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Is high-end lip care worth the hype? Dermatologist reveals best oils and balms to buy

Closeup of a young woman's lips on a colored background
Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Connie Yang reveals why lip oils might work better than traditional balms for ultimate hydration.

Kiss this lip-care myth goodbye.

Pricey lip products may carry slick branding and a cult following, but are those premium ingredients really paying off?

Lip oils and balms that promise long-lasting hydration, plumping and shine are fundamental to any skincare enthusiast’s arsenal. These nourishing products help retain moisture by creating a barrier to prevent water from being sapped from the delicate skin around your mouth, which has fewer sebaceous glands than other parts of the body due to being a mucosal surface, according to Dr. Connie Yang, a cosmetic dermatologist at PFRANKMD by Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank.

This dearth of natural moisturization factors makes lip products an important step in any daily skincare routine, Yang told The Post, especially during the winter when your lips are subject to frigid air and blistering winds.

But how does a glossy lip oil stack up against that forgotten tube of Chapstick brand lip balm in your coat pocket?

Lip oils are more easily absorbed by the skin of your lips, which naturally lack oil glands. Volodymyr – stock.adobe.com
Lip oils are more easily absorbed by the skin of your lips, which naturally lack oil glands. Volodymyr – stock.adobe.com

“I find that lip oils actually contain a higher oil content and can actually be absorbed into the lips better, so they’re actually better at hydrating in many ways,” Yang said, adding that the oils “tend to be more hydrating and plumping” than other products.

“Lip balms tend to be more of a mixture of waxes and butters, so they actually create more of a barrier and a film and help prevent moisture loss.”

Some balms, such as plain Vaseline and Aquaphor, are occlusive, meaning they retain moisture, but could actually cause further irritation and dryness due to added flavors, fragrances and pigments. Similarly, the same issue could arise when applying lip oils, especially “high-end” types, noted Yang.

While lip balms seal in moisture for a moisturized pout, added flavors, fragrance and color can cause further irritation. Africa Studio – stock.adobe.com
While lip balms seal in moisture for a moisturized pout, added flavors, fragrance and color can cause further irritation. Africa Studio – stock.adobe.com

If the end goal is smooth, supple smackers, flaking, chapping and cracking lips due to irritating ingredients are the last thing you want.

Yang warned against using products containing propylene glycol and sulfates, while encouraging shoppers to look for hyaluronic acid and vitamin E on the ingredients list, as they are both beneficial for hydration.

But there’s no need to shell out big bucks for some TikTok-touted lip product — unless, of course, the formulation and feel of it is important to you, Yang said.

Instead, she recommends good ol’ Aquaphor or regular Vaseline to seal in moisture for the perfect pout.

“You don’t need to get too fancy with it, especially if your concern is just moisturizing and hydrating your lips,” she said.

“You can absolutely find something much cheaper that will give you the same, if not better, benefits.”