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What Is Lip Oil? The Science Behind the Viral Makeup Trend That’s So Much Cheaper Than Lipstick

Plus, 12 expert-approved lip oils to shop for right now!

If your lips tend to dry out like the Sahara desert, stop before you reach for that trusty Chapstick. A new category known as lip oils has emerged, and they are earning a spot in makeup bags for their ability to hydrate and nourish dry lips, plus double as a lipstick and, in some cases, a gloss. With the demand for lip oils rising (predicted to grow by 27% this year, according to Spate), people are catching on to the fact that they can get the perfect pout and maximum hydration in one inexpensive product. So what exactly is a lip oil and which are the best ones to use? We asked experts…keep scrolling to learn more.

What is lip oil?

pink lip oil
Ekaterina Chergik/Getty

“Lip oils are a hybrid of lip gloss and balm viscosity, being lighter than a gloss but denser than a balm or Chapstick. Lip oils typically contain an organic pressed oil concentration, like jojoba, argan, coconut, almond or avocado extract, which are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fatty acids that help rejuvenate lips and promote healthy skin,” explains Erika Luren, NP, optimal aging expert and founder of Parasol Aesthetics, Dermatology & Wellness Med Spa.

Lip oils also often contain emollient carrier ingredients like shea butter or cocoa butter, which help to lock in moisture and create a protective barrier on the lips. Humectants like glycerin or hyaluronic acid attract moisture to the lips, keeping them hydrated and plump. Ingredients like vitamin E or green tea extract may be added to lip oils to provide antioxidant protection, helping to shield the lips from environmental damage and premature aging, as can plant extracts like calendula, chamomile or aloe vera which are added for their soothing and healing properties.

What sets lip oils apart?

mature woman holding lip products

“While lip balms act as a protectant, locking in existing moisture on the lips, lip oils protect plus add hydration, moisture and softening to the lips due to the oil content. The extracts also can heal dry, chapped lips instead of just creating a temporary effect,” says Vivienne Somers, beauty director at on-demand beauty service Ring My Belle.

And what about lip glosses? “Gloss is thicker and stickier and tends to be waxy because it’s built for shine and to last longer on the lips,” says aesthetician and skincare influencer Cassandra Bankson. “It also usually doesn’t contain nourishing or hydrating ingredients like oils do.” 

If you’re intrigued by the lip oil craze and want to learn more, read on for the many benefits of lip oils! 

What are the benefits of lip oils?

Skincare experts and makeup artists are touting the many perks of using lip oils versus other lip products. Here are a few reasons they love them so much:

They last longer

“Oils can be thicker and take more time for the skin on your lips to absorb but still provide a lot of nourishment, which is why lip oils are more long-lasting on the lips than your regular lip balm. Think of them as a seal; the oil creates this seal on your lips, so the environmental agents that usually dry and crack your lips don’t affect them so easily,” explains Maria Rincon Djuro, makeup artist for KIKO Milano

They do double duty

Lip oils are a staple in the skincare-infused makeup trend. They have a thinner consistency than lip gloss and have more straightforward ingredients, making them more of a skincare item that doubles as makeup, explains Djuro.  Providing oils directly to the lips helps your body’s natural process and provides moisture, protection and superior support. “This is especially necessary when traveling on dry airplanes or to new climates, such as the snowy mountains or arid deserts, where humidity is lower, and the sun is more intense,” advises Bankson.

Related: 9 Skincare-Infused Makeup Products to Give You a Glow + Lasting Benefits

They’re not sticky

Lip oils are less likely to get tangled up in your hair. “If they do, it’s easy to wipe them off since our hair takes very well to some oils, whereas a sticky wax in someone’s hair is much more difficult to remove and deal with,” says Bankson. 

Their effects are instant

Unlike other lip products, you don’t have to wait for them to work over time. “They deliver a glossy and dewy look like a lip gloss while protecting your lips from dehydration and cracking,” says Djuro. 

You can use them as much as you want

While Chapstick is known to be drying with overuse, there’s no harm in slathering on lip oils multiple times a day. “With consistent use, your lips will feel better and healthier even when you’re not wearing them,” says Bankson. 

They act as a protective barrier

Bankson says that because they can both sit atop the skin and penetrate its layers, lip oils can provide a barrier against wind and pollution. 

You can layer them

The viral ‘double-glossing’ trick results from layering lip oils over other products like balms and lip glosses. “You can apply your favorite lip balm and favorite oil over it, taking the hydration to the next level and keeping that seal to make it super long-lasting,” advises Djuro.

The TikTok below from @gresaatic shows the easy way to layer on lips:


Double glossing with @nyxcosmetics_uk ✨💧Using shade #03 & Status Update secured by @withrosalind @resultswithrosalind #DoubleGlossing #nyxcosmetics_uk #withrosalind #nyxwithrosalind #onlytellyourbestfriends

♬ Fire for You (Sped Up) – Cannons

12 makeup artist-approved lip oils to try

Now that we know what lip oil is and why they deserve a spot in our handbags, here are a few to pick up on your next trip to the drugstore!

NYX Fat Oil Lip Drip

NYX Fat Oil Lip Drip

With its large paddle-shaped applicator and wallet-friendly price, this one is quickly becoming a fan favorite. Somers loves Fat Oil for its 12-hour hydration, high shine finish and an array of flattering shades. “Because it’s a little thicker, it’ll stick better to the lips and stay put for longer,” she says. 

e.l.f. Glow Reviver Lip Oil
e.l.f. Cosmetics

e.l.f. Glow Reviver Lip Oil

Glow Reviver adorns your pout with a clear top coat and glass-like shine while boosting your lips’ natural hue. With its ultra-plush applicator and minty-fresh scent, swipe it on over lipstick for glossy nourishment. “This lip oil feels lightweight, provides supreme hydration and is extraordinarily long-lasting,” says Bankson. 

Milani Fruit Fetish lip oil

Milani Fruit Fetish Lip Oil

Another budget recommendation by beauty expert Somers, this one has a “great tint, lively fruit extracts in both taste and scent and a large foam applicator, so it’s easy to pop on and go.” 



KUSH Lip Oil from cult-brand MILK comes in six sheer tinted shades with corresponding flavors. Each universal shade gives a sheer wash of color that works across a range of lip tones and delivers a burst of flavor with each swipe! 

Essence Hydra Kiss Lip Oil

Essence Hydra Kiss Lip Oil

Beauty influencers like Mikayla Nogueira love Essence’s Hydra Kiss Lip Oil. It provides intense hydration and a high-gloss finish with a hint of subtle color. 

KIKO Milano Days in Bloom Nutri-Glow Lip Oil
KIKO Milano

KIKO Milano Days in Bloom Nutri-Glow Lip Oil

Djuro swears by this clear flower-infused oil to layer on top of a lip balm for extra punch. “It’ll have a plumping effect to give you the ultimate full, glowy lips,” she attests. 

L.A. Girl Lip Oil
L.A. Girl/Target

L.A. Girl Lip Oil

Somers loves this bargain-buy oil, which is boosted with hydrating rosehip fruit oil and vitamin E. “It’s like getting all the benefits of a lip balm with the high-shine look of a lip gloss and feels silky smooth and lightweight when it’s on,” she says. “It also offers a slight shimmer.” 

Profusion Lip Oil

Profusion Lip Oil

If you’re looking for something sans pigments or scents, then this lip oil may be for you. “It’s super simple, has natural ingredients and is inexpensive at just $6,” says Somers. 

Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Pop Sun Gloss
Black Girl Sunscreen/Target

Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Pop Sun Gloss

Another favorite of Bankson, she calls this “one of the best that money can buy.” Lips are often forgotten in our sun protection, so this lip oil makes it easy to protect them. “This looks amazing on all skin, colors and tones, and it’s also got SPF 50 built-in so it is extraordinarily protective,” she adds. 

Related: Tinted Sunscreens Ward Off Sun Damage, Cover Skin Flaws and More — Learn Why Dermatologists Love Them!

Pixi Beauty Glow-y Lip Oil
Pixi Beauty

Pixi Beauty Glow-y Lip Oil

If you want minty moisture with a sheen, try this lip oil for size. “I also like that it is cruelty-free and made by a phenomenal female founder,” says Bankson. “The applicator is also unique, on a roller ball instead of a doe foot applicator or tube.” 

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Big Lip Plumpgasm Plumping Lip Gloss
Charlotte Tilbury/Sephora

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Big Lip Plumpgasm Plumping Lip Gloss

If you want a plumping gloss that feels like a lip oil (a.ka. as smooth as butter), we love this one by Charlotte Tilbury. It provides the perfect hint of color while giving lips a bit of pout and volume.

Related: At-Home Lip Filler: Dermatologists Weigh In on How to Get Fuller-Looking Lips for Less

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lip Oil

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lip Oil

Made with hyaluronic acid, this lip oil hits the hammer on the head for skincare-infused makeup. With just a sheer, light pigment, it’s the perfect lip oil for everyday wear.

For more of our favorite beauty products, click through these stories:

The Best Eye Creams That Fight Puffiness, Dark Circles and Wrinkles to Help You Look Younger

Best Bronzing Drops for Women Over 50 + Why They’re the Hottest Trend in Makeup

Here’s the Best Red Lipstick for Your Skin Tone + The Makeup Artist Trick to a Plumper Pout

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