It’s another one of Cantor’s favorites, a chubby, oil-based pencil that imparts tons of moisture and glides beautifully across lips. Jojoba oil and butters are the main ingredients, combined with hydrating hyaluronic acid and refreshing peppermint oil. We also appreciate that it comes in a nice array of 14 colors.
Best Natural: ILIA Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil
Clean beauty queens should try this cushiony color, which is free of over 2,700 questionable ingredients. Instead, it’s loaded with hydrating shea butter, sunflower seed oil, and meadowfoam seed oil. Also nice: The range of six colors, all with a beautiful, natural-looking sheen. Cantor is a fan too, noting that it also has a subtle plumping effect.
Best Scent: INNbeauty Project Glaze #1
The candy apple scent—which is entirely naturally derived, we might add—will give you flashbacks of your beloved middle school Lipsmackers in the absolute best way possible. And while that delish fragrance and flavor is alone reason enough to use this, it’s also very moisturizing and delivers an equally juicy, sheer, apple red tint. It is slightly stickier than a few others on this list, but not in a bad way, and we also love that the doe foot is slightly curved to help seamlessly hug your lips.
Best With Benefits: Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte's Magic Lip Oil Crystal Elixir
Lip oils are by definition multi-taskers, but this particular one really goes above and beyond. There’s not much it can’t do. “It reduces the appearance of lip lines, moisturizes for up to 24 hours, and boosts hydration by up to 157% in just one hour,” says Cantor, who also says it’s one of his favorites for imparting intense, mirror-like shine. Use it during the day solo or with lipstick, or swipe on an extra thick coat at bedtime to act as an overnight lip mask. Bonus points for the rollerball applicator tip.
Lip oils are one of our favorite hybrid-type products out there. The Clarins Lip Comfort Oil (view at Sephora) is our overall favorite, beloved by Byrdie editors for the combo of hydrating oils, oversized doe-foot applicator, and eight shades. There are lots of great affordable picks out there, like the Milani Moisture Lock Oil Infused Lip Treatment (view at Amazon), Versed Silk Slip Tinted Lip Oil (view at Versed), and Chapstick Vitamin Enriched Peach Tea Total Hydration (view at Ulta), the latter of which is ah-mazing for knocking out chapped lips. While many lip oils are tinted if you want lots of pigment, try the Butter London Sheer Wisdom Lip Oil (view at Butter London); it can be easily layered to pack tons of color.
What to Look for in a Lip Oil
Natural, Moisturizing Ingredients
It may sound obvious, but the more of these, the better. A few of Cantor’s favorite oils to look for include jojoba oil and castor oil; vitamin E is also great.
Avoid a Few Key Ingredients
According to Cantor, you’ll want to steer clear of picks that contain camphor, menthol, and synthetic fragrances. “These can actually make your lips dryer and may even cause inflammation,” he cautions.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. A huge fan of any kind of multitasking beauty product, a tinted lip oil is her preferred lip product of choice these days.
Meet the Expert
Bryan Cantor is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert based in New York City. He brings his impressive knowledge of makeup products, skincare, application techniques, and professional tips and secrets to clients and companies in New York City and across the globe.