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Does lip oil deserve a space in your beauty routine? Experts weigh in

Pucker up!
Woman putting on lip oil
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/ Source: TODAY

Lipsticks, lip glosses, lip stains, oh my! There are so many different lip care products in the beauty realm and it can be hard to keep track of what sets each of them apart from the rest. So when we saw that lip oils were having a moment, we decided to do some investigating and figure out what makes this trending lip category so special.

Just in case you fall in love with the product as much as we did, we also did some legwork for you and rounded up 19 lip oils that are worth your time and money.

What is it? | How does it work? | Benefits | Shopper favorites | FAQs | Meet the experts

What is lip oil?

At a quick glance, lip oils look a lot like lip gloss and have similar packaging. But the two products have some pretty significant differences.

"Lip oil is extra hydrating and more conditioning as it is absorbed into the lip over time, [while] lip gloss sits on top of the lip," celebrity makeup artist Stephen Moleski tells us.

The two products also have somewhat different finishes when applied to the lips. "Lip oils give a more natural shine, while gloss leaves a high gloss finish," celebrity makeup artist Renee Loiz says.

How does lip oil work?

Lip oil serves a dual purpose and can be thought of as a makeup and skin care product all in one.

"Lip oil acts as a humectant to protect and lock in hydration for our lips. It can also add shine without leaving lips feeling sticky," celebrity makeup artist Markphong Tram says.

The oil itself can fend off dryness and help heal existing cracks/dry areas.

"Lips do not have sebaceous glands so these oils are needed to keep lips hydrated and healthy," Atlanta-based makeup artist Keka Heron explains.

Per celebrity makeup artist Cara Lovello, lip oil's glossy appearance also "acts like a barrier" to keep nutrients in.

What are the benefits of lip oil?

Lip oils simultaneously give your pout a pop of color and some TLC.

"Lip oils are multitaskers. You can get the cute gloss you're looking for while still treating and hydrating your lips," celebrity makeup artist Amber Amos says.

Oils tend to be thinner in consistency than glosses and almost double as a lip treatment and a lip color.

"Because it’s an oil, it goes deeper into the lips for lasting hydration," Loiz notes.

Best lip oils, according to shoppers

TODAY staff pick

Haus Labs PhD Hybrid Lip Oil

Senior SEO editor Jess Bender is a fan of this sheer tinted lip oil whose pH-formulated shades offer custom color.

"I like to keep my everyday makeup look as minimalist as possible, but an effortless way to make me stand out is a hyper-glossy lip," she says. I've discovered lip oils during the pandemic and Haus Labs has been above and beyond my favorite discovery thanks to its hydrating properties and lusciously vibrant color range."

Best for dry lips

ChapStick Total Hydration Tinted Lip Oil

Hydration doesn't have to be boring! ChapStick's tinted lip oil comes in several hues ranging from nudes to pinks, and offers sheer color and subtle shine. With the help of two rock star ingredients (vitamin C and E), the popular product helps hydrate lips as it coats them in color. No wonder it has almost 3,500 verified five-star ratings on Amazon!

Jouer Cosmetics Essential Hydrating Lip Oil

Jouer's lip oil has three ingredients the pros swear by — apricot oil, jojoba seed oil and vitamin E — and is a true multitasker since it moisturizes, softens and smooths lips, all while making your pout shine. Other notable ingredients include rice bran oil, sunflower oil and mulberry fruit extract.

Ciaté London Burst Hydrating Lip Oil

Whether you prefer a golden or pink finish, this lip oil has a shade for every personality. The paraben-free, vegan formula is full of nourishing ingredients like vitamin E and watermelon seed oil, and combines the benefits of an oil and a gloss. It comes in four high-shine shades (we particularly love the Lychee & Acai hue), plus, according to reviewers, it smells absolutely delightful!

Best for high-shine

NYX Professional Makeup Fat Oil Lip Drip

Your pout will look as juicy as a candy apple with this high-shine lip oil that comes in eight shades. Whether you're a fan of pinks or browns or prefer a clear hue, there's something for everyone. The vegan formula contains several nourishing ingredients like raspberry oil and cloudberry oil, and keeps lips hydrated for up to 12 hours, according to the brand.

Best tinted

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Oil

All too often, we're forced to choose between high impact color and a moisturizing formula, but this little gem combines both desirable qualities in one affordable lip oil. The tinted, non-sticky formula is available in six shades — our favorite is a pretty pink named Showering Sunset — and works overtime to hydrate lips and potentially reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Milani Fruit Fetish Lip Oil

This affordable find works equally well on its own or over lipstick for an extra glossy finish. The tinted oil comes in four easy-to-wear flavors that lend your lips a healthy dose of hydration and shine. Plus, the price is so great that you can pick up a few shades without feeling guilty.

Merit Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil

With over 170K "loves" from Sephora shoppers, this tinted lip oil comes well recommended. The vegan formula features several top notch ingredients like rosehip oil, shea butter and jojoba oil, which join forces to hydrate, condition and soften lips. The long-wear formula comes in eight shades ranging from clear to brown.

Best with sunscreen

Classic Liplux Organic Hydrating Lip Oil Sunscreen SPF 30

Sun protection doesn't have to be boring. Case in point? This lip oil that offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection against the sun's harsh rays. Whether you wear it alone or under a tinted lip oil, your lips will feel hydrated and they'll also have a nice subtle shine.

Best clear finish

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Lip Oil Crystal Elixir

Want the benefits of a lip oil without the pop of color? This lip conditioner has you covered. It's formulated with hyaluronic acid and plant extracts that help hydrate and plump lips and it also helps improve skin texture. Other powerhouse ingredients include organic aloe vera and vitamins A and C.

Best custom color

Dior Lip Glow Oil

Finding a lip color that flatters your complexion isn't always easy, but Dior's Lip Glow Oil features color reviver technology that helps create a custom hue for everyone that tries it. Each of the eight available hues react to the moisture level in your lips to adapt its color, all while hydrating skin.

Best plumping

Gisou Honey-Infused Lip Oil

Gisou's honey-infused lip oil plumps, defines and hydrates lips with its blend of hyaluronic acid and Mirsalehi honey. Ideal for dry or chapped lips, the moisturizing formula can be used under your go-to lip color to add an extra dose of hydration.

Innbeauty Project Glaze Lip Oil

Plumping without the fillers? Sign us up! This vegan lip oil has a plant-based plumping complex that lends lips a juicy appearance over time, according to the brand. It also contains oils that hydrate and exfoliate skin and a high-shine, non-sticky finish.

Best variety of colors

Clarins Lip Comfort Hydrating Oil

This lip oil offers two pretty pinks if you're feeling girly, varying shades of orange and red for a touch of sass, a powerful plum, a bold brown and a universally flattering neutral hue. Over 24K Sephora shoppers have bestowed a "love" on the lightweight, non-sticky formula and it's easy to see why since it contains several nourishing oils like jojoba, sweetbriar rose and hazelnut.

Best easy-to-apply applicator

Almay Color & Care Lip Oil-In-Stick

Some lip oils actually come in stick format and this one from Almay has all the pizazz of a lip crayon balanced with the hydrating benefits of an oil. Evening primrose and sunflower oils blend together with buckthorn berry and abyssinian oil to create a lightweight formula that offers high-pigment color, shine and moisture.

Best universally flattering shade

Tarte Maracuja Glossy Lip Oil

Pretty in pink! You can't go wrong with a rose-colored lip oil, no matter what your complexion looks like. Tarte's take on the popular lip product stands out from the competition thanks to its unique formula. It contains maracuja oil, an ingredient that's chock-full of vitamin C and essential fatty acids. Other nutrients like macademia seed oil, acai fruit extract and antioxidant-rich cupuacu seed butter round out the formula.

Best unique formula

Flower Beauty Chill Out Soothing Lip Glaze

Drew Barrymore's beauty line includes this lip glaze/oil that's formulated with hemp-derived CBD. Coconut oil works hand in hand with the ingredient to condition, calm and hydrate the delicate skin on lips. It also comes in six shades ranging from pink and green to orange and peach.

Best budget-friendly

Burt's Bees Passionfruit Lip Oil

Coconut oil is one of the star ingredients in this Burt's Bees lip oil that's also formulated with hydrating passionfruit oil, shea butter and sunflower seed oil. According to the brand, it provides eight hours of moisture and a subtle shine, while simultaneously working to reduce the appearance of fine lines and leave lips looking smooth and healthy.

Bestselling fan favorite

Fenty Cherry Treat Conditioning + Strengthening Lip Oil

This multitasking lip oil that coats lips with a clear sheen and serves as a lip treatment. Suitable for daytime or nighttime use, the conditioning oil can treat chapped skin and plump and hydrate lips. The vegan formula is made up of a triple cherry complex and even smells like cherries. Sounds delightful, right?

Frequently asked questions

How often can/should you use lip oil?

Heron suggests using lip oil daily, especially if your pout is chapped or you have eczema on your lips. "It's great at night as a lip treatment," she says.

Tram echoes similar sentiments, adding that he prefers to use a lip oil more than a lip balm. "It just has a softer texture and lighter weight, and it's less sticky compared to lip balm and lip gloss," he says.

What ingredients should you look for in lip oil?

Since they're known hydrators, lip oils come with their own set of beneficial ingredients. The experts suggest keeping an eye out for these four in particular.

  • Coconut oil: "Coconut lip oils are my favorite. Any essential oils will offer antioxidants and extra moisture," Lovello says.
  • Hyaluronic acid: Lovello also says this ingredient is "great for moisture and offers plumping benefits."
  • Jojoba oil: "Jojoba seed oil locks in the moisture that keeps lips hydrated all day long," Moleski notes.
  • Vitamins A and E: "These help in healing and keeping skin tones even," Amos explains.

Can lip oils make your lips chapped?

Too much of a good thing is never really a great thing, and applying lip oil too frequently can make your lips start to rely on the product for moisture, according to celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon. "Even if they aren't super dry, they may feel that way by comparison," she says.

It's basically the same concept as over-applying lip balm, the makeup artist explains.

"Although lip oils do treat some of the chapping and go deeper into the skin, it’s only temporary. The constant reapplication and evaporation of the product can have an adverse effect and you might find yourself trapped in an unpleasant cycle."

For the most part, though, using lip oil only when needed will help you reap the benefits.

Meet the experts

  • Stephen Moleski is a celebrity makeup artist with over 20 years of experience.
  • Renee Loiz is a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist.
  • Amber Amos is a celebrity makeup artist.
  • Markphong Tram is a New York-based celebrity makeup artist.
  • Keka Heron is an Atlanta-based hairstylist and makeup artist with over 15 years of experience.
  • Cara Lovello is a New York and New Jersey-based bridal and celebrity makeup artist.
  • Lisa Aharon is a New York-based makeup artist.