The '90s revival has rekindled our love for so many nostalgic beauty trends. We're wearing butterfly clips, stretchy headbands and even thinking about skinny brows but the biggest beauty movement is arguably ultra glossy lips. If TikTok is anything to go by, though, we're so over the thick and sticky lip glosses of yesteryear. This time around, it's all about lip oil.
Lip oil probably has the 'clean' look to thank for its surge in popularity as we shelve the heavy makeup for something more minimal and effortless this spring. So far, the #lipoil hashtag has garnered 249.8 million views with TikTokers enlisting high-shine gems like KylieSkin Watermelon Lip Oil, Dior Lip Glow Oil and Clarins Lip Comfort Oil to make their lips appear plump, juicy and hydrated. Some are even using it to intensify the colour of their lipstick. There's no denying that the viral product makes lips look incredible but like hair oil and facial oil, is lip oil doing more harm than good for your skin?
Is lip oil actually good for your lips?
"Many lip oils contain coconut oil or jojoba oil," says nurse Dawn Attewell, clinical director at Dawn Attewell Aesthetics. Dawn adds that both of these ingredients would help with dry and flaky skin, and would also give the lips a glossy finish. But for the most part, skincare experts say that lip oil is merely aesthetic and might not be the best thing to use in place of a hydrating lip balm.
Dr Ana, cosmetic doctor and skincare expert, explains: "It's important to note that oil on its own, whether used on the face or lips, does not provide any hydrating benefits." That's because it doesn't contain water or hydrating ingredients. While some of her patients report that oils help smooth and soften their dry skin, Dr Ana is generally not an advocate of routinely using oils as part of your skincare regime — even on lips. "There is very limited data to back up their benefits in this context," she says.
Dr Elif Benar, medical doctor and dermatologist, says that lip oils do not hydrate the lips — they simply act as a seal. If your lips are dry and dehydrated underneath, they're likely to stay that way. Denying parched lips the hydrating ingredients they so need and simply layering on oil could make dry skin worse in the long run.
How should you use a lip oil?
The trick to using a lip oil is first of all to apply a moisturiser or a lip balm containing humectant ingredients, which draw in moisture. Then you can slick on your lip oil. Dr Benar suggests looking for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, lanolin or ceramides to really hydrate the lips and then applying a lip oil on top to keep all the lip-quenching goodness from escaping. Nurse Dawn agrees: "Unfortunately, oils work on a surface level. If you want a more intense recovery, lip balm would be a better choice for treating dehydrated or chapped lips."
Do you really need a lip oil?
Just like gloss, oils lend lips a coveted sheen that volumises and enhances lips. While Dr Ana says they are best used alongside water-drawing skincare or lip balms, she says that any occlusive (a product which forms a protective barrier over skin) can provide this benefit. "I prefer using Vaseline for this purpose," says Dr Ana, "especially for the lips as the last step in my evening routine."
If you want to try the lip oil trend, Dr Ana recommends scouring the ingredients list for oils which are less likely to clog pores, such as sunflower, grapeseed, rosehip and argan oil — particularly if you experience breakouts or have oily skin. "This is because oil applied on the lips can easily transfer onto the adjacent skin," explains Dr Ana.
What are the best lip oils?
So you know the secret to using lip oil but which ones are worth your money? If it's a subtle tint you're after, R29 rates Versed Silk Slip Conditioning Tinted Lip Oil, $15.81, available in Blossom (a pink-taupe), Fig (a deep, berry hue) and Ruby (a gossamer crimson). For serious shine, VIEVE's Lip Dew, $33.66, contains light-reflecting pigments plus sunflower seed oil and moisturising vitamin E. It can be used on its own or layered over lipstick for a glossy, plump look.