Gear Guy

What Are the Best Lip Balms for Winter?

All those face shots tear up your lips. Here’s what you need to nurse them back to health.

What Are the Best Lip Balms for Winter?

Photo: Joe Jackson

To test the best all-natural lip balms, I went until late January without applying anything to my lips. The result: lots of cracking, bleeding, and pain. As you can guess, I was happy to finally uncap a variety of the market’s most popular ointments and start the healing process. 

The Test: I chose products with all-natural ingredients to narrow the field. And while I’m sure I’ve left out some brands, the following eight are some of the most common you’ll find in outdoor retailers. For the test, I applied them side by side on different parts of my lips and took notes every 15 minutes to see how each felt and how quickly they started to heal my chapped skin. Afterward, I continued the test by spending one full day with each stick to see how it worked over the course of 24 hours.


Portland Bee Balm 

With just three ingredients—beeswax, olive oil, and coconut oil—Portland Bee Balm is the simplest product here and the most effective. The area where I applied the balm immediately felt and looked better and continued to feel soothed throughout the night. After a full day of use, this balm almost completely healed my lips with no overpowering scent. Bonus points: it was also the least greasy of the bunch.

Buy: $3


All Good Certified Organic Coconut Lip Balm 

This balm also did a great job in both the short- and long-term tests for overall healing power. Like the Portland balm, this one didn’t have much tingle (which I like), and the subtle coconut scent wasn’t overpowering. Only downside? It was greasy and messy to apply.

Buy: $3.50


Lip Trip SPF 15

Lip Trip uses cinnamon plant derivatives to protect against the sun’s rays light so your lips won’t get burned, even if you’re out for hours on a bluebird day. Aloe and lanolin made it plenty soothing, but it had the worst smell of the bunch.

Buy: $3.70


Soothing Touch Lemon Cardamom Lip Balm

I could feel the Soothing Touch Lip Balm tamping down the inflammation in my lips almost immediately because of the calendula in its formula. After several hours, it kept my lips feeling good, but I found that it didn’t have quite the same long-term healing power of the Portland or All Good balms. It did smell the best of everything I tested (reminiscent of Lemonades Girl Scout Cookies).

Buy: $2.20 


Eco+Lips Medicinal Lip Balm

This was the most expensive balm, and it delivered the strongest initial punch, thanks to a mixture of peppermint and tea tree oil. These ingredients immediately started to soothe my lips but also left them slightly numb. Long term, Eco+Lips was right in the middle when it came to leaving my lips feeling less cracked and angry, but it didn’t completely heal them. 

Buy: $5


Badger Lip Balm Highland Mint

Badger Lip Balm, which also uses peppermint oil, had a more subtle initial punch than the Eco+Lips stick, which was nice. But it didn’t soothe quite as well as some of the other balms. I did, however, like the strong peppermint smell, which helped mask my coffee breath.

Buy: $3


Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Organic Lip Balm

I was expecting a one-two punch from this lip balm because the company’s peppermint soap is so strong, but it was surprisingly well balanced. The peppermint smell is also more subtle than that of the Badger balm. In terms of healing power, Dr. Bronner’s helped my lips both short and long term but didn’t stand out in any way.

Buy: $3


All Good Lips SPF 15 Original

All Good’s original formula uses zinc to deliver UVA and UVB protection. Hearty doses of calendula and comfrey put it on par with the best soothing lip balms from the non-SPF category. Unlike Lip Trip, this balm had a clean herbal and citrus scent.

Buy: $3.50

Filed To: Gear Guy, Downhill Skiing, Health and Beauty

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