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Lip oil: the underutilized, oft-overlooked, hybrid product that blurs the lines between gloss, lipstick, and lip balm, harnessing the best qualities of each into one super-product. The list of benefits for lip oils is impressively long.
Unlike lip balms, lip oils can penetrate below surface level to hydrate, heal, and repair the skin over time. Because lip oils are thinner, they’re able to penetrate more readily into the deeper skin layers. This allows for “more sustained hydration benefits than products that are limited to sitting on the surface, like chapsticks and lip balms,” says board-certified dermatologist Rachel Maiman. “Chapsticks and lip balms are typically composed of waxes, petrolatum, shea butter, and/or lanolin, which protect and moisturize on application, but are limited by an effect that is short-lived.”
Lip oils are particularly great for those that struggle with extremely chapped lips. “One of the reasons people with chapped lips find themselves so often feeling the need to constantly reapply chapsticks and balms is because their effects are temporary,” explains Dr. Mainman. “Lip oils mitigate this need by delivering nourishing ingredients in a more effective, longer-lasting way.”
Lastly, if you prefer a wash of color, rather than the traditionally clear texture, lip oils can do that, too. Often mimicking lipstick-level tones of coverage, a lip oil not only possesses skin-healing capabilities, it also can have an impressive tint that leaves lips bathed in color. And like a gloss, lip oils are impressively shiny – but unlike a gloss, they lack stickiness.
Top Lip Oils of 2022
- NYX Cosmetics #ThisIsEverything Lip Oil
- Burt’s Bees Lip Oil
- Wander Beauty Lip Retreat Oil Excursion
- Lilah B. Lovingly Lip Tinted Lip Oil Gloss
- Nooni Appleberry Lip Oil
- Haus Laboratories PhD Hybrid Lip Oil
- Ilia Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil
- Clarins Lip Comfort Oil
- Ciaté London Fruit Burst Lip Oils
- Jouer Cosmetics Essential Hydrating Lip Oil
- Lottie London Oil Slick
- InnBeauty Project Glaze Lip Oil
- Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Lip Oil Crystal Elixir
- Dior Addict Lip Glow Oil
- Merit Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil
- Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil
- Kosas Cosmetics Wet Lip Oil Gloss
- Ami Colé Lip Oil Treatment
Lip oil vs. lip gloss
While they both deliver a similar shine, lip oil and lip gloss differ on a few major basics. For one, a gloss looks gorgeous, but it’s superficial. Lip gloss is a makeup product designed to give lips a dose of color along with a glossy shine. Lip oils can give you that same high-gloss look but they also offer intense hydration, sinking far below the skin’s surface with key ingredients that heal lips.
A lip oil perfectly combines makeup with skincare. “Lip oils can be thought of as analogous to a concentrated serum, delivering more potent, optimally penetrating moisture-attracting and replenishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which help sustain hydration in between applications,” says Dr. Maiman.
“Most glosses and balms have a tackiness to them,” says celebrity makeup artist and founder of Jamie Makeup, Jamie Greenberg. “They also sit on top of the lip, while oil can penetrate the lip to treat it,” says Greenberg. She notes that a lip oil is more of a treatment meant to repair, while also giving a pretty glow.
What to look for in the best lip oils
“Lip oils are composed of oils from ingredients such as almond, olive, jojoba, coconut, avocado, hemp seed, castor oil, and rosehip,” says Dr. Maiman. “These natural ingredients contain fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants that are ultra-nourishing and hydrating.”
Here are a few key ingredients to look for in your lip oil and what they can do for your lips.
- Hyaluronic Acid: Strengthens the skin’s natural moisture barrier, calms irritation, and (temporarily) plumps out fine lines.
- Jojoba Seed Oil: Creates a protective barrier that effectively locks in moisture to keep lips visibly soft and supple.
- Vitamin E: Provides antioxidant benefits, helps promote healthy-looking skin, and acts as a natural conditioner.
- Meadowfoam Seed Oil: Supports the skin’s natural barrier to prevent future moisture loss.
Tinted vs. clear lip oils
Greenberg loves utilizing lip oils on her clients because they “feel like a dream and aren’t sticky.” Beyond the feel, some lip oils offer a hint of tint to add color to lips. She notes they can perform like a lip stain, imparting a deep shade that will last all day. Or you can simply layer a lip oil on top of a traditional lip stain or lipstick for an even longer-lasting gloss. On the other hand, a benefit of using a clear lip oil is that it’s truly universal: It goes with every skin tone and can be layered with any other lip product. “If you find one with no color tint, you can use it as a lip therapy while you sleep,” explains Greenberg.
How to apply lip oil
Lips are particularly prone to becoming dry because they naturally lack sebaceous oil glands like the rest of our skin has, notes Dr. Maiman. “The absence of oil glands means that lips do not produce natural moisturizing factors — elements that keep the skin’s outer layer protected and hydrated. Consequently, it can be very difficult for lips to retain moisture and why they often need products to keep them hydrated,” she says. Since lips are naturally dryer than the rest of the skin, they need a little extra prep before a lipstick application.
Firstly, because lip oils are basically skin care, think of treating the lip much like you would the rest of your face. Start by cleansing and exfoliating your lips with an effective lip scrub to remove any dead skin cells and buildup. Apply the scrub to dry lips, gently massaging it into the delicate skin, then wetting fingers and continuing to massage for at least 30 seconds. After rinsing off, pat dry and then immediately swipe on your lip oil. This will ensure that the serum-like oil soaks into your lips even more fully so you reap every single benefit. Keeping lips hydrated all day will help ward off flakes and if you really need a boost, try locking in the lip oil with an emollient, like Aquaphor, which will seal in the oil into skin.
Now that we’ve whet your appetite for lip oils, see below for the 18 best lip oils available from clear to tinted to dermatologist-approved, here are the best of the best.
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NYX Cosmetics #ThisIsEverything Lip Oil
- Size: 8 mL
- Color options: Sheer (clear), Sheer Berry (subtle berry), Sheer Blush (light pink), Sheer Lavender (wearable lavender), Sheer Sky Blue (cool-toned sheer blue)
- Key ingredients: almond, rosehip and jojoba oil (drenches lips in moisture and provides a silky texture)
If you’d like to dip your toes into the lip oil pool before diving in head-first, this $6 from NYX option is the best drugstore lip oil. It has a sweet vanilla-cherry blossom scent and comes in five sheer tones so you can find your perfect match. “It has the thickness of a lip gloss so it stays on your lips without running, but it’s the texture of an oil,” reported one Amazon reviewer. “If you can imagine a lip gloss with zero stickiness that literally slides across your lips, that’s what this is.”
Burt’s Bees Lip Oil
- Size: 7.98 mL
- Color options: Clear
- Key ingredients: passion fruit oil (hydrates and helps lips retain moisture)
This cost-conscious option from Burt’s Bees is one of Greenberg’s picks for a great lip oil. The formula features a trio of oils — meadowfoam seed, castor, and coconut — along with shea butter to create a super moisturizing mix that allows the oils to penetrate the lips while also forming a barrier around the lips for protection and long-lasting hydration.
Wander Beauty Lip Retreat Oil
- Size: 10 mL
- Color options: Spring Break (warm rose), Tan Lines (mauve nude), Skinny Dip (nude)
- Key ingredients: apricot kernel and avocado oil (deeply moisturizes lips); rosa canina fruit oil (heals and protects)
This Lip Retreat Oil is a true multitasker: It possesses the nourishing qualities of an oil, the shine of a gloss, and the color of a stain or sheer lipstick. With a handful of rich oils designed to melt into lips, the oil simultaneously soothes as it shines. And speaking of multitasking, this lip oil could easily double as a blush on the go.
Lilah B. Lovingly Lip Tinted Lip Oil Gloss
- Size: 3.5 mL
- Color options: b.romantic (petal pink), b.elegant (nude), b.brilliant (peachy nude), b.bold (brick red), b.remarkable (berry red), b.sincere (rose pink)
- Key ingredients: bilberry seed oil (intensely hydrates and provides barrier protection); milk thistle extract (repairs and protects skin’s natural moisture barrier); vitamin E (nourishes and softens lips)
This concentrated formulation gives more coverage than most lip oils and with six shades to choose from, you’ll never get bored. Inspired by her desire to produce a beauty line with clean and ethical ingredients, Lilah B. founder Cheryl Yannotti Foland’s beloved line is simple to use and thoughtfully constructed — a true win-win.
Nooni Appleberry Lip Oil
- Size: 3.5 mL
- Color options: Appleberry (pink tinted), Appletea (clear), Applemint (clear, mint-infused), Applecoco (clear, coconut-infused)
- Key ingredients: raspberry seed oil (hydrates); vitamins A, C, and E (heals and nourishes)
It’s no surprise that Nooni, a Korean-inspired brand, offers the best K-beauty lip oil. It’s brewed with botanical extracts and vitamins to restore and repair the lip’s delicate skin and also swaths them in a soft petal-pink shade. It’s a hit on Amazon, too, with users loving the oil texture and feather-light formula. “The perfect solution to my multi-year search of trying to find a lip product that enhanced my natural lip color while keeping my lips moisturized,” wrote one Amazon reviewer. “It’s not too sticky and lasts longer than a typical ‘gloss.’”
Haus Laboratories PhD Hybrid Lip Oil
- Size: 7 mL
- Color options: Neutral (clear), Tint (sheer pink), Primary (sheer red), Secondary (sheer orange), Hue (sheer berry)
- Key ingredients: prickly pear oil (calms and hydrates); vegan collagen (smoothes); plant squalane (softens); plant peptide complex (lasting hydration)
Haus Labs was created by the makeup icon herself, Lady Gaga. Unsurprisingly, her makeup line is filled with bold, clever, and easy-to-use products, like this half-serum, half-stain lip oil. Each glossy wash of color contains pH-reacting pigments, which means that the base shade transforms into a deeper or lighter hue based on your body’s chemistry, leaving you with a tint that is uniquely and exactly customized to compliment your skin tone.
Ilia Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil
- Size: 4.3 mL
- Color options: Tahiti (burnt coral), Saint (rust orange), Maybe Violet (soft lavender), Linger (berry mauve), Only You (neutral nude), Petals (tropical pink)
- Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid (long-lasting hydration); salicornia herbacea extract (shown to improve hydration by up to 6,000 percent for smoother lips); meadowfoam seed oil (locks in moisture)
Drench lips in moisture with this from Ilia tinted lip oil packed with hyaluronic acid and botanical extracts and oils. Not only do lips look plumper and smoother, but they’re more hydrated and protected thanks to hyaluronic and meadowfoam seed oil. They’re available in six shades to add a glossy finish. “I have chronically dry lips so I’m hesitant to put on lipstick or any sort of lip color that is bold,” wrote one Sephora reviewer. “This is a great shade and stays glossy for hours. It added a nice pop of color and didn’t accentuate my dry lips. It actually made them feel better.”
Clarins Lip Comfort Oil
- Size: 7 mL
- Color options: 1 (honey-toned sheer), 2 (raspberry), 3 (cherry), 4 (bright pink), 5 (orange-pink), 8 (strawberry), 9 (brown nude), 10 (plum)
- Key ingredients: organic sweetbriar rose oil (manually harvested and rich in omega-3 and -6 to comfort lips) organic jojoba oil and hazelnut oil (nourishes and hydrates)
One of the pioneers within the lip oil category, Clarins has some of the best hydrating lip oils available, and they come in a gorgeous variety of shades, too. It’s been recently reformulated to include a trio of plant oils for even better hydration and the applicator has also been updated to a new curved sponge that hugs the lips. The sheer colors and mirror-like shine glide over lips for an everyday, wearable look. Plus, the sheer honey tone can be worn at bedtime as an overnight lip treatment.
Ciaté London Fruit Burst Lip Oils
- Size: 10 mL
- Color options: Watermelon (ultra-sheer pink), Mango & Lime (clear), Yuzu & Grapefruit (sheer champagne), Lychee & Acai (sheer berry)
- Key ingredients: Each color has its own blend of ingredients, but all feature vitamin E for healing
Take a tropical vacation with one of Ciate’s fruity lip oils. All four varieties were formulated with a blend of botanical oils and essences. Each tube is named after their star ingredient — Watermelon, Mango and Lime, Yuzu and Grapefruit, Lychee and Açai — to condition and soothe dry lips. For just $16, you get a non-sticky, nourishing balm with a dose of hydration and juicy flavor.
Jouer Cosmetics Essential Hydrating Lip Oil
- Size: 4.8 mL
- Color options: Sheer pink nude
- Key ingredients: Apricot Oil (replenishes dry lips); Jojoba Seed Oil (creates a protective barrier to lock in moisture); Vitamin E (acts as a natural conditioner)
Jouer Cosmetics is serious about clean formulas: They’ve packed this moisturizing lip oil with 99 percent plant-derived ingredients. The sheer, non-sticky oil imparts an impressive shine, leaving lips glowing with a single swipe, but really, it’s the ingredient list that shines. Vitamin E, mulberry fruit extract and apricot, rice bran, jojoba seed, sunflower oils will drench lips in healing hydration. “A lip oil that’s ACTUALLY a lip OIL,” noted one Sephora reviewer. “I’ve tried many ‘lip oils’ that were actually just shiny gloss until I found this one. No stickiness, no dry lips afterward.”
Lottie London Oil Slick
- Size: 3.8 mL
- Color options: Vanilla Whip (clear), Peachy Cheeks (peach-tinted sheer), Extra Cherries (sheer hot pink), Strawberry Dreams (medium pink)
- Key ingredients: almond oil (soothing hydration)
Lottie London is the Gen-Z sister to nail and beauty company, Ciate London, and the formula here mimics Ciate London’s Fruit Burst Lip Oils but it delivers more of a burst of poppy color. Infused with almond oil for hydration, along with cherry and vanilla extracts for a boost of flavor, this juicy Oil Slick is a steal at $6.95.
InnBeauty Project Glaze Lip Oil
- Size: 6 mL
- Color options: Glaze #1 (cherry-tinted), Frose (frosted sheer pink)
- Key ingredients: jojoba oil (nourishes and heals); fermented pomegranate (gently exfoliates); plant-based plumping complex (plumps lips immediately and overtime)
Founded by beauty industry veterans, InnBeauty Project is designed to be clean, sustainable, and effective — without the marked-up price tag. These tinted lip oils went viral a few years back for their impossible ease of use and versatility. This oil-gloss hybrid feels ultra comfortable on lips, leaving you with a touch of color and sleek shine.
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Lip Oil Crystal Elixir
- Size: 8 mL
- Color options: Clear
- Key ingredients: sqisandryl (helps lips appear plumper); swertian leaf extract (reduces the appearance of lip lines); alpine rose (creates a barrier against dehydration); hyaluronic acid (hydrates and nourishes)
It’s hard to find a product launched by Charlotte Tilbury that isn’t a bestseller, and this Lip Oil Crystal Elixir is no different. In fact, it’s the number one luxury lip treatment in the UK. The serum-like formula boasts a plethora of deep conditioning ingredients to soothe lips instantly, while also boosting volume. The lip oil has also been clinically proven to boost hydration by up to 157 percent in just an hour and moisturize for up to 24 hours after application. Even better, the crystal rollerball deposits the perfect amount onto lips (and is wonderfully addicting to roll-on).
Merit Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil
- Size: 7 mL
- Color options: Bel Air (clear), Au Naturel (blush), Marrakech (soft peach), Pink Beet (cool-toned pink), Taupe (brown nude), Cara Cara (red orange), Sangria (deep berry), Falcon (deep brown)
- Key ingredients: Rosehip Oil (supports a healthy barrier function); Shea Butter and Grapeseed Oil (conditions and softens lips); Jojoba Oil (locks in moisture)
Merit is a clean beauty brand that was developed to help you pare down your skin and makeup routine into just the essentials. And this tinted lip oil is just the thing to reach for when you want to wear color, but don’t want to worry about your lipstick smudging or caking all night. Available in eight shades, the super smooth texture feels like an oil but wears like a stain to drench lips in color that won’t budge one bit.
Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil
- Size: 7.5 mL
- Color options: Clear, At Night (brick red), Icon (poppy red), Cameo (peony pink), and Adorn (mauve)
- Key ingredients: Volulip (often found in lip plumpers to boost lips); Viamerine (reduces the appearance of wrinkles); Saliporine-8 (boosts natural moisture levels)
According to Dr. Maiman, Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil is one of the most hydrating lip oils out there and in her opinion, the best lip oil for dry lips. “The No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil is loaded with more moisture-attracting ingredients and environmental stress-fighting antioxidants than any lip oil I’ve found on the market,” she explains. “It contains vitamins A, B5, C, and E, as well as lipid-rich rosehip, olive, and green tea oils.” So not only will it deeply moisturize lips, but it also has an opulent 24-karat (and antibacterial) gold-plated tip to help calm a stressed out pout.
Kosas Cosmetics Wet Lip Oil Gloss
- Size: 4.6 mL
- Color options: Jellyfish (clear), Unzipped (milky pink), Unhooked (creamy rose beige), Unbuttoned (soft warm pink), Malibu (bright pink), Dip (neutral pearly nude), Fruitjuice (magenta), Jaws (warm red)
- Key ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid (hydrates); Peptides (visibly plumps); Evening Primrose Oil (hydrates and protects lips)
Greenberg is a fan of this vegan, sticky-free oil by Kosas, noting their gorgeous array of colors. It’s known as an “oil gloss,” meaning it has the high shine and durability of a gloss, but has the soothing properties of an oil. “This formula is easy to apply even without a mirror and can [be] thrown in a purse and appl[ied] in the car even on a bumpy road,” wrote one reviewer. “Makes my lips look nourished as if I drank a gallon of water,” they added.
Ami Colé Lip Oil Treatment
- Size: 4.5 mL
- Color options: Sheer Rosy (taupe nude)
- Key ingredients: Baobab Seed Oil (moisturizes lips); Camellia Oil (long-lasting hydration); Passionfruit Seed Oil (healing antioxidant)
Made in Harlem by industry veteran Diarrha N’Diaye-Mbaya, Ami Colé is a clean beauty makeup brand that was developed specifically for melanin-rich skin. The gorgeous, skin-loving formulas are thoughtfully-curated, especially the beloved Lip Oil Treatment. This universally flattering rosy-taupe shade has everything you could want in a lip product in one single tube: A shiny, mirror finish, a tint of color, and intensive lip care. This gorgeous 3-in-1 is one of the best natural lip oil treatments available. Run, don’t walk to grab your own.
Dior Addict Lip Glow Oil
- Size: 6 mL
- Color options: Pink (light pink), Rosewood (flush pink), Raspberry (hot pink), Cherry (pink red), Coral (orange), Berry (berry plum), 000 Universal (clear), Mahogany (brown nude)
- Key ingredients: cherry oil (heals and moistures)
After going viral on TikTok last year, this Dior Lip Glow Oil is the hot commodity to purchase right now. It’s currently sold out nearly everywhere, but we found it in stock — so run, don’t walk. This oil has an ever-growing fan club for its ability to highlight your natural lip color, but with a juicy, healthy sheen. It’s a foolproof lip oil that feels so buttery smooth you’ll forget you’re wearing anything.
Meet The Experts
Dr. Rachel Maiman is a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist.
Jamie Greenberg is a beauty industry vet who has painted the faces of some of today’s most in-demand stars, such as Rashida Jones, Kristen Stewart and Kaley Cuoco. If you like the classic girl next door look or soft glam, she’s the artist for you.