Sitting somewhere between a high-shine lip gloss and a comforting balm, lip oils are the perfect addition to our current beauty mindset: maximum results, minimal effort. Not only are they hydrating enough for the current cold chill, but they pack a glossy punch and are easily wearable during the day – even if the highlight of your waking hours is going for a stroll around the park.
From overnight treatments to those packing a pop of colour, there’s a growing variety of lip oils on the market, with more and more brands launching their own take on the hybrid product. Beauty mogul Kylie Jenner recently announced that a glossy lip oil would be the latest addition to her Kylie Skin range, only for it to rapidly sell out on launch. Charlotte Tilbury’s newly launched oils have enjoyed similar success.
With lips being the only part of our body – apart from the palms of our hands or soles of our feet – not to contain oil glands, it’s especially important to keep them moisturised. So, what should you look for? A good lip oil should be hydrating, non-sticky and have staying power.
Depending on the lip oil you choose (ie clear or tinted) they can be worn under or over other products such as lipstick. Another option is to apply the lip oil overnight or after a scrub, as a treatment and to let the moisture sink in.
In our bid to find the best, we slicked, slathered and rolled a range of lip oils, looking at how they performed in terms of moisture, feel and finish. How they wore throughout the day – and night – was also important to us as was value for money. The good news is there’s an option for everyone so get ready to make the humble lip oil the must-have addition to your make-up bag.
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Clarins instant light lip comfort oil
Initially launched as a limited edition in 2015, Clarins’s much loved instant light lip oil is now available in seven shades, from deep blackberry to a cooling mint. Application is simple thanks to a good-sized doe-foot applicator that glides over lips easily. While the formula is slightly thicker than others we tested, it felt nourishing rather than tacky, thanks to the hazelnut, mirabelle and organic jojoba oils in the formula. We loved its lightweight feel and oh-so-subtle hint of colour, making it a versatile choice whether you want to wear it alone or over other pigmented lip products.
Buy now £16.15, Johnlewis.com
e.l.f nourishing tinted lip oil
If you’re after something closer to a gloss but still with the moisturising benefits of a lip oil , then this offering from vegan brand, e.l.f, is for you. Enriched with jojoba, apricot and vitamin E, it comes in a choice of three colours: nude, pink or mocha, that each deliver a light splash of colour. It benefits from a creamy formula that is both soothing and delivers high-shine gloss. We were impressed with how luxurious this purse-friendly version felt and would happily slick it on as the finishing touch to an understated make-up look.
Buy now £7.00, Elfcosmetics.co.uk
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s magic lip oil crystal elixir
If you needed any more proof that lip oils were having a moment, then look to Charlotte Tilbury who launched her magic lip oil crystal elixir during the first lockdown. After all, what this lipstick queen doesn’t know about creating a dreamy pout isn’t worth knowing. Designed to be a lip conditioner by day and a lip mask by night, these lip oils come in little tubes with a rollerball applicator. Some might find the tube a little small for the price tag, but we found a little of the hyaluronic acid-infused formula does go a long way. Our favourite was the berry-pink tinted version, which delivers a buildable hint of colour, although the clear option was the go-to for overnight wear.
Buy now £25.00, Selfridges.com
Estée Lauder pure color envy nighttime rescue lip oil-serum
Designed to be worn as an overnight, moisturising lip oil treatment, the Estée Lauder lip oil-serum is still light enough in texture to be worn during the day. Infused with naturally derived camellia, rose and lavender oils, it glides on gently and feels lightweight, with no sticky residue. We did feel the need to top up with more frequent applications than some of the others and found the tube container a little bulky, but we were fans of the soothing feel of this lip oil.
Buy now £22.50, Boots.com
Hourglass no.28 lip treatment oil
This lip oil by Hourglass certainly looks luxe. It has a 24-carat gold-tipped applicator and is housed in a sleek and sophisticated tube. One of the things we loved about this product was the conditioning feel of it: the “no.28” refers to the 28 beneficial ingredients in its formula, which include rose, lavender, lemon, hazelnut, sweet almond and jojoba oils as well as vitamins A, B5, C and E. Available in a wide, well formulated shade range, from a warming peachy pink to a lush berry stain, this has one of the most noticeable and lasting tints of a lip oil we tried. It does have a slightly botanical scent to it, which might not be for everybody, and the £45 price tag is not for the faint hearted.
Buy now £45.00, Net-a-porter.com
Florence By Mills glow yeah lip oil
The brainchild of the actor Millie Bobby Brown, Florence By Mills is a vegan, Peta-certified and self labelled “clean” beauty brand. At first glance, the products may look like they’re solely designed for teens, but don’t be fooled. We were pleasantly surprised by the hydrating “glow yeah” lip oil (which also comes in a tinted version that adjusts to your PH) and happily reapplied it throughout the day. Containing African mango butter for moisture and paracress flower to smooth and soften lips, we loved the silky feel it had and how a little dab went a long way. While we liked how you could slip the small tube into a pocket, our only gripe was that for the price, the tube felt a little on the slim side.
Buy now £14.00, Boots.com
Beauty Pie wondergloss collagen lip oil+
Having an almost vanilla type scent to it, our first impression of the Beauty Pie lip oil was that it would be too sickly sweet. But it was a smell we grew to love, as we dabbed on a cosseting layer of the wondergloss when our lips felt particularly dry. It also worked well as an overnight treatment. With a hint of sparkle, it’s a great option for the daytime too and the clear version we tried (shimmereen) worked well layered over a lip colour. Infused with collagen, cherry and hibiscus oils, there are five other shades that deliver serious hits of colour.
Buy now £28.00, Beautypie.com
Pink Salad LDN raspberry oil hydrator
This Gen-Z lip gloss label has ascertained viral TikTok status, and was first started by Stacey Akinpelu-Morris when she was a student, mixing up her own beauty products in her kitchen at home. All Pink Salad LDN’s products are vegan, gluten free and cruelty free and sustainability is an important factor for the brand. One roll of the raspberry oil hydrator is all you need for a super lightweight, but hydrating hit. We loved the delicate layer of translucent pink coloured oil the product leaves, meaning it’s perfect for wearing underneath or over other lip products. Ideal as the last step in your night-time beauty routine or a refreshing boost in the day, the metal rollerball creates a cooling effect when applied to the lips and a little of the oil goes a long way.
Buy now £5.95, Pinksaladldn.com
ESPA nourishing lip oil treatment
This unassuming offering is far more straightforward and modest than some of the other lip oils we tried. There are no bells or whistles when it comes to the packaging, while the lip oil has no colour or added sheen, but it does deliver a moisture hit with a very slight citrusy scent. ESPA’s nourishing lip treatment features a vegan-friendly formula, which includes hyaluronic acid as well as konjac root and Indian gentian leaves to plump, moisturise and smooth. While we liked that the approach was simple, we did think the tube seemed on the smaller side and the applicator head could have been bigger. We also found it took around three applications to get a fully nourishing layer but were impressed by the product’s staying power.
Buy now £20.00, Espaskincare.com
Barry M coco loco lip oil
At under £5, the Barry M lip oil was the lowest-priced option we tested. Thankfully, we were impressed: it’s a good budget buy that is also vegan friendly and cruelty free. Although the coco loco lip oil did feel stickier than the others we tried, it had a moisturising high-gloss finish, and the coconut scent was surprisingly subtle. A small applicator head meant it took a few applications for a full coat, but once on it made for a shiny top layer – one to go for if you’re usually a big fan of lip gloss but fancy something a little more nourishing.
Buy now £4.99, Superdrug.com
The verdict: lip oils
When it comes to application, feel, look and hydration, a clear favourite for us was Clarins’ instant light lip oil comfort – a classic which we’ll be reaching for again and again. A great budget friendly option though is the Pink Salad LDN raspberry oil hydrator which delivers lightweight hydration. If you’re after a deeper treatment though, we’d recommend Beauty Pie’s wondergloss collagen lip oil +.
For more ultimate lip products read our round up of the 10 best red lipsticks that are long wearing and don’t smudge