If you’re like me, you constantly reapply lip balm throughout the day. It’s a deskside ritual—and full-blown habit—and if I don’t have lip balm with me wherever I am, I feel lost. In the current work-from-home climate, I haven’t been as diligent about using SPF-infused formulas because I’m rarely outside, but now that warmer weather is approaching and beckoning me from my desk, I find myself sifting through my lippie stash to make sure I’m fully stocked.
“It is very important to protect your lips with sunscreen because sun exposure leads to collagen destruction, resulting in thinner, sun-damaged lips—it can also lead to skin cancer,” says Fresno, CA dermatologist Kathleen Behr, MD, who recommends an SPF 30. “If you do get diagnosed with skin cancer on the lips, it is very important to get lip carcinoma treated early because it has a higher risk of metastasizing due to the increased vascularity of the lips. Squamous cell carcinoma appears on the lip as a rough patch, growth or persistent sore. I see more skin cancer on the lips in men because they do not wear lipstick or gloss, which can be protective.”
These are 10 formulas—a mix of newbies and cult-classics—we recommend to keep your lips protected this summer (and all year long).
New this week is this 100-percent reef-safe, nonsticky lip balm from Thrive Causemetics that wraps lips in serious moisture thanks to Hydro Mask Matrix technology, mango seed butter and a trio of rich oils: argan, maracuja and sweet cherry. It comes in two delicious flavors, Fresh Mint and Sweet Tangerine, and both apply clear and velvety-smooth.
First, let me start by saying I love just about every flavor combination eos dreams up, but coconut and watermelon for summer are two I can never get enough of. Broad-spectrum SPF 30 mineral sun protection at this price point is hard to beat, and the brand’s SuperShield shea complex keeps lips moisturized so you don’t have reapply all the time (but it tastes so good, you might want to!). It’s also water-resistant up to 80 minutes, so feel free to jump in and cool off, knowing your lips are sealed from the sun.
Tennis superstar Venus Williams made headlines when she launched her EleVen collection in collaboration with Credo last year—her face sunscreens go on smooth and are undetectable on darker skin tones—and now she’s adding mineral SPF lip balm to the mix. Available in four shades depending on what you’re in the mood for, the balm-gloss blends seamlessly into lips with zero white cast.
Looking for anti-aging benefits and multiple levels of sun protection in one swipe? This advanced formula features the brand’s signature DNA Enzyme Complex to correct existing sun damage while shielding lips with broad-spectrum SPF 20 from zinc oxide, a High Intensity Radiation Complex and an antioxidant blend.
Creamy and long-lasting (you don’t need to apply it every 15 minutes like some lip balms), this formula contains a mix of 7.5-percent octinoxate and 7-percent zinc oxide, in addition to 5-percent Hydromanil, which delivers immediate and long-term moisturization—it’s a great option for those prone to dry or chapped lips. Brooke Shields recently opened up about the pre-cancer her dermatologist found on her lip, and now she swears by this lip balm, saying she doesn’t go a day without it.
For those who prefer a hint of color, this vegan formula is an editor-favorite. Chock-full of shea, avocado and olive butters, as well as avocado oil for another layer of silky moisture, it comes in three shades—Bare, Blush and Ruby—that look good on everyone, and it stays put all day (though experts recommend reapplying every two hours, as you would traditional sunscreen).
One of my personal favorite lip balms all year-round, this super silky one is adored by men and women alike and comes in a variety of flavors to suit every preference: Natural Mint & Shea Butter, Shea Butter & Vitamin E, Lemon & Shea Butter, Pineapple Mint (this one is so good), Black Tea & Blackberry, and Grapefruit & Ginger.
Five pretty, wearable shades and five-star reviews: This gloss is Dr. Behr’s favorite and comes backed by the rigorous sun-protection studies and research Colorescience is known for. Broad-spectrum 6.6 percent zinc oxide combined with the brand’s trademarked Maxi-Lip Peptide to condition and plump the lips, makes for a winning formula. It also contains vitamin E to defend against free radicals and hyaluronic acid to hydrate.
This beach bag essential continues to get rave reviews for its texture, moisturizing factor—shea butter is the key ingredient here—and nourishing properties that give parched lips major TLC. Plus, it meets the dermatologist-recommended SPF 30 threshold. This is one formula you’ll quickly fall in love with and run to tell all your friends about.
Burt’s Bees All-Weather SPF 15 Moisturizing Lip Balm ($7 for two)
Burt’s Bees’ cult-favorite, conditioning lip balm gets the addition of zinc-infused sun protection that is meant to be worn year-round and swapped in for your regular lip balm if you’re going to be outdoors or exposed to the sun (even on cloudy days!). You get the same beloved matte finish and 100-percent natural ingredients the formula is known for, but with an extra level of UV defense.