9 Tinted Lip Balms That Will Make You Ditch Lipstick Forever

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they realize — slowly at first, then suddenly, and all at once — that the things their younger selves once thought of as weird and lame might actually have been cool all along. Reba McEntire, whose albums your mom would sing along to when she was white-wine drunk? Cool. Tucking your shirt into a pair of high-waisted jeans? Cool. Shag haircuts? Cool. Staying in on a Saturday night with no one but the TV and your dog to keep you company? There is literally nothing cooler.

Also extremely cool, highly underrated, and often written off as boring or, worse, basic: tinted lip balm. No longer the province of people who just don’t have the balls to wear real lipstick and make a real statement, tinted lip balm is experiencing a renaissance. It is making a statement, and that statement is, “Fuck your Kylie Lip Kit.”

In fact, one might even see the emerging trend — with best-selling brands like Pat McGrath, Giorgio Armani Beauty, and Origins getting in on it — as the backlash to the popularity of the impenetrable matte liquid lip, which has been a long time coming. Tinted lip balm is here to remind us that effortlessness is also cool, and that a razor-sharp liner and a pointed concealer brush are not prerequisites for wearing lip color. So queue up “You Lie” and get swiping… no mirror necessary.

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Lick. Pucker. Drool. Chew. The shade names aren’t the only thing about this balm that’s inherently suggestive: The plumping, your-lips-but-sexier glaze it leaves behind is also pretty hot — as is the newly-expanded shade selection, which ranges from a pale peach to a deep merlot.

Flesh Beauty Fleshy Lips Lipstick, $18, available at Ulta Beauty

What looks like bold color in the tube actually translates to eight sheer, easy shades, all with a finish that’s not just glossy, but straight-up juicy, thanks to a buttery blend of flower waxes, hydrating oils, and honey that cushions and plumps lips as it moisturizes.

Origins Blooming Sheer Lip Balm, $20, available at Origins

The newest addition to the cult-classic Sugar lineup, this effortless rosy-beige shade is impossible not to love — or look really, really good in, for that matter.

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15, $24, available at Nordstrom

With a smooth, almost gel-like texture and a formula packed with antioxidant-rich caper oil, this balm is meant to enhance your natural lip color rather than just tint it, thereby creating the illusion that you just so happen to wake up every day with your lips that flushed and dewy. (Rest assured: It smells nothing like actual capers.)

Giorgio Armani Beauty Neo Nude Ecstasy Balm, $34, available at Nordstrom

Could it be — the most indulgent lip balm ever? Packed with shea butter, which deeply hydrates and smooths dry lips on contact, and spiked with just the right amount of sheer pigment, this formula is both satisfyingly creamy and surprisingly long-lasting.

Pat McGrath Lip Fetish Lip Balm, $38, available at Sephora

This color-adjusting glow-up-in-a-tube does all the things that eight hours of sleep, a cup of coffee, and a liter of water is supposed to do — which is to say, make you look fresh-faced and youthful in a way you haven’t since you were actually fresh-faced and youthful.

Dior Dior Lip Glow, $34, available at Sephora

There’s no better way to spend $55 on a lip balm than to invest in this smooth, sumptuous formula, which comes in four shades that promise to adapt to your individual pH for oh-so-subtle customized color. What you get is a soft, glossy tint, plenty of plant extract-powered moisture, and the materialistic satisfaction of whipping out the sleek, expensive tube whenever you could use a swipe.

Tom Ford Lumière Lip Color, $55, available at Nordstrom

Straddling the line between proper lipstick and tinted balm is this good-for-you favorite. The pigments are 100% natural, the nourishing ingredients are plentiful, and if you’re looking for the perfect middle ground between hydration and full color potential, congratulations — you’ve found it.

Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner, $28, available at Ilia

At the three-way intersection of fun, luxe, and practical, you’ll find this zebra-striped twist-up stick. Moisturizing phytosqualane ensures lips never go thirsty, and provides a smooth, shiny finish in a wide array of shades which magically never emphasize dryness.

Sisley Paris Phyto-Lip Twist Tinted Lip Balm, $50, available at Nordstrom

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