I love fall, but there are two things that really grind my gears this time of year: I can’t use the Internet without being bombarded with advertisements for pumpkin spice everything, and my lips are so chapped that they feel like they could fall off at any moment. While there sadly isn’t a fix for my first problem (damn you, Starbucks), there is an easy way to deal with the second one, and it’s available at the drugstore.
There are approximately six lip balms in every bag that I own and another 13 sitting on my desk, so suffice it to say that I know a thing or two about this product category. The good news is that you don’t need to drop a zillion dollars to find one that works. Instead, it’s about looking for the best, most hydrating ingredients.
“I like to tell my patients to look for hydrating ingredients like petrolatum, lanolin, and hyaluronic acid when looking for a lip balm,” says board-certified dermatologist Sapna Palep, MD, of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. She advises staying away from anything with fragrance or flavoring, which could lead to even more chapping.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to drop big bucks on lip balm,” says Dr. Palep, confirming my theory that this is one product category you can certainly save on rather than doling out the big bucks. Here, she shares her favorite hydrating lip balms, none of which cost more than $10.
According to board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, hyaluronic acid is a real hero as far as lip balm ingredients go. “It retains water so well, so everything looks more ‘plump,'” he says. “At the drugstore, the Hydroboost Lip Treatment from Neutrogena is my personal recommendation—it’s inexpensive but actually works.”
Aquaphor is a favorite for many derms—including Dr. Palep—because it’s inexpensive and efficient. “I like Aquaphor lip repair which is a staple and lives in my purse for the winter! It’s a basic, no fluff essential to treat dry lips,” says Dr. Palep. As with other moisturizing balms, Aquaphor helps to seal in moisture and prevent water loss, which means your lips will stay hydrated even in the face of the despair of winter.
“Vaniply Lip Ointment is actually amazing for lips—it’s free of a lot of the chemicals that can actually cause dryness or irritation, and it feels amazing on,” says board-certified dermatologist Kathryn Dempsey, MD. It forms a protective layer on the skin, locking in moisture and keeping lips happy.
You should be using sunscreen all year round—including on your lips—which is why board-certified dermatologist Alyx Rosen, MD, is such a fan of this one from Nivea. It offers SPF 30 to protect your pout from winter and summer sun rays.