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best lip balm for men

15 Best Lip Balms For Men Review (That Isn’t Chapstick) – Oct. 2019 with Buying Guide

 

There’s a good reason why stores load up their checkout counters with endless displays of small, relatively-inexpensive health and beauty items.

They’re the type of products which induce customers standing in line to think:

“I could really use that – let me just grab it now!”

Those items aren’t prominently displayed because they’re the highest-quality product or because they provide great value. It’s because they’re small, most people use them regularly, and they produce high profit margins for the store. (Many times, the manufacturer actually pays the store for the placement.)

Sadly, that means low-cost purchases that people make while held hostage in a checkout line are often the worst possible choices.

Lip balm definitely falls into that category.

In fact, it’s particularly easy to pick up the “wrong” lip balm – for one of the same reasons that stores load up their checkout displays with candy and gum. Flavored lip balms play on customers’ natural instinct to think with their taste buds instead of their brains; they see coffee- or vanilla-flavored lip balm and toss it onto the counter without a second thought.

Here’s the problem: not only are those flavored balms unlikely to be the most effective, but the ingredients creating their artificial flavors may make your lips even drier, or cause them to break out.

 

ImageProductFeatures
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  • Outstanding Ingredients
  • Low Price
  • Readily Available
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  • Effective Moisturizing Ingredients
  • Good Protection
  • SPF 25
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  • Shea Butter for Moisturizing
  • Long-Lasting
  • Potentially-Allergenic Castor Oil
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  • Several Moisturizing Oils
  • Applies Invisibly
  • Outstanding SPF Ingredients
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  • Repairs Damage
  • Hypoallergenic and Plant-Based
  • Can Be Used All Over Body
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  • Good Moisturizing Ingredients
  • Formulated for Men
  • Mojito Taste
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  • Scent-Free
  • Shea Butter for Moisturizing
  • Preservative-Free
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  • 100% Organic
  • Great Mix of Essential Oils
  • Can Be Used Anywhere on the Body
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  • Good Moisturizing
  • SPF 30
  • Acai Flavor
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  • SPF 15
  • Very Inexpensive
  • Not the Best Ingredients
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  • Packaged in a NSFW Tin
  • Good Moisturizing Ingredients
  • Pleasant Taste/Scent
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  • Moisturizes
  • SPF 25
  • Water-Resistant for 80 Minutes
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  • Tested in Extreme Weather
  • Waterproof
  • SPF 30
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  • Certified Organic and Vegan
  • 24 Flavors
  • Premium Ingredients and Cost
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  • Inexpensive
  • Minimalist
  • Available Everywhere
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The Groom+Style review team is your first line of defense against checkout counter temptation, at least when it comes to lip balms. (When you’re tempted by gum or a candy bar, you’re on your own.)

Here are the 15 best lip balms for men. You’re unlikely to find any of them displayed next to the cash register.

 

Best Lip Balm for Men

 

1. Burt’s Bees Original Beeswax Lip Balm

Burt's Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm, Multipack - Original Beeswax, Strawberry, Coconut & Pear and Vanilla Bean with Beeswax & Fruit Extracts - 4 Tubes

Despite what we said at the top of this page, a high-quality product worth buying will occasionally be prominently displayed in the store or at the checkout counter. Our guess is that Burt’s Bees pays for the privilege, but that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that it’s one of the best lip balms for men that you’re likely to be familiar with.

Those who’ve read our buying guide (and if you haven’t, it’s below these reviews – don’t worry, we’ll wait for you) know that our top three considerations when reviewing and ranking lip balms are “ingredients, ingredients, ingredients.” This Burt’s Bees lip balm is noteworthy for what’s in  it: lanolin, one of the best moisturizers available; coconut oil, another great moisturizer which also helps repair damaged lips and acts as an anti-inflammatory; and of course, beeswax, which seals in the moisture and functions as an important protective barrier.

The coconut oil makes this balm best for natural or dry skin, since it can block pores on oily skin.

Burt’s Bees is also noteworthy for what’s not in it: parabens, phthalates, or petroleum-based ingredients. In fact, this is an all-natural lip balm.

The one complicating factor with almost all of these products is that they use so many ingredients that there’s always one or two that aren’t optimal. In the case of the Beeswax balm it’s Vitamin E, but we don’t see that as a big enough reason to keep this lip balm from being our #1 choice. Burt’s Bees Original has a bit of natural peppermint flavor to it, and it’s very reasonably-priced.

It’s not hard to find Burt’s Bees lip balm since it’s widely-distributed, but there are great deals for four-packs on Amazon. This is the best lip balm we’ve reviewed.

Facts and figures for Burt’s Bees Original Beeswax Lip Balm:

  • Packaging: Stick, 0.15 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Beeswax, lanolin, coconut oil
  • SPF protection: No
  • Taste/Scent: Light peppermint
  • Best for: Normal or oily skin

Check​ Burt’s Bees Price on Amazon

 

2. Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm

Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25, Natural Mint & Shea Butter 0.25 ounce.

Like us, you may have wondered if Jack Black skin care products have anything to do with the actor. They don’t – in fact he’s said publicly he doesn’t really like them. That’s fine, because the Groom+Style review team likes them a lot and we’re not alone; Jack Black sells many of the world’s most-popular grooming products.

And their lip balm is terrific.

Key ingredients include lanolin, shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax and green tea, so there’s plenty of moisturizing and sealing power in Intense Therapy, which also protects lips well against wind and heat. Its key feature, though, is the SPF 25 protection that’s built in. There are a number of flavors/scents available, including vanilla mint, lemon and shea butter, black tea and blackberry, and grapefruit and ginger.

You should be aware that this is not an all-natural product as synthetic Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate), not one of Groom+Style’s favorite ingredients, is added to the mix. But as we’ve said before (and we won’t keep beating you over the head with it), it’s nearly impossible to combine the absolutely-perfect ingredient mix with top-notch performance. Jack Black comes close.

Intense Therapy Lip Balm is a great choice for guys who spend a lot of time outdoors, providing both good moisturizing performance and great protection

More details for Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm:

  • Packaging: Tube, 0.25 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Beeswax, lanolin, shea butter, green tea
  • SPF protection: 25
  • Taste/Scent: Nine choices available
  • Best for: Outdoor use

Check​ Jack Black Price on Amazon

 

3. L’Occitane Ultra-Rich 10% Shea Butter Lip Balm

L'Occitane Ultra-Rich 10% Shea Butter Nourishing Lip Balm, 0.4 oz.

Quick quiz: what’s the most important ingredient in this product? If you guessed shea butter – sorry, we don’t award points for looking at the product’s name. It’s a great ingredient to rely on, though. The high amounts of fatty acids in shea butter make L’Occitane an outstanding moisturizing lip balm, while they also work as an antioxidant and help repair and regenerate damaged lip skin.

It also contains beeswax and candelilla wax which we like, plus castor oil which many people are allergic to. If you have a problem with this lip balm, that’s probably the culprit.

This lotion feels thick when it goes on so it’s long-lasting, but the lips absorb it well so you’re not left with a noticeable film as you go about your day. L’Occitane’s lip balm is all-natural with a number of certified organic ingredients, and has an extremely light vanilla scent.

We’d like the L’Occitane lip balm even more if it didn’t have one ingredient which is an allergen for many people, but it’s a great, long-lasting choice for everyone else.

More details for L’Occitane Ultra-Rich 10% Shea Butter Lip Balm:

  • Packaging: Tube, 0.4 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Shea butter, beeswax, candelilla wax, castor oil
  • SPF protection: No
  • Taste/Scent: Very light vanilla
  • Best for: All-day use

Check​ L’Occitane Ultra-Rich Price on Amazon

 

4. MenScience Androceuticals Advanced Lip Protection

MenScience Androceuticals Advanced Lip Protection SPF 30

Lots of guys don’t feel the need to wear a lip balm on a daily basis. They use it primarily for two reasons: if their lips are seriously chapped, or if they’re going to be out in the sun for a prolonged period of time. This MenScience balm is designed for the latter group; it’s very good (although not the best) at hydrating and moisturizing, but its real strength is in its SPF 30 protection against the sun.

There’s a good collection of botanical oils in this lip balm: aloe vera, sunflower seed, olive and even hemp seed. All but the aloe vera oil are certified organic, and there’s also beeswax which helps to soften and protect lips while locking in moisture.

In other words, it hits many of the right notes needed for an effective lip balm even though it does contain added vitamin E. But the most important ingredients are the organic compounds like homosalate and oxybenzone, found in many sunscreens and used by MenScience to protect lips against sunburn and sun damage. It goes on the lips invisibly, another important quality for many guys.

This MenScience lip balm tastes sort of like medicine. That’s a small price to pay for the best protection against sun damaged-lips, however.

Looking deeper at MenScience Androceuticals Advanced Lip Protection:

  • Packaging: Tube, 0.3 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Aloe vera, sunflower oil, beeswax, numerous sunscreens
  • SPF protection: 30
  • Taste/Scent: Medicine-y taste, no scent
  • Best for: Sun protection

Check​ MenScience Androceuticals Price on Amazon

 

5. Dr. Rogers Restore Healing Balm

Doctor Rogers RESTORE Healing Balm - The Safe & Sustainable Way To RESTORE Your Skin, Lips & Nails from irritation and injury. Plant-based, Hypoallergenic, Dermatologist Created - .5oz Tube

The review team doesn’t place much stock in health care and grooming products that have a doctor’s name attached to them. After all, Dr. Phil isn’t even a licensed psychologist, and Dr. Dean Edell spent decades telling America all about their health when he was only an eye doctor.

Dr. Rogers really is a dermatologist, though, and her healing lip balm actually does do a nice job on chapped, irritated or otherwise-damaged lips. It even works on rashes, burns and for post-op laser treatments – and it works all over the body, not just on the lips.

We’ll say it up front. G+S isn’t a fan of some of the ingredients in this healing balm: glycerine, castor oil and castor wax, because many people will find the castor oil/wax causes them to break out. However, this nominally-hypoallergenic, plant-based product is free of all other allergens and other nasty stuff like petroleum, sulfates, parabens, phthalates and lanolin (a great ingredient which can also cause allergic reactions in some). It’s relatively expensive, it goes on greasy, and isn’t meant for everyday moisturizing, but it does a terrific job of protecting damaged skin and helping it to heal.

Those who normally reach for the Vaseline to treat cracks or burns will do themselves – and their lips – a favor by reaching for this Dr. Rogers balm instead.

The details for Dr. Rogers Restore Healing Balm:

  • Packaging: Tube, 0.5 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Glycerine, castor oil, castor wax
  • SPF protection: No
  • Taste/Scent: None
  • Best for: Damaged or chapped lips

Check​ Dr. Rogers Restore Price on Amazon

 

6. Baxter of California Hydro Salve Lip Balm

Baxter of California Silicone-Free Hydro Salve Lip Balm,Vitmain E and Coconut Oil , Long Lasting Hydration, 0.5 fl. oz

This Baxter of California lip balm is designed for men, but when you apply it, it doesn’t look the part. It’s shiny, almost like a lip gloss instead of a balm. Give it a few minutes, though, and the shine disappears; what stays is the delicious mojito flavor. And who doesn’t want to go through the day with the feeling that it’s always party time?

 

 

Seriously, the mojito flavor is just the garnish. What counts is what’s inside: coconut, jojoba and grapeseed oils, shea butter and organic aloe vera – nearly the perfect cocktail for hydrating lips and locking in moisture. “Nearly?” Well, G+S isn’t thrilled that refined mineral oil is also used to make Baxter of California’s Hydro Salve, but since we promised we wouldn’t harp on the fact that a “perfect” ingredient mix is almost impossible to find, we’ll leave it at that. We still love this product, and taste is just one of the reasons.

It’s parabens-free, although Vitamin-E has been added.

There are a number of “good-tasting” men’s lip balms that can do the job well, but this is the only one that will make your lips water as it adds a different type of moisture to them.

Specifics for Baxter of California Hydro Salve Lip Balm:

  • Packaging: Tube, 0.5 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Coconut oil, shea butter, mineral oil
  • SPF protection: No
  • Taste/Scent: Mojito taste, citrus scent
  • Best for: Overall performance with a delicious taste

Check​ Baxter of California Price on Amazon

 

7. Aquaphor Lip Repair

Aquaphor Lip Repair Ointment - Long-lasting Moisture to Soothe Dry Chapped Lips - .35 fl. oz. Tube

If the idea of mojito-flavored lip balm – or any flavored lip balm – made you quickly scroll down to the next Groom+Style review, you’ve come to the right place.

Aquaphor has no taste and is scent-free, not to mention parabens- and preservative-free. In fact, this lip balm was formulated specifically for sensitive lips (and their owners), making it the right choice for the previously-mentioned mojito-averse.

The moisturizing effect of fatty acids in shea butter give Aquaphor the power to keep lips hydrated, and the anti-inflammatory and antiseptic powers of chamomile work to de-clog pores and protect for the long-term. There’s no UV-protection in standard Aquaphor Lip Repair, but the company also makes a Lip Protectant and Sunscreen that contains SPF 30-level sun protection.

It can be difficult to find an effective lip balm if you have sensitive skin and lips. Aquaphor’s balm will solve that problem as long as you’re not sensitive to the castor oil that’s also inside.

The lowdown on Aquaphor Lip Repair:

  • Packaging: Tube, 0.35 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Shea butter, chamomile, castor oil
  • SPF protection: No
  • Taste/Scent: None
  • Best for: Sensitive Lips

Check​ Aquaphor Price on Amazon

 

8. Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm

Dr. Bronner's Organic Lip Balm - Naked, Peppermint, Lemon Lime, Orange Ginger - by Dr. Bronner's

Dr. Bronner’s is best-known for its line of organic soaps. This organic lip balm is a newer addition to their lineup, but it continues the company’s 150-year tradition of making quality, all-natural heath and grooming products. And its somewhat odd slogan “All-One!” underscores another attribute of many Dr. Bronner’s products: this lip balm can actually be used anywhere on the body. One suggested alternate use? Revitalizing tattoos and making them look brand-new.

Organic essential oils are the key to this lip balm’s performance. Avocado, jojoba and hemp oils contribute plenty of moisture for parched or chapped lips, and beeswax is used to soften the lips while creating a barrier that locks that moisture in. Other organic oils, like ginger, peppermint, lime and orange contribute fragrance to Dr. Bronner’s lip balm, with the peppermint scent predominating.

If 100% organic is a key factor in your choice of products, Dr. Bronner’s delivers with all-organic ingredients and very good performance for the lips and everywhere else on the body.

More specifics on Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm:

  • Packaging: Stick, 0.15 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Beeswax, jojoba and avocado oils
  • SPF protection: No
  • Taste/Scent: Peppermint
  • Best for: All-body moisturization

Check​ Dr. Bronner’s Organic Price on Amazon

 

9. Supergoop! Fusion Lip Balm

Supergoop! Fusion Lip Balm SPF 30, Acai, 0.5 fl.oz.

This is the second men’s lip balm designed for sun protection that we’ve included in the G+S rankings. Both have SPF 30 factors, but we placed the MenScience product higher on the list because we think the ingredients do a slightly better job of moisturizing in addition to providing protection. You may be partial to Supergoop! for one important reason, however: it tastes like Acai, instead of having the medicine-like flavor of the MenScience balm. (Supergoop! also has a mint flavor available.)

Supergoop! (we’re not sure how masculine the name is, by the way, and it does leave a shiny look on the lips) uses shea butter, sunflower and soybean oil, and beeswax to do its moisturizing and overall protection work, and includes sunscreen ingredients like octinoxate and octisalate to block the sun’s rays.

For moisturizing and SPF 30 protection, Supergoop! is the second-best men’s lip balm you can find. But if you want it to taste good too, it’s better than the competition.

The facts on Supergoop! Fusion Lip Balm:

  • Packaging: Tube, 0.5 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Shea butter, sunflower oil, beeswax
  • SPF protection: 30
  • Taste/Scent: Acai
  • Best for: Sun protection with a pleasant taste

Check​ Supergoop! Fusion Price on Amazon

 

10. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Lip Moisturizer

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Lip Moisturizer, SPF 15, 0.15 Ounce

We could list several things that we really don’t really like about this Neutrogena lip balm. It contains castor seed oil, a great moisturizing agent that is an allergen for half the population. It contains paraffin, which actually leaves moisture on the lips’ surface instead of letting it penetrate deeper, and it contains petrolatum (the same thing as Vaseline) which locks moisture in but can prevent outside moisture from penetrating. Worst of all, it contains BHT which is a preservative linked to possible health issues.

However, there are three reasons the review team has decided to add the Norwegian Formula lip balm to our rankings.

It’s very cheap, it’s the least-expensive lip balm with SPF protection, and – at least for most people – it makes the lips feel better temporarily. Let’s put it this way: it’s better than Chapstick.

We don’t think this is a great product to use for the long-term health of your lips, but if you pick up a tube in a pinch, it won’t cost you much and it will do the job until you can buy something better.

Specs for Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Lip Moisturizer:

  • Packaging: Stick, 0.15 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Castor seed oil, beeswax, paraffin, petrolatum, BHT
  • SPF protection: 15
  • Taste/Scent: None
  • Best for: A budget lip balm in sunny weather

Check​ Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Price on Amazon

 

11. Blue Q Lip S##t Lip Balm

Blue Q Lip Shit Lip Balm Coconut Basil

This is the first time Groom+Style ever had to censor a product name. Don’t fear, though, this is a real, mainstream product – although you probably won’t find it on your local drugstore’s shelves.

What makes this product stand out, other than the fact that it’s a good lip balm, is its packaging; it comes in a tin, sort of like chewing tobacco, which gives it a sort of masculine feel. Just be careful where you pull it out, since it’s prominently labeled “LIP S##T” in capital letters.

The team likes it, however. It’s all-natural, and the ingredients include the outstanding moisturizing ingredient lanolin, coconut and sunflower oils, beeswax, and (not our favorite) added Vitamin E. It hydrates and nourishes lips, and the beeswax helps to lock the moisture in. G+S reviewed the vanilla-and-cardamom flavor which is pleasant; the product (we don’t want to keep typing its name) also comes in flavors like grapefruit rosehip and blackberry honey.

The name of this product may be either a positive or negative, depending on the group of people you hang out with. Once you get past the name and whether you like applying lip balm from a tin, the product itself is priced right and works well.

More info on Blue Q Lip S##t Lip Balm:

  • Packaging: Tin, 0.3 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Lanolin, coconut oil, beeswax
  • SPF protection: No
  • Taste/Scent: Vanilla/cardamom
  • Best for: Making a public statement with a good lip balm

Check​ Blue Q Lip S##t​ Price on Amazon

 

12. Alba Botanica Lip Care

Alba Botanica Lip Care SPF 25 Sunscreen, 0.15 oz.

A lip balm with a high SPF is great when you’re going to be spending time outdoors. But what if you’re going to be swimming, surfing, snorkelling or diving or just spending time at the beach? What you need then is a water-resistant sunblock for your lips that provides protection against the sun’s UV rays.

That’s when this Alba Botanica lip balm is at its best.

It’s inexpensive, but provides broad-spectrum SPF 25 protection, while being water-resistant for 80 minutes at a time. There are moisturizing agents in the Alba Botanica product as well, with cocoa butter, sunflower seed oil and aloe vera doing the job pretty well. What aren’t in this lipbalm are oxybenzone, PABA or nano-sunscreens (which from what we can tell, aren’t really an issue anyway), and for those concerned about the sea’s health, it’s biodegradable and there are no active ingredients which can harm coral reefs.

G+S has ranked several lip balms higher because of their SPF 30 protection, but this is the only one which is also water-resistant. It’s the right choice for those into swimming or water sports.

Looking closer at Alba Botanica Lip Care:

  • Packaging: Stick, 0.15 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, cocoa butter, aloe vera
  • SPF protection: 25
  • Taste/Scent: None
  • Best for: Wearing into the water

Check​ Alba Botanica​ Price on Amazon

 

13. Ski+Naked Lip Balm

Original Ski Balm, Natural Lip Balm and Sunscreen, Best Face Mask for Winter (0.6 oz)

This Original Ski Balm product takes things from the water to the slopes. Whether you’re a skier or a hiker this balm has been produced just for you, tested for effectiveness against sunburn and windburn in extreme cold, snow and at high altitudes. It’s also rated at SPF 30, to protect against the winter sun that reflects harshly on the snow.

Ski+Naked is allergen- and gluten-free, and moisturizes the lips with a combination of beeswax, coconut and sunflower seed oil. It comes in a “mountain mint” flavor provided by natural peppermint and spearmint essential oils, and uses sunblock ingredients like octinoxate, octisalate and oxybenzone.

We never knew there was a lip balm specifically designed for outdoor sportsmen, until we started our research. Skiers, snowmobilers and hikers who don’t already know about Ski+Naked – should.

Digging into the facts on Ski+Naked Lip Balm:

  • Packaging: Stick, 0.15 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Coconut oil, beeswax, sunblocks
  • SPF protection: 30
  • Taste/Scent: Mint
  • Best for: Outdoor winter sports

Check​ Ski+Naked Price on Amazon

 

14. Hurraw! Sun Protection Lip Balm

Hurraw Sun Protection (SPF 15, Tangerine, Chamomile) Lip Balm

Here’s another lip balm that’s designed for protection against both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. It only has a SPF 15 rating, and does contain zinc oxide, but the telltale white color of zinc oxide is barely visible as this balm applies virtually clear.

What distinguishes this product from the other “sun protection” products we’ve looked at is that it’s not only certified organic, but certified vegan and certified cruelty-free as well.

Its ingredients include coconut, olive, sunflower seed and sweet almond oils, cocoa seed butter and candellila wax, cold-pressed and processed at low temperatures to maintain their essential properties. That makes it quite effective, but also rather expensive. Oh – there’s one other thing that makes Hurraw! stand out from its competitors: it comes in 24 different flavors.

The lower SPF 15 rating knocked Hurraw! down our rankings, but it’s a great moisturizer and sun-protection choice for vegans who don’t mind paying a higher price.

The skinny on Hurraw! Sun Protection Lip Balm:

  • Packaging: Stick, 0.15 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Coconut oil, cocoa seed butter, zinc oxide
  • SPF protection: 15
  • Taste/Scent: 24 available
  • Best for: Vegans

Check​ Hurraw! Sun Protection Price on Amazon

 

15. Vaseline Lip Therapy Lip Balm

Vaseline Lip Therapy Tins, 4 pk

Our final choice is for traditionalists – and for guys who think they’ll lose a little of their masculine aura by pulling out a tube or stick of anything fancy when their lips get sore. This certainly isn’t fancy; it’s 100% purified white petrolatum, better known as petroleum jelly.

It’s not the healthiest thing for your lips, but the oils, waxes and paraffin in the jelly do moisturize and seal lips, which is one reason Vaseline has been around for so long. The other reason? It’s dirt cheap, compared to most of the alternatives on our list.

Vaseline reminds most of the review team of our mothers, and it doesn’t have many of the attributes of the higher-ranked products on our list. It’ll help chapped lips in the short-term, though, it won’t seem like your significant other bought you a fancy lip balm.

More on Vaseline Lip Therapy Lim Balm:

  • Packaging: Tube, 0.35 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Petroleum jelly
  • SPF protection: No
  • Taste/Scent: Vaseline (you know what that tastes and smells like)
  • Best for: Traditionalists

Check​ Vaseline Lip Therapy​ Price on Amazon

 

Best Lip Balm for Men Buying Guide

You don’t need to read marketing statistics or academic research to know that more women than men buy lip balm. That’s why most lip balms are designed to appeal to women. Men with dry, chapped lips are more likely to pick up a tube of nasty-tasting Chapstick loaded with harmful ingredients, instead of choosing an alternative that’s healthier and much better for their lips.

It’s a shame, and not just because the prevalence of fruit-flavored, lip balms aimed at female customers reinforces many guys’ belief that “real men” don’t put anything on their lips. It’s also a shame, because men need lip balm as much as women. In fact, they may need it even more.

Most benefits of wearing lip balm are obvious. It seals in essential moisture, protects the lips from the drying effects of cold, wind and even air conditioning, and – if it’s a high-quality product – quickly soothes and heals dry and chapped lips.

But the hidden benefit of a good lip balm is its ability to protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays. That’s where many guys miss the boat. More men than women work outdoors, where they’re exposed to harsh UV rays on a daily basis; even if they religiously apply sunblock before heading to work, they don’t protect their lips – and studies show that men are more likely to develop skin cancer than women.

Have we convinced you that lip balm isn’t just for women?

Great. Let’s help you choose the best product.

 

Ingredients, Ingredients, Ingredients

This is the lip balm equivalent of the real estate cliché “location, location, location” that answers the question “What three factors are most important when buying a house?”

We won’t say that ingredients are the only factor to consider when choosing lip balm. What we will say is that any factor other than ingredients is in distant fourth place. It’s not hard to understand why. There’s really nothing else to think about when evaluating lip balm, except for its packaging and price.

A balm’s ingredients determine whether a balm can provide lips with the moisture they need, if it can exfoliate dead skin cells, if it can repair and replenish damaged skin, if it can soothe or heal lips that are raw or irritated, and if it can protect lips from the effects of wind, cold and sun. A lip balm’s ingredients also determine the product’s form (whether it’s applied by stick, from a tin or from a tube), its feel on the lips, its taste and its scent.

In the same way that there’s no single recipe for delicious chocolate cake, there’s no “perfect” combination of lip balm ingredients that the review team can share.

Instead, we’ll take a closer look at the ingredients commonly found in lip balm, placing them into categories we’ll call “the good, the bad and the ugly.” As you’ll see, not all of the “good” ingredients are right for everyone, so please use this list as a guide and not a bible.

 

Lip Balm Ingredients: The Good

Lanolin:

Lanolin is an outstanding lip moisturizer, because its molecular structure is very similar to the oils naturally produced by the human body. Its high fat content also makes it extremely effective in creating a breathable skin barrier, which keeps moisture in the lips to keep them hydrated. (Lanolin is made from sheep’s wool, so it is not vegan.)

Unfortunately, a large number of people are allergic to lanolin. Experts think that’s because of increased exposure, since the substance is used in so many skin care products. If you find that lip balm with lanolin is causing you to break out, try using one with the next ingredient on our list instead.

Beeswax:

This is another non-vegan ingredient, which comes close to lanolin in its ability to soften and hydrate lips, and establish a protective barrier to lock in moisture for long periods of time. Beeswax is also rich in nutrients good for the skin, and is known to be an effective antioxidant. Some people have skin sensitivity to beeswax, but that’s pretty uncommon.

If you’re looking for a vegan alternative to beeswax, candelilla wax has very similar properties.

Hyaluronic Acid:

This doesn’t really behave like an acid, so no worries there. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring molecule that’s produced by the body and is a crucial component of skin. It can hold 1,000 times its own weight in water, making it an outstanding moisturizing agent that keeps lips hydrated and plump throughout the day. And since the body recognizes it as a “friendly” substance, it’s quickly absorbed and works to boost the skin’s health. Hyaluronic acid is also believed to have anti-aging properties.

Shea Butter:

Most good lip balms include at least one natural oil or butter. Shea butter, made from the nuts of African shea trees, has a high percentage of fatty acids which act as moisturizers for the lips and help with skin regeneration. It is also an anti-inflammatory, protecting against environmental damage and helping to soothe chapped or cracked lips. One additional benefit: it helps protect against the sun’s UV rays and is commonly found in sunblocks.

Some skin types don’t take well to shea butter, which can potentially block pores. That’s not usually an issue with the ingredient’s use in lip balms, though.

Cocoa Butter:

Cocoa butter, a fat that’s extracted from cocoa beans, is very similar to shea butter and provides most of the same moisturizing and revitalization benefits when used in lip balm. The one big difference is that cocoa butter does not protect against the sun; in fact, it’s often used as a tanning agent.

Coconut Oil:

Here’s one more oil which is a powerful ingredient for lip moisturizing. Made from the fruit of coconut palms, this oil is also an anti-inflammatory, and helps to promote the healing and repair of damaged lip skin while encouraging the production of new collagen.

There’s a downside, however, for people who are prone to acne or rosacea. Experts call coconut oil a comedogenic, which means it can block pores and produce blackheads on oily skin. Lip balms containing coconut oil are best for those with normal or dry skin.

Sugar or Green Tea:

Yes, we’re serious. Both of these ingredients can act as exfoliants, removing dead skin cells from the lips, so a small amount of either sugar or green tea in lip balm can help lips stay healthy.

 

Lip Balm Ingredients: The Bad

Castor Oil:

You’ll find castor oil in a large number of lip balms. There’s no question that this oil packed with fatty acids is a strong cleanser, moisturizing agent and conditioner. However, researchers say that more than half of all patients are actually allergic to the ricinoleic acid in castor oil, and that it’s the primary cause of chapped lips among those who use lip balms.

If your lips tolerate castor oil, it’s a great lip balm ingredient. If not, and there’s better than 50% chance that your lips won’t, ditch your current product and try another one that doesn’t have castor oil in it.

Vitamin E:

Many people look for a lip balm that’s high in Vitamin E content, because it’s an antioxidant which can help heal dry and cracked lips, while fighting dryness and flakiness. That’s all true, but too much Vitamin E can cause more problems than it fixes. Studies have found that one-third of all people have an allergic reaction to large amounts of Vitamin E, developing contact dermatitis – which, on lips, shows up as chapping. In other words, Vitamin E can either help with, or cause, chapped lips.

Vitamin E occurs naturally in many other lip balm ingredients, so there’s no need to buy a product with additional Vitamin E added to it. If you find your balm is making things worse and not better, Vitamin E could be the culprit.

 

Lip Balm Ingredients: The Ugly

Petroleum Jelly:

Some professionals advise consumers to avoid lip balms that contain petroleum jelly because it’s made from refined petroleum, which can easily be contaminated with potentially cancer-causing agents during the refining process. There’s a more down-to-earth reason, though; this jelly doesn’t allow air to pass through it (in scientific terms, it’s not permeable), so it prevents lips from getting the oxygen they need to remain healthy.

Parabens:

You’ve undoubtedly seen warnings about health and beauty products containing parabens, preservatives commonly used in skin products. Many people find that their skin reacts badly to parabens, but that’s not the biggest issue with them. Parabens have also been found to interact with the functioning of the body’s endocrine system, causing hormonal issues “at best” and contributing to reproductive disorders and cancer in the worst case scenarios.

BHA and BHT:

These are two more common preservatives which are said to stop bacteria from growing in health care products. However, they’re also been associated with serious hormonal issues, bodily toxicity and cancer. They’re definitely on the G+S “ugly” list.

 

Lip Balms for Men: Fragrances and Flavors

Most men aren’t overly concerned with the fragrance of their lip balm. To a lesser extent, they don’t pay much attention to the flavor.

Even so, there are guys who like a slight fragrance that plays well with their cologne or masks the odor of other ingredients in their lip balm, and there are some “masculine” scented or flavored lip balms on the market as well.

The G+S review team feels that everyone is entitled to their own preferences, of course. But we do have a warning (and you can pass it along to the woman in your life, as well). A large number of fragrances and flavorings added to lip balms can cause problems, creating chapped lips or other reactions. This isn’t just a matter of “natural vs. artificial,” either. It’s always a good idea to avoid artificial additives, but some totally natural additives can cause the same issues. “Cooling” ingredients like peppermint oil, eucalyptus, camphor and menthol are among the biggest offenders.

We’re not saying you should completely avoid scented or flavored lip balms. But you should know that they have the potential of making lip issues worse, and should be among the first ingredients to suspect if you experience a bad reaction to your lip balm.

 

Lip Balms for Men: SPF

We’ve already discussed the importance of protecting lips against the sun’s UV rays, and the best way to do that is with a lip balm which includes ingredients that combine to provide a SPF factor anywhere from 15-50.  

Some of the ingredients commonly added to lip balm for sun protection are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; just be aware that some can dry out your lips, and most will leave a slight white powder or tinge on your lips. In most cases, they’re worth it.

 

Other Considerations

There are three major forms in which lip balms are sold: sticks, tins and squeeze tubes. We’ll leave it to you to decide which type of product may (or may not) be more masculine-looking, but the convenience of stick application, which doesn’t leave gooey lip balm on your fingers, appeals most to the review team.

In the 21st century, most people automatically consider organic and natural products to be “better” than products containing synthetic ingredients. There’s a good reason for that: it’s basically true. The G+S rankings include some non-organic lip balms on our top 15 list, however, because we feel their positives somewhat outweigh the negatives of synthetics they may contain. When the decision is a toss-up, though, we’d always advise the natural choice.

Finally, some products will appear more “manly” than others, although that’s obviously a judgment call. We’ve looked for products which feature colors, scents and packaging which might be more appropriate for guys – but above all, remember our mantra: ingredients, ingredients, ingredients. After all, there’s no point in buying a masculine lip balm that won’t get the job done.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Lip Balm for Men

Q: How long does an application of lip balm last?
A: It depends on the product, what else you’re doing (like eating or drinking), and how often you lick your lips. Most applications will last for an hour or two.

Q: Do lip balms expire?
A: Yes, after 1-2 years, so don’t use the one you just found under your car seat. Most have an expiration date printed on them.

Q: Is there such a thing as using too much lip balm?
A: Believe it or not, there’s really a phenomenon known as lip balm addiction. It happens most commonly with medicated lip balms that contain ingredients like camphor or menthol; users like and become accustomed to their tingly sensation, and can actually become addicted to it. There’s a problem with that, however; good medicated balms can heal sores but they also dry out the lips, so users keep slathering on the lip balm to moisten them, wonder why their lips are still dry, and put on even more. Lip balm should be used when needed, but not to an extreme.

Q: Do I really need to worry about putting on SPF lip balm when I go outdoors?
A: Yes, because lips contain very little melanin to protect them against ultraviolet rays.

Q: Should lip balm be worn over or under lipstick? (This question is for the women in the audience.)
A: Under, so the ingredients can come into constant contact with the lips.

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