In the past year, my obsession with tinted lip balms has grown at record speed. With the combination of not leaving the house much and wearing a mask when I do, I needed a hydrating lip balm that wouldn’t get all over my masks but would also make me look somewhat alive on zoom calls. I also have chronic anemia which causes my lips to eternally be pale and chapped. The tinted balm has become my solution to both the paleness and the chapped-ness.
The Challenge of Finding the Perfect Tinted Lip Balm
I quickly discovered that brands have many different ideas of what a tinted balm is, which is how I ended up trying over 14 different ones over the past year. From $2 – $20, each of these varies just a bit from the other.
I’m looking for a hydrating balm that adds a decent amount of pigment that is transparent, not opaque. As soon as the balm becomes opaque, it becomes lipstick in my book. On the other side of that coin, I can’t stand a tinted balm with no tint. That’s just a lip balm.
Another important aspect is the form it comes in. I’ve enjoyed both the goo in a tube and the traditional stick form, but I tend to lean towards a stick to avoid the messiness of the goo form. Also, if the product is too sticky, it’s basically a gloss, which means my hair will stick to it and it will get all over my mask.
Reviews of 14 Different Tinted Lip Balms by 14 Different Brands
All of these variables have led me to try over a dozen tinted balms. Since everyone has different preferences, I’m going to review each balm on the basis of texture, pigment, opacity, scent, taste, and overall impression. Consider this your ultimate guide to tinted lip balms!
Disclaimer: Almost all of the tinted balms I review in this article are from small indie brands. I did add a few mainstream and high-end brands into the mix for the sake of comparison of both formulation and price.
What I’m Looking for in a Tinted Balm
One of the main test factors that I seek for the perfect tinted lip balm is that I need to be able to apply it without looking in the mirror and still have it look good. What does that mean? It’s not as opaque as lipstick and it’s not a gooey as a lip gloss.
I’m also looking for tinted lip balms that have the right amount of pigment. Too much is again encroaching on lipstick territory, and too little is just a plain old lip balm.
While this is what I seek in a tinted balm, everyone is different, so I will try to cover all the bases of each balm indiscriminately until the ‘my thoughts’ section, so you can pick your favorite based on your personal preferences. Here we go!
Beauty For Real x Brooke USA Tinted Lip Balms
Shade: Hannah – Sheer Terra Cotta
Where You Can Purchase: Beauty For Real website, Amazon
Important to Note: Cruelty-free, 20% of proceeds will benefit Brooke USA, an equine welfare charity.
Pigmentation: This balm is very pigmented and has a lot of color density
Opacity: This balm is nearly opaque, creeping toward satin lipstick territory for me
Thoughts: I do like this tinted balm as it’s easy to apply, lasts a long time, and hydrates my lips. There is a bit too much pigment in this, so I don’t truly feel like I can apply it without a mirror with confidence. It’s not my favorite, but it’s not my least favorite either. I do still grab for this and will use it if it’s all I can find at any particular moment.
Double Down Cosmetics x Medeaij Organic Tinted Lip Balms
Shade: The Future – Golden Berry Red with Warm Undertones
Where You Can Purchase: Doubledown Cosmetic’s website and they’re also stocked on Walmart.com!
Important to Note: Black-owned business, Non-GMO, Organic, Gluten-Free & Cruelty Free, a portion of the proceeds go to Domestic Violence & Homeless Communities of Los Angeles, CA
*Use code INDIEMOOD for 20% off Doubledown Cosmetics (affiliated)
Pigmentation: This balm is very bright but sheer and has a subtle gold shimmer
Opacity: This is the perfect level of sheer but still gives my lips a warm red tone and slight shimmer. It matches my warm undertones so well and the light shimmer makes my lips fuller.
Thoughts: This is one that I keep going back to for almost two years now! I’ve gone through 2 entire tubes. It’s the perfect amount of tint, shine, buildability, and hydration. For tinted lip balms, I want to be able to apply on the go with ease and confidence without looking like I’m in a Marilyn Manson music video. This one checks all the boxes. It also has a refreshing minty flavor that I adore. Now if I could just stop losing every tube of this in my couch cushions….
Honest Beauty Tinted Lip Balm
Shade: Fruit Punch
Where You Can Purchase: Amazon or on their website
Important to Note: Cruelty-free and Vegan.
Pigmentation: This is the perfect amount of pigment for me. The color is very juicy and bright, making my lips look healthy and hydrated.
Opacity: This is the perfect amount of transparency for me! This tinted balm also has a bit of a shine to it, making it glossy without any stickiness at all.
Thoughts: This is one of my favorites in the bunch! It’s easy to get on Amazon Prime which is good for me since I loose about 50% off all my lip products in couch cushions, cars, and the bottom of my purse. It’s really refreshing and the closest you can get to a gloss without it being sticky and gooey. The color is fresh and bright. I love it and definitely want to try more shades.
Lilah B Divine Duo Lip and Cheek Tint
Where You Can Purchase: Lilah B website or Sephora
Important to Note: Vegan and Cruelty-free
Pigmentation: This is definitely a matte finish while still blending softly and easily into the skin.
Opacity: This is opaque to a point of almost being like a lipstick consistency. Its saving grace is that it also works as a cheek tint, so it has the ability to be blended and built upon to go from a light wash of color to a full-coverage lipstick.
Thoughts: I have used this to the point of almost panning the entire thing, so that speaks volumes of my love for this product. The shade b.lovely is perfect for a monochromatic, fresh-faced look. It’s super easy to apply and the formula is light and blendable. My only issue is that I wish it was just a bit more glowy and transparent, but that could be due to personal preference more than anything.
Pigmentation: This is just the right amount of sheer as a dual lip and cheek product. The color is bright but buildable.
Opacity: This product is very translucent and dewy, which I absolutely adore.
Thoughts: I love this product. It smells amazing, like citrus, but not too strong at all. The color is stunning and it builds beautifully with a fresh, dewy finish. It’s obvious that this product was made by a makeup artist! My only issue with this product is the oblong shape of the stick. It works great for the cheeks but can be a little bit hard to use on the lips.
On the contrary, this is one of Giulia’s favorite products ever, and she loves the shape, so that’s totally a personal preference. She has multiple shades of this product and has even panned an entire balm, that takes dedication and love. Read a more in-depth review from her here!
Important to Note: Vegan and Cruelty-free, no honey or beeswax, unscented
Pigmentation: This has the perfect amount of pigment for a just-bitten look of the lips. I adore this shade, it’s so natural and flushed looking.
Opacity: This is transparent and very balmy, which I love. It’s so beautifully dewy and fresh looking.
Thoughts: This is another favorite of mine. This looks so completely natural while also really changing the appearance of my lips instantly. The color can only be explained as looking ‘healthy’, like my lips are full and flushed. It also has a delicious minty-ness that makes my lips tingle. I love it!
Pigmentation: This balm has almost no pigment, which was disappointing because in the tube it looks like it would be a deep, blood-red… my favorite. It has a shimmer to it too. If I rub on the back of my hand way harder than I would on my lips, I still don’t get much of a pigment. The color is cooler-toned, almost a blue-purple.
Opacity: This is also pretty transparent and waxy, like a regular lip balm on the stiffer side.
Thoughts: I was sadly not a fan of this one. The balm is very waxy and seems to sit on my lips instead of sinking in and moisturizing them. It may be better suited for extremely windy climates. Also, the cooler-toned tint made my lips look slightly shiny but very dead. The tint combined with the natural color of my lips almost made them grey.
Winky Lux Confetti PH Balm
Shade: Lavender Confetti
Where You Can Purchase: Winky Lux’s website or on Amazon
Important to Note: Vegan, cruelty-free, Ocean-safe glitter
Pigmentation: This lip balm allegedly reacts with your skin’s PH level to create the perfect shade of pink for your lips. I haven’t tested it on enough people to confirm that claim, but I can tell you that it turns my lips a very pleasant shade of pink that really does flatter me.
Opacity: This balm turns a bright pink that’s very translucent, which looks pretty and dewy. There is ocean-safe glitter, but it doesn’t really translate to your lips. The glitter is sort of suspended in the stick of balm.
Thoughts: I’ve been curious about Winky Lux’s color-changing balms for quite some time, so I was thrilled to finally try this one. I think the tint looks fabulous but there is one deterrent for me – this lip balm tastes very very bad. It’s sad because I love the shade, the sleek packaging, and the fun color of this balm, but the taste is just too strong for me to use it. It tastes like chemicals that shouldn’t be on my mouth, and it’s hard to get the taste off, too. I will say that it does seem to hydrate my lips adequately despite the weird taste and color-changing effect.
Dr. Lipp Lanolin Lip Tint
Shade: 3 Pack in Sweet Potato, Red Radish, and Elderberry
Important to Note: You can use it on your eyes, lips, and cheeks
Pigmentation: This looks super pigmented coming out of the tube, but does translate much pigment when you actually out it on
Opacity: This is super transparent and barely visable.
Thoughts: These were a hard pass for me. The product itself is extremely sticky and thick, so I would never dream of wearing it as a cheek tint and certainly not on my eyelids. There is no pigment either, so it’s just a very sticky lip balm without much of a tint.
Hanalei Kukui Oil Lip Treatment
Shade: Red and Sand
Price: $15 a tube or you can purchase multi packs of small or full sized tubes with a discounted price.
Where You Can Purchase: Hanalei’s website or Amazon
Important to Note: Cruelty-free
Pigmentation: This lip tint is surprisingly pigmented while still being glossy and translucent.
Opacity: This is nearing opaque but still has the translucency to be a lip tint in my book.
Thoughts: These don’t exactly fit all my rules for tinted lip balms, but I love them anyway. They’re definitely on the stickier side but I don’t mind because the stickiness sinks into your lips and hydrates them. I discovered this brand through receiving a tiny sample tube of the clear balm in an Ipsy bag and falling in love. I’ve since purchased the Red and Sand tinted shades, and they’re amazing.
The color is intense but you can build it up to be light or strong. These really heal and protect my chapped lips, which is my favorite part about them. As for the shades, I adore the Sand shade the most. It’s a warm neutral that looks super sexy in a 90s grunge way.
Pigmentation: This is the perfect amount of rosy, buildable color.
Opacity: This is also the perfect level of translucent, glossy, and fresh looking.
Thoughts: This might be the one. Seriously, I want to marry this tinted lip balm. This is the perfect amount of color, gloss, and hydration. The color is bright but completely transparent. It tastes like peppermint and is super hydrating. I love using it on my cheeks too – it makes me look so healthy and refreshed. This may be my favorite out of them all, which is really saying something.
Charlotte Tilbury Hyaluronic + Happikiss Colour Balm
Thoughts: This was way different than I thought it would be. It’s super hydrating but it’s also sticky and thick. As a combination of a balm, lipstick, and gloss, it’s very shiny and a bit sticky, but the stickiness fades as the formula sinks into your lips. It has grown on me since I got it. It’s definitely one of the longer-lasting tinted lip balms that I’ve tried – it stays on the lips for hours.
Rituel De Fille Color Nectar Pigment Balm
Shade: I have both Wasp and Bloodflower, and used them both in the look below.
Pigmentation: Super pigmented but buildable and blendable
Opacity: Super translucent and dewy
Thoughts: I. Love. This. Product. From the day they launched it, I knew I would love it. My makeup style, especially with my more editorial work, has lots of washes of translucent color, and these are perfect for that. Even though the formula is so dewy, the product doesn’t budge, which is truly sorcery. My only qualm with this product is that the pigment is so intense, it’s hard to apply without being careful, making it not a true ‘on-the-go’ product for me. I still love it!
Milk Makeup Kush Lip Balm
Shade: Nug – Sheer, warm sand with subtle golden shimmer
Important to Note: Cruelty-free, Vegan, Gluten-free
Pigmentation: This is fairly light in pigmentation with subtle shimmer
Opacity: This is a super translucent formula
Thoughts: This is a great purse lip balm with a subtle warm tint and a glowy shimmer. It doesn’t have enough pigment for my liking, but I’m guessing if I tried some of the other shades, they might have a brighter pigmentation. I love that it’s super hydrating and nourishing while smelling and tasting great.
Choose Your Own Tinted Balm Adventure!
I hope this review of 14 tinted lip balms helped you on your journey towards perfectly plump and hydrated lips. Like I mentioned before, it’s all about personal preference. I hope you find your dream balm without having to try as many as I did!
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