I talk a lot about the importance of religiously applying sunscreen, and I always ramp up my motherly lecturing when it starts to warm up. I know that it’s a pain to constantly be thinking about protecting yourself from the sun, so I try my best to give you as many ways as possible to manage it without losing your mind.
Even if you’re good about remembering to apply enough sunscreen to your exposed skin, you might be forgetting one very important place: your lips. Yes, I know sunscreen tastes terrible, but it’s just as important to protect your lips as it is to protect every other part of your body. Your lips can get sunburned and accumulate dangerous sun damage just like all of your other skin, even though it’s easy to overlook them!
SPF lip balms have become easier to find in recent years than they used to be, but not all of them are great. I’ve tried a few that made me wish I had just put regular sunscreen on my lips.
Yes, I know sunscreen tastes terrible, but it’s just as important to protect your lips as it is to protect every other part of your body.
So, to keep you from regretting a bad SPF lip balm purchase, I’m going to give you a few helpful tips regarding what to look for and a list of some of the best ones I’ve tried.
Tips For Choosing an SPF Lip Balm
1. Buy something you’ll want to reapply
Most lip balms have an SPF rating that ranges from 15 to 30, but it’s important to remember that you’ll need to reapply a lot more often than you would with regular sunscreen. Talking, eating, drinking, swimming, and even just licking your lips can remove that protective barrier a lot faster than you might think, so you should make sure that you don’t mind reapplying frequently.
2. Make sure it’s at least SPF15
As with all other types of sun protection, SPF15 is the absolute minimum you should look for. A higher SPF is better, but again, you have to balance the SPF with whether or not you’ll actually reapply the product you’re buying as often as you should. So, if your options are a mediocre SPF30 balm or a great SPF15 balm, go for the one you like better.
3. Avoid sensitizing ingredients
Even though they often feel nice, ingredients like camphor and menthol can dry your lips out with frequent use. Some lip balms also have mild exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid that are supposed to help keep your lips smooth, but it’s better to skip those because the exfoliation plus added sun exposure is a recipe for sensitive, irritated lips.
You’ll need to reapply lip balm a lot more often than you would with regular sunscreen, so make sure you get one that you don’t mind reapplying frequently.
My Top Picks For SPF Lip Balms
1. Carmex Daily Care
This one is my ride-or-die, holy grail, buy-a-whole-box-at-a-time SPF lip balm. Yes, it’s only SPF15, but it’s so inexpensive, nourishing, and delicious that I genuinely never leave the house without at least two tubes.
My favorite is the cupcake batter flavor, but they have plenty of other options too. Unlike the medicated versions of Carmex, these lip balms don’t contain camphor, phenol, or menthol (except for the wintergreen flavor, so skip that one for vacations).
These balms are plush, comfy, moisturizing, and long-lasting, and if you’re heavy-handed with the application like me, they leave a semi-glossy appearance, which I like.
2. Supergoop Play With Acai
The Supergoop Play sunscreen is a great Western SPF option, so, unsurprisingly, the lip balm is equally nice!
This one is SPF30, and it also contains shea butter, vitamin E, and honey for added moisture. This one comes in a squeezy tube rather than a stick-style tube like the Carmex, and it has a slightly sweet taste. I’m probably going to pick up a tube for my post-vaccination trip to the beach this year because I need all the sunscreen I can get
3. Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm
This one is new to me, but I love it! The formula comes in a squeeze tube with an angled applicator, and it’s SPF25! It’s a bit thick when you squeeze it out of the tube, but it smooths on easily and contains shea butter, vitamin E, and antioxidants for added protection.
I’m really into the lemon flavor, but there are several to choose from!
4. Aquaphor Lip Protectant + Sunscreen
This is another cheap and wonderful drugstore option! It’s not as rich as other Aquaphor lip products that I’ve tried, so if you have seriously dry or chapped lips, you might be a little disappointed in the moisturizing power of this product compared to their other, non-sunscreen offerings.
Overall, I love that it’s SPF30 and super easy to find. It’s also less than $5 for a tube (I saw it on Amazon for less than $4!), so it’s one of the most affordable options with a higher SPF.
Bonus: Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted Balm
I know we’re all still wearing masks pretty much everywhere we go, but I like to keep a tinted lip balm in my bag for selfies or socially distanced dates with friends!
The Fresh Sugar Rose balm is SPF15 and leaves a flattering flush of color without being overbearing. In addition to the sunscreen, it uses sugar to preserve moisture and contains antioxidants and nourishing oils to make your lips feel soft and hydrated.
Do you have a favorite SPF lip balm that I didn’t mention? Share it in the comments so that I can add it to my embarrassingly huge lip balm collection!