Here’s Why Lip Oils Are Currently Trending
A dermatologist's take on lip oils and how to find one that's actually good for your lips—plus, nine picks to try
I’m always looking for a new way to add a little je ne sais quoi to my makeup look, which typically means updating my lipstick colour. For years I leaned on long-wear matte options (remember the Kylie Lip Kit craze?), but now I’m turned off of anything that leaves my lips feeling remotely chapped. I’ve tried lip glosses, lip stains and even hydrating lipsticks, but found them all to be too drying. Conveniently, there’s a new buzzy lip product on the scene that’s everything I’ve been looking for—lip oil.
What is lip oil?
Sitting somewhere between a lip balm and gloss, lip oils are the best of both worlds. They’re nourishing and hydrating like a balm, and provide a tinted sheen like a gloss (but without the sticky ickiness). Lip oils are sometimes marketed as a hydrating serum, formulated with moisturizing and plumping ingredients like vitamin E, peptides and hyaluronic acid, which makes them a bit like a skin-care product.
Lip oils have been around for a while, but they’ve recently gained popularity thanks to TikTok users gushing over picks from various brands. One particular product, the Dior lip oil, has gone viral with the #diorlipoil hashtag garnering nearly 700 million views—and now retailers have a hard time keeping it in stock.
If lip oils are considered a “hydrating serum,” does that mean they’re good for your lips?
According to Renita Ahluwalia, founder and lead dermatologist at the Canadian Dermatology Centre, lip oils can be really good for your lips—but it depends on the ingredients they contain. Oil is a sealant, which locks in moisture, says Ahluwalia, but “if a product contains oil without some other hydrating ingredients, you’re not going to get a long-lasting hydration benefit.”
Ahluwalia says some lip oils are formulated with oils that provide “superficial hydration” (like Dior’s version, which contains cherry oil), meaning they can make lips look hydrated, but won’t provide long-term benefits.
So, what ingredients in a lip oil should I look for if I want hydration?
“If you’re looking for a product that’s both an aesthetic product and provides long-term hydration, look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid which draws water into the skin,” says Ahluwalia.
Other ingredients to look for include peptides (which encourage the body to produce collagen), squalane (which offers more hydration) and shea butter (which softens skin), she says.
Is there anything I should be aware of?
Do a patch test before using it—as you should do with any new product. Ahluwalia says that some ingredients like coconut oil and jojoba oil can cause seborrheic dermatitis (which manifests in dry, flakey red patches) in those who are predisposed. Some people, especially those with sensitive skin, might also have reactions to scented oils in some products.
Which lip oil should I try?
Below, our favourite picks.
Best Hydrating Lip Oil: Kosas Wet Lip Oil Plumping Treatment Gloss
This lightly-tinted lip oil from clean beauty brand Kosas contains hyaluronic acid and peptides, which leaves lips feeling hydrated and looking plump.
Best Budget-Friendly Lip Oil: NYX Fat Oil Lip Drip
This budget-friendly lip oil contains squalane and promises to provide 12-hour hydration. It’s currently trending online, which has led it to sell out in drugstores everywhere. But don’t worry—it’s available in some shades on the brand’s website.
Best Splurge Lip Oil: Dior Lip Glow Oil Color
This lip oil is definitely worth the hype (and price tag): It’s non-sticky and non-greasy and provides a beautiful gloss in six subtle tints.
Best Tinted Lip Oil: Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Tinted Lip Oil
This lip oil—from singer-actor Selena Gomez’s buzzy makeup line, Rare Beauty—delivers long-wearing colour and sheen. When first applied, the innovative formula looks and feels like a gel and then dries into an oil. The best part? It’s also a lip stain—it’ll leave a tint on lips that lasts hours after application.
Best Untinted Lip Oil: Burt’s Bees Hydrating Lip Oil
Burt’s Bees’ lip oil is formulated with sweet almond oil, which contains fatty acids and antioxidants, which smooth and hydrate skin. It doesn’t have a tint, so you can layer it under your favourite lip shade if you want some colour.
Best Drugstore Lip Oil: Quo Lip Oil
This lip oil from Quo is super affordable (just $10!), non-sticky (hair doesn’t get stuck to it!) and made without animal testing (cruelty-free!).
Best Scented Lip Oil: Clarins Lip Comfort Hydrating Oil
Often cited as a dupe for the Dior lip oil, this one from Clarins uses a cocktail of oils (jojoba, hazelnut and sweetbriar rose) to hydrate, nourish and protect lips. It also provides a sheer hue and boasts a light, pleasant fragrance reminiscent of a Lip Smacker lip balm.
Best “My Lips But Better” Lip Oil: Haus Labs PhD Hybrid Lip Oil
Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs’ lip oil is formulated with vegan collagen and plant squalane for a super-nourishing shine. It changes colour depending on the pH of your lips, so the tint is sure to complement your skin tone.
Best Clean and Vegan Lip Oil: Merit shade Slick Gelee Sheer Tinted Lip Oil
Clean beauty brand Merit has a lip oil with a vegan formulation, leaning on plant squalene for hydration. It’s tinted and lightweight, making it perfect for no-makeup makeup looks.