Listen, I love lipstick as much as anyone, but it’s pretty much the last thing I want to put on my face when we reach peak summer weather (especially now that cloth face masks are a part of the deal—no, thanks). That’s why I’m kinda obsessed with what I’ve found to be an excellent alternative: tinted lip balm. And, nope, I’m not talking about that medicinal cherry balm you loved in junior high. I mean lightweight, moisturizing balms that actually stain your lips like a lipstick.
And after a zillion swipe tests, I found the best tinted lip balms of 2020 that are not only brightly pigmented, but are also filled with super-hydrating (and not-at-all-sticky) moisturizers like shea butter and jojoba oil. Swipe these on until it’s safe to bring your fave lipsticks out of hiding—or, TBH, until you forget why you ever wore lipstick in the first place.
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Best Fragrance-Free Tinted Lip Balm
Dr. PawPaw Tinted Multipurpose Soothing Balm
As someone who avoids fragrance at all costs (my skin is sensitive, y’all), it can be pretty hard to find a tinted lip balm with simple, gentle ingredients. That’s why I’m obsessed with this soothing lip tint from Dr. PawPaw. Not only is it totally fragrance free, but it’s also spiked with papaya fruit (aka pawpaw), aloe vera, and olive oil for a deeply hydrating finish.
Best Tinted Lip and Cheek Balm
Tower 28 Beauty BeachPlease Tinted Lip + Cheek Balm
What’s better than a tinted lip balm? A tinted lip balm you can also use on your cheeks, duh. This multipurpose balm from Tower 28 offers sheer (but buildable!) color and gentle, skin-friendly ingredients (think: soothing green tea and aloe vera extracts). Throw this bb in your bag and prepare to use it constantly.
Best Subtle Tinted Lip Balm
KNC Beauty Supa Balm
Looking for a lip balm that gives you color but not, like, too much color? Smooth this balm along your lips and the moisturizing formula (hi, morgina, cotton, and kuku oils) will leave you with a soft, natural-looking tint. Think of this one as your lips but a liiiittle better.
Best Shimmery Tinted Lip Balm
Pat McGrath Labs Lip Fetish Lip Balm
Consider yourself warned: This lip balm might look a tad wild coming out of the tube (prepare to see hella sparkles) but once you blend it across your lips, you’ll see why it has so many glowing reviews on Sephora. Not only does it feel nice and silky on your skin, but it also leaves you with a shimmery, pearlescent finish that looks solid on its own or layered with gloss.
Best Tinted Lip Balm Butter
Hue Noir Perfect Moisture Lip Butter
Jojoba oil, vitamin E, and shea butter are just a few of the moisturizing ingredients in this tinted lip balm from Hue Noir. The best part, though, is that it comes in six ultra-flattering shades, including a warm copper, a subtle rose, and a deep wine.
Best Hydrating Tinted Lip Balm
Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment
I genuinely love everything about this tinted lip balm (and that’s coming from someone who has tried a lotttt of ’em). It comes in 14 super-pretty shades and it’s infused with a hydrating blend of avocado, jojoba, and grapeseed oils.
Best Tinted Lip Balm with SPF
Sun Bum Tinted Lip Balm in Bon Fire
Best Glossy Tinted Lip Balm
Laneige Lip Glowy Balm
Like the idea of a tinted lip balm but still want a glossy finish? This K-beauty favorite has all the moisturizing benefits of a lip balm (shout out to the formula’s shea butter), but with a glossy—and non-sticky!—peach finish.
Best Tinted Lip Balm and Lipstick Hybrid
Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner
Consider this pick the ideal middle ground between a lipstick and a tinted lip balm—you’ll get the perfect amount of color payoff (available in 16 shades, BTW) and a dose of intense moisture, thanks to avocado and sunflower seed oils.
Best Multitasking Tinted Lip Balm
Glossier Balm Dotcom
There’s a reason Glossier’s Insta-famous Balm Dotcom has such a massive fan base. The cherry-tinted formula is loaded with castor oil and beeswax (both of which work to hydrate dry, cracked skin), and it’s lightweight enough that you can also slather it on your cuticles, knuckles, elbows, and any dry spots that could use a little TLC.
Best Natural Tinted Lip Balm
Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Tinted Lip Balm
There’s a good chance this tinted lip balm is already living in the bottom of your purse, since it’s basically the definition of a cult-favorite product. The formula is 100 percent natural, ridiculously hydrating, and available in six pretty shades. Myfavorite? Rose, which leaves my lips with the slightest wash of pink.
Best Plumping Tinted Lip Balm
Buxom Powerplump Lip Balm
I usually stay away from plumping lip balms, since I hate the gritty texture that tends to come with them. This oil-rich formula, however, feels soft and silky when I sweep it across my lips, so I’m left with just a subtle tint and a bit of plumpness that looks totally natural.
Best Color-Changing Tinted Lip Balm
Catrice Tinted Lip Glow Balm
Don’t be alarmed by its Barbie-pink hue—this tinted lip balm goes on sheer and uses the individual pH level of your lips to intensify your natural color. The balm is also super buildable, so feel free to layer it on (and on) if you’re after a bolder look.
Best Shimmery Tinted Lip Balm
Tinted Lip Balm
This tinted lip balm (which is housed in the coolest slide-top packaging) is spiked with lavender essential oil and beeswax to condition your lips, along with a shimmery pigment that leaves behind a soft shimmer and a blackberry stain.
Best Drugstore Tinted Lip Balm
Maybelline New York Baby Lips Glow Lip Balm
Full disclosure: This soft-pink lip balm was my go-to in high school, but I still have it in my purse today because of its shockingly soft and hydrating formula. And, you know, because of its drugstore price tag.
Best Full-Coverage Tinted Lip Balm
Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm
I get it: Sometimes you want full-coverage lip color, even if it’s eight-billion degrees outside. Enter this lightweight, moisturizing lip balm from Clinique, which gives your lips noticeable color that rivals a lipstick’s, without any of the dryness (courtesy of the formula’s castor seed oil, shea butter, and mango seed butter).
Best Sheer Tinted Lip Balm
It Cosmetics Je Ne Sais Quoi Hydrating Lip Treatment
A blend of super-hydrating butters and moisture-retaining hyaluronic acid makes this tinted lip balm an actual delight for dry, sensitive skin. Plus, the semi-sheer color is subtle enough for all-day wear and won’t leave your lips with a weird faded ring of color.
Best Tinted Lip Balm and Lip Scrub Duo
TrèStiQue Sugar Polish + Plumping Balm
This funny-looking stick is a true multitasker—on one end is a sugar-infused lip scrub that gently buffs your dry, flaky skin, and on the other end is a creamy, tinted lip balm. Pro tip: Make sure you use a damp cloth to remove any leftover lip scrub before you slather on the balm.
Best Natural-Looking Tinted Lip Balm
Dior Lip Glow
Not only does this luxe lip balm look ridiculously pretty on its own (I use Coral Glow, shown here, for a soft, peachy tint), but it also layers incredibly well with lipstick. Use it as a primer, or wear it on top of your lipstick for a shiny, finishing touch.
Best Affordable Tinted Lip Balm
E.l.f. Cosmetics Essential Lip Kiss Balm
Guess what? Tinted lip balms don’t have to interfere with your wine budget. Case in point: This skin-softening formula that gets the job done for $2. I highly recommend slathering this on to hide the lip stains from your third glass of wine. You’re welcome.
Best Scented Tinted Lip Balm
Revlon Kiss Lip Balm
I love scented lip balms and I don’t care who knows it, alright? This affordable option from Revlon comes in five scents (I’m obsessed with Berry Burst) that aren’t the slightest bit overpowering—just sweet and low key.
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