The 10 Best Tinted Lip Balms of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Is it so much to ask for a pop of color, unlimited hydration, and never-ending softness? These lip balms don't think so.

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 Best Tinted Lip Balms of 2022 for a Subtle Flush of Color


Honestly, we live for a great tinted lip balm. We're always on the hunt for a hydrating, juicy wash of color that won't dry out our pout the way that many lipsticks tend to do. And with these natural-looking balms in hues of berries, cherries, and peaches, you don't have to sacrifice one bit of long-lasting hydration.

Considering there are so many tinted lip balm options — and many of them are great formulas — it was difficult to pare down our beloved tinted lip balms to only our very favorites, as featured on this list. To provide you with a highly curated list, our team of InStyle editors tested dozens of tinted lip balms, from the buzziest, most popular options to the tried-and-true stalwarts, and judged each one for color payoff, hydration, shine factor, longevity, and the overall way it looked on our lips. From there, we collected all the data and ranked each product. The the top scoring tinted lip balms earned a spot on our list.

Best Overall

NARS Afterglow Lip Balm

NARS Afterglow Lip Balm


What We Love: The balmy texture and subtle shimmer makes this look more elevated than just a lip balm.

What We Don’t Love: You'll need to reapply often to maintain the color.

We loved the texture of this balm — it’s not too waxy but not too slippery either, and it stayed on our lips for a solid amount of time. It hydrated our lips after just one application (so we didn't find ourselves needing to constantly reapply throughout the day, except when we wanted a bit more color) and left them soft long after we swiped it on.

We love that some of the hues come with a bit of subtle shimmer, which can look very sexy when done right. And all of the colors are very wearable, although none are super bold or bright. Each shade offers a sheer wash of color in a way that might be hard for anyone to tell if you have a lip product on or not. In other words, they look very natural on the lips. But if you’re looking for a tinted lip balm with lots of color, keep scrolling for our favorite options for maximum color payoff.  

Price at time of publish: $28

Size: 0.1 oz | Shades: 9 | Scented: No

Best Drugstore

ChapStick Total Hydration Moisture + Tint

ChapStick Total Hydration Moisture + Tint


What We Love: It's equal parts hydrating and colorful.

What We Don’t Love: If you have chronically dry lips, you'll need to use a more nourishing balm in tandem.

The first time we tried these tinted lip balms, we were teenagers, but it was love at first swipe. These little drugstore numbers deliver a surprisingly vibrant color payoff, especially considering how affordable they are. And every one of the nine shades somehow looks great on our lips — and we tested them on skin tones ranging from the very light to the very deep, and they were flattering for all.

One of the downsides of this formula is that it’s not as moisturizing as some of the other picks on this list. Additionally, if your lips are dehydrated to begin with, get them back to neutral before using this balm because the color can slide and settle into dry cracks. Our solution was to first apply a sheer lip balm underneath, and then add the ChapStick balm on top. We also started to use a hydrating overnight lip oil to manage our parched lips, and our situation turned right around.

Price at time of publish: $5

Size: 0.12 oz | Shades: 9 | Scented: No

Best Splurge

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupté Shine Lipstick Balm

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupté Shine Lipstick Balm


What We Love: With 30 juicy colors to choose from, you'll never run out of options.

What We Don’t Love: The brighter hues may not look natural on some skin tones.

Every time we whip this one out of our bag and swipe it across our lips, we feel powerful. We love carrying around the sexy packaging, but aside from that, the color range and formula blew us away. Boasting a fully stacked roster of 30 shades, ranging from the bright and bold to the mauves and neutrals, the only question you'll have is how to choose just one (or if you're like us, you just keep adding to your collection).

"No matter how many lipsticks I buy, I always return to this one in the shade 44 Nude Lavalliere daily," says Irene Richardson, a producer and writer for InStyle. "The versatile color goes with everything I own and, frankly, it’s just a real treat to apply."

The silky, smooth and lightweight formula contains six highly nourishing natural oils for ultimate comfort, wearability, and out of this world shine. Not to be outdone, the antioxidant-rich pomegranate extract and smooth macadamia butter condition and soften lips.

"Swiping it on feels as luxurious as the brand itself — the formula is super lightweight and creamy, and it smells fantastic (like a fancy department store)," says Richardson. "Plus, the product hydrates my skin so well that my lips still look full and plump even once the color wears off." 

Our only caveat is that the lip balm doesn’t look like a light flush on your lips — it definitely looks more like a lipstick, although it feels like a silky, hydrating serum. All in all, it wears like a lush oil, but has the color of a great lipstick.

Price at time of publish: $43

Size: 0.11 oz | Shades: 30 | Scented: Yes

Best Clean

rms beauty Hydrating Tinted Daily Lip Balm

rms beauty Hydrating Tinted Daily Lip Balm


What We Love: It offers a nice, subtle color with a formula made with clean ingredients. 

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t last super long on the lips. 

rms beauty did a fantastic job creating their roster of high-performance products with clean ingredients — and the Hydrating Tinted Daily Lip Balm is a great example. This pick comes in nine shades, including pinks, reds, oranges, and plums. Thanks to beeswax, the texture feels waxier than it does slick. It’s also soy-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and fragrance-free, too. Sometimes, our sensitive lips can get irritated from fragrances, but we didn't have to worry about that when applying this to our lips. 

One of the downsides of this product is that it doesn’t stay on the lips for very long. However, hardly any lip balm will stay locked in place for as long as a liquid lipstick or stain might, so it's easy to look past.

Price at time of publish: $24

Size: 0.10 oz | Shades: 9 | Scented: No

Best Moisturizing

Keys Soulcare Comforting Tinted Lip Balm

Keys Soulcare Comforting Tinted Lip Balm

Ulta Beauty

What We Love: The formula is the lip balm equivalent of an intensely moisturizing body butter.

What We Don’t Love: The shade range could be better.

Need an ultra-hydrating formula to get you through colder weather? Try Keys Soulcare Comforting Tinted Lip Balm. The buttery soft this formula feels seriously conditioning without traces of stickiness, dryness, or tackiness, thanks to the included avocado and camellia seed oil, which deeply nourish the lips. The shade range could use a little innovation, though. We wish the berry-heavy range featured a pink or a blue-toned red in order to complement more undertones.

Price at time of publish: $18

Size: 0.1 oz | Shades: 6 | Scented: No

Best Natural Finish

ILIA Balmy Tint Hydrating Lip Balm

ILIA Balmy Tint Hydrating Lip Balm

Credo Beauty

What We Love: Both the shade range and the balm's slick texture are a dream.

What We Don’t Love: The round bullet makes for an imprecise application.

Unlike Keys Soulcare’s lip balm, we’re actually very impressed with the color options for ILIA's Balmy Tint Hydrating Lip Balm — and so is Delina Medhin, a celebrity and editorial makeup artist, who appreciates that she has many options for her clients. Within the eight shades, you can find pinks, reds, berries, and browns, complementing all skin and undertones. It has a natural finish that looks good on everyone. Plus, the formula features hydrating ingredients like rosehip seed oil and shea butter for a creamy application and long lasting softness.

"I really like ILIA's lip balm in the Wanderlust shade," says Chloe Anello, senior fashion commerce editor at InStyle. "I actually didn't know it was a lip balm when I first got it because it's pigmented like a lipstick. I love how creamy and hydrating it is, but it gives a bit more than a subtle flush of color. I got it for my mom, too, who loves it, as well."

Word to the wise: The round bullet means you definitely need a mirror to apply this one. And the buttery formula makes it a bit slippery. If you do mess up, though — happens to the best of us — it’s easy to wipe away without ruining the rest of your makeup.

Price at time of publish: $28

Size: 0.15 oz | Shades: 8 | Scented: Yes

Best Long-Lasting

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Lip Balm

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Lip Balm


What We Love: The striking colors last longer on lips than many other lip balms.

What We Don’t Love: It's not the most hydrating option on this list.

A tinted lip balm is nowhere near as long-lasting as, say, a matte liquid lipstick. But there are certainly tinted lip balms that will last longer than others, like Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Lip Balm. Not only does it come in five very flattering shades, but it also has a great color payoff, too, which stays on lips longer than some other options on this list. Additionally, the formula leans more waxy than buttery, proving that it will stay on your lips longer than a thinner consistency might. 

Medhin calls this balm “buildable” because “you can really intensify the color payoff,” she explains. Although a waxy formula doesn't deliver waves of hydration, it's still moisturizing enough to be comfortable while adding beautiful color to the lips.   

Price at time of publish: $36

Size: 0.1 oz | Shades: 5 | Scented: Yes

Best Color Payoff

Sunnies Face Lip Treat

Sunnies Face Lip Treat

Sunnies Face

What We Love: Each shade is extremely pigmented.

What We Don’t Love: The shiny gloss wears off after a while.

The Sunnies Face Lip Treat offers a moisturizing, shiny formula that delivers a solid dose of pigment as well. Although there are six hues to choose from, they're all in the neutral family, so if you're looking for a bright coral or a Barbie pink, you're not going to get it here.

Thanks to shea butter and collagen, this pick really hydrated our lips effectively after just one swipe. The colors for each balm definitely appear vivid on lips, and the balmy texture also offers a really lovely shine without the stickiness of a lip gloss. But as this is a balm and not an actual gloss, don't expect the glossiness to last longer than an hour between applications.

Price at time of publish: $16

Size: 0.10 oz | Shades: 6 | Scented: No

Best Shine

Pat McGrath Labs Lip Fetish Sheer Colour Lip Balm

Pat McGrath Labs Lip Fetish Sheer Colour Lip Balm

Pat McGrath Labs

What We Love: You can probably see the lovely sheen and shine from this lip balm from outer space. 

What We Don’t Love: It feels like you’re mainly paying for packaging.

"When it comes to a hydrating and subtle pigment for the lips, you can’t go wrong with Pat McGrath’s Lip Fetish Sheer Colour Lip Balm," says Jasmine Hyman, a writer and producer for InStyle. "Infused with hydrating shea butter and vitamin E, the formula imparts color with a glossy sheen, while also keeping the lips moisturized all day long."

The non-sticky formula is delightful, and it's also buildable, so you can customize how deep and rich you'd like your color to look. If you want a slight hint, slick on one coat, but for a bit of oomph, layer it up!

And although all seven of the hues will saturate lips with a shiny tint, we're particularly drawn to McGrath's more neutral options. "I personally love the shade Blow Up for a lavish and alluring glow that accentuates the natural color of my lips," says Hyman, of the creamy peachy coral color that glides on smoothly with a dewy finish.

We even love the dramatic packaging, which features a large, gold puckered up pout on the front of the sleek white bullet casing.

Price at time of publish: $39

Size: 0.08 oz | Shades: 7 | Scented: Yes

Best Sheer

Dior Addict Lip Glow Balm

Dior Addict Lip Glow Balm


What We Love: It’s the lip balm for those who want a super sheer wash of color. 

What We Don’t Love: The formula isn’t as moisturizing as others.

It just doesn’t get more iconic than the Dior Addict Lip Glow. I mean, are you even an It Girl if you don’t have this floating around somewhere in your purse?

We love this balm (just like everyone else) because of its large, inclusive shade range of 23 hues that can suit all skin tones. But as lush as the colors look in the packaging, each of the shades goes on sheer to give your lips a slight flush. One mega fan is Alyssa Kingham, production manager at InStyle, who swears by the hue 020 Mahogany, a brown-berry hybrid.

"This deep nude color transitions beautifully from day to night," she says. "The formula gives lips a blushing effect of color, instead of being highly pigmented. As a sufferer of dry lips, I also appreciate this formula's buttery consistency. It leaves my lips hydrated, and plump."

Price at time of publish: $40

Size: 0.12 oz | Shades: 23 | Scented: Yes

Our Testing Process

Over the years, our team of InStyle editors has tested dozens (if not hundreds) of tinted lip balms. To write this article, we made a list of our favorite products, and then narrowed that list down even further to just encompass our favorites that achieved can't-live-with-it status. From there, we evaluated each lip balm against a specific set of criteria, including its longevity, color vibrancy, gloss factor, hydration, and how it looked overall. Many of the tested lip balms were worn by more than one person, so we could gauge how it looked on various skin tones. We then collected all our insights, picked the top-performing tinted lip balms, and collected them here in this article. We also searched high and low across for more highly-rated lippies to give you a more well-rounded story.

What to Keep In Mind


According to celebrity makeup artist Mark de los Reyes, hydration is key. “We want our lips to be supple and hydrated,” he says. “So make sure to drink your water and hydrate from the inside out —then you can pick out a lip balm that can support and retain all that moisture.”

Look for ingredients like shea butter and vitamin E, which can be found in majority of these lip balms on this list, to make the most of your lippie.


The opacity of your tinted lip balm is a personal preference — do you want a balm that is super sheer with just a hint of color, or something that’s a little more buildable?

“I tend to opt for a lip balm that can give me a wash of color yet buildable enough for a sheer-medium coverage,” says de los Reyes. “This allows me just enough color while keeping the natural nuance of the lip visible.”

Anyone looking for a sheer shade should try Dior Lip Glow, while those interested in more payoff should opt for Sunnies Face.


Another thing to consider when purchasing a tinted lip balm is the texture of the formula — there are waxy semi-matte balms, silky oils, and juicy jellies. “The finishing texture is your story to tell. How do you want your lips to look and feel?” asks de los Reyes. “Maybe for a night out, try playing with an oil-based balm that has a little more shine and a smoothing silky texture.”

Your Questions, Answered

Can you use tinted lip balms overnight? 

Both Medhin and de los Reyes agree that using a tinted lip balm isn’t harmful for your lips, but might not be ideal for your pillowcases. “I typically do not use tinted lip balms overnight because I wouldn't want the color to transfer to my pillowcase,” explains Medhin. “For overnight wear, I would suggest a clear lip treatment.”

Although if you’re really desperate, wearing a tinted lip balm to bed is fine. “Let’s just say you were in a pinch and you were left with just the solitary tinted lip balm that’s been in your bag all day, and there was no way you were going to sleep without hydrating those lips,” says de los Reyes. “It would be perfectly fine to apply and blot the excess color away with a tissue, and then get to bed.”

Is it possible to over-use lip balms?

It’s debatable! “I’m personally addicted to keeping my own lips moisturized, and I’m aware that the more I use balms, the more my lips may feel as if they’re dependent on that daily or hourly swipe of moisture,” says de los Reyes. “This is why it’s important to go for products that will nourish and moisturize your lips if you apply your lip balms habitually — this way, if you do over-use, would it really be so wrong?”

Why Shop With Us

Daley Quinn is a freelance journalist, content strategist, and beauty industry expert with over ten years of experience. She loves washes of color and is always down to try the latest tinted lip balms to add some oomph to any makeup look. She interviewed two celebrity makeup artists, Mark de los Reyes and Delina Medhin, for this story.

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