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There are few things we love more than beauty products that can do more than one thing, tinted lip balms being at the top of the list. For starters, you get the hydration of a lip balm, along with a subtle wash of lip color, truly giving you the best of both worlds.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
Because tinted lip balms tend to be on the more sheer side, they couldn’t be easier to apply. They’re also ideal when you’re going for that no makeup-makeup look. “I love using tinted lip balms, because they can give just a hint of color to the lips,” says celebrity makeup artist Todd Harris. “They can also be used as blush for an uber-natural look,” he adds (further proving our multi-tasking point).
We conducted hours of research on the best tinted lip balms, evaluating them on hydrating ingredients, pigment, and shades. Our team then combined these results with our own research of fan favorites plus makeup artist-recommended picks to create this list.
Ahead, find the best tinted lip balms for a soft and pigmented pout.
Best Overall: W3ll People Lip Butter SPF 15 Tinted Balm
Clean and cruelty-free
Has mineral-derived SPF
Beautiful texture and color
Could be more shades
This pick checks all of the boxes (and then some) when it comes to being a lip balm and offering color. In the balm department, jojoba and raspberry seed oil ensure that it’s deeply nourishing and moisturizing and that moisture lasts long after you apply it. The three shades (there’s also a clear variant) add just the right amount of medium coverage, and they can easily be built up if you want more, with a satin finish that makes lips look fresh and healthy. We also like that it has a mineral-derived SPF, which is hard to find in lip products.
Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Satin | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.07 oz | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shade Range: Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm
Creamy, emollient texture
Shade range could be expanded
This oldie-but-goodie really has stood the test of time. The crayon shape will make you smile, though the slightly tapered tip also makes more precise application a breeze. It also comes in an extensive selection of 14 shades, a lot for any tinted lip balm. Harris is a fan of the options, noting that there are everything from nudes to deep plums available, though Curvy Candy, which is a sheer, bubblegum pink, is his personal favorite.
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Satin | Shades: 15 | Size: 0.1 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Bargain: Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm
Provides long-lasting hydration
Color could last longer
Nothing against the OG, beloved lip balm from this brand, but this tinted version really gives it a run for its money. You get the same, deeply hydrating formula of the original (thanks to shea butter and botanical waxes), infused with sheer pigments that look fresh and are easy to wear, says Harris of one of his picks. The wallet-friendly price doesn’t hurt, either.
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Satin | Shades: 5 | Size: 0.2 oz | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Long-Lasting: Honest Beauty Tinted Lip Balm
Glides on easily
Lips feel hydrated
Scent could be improved
As a general rule of thumb, tinted lip balms aren’t going to offer the longest-lasting color (for that you need a liquid lipstick). Still, this choice somehow manages to stay put, imparting not only hours of hydration but also color, too. The avocado oil-based formula is super-moisturizing, and the six shades are diverse yet wearable. (There’s a clear option, too.)
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Satin | Shades: 7 | Size: 0.1 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Subtle Color: NARS Afterglow Lip Balm
Provides long-lasting hydration
Muted, pretty shades
Tinted lip balms are pretty subtle by definition, but this pick is one of the sheerest of the bunch, great when you really want just the subtlest kiss of color on your lips. Moni oil keeps your pout smooth and supple, while all of the eight shades impart a wash of pigment. We also like that there are both shimmery and non-shimmery shades available.
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Radiant | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.1 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Subtle Color, Runner-Up: BLK/OPL Lip and Cheek Tinted Balm
Can be used on cheeks
Gives a glow
Limited shade range
Another good pick when you want a "barely there" look, this option comes in two universally flattering shades, a shimmery nude and a pinky rose gold. They work equally well on lips or cheeks (always a plus in our book), and the formula is loaded with moisturizing cocoa and shea butters, along with antioxidants vitamins E and C.
Coverage Level: Light | Finish: Shimmer | Shades: 2 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Drugstore: Physicians Formula SPF 15 Murumuru Butter Lip Cream
Very pigmented color
Can get a little melty if too warm
The namesake ingredient in this drugstore buy makes it extra creamy and cushiony, truly fulfilling all of its lip balm duties. It contains SPF, too, and while it only comes in three shades, they’re all extremely pigmented, offering complete color pay-off in just one swipe.
Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Cream | Shades: 3 | Size: 0.12 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best High-Shine: Jamie Makeup The Bloss
Refreshing peppermint scent
Easy to accidentally dispense too much onto the tip
We love when makeup artists create products, and this is no exception. In case you missed it, the name is a mash-up of "balm" and "bloss," and, indeed, the skinny, twist-up tube looks more like a traditional lip gloss. Shea butter and hyaluronic acid do the hydrating duties, while the color is rich and pigmented and has that sheen and reflectivity you’d get from a gloss. Still, it’s not in the least bit sticky or tacky, and we also love the refreshing peppermint scent. We’re just hoping she expands to have more than two shades soon.
Coverage Level: Full | Finish: Shine | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.085 oz | Byrdie Clean: Yes| Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Clean Formula: Mara Algae + Moringa Sea Silk Lip Balm
Clean and cruelty-free
Scent may be off-putting to some
Can be a bit sticky initially
This brand, best known for its face oil, recently expanded into the lip category, and we couldn’t be happier. This balm comes in both a clear and a tinted version; while there’s only one shade, the coral hue is universally flattering. It looks pretty pigmented coming out of the tube, though it goes on surprisingly sheer, making lips look supple and healthy. (And if you want to amp up the color, it is easily buildable.) A laundry list of natural butters and oils keeps lips moisturized.
Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Satin Shades: 1 | Size: 0.5 oz | Byrdie Clean: Yes| Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Clean Formula, Runner-Up: Henne Organics Luxury Lip Tint
Clean and cruelty-free
“This comes in a beautiful range of colors in a standard sick formula that provides full-on hydration along with pops of color,” says Harris who is a fan. “It’s also not overly waxy, so you can use it on cheeks, too,” he says. To that point, it comes in eight gorgeous colors. Use one coat if you want to keep the effect more sheer, or layer it to make it more opaque. As for the clean part of things, the minimal ingredient list is made up mostly of natural oils and waxes; the formula is 89% organic.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Cream | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.15 oz | Byrdie Clean: Yes| Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Splurge: Clé de Peau Lip Glorifier
Offers multiple benefits
Works well alone or layered under lipstick
Not clean or cruelty-free
We know, the price tag on this one elicits some sticker shock, but trust is, it really is worth the price. It’s a tinted balm, yes, but the unique combo of oils it uses also makes lips appear plumper and smoother, and it acts as a primer, too. Use it underneath your fave lipstick to up the performance. It glides on super-smoothly, and we also like that it’s not so creamy that it smudges and smears easily.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Shiny | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.09 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Multi-Tasker: Lanolips Tinted Lip Balm
Great for lips and cheeks
High level of sun protection
Formula could be more hydrating
Breaking news: Your lips need daily SPF, too. This pick makes it easy to both protect and pretty up your pout in one easy step. It offers zinc oxide-derived sun protection in three shades—a bronze, berry, and blush—and is meant to be used on either lips and/or cheeks. The sun protection is also water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, making these a must-have for beach or pool days.
Coverage Level: Full| Finish: Cream | Shades: 3 | Size: 0.32 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Plumping: Caliray Glazed & Infused Lip Plumper Gloss
Offers comfortable, subtle plumping
Great shade range
Has a tendency to smear
While this may not technically fall into the category of a tinted lip balm, it’s so hydrating that we think it’s worthy of being dubbed as such. Case in point: It’s packed with emollient avocado oil that gives it a rich texture and feel, and water-binding prickly pear extract. As for the plumping part, it relies on biomimetic peptides, meaning there’s none of that uncomfortable burning or stinging sensation that can come along with many other plumping products. All of the six shades are super-wearable and flattering, and all of a high-shine finish though aren’t sticky at all.
Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Shine | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.25 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Tinted lip balms offer the best of both worlds, giving you both hydration and color in one easy swipe. The W3LL People Lip Butter SPF 15 Tinted Balm is our top choice, a clean, creamy formula that has the added benefit of containing SPF. The classic Clinique Chubby Sticks Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm has the best shade range out there (14 hues to choose from, to be exact), while the Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm is a great affordable pick.
Meet the Expert
What to Look for When Buying a Tinted Lip Balm
When Ceme is on the hunt for a new lip balm, she says, “First and foremost, I look at the ingredients. I like to make sure that they're natural, clean, or naturally derived.” Hydrating oils like avocado oil or grapeseed oil are great places to start, and you’ll also want to look for emollient ingredients like shea butter, sugar, and botanical waxes meant to lock moisture in.
Consistency is a major thing to keep in mind when considering a lip balm. "A thicker consistency tends to last longer,” recommends Ceme. Essentially, leave the watery formulas to glosses that are more focused on shine than hydration.
Not all tinted lip balms are created equal. Some are simply there to hydrate and offer a slight boost to your natural lip color, while others perform more like a sheer lipstick. To guide your shopping decisions, determine the sheerness or opacity of the look you’re going for.
What’s the Difference Between Lipstick and Tinted Lip Balm?
"The difference between a tinted lip balm and lipstick is that lipstick isn’t necessarily hydrating, while a lip balm is supposed to be nourishing and hydrating," says Ceme. You’ll also see a difference in the actual pigment payoff, with balms being more on the light, sheer side, while a lipstick’s primary concern is color.
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How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Tinted lip balms are, hands down, her preferred lip products of choice; she always has one on hand. Most of the ones featured on this list are currently stashed in her makeup drawer.
Lugović-Mihić L, Pilipović K, Crnarić I, Šitum M, Duvančić T. Differential diagnosis of cheilitis - how to classify cheilitis?. Acta Clin Croat. 2018;57(2):342-351. doi:10.20471/acc.2018.57.02.16