The One Place You're Not Using SPF — But Should Be

The tops of the ears, the back of the neck, between the shoulder blades: What sounds like a G-rated version of that Khia song is also a list of the easy-to-miss spots derms always remind us to hit with SPF. But our lips? They're incredibly easy to neglect, which, according to the experts, could be dangerous.
"SPF on the lips is important," says board-certified dermatologist Michael Swann, MD. "Lips are actually a common place for skin cancers, and because the barrier function of the skin on the lips is less vigorous, these tumors can quickly behave more aggressively than the same tumors in other locations."
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That's a scary way of saying don't skip the lips, even if they don't tend to immediately burn or freckle. "While lips do have some extra color, which people often translate as protection from the sun, it's rarely melanin," says board-certified dermatologist Karyn Grossman, MD. [Ed. note: Melanin is the protective pigment in skin.] "Applying SPF to the lips is a crucial part of your SPF routine."
Luckily, taking a second to protect your pout is as easy as applying the right lip color — just heed Dr. Grossman's tips to be sure you're doing it right. Naturally, you know SPF 30 is best, but most lip SPFs ring in lower. "[Finding an SPF 30 or above] can be a bit tricky, as many are 15 to 20," Dr. Grossman says. Her tip? Do your best to pick something high in SPF, but know the most important factor is reapplying. "Find something that you are happy to put on frequently — like every hour or so."
Diligent application is a lot easier when you're smoothing on a killer color, not a chalky paste. So we've rounded up our favorite lip shades that also protect, from an everyday rosy gloss to vibrant, look-at-me hues that are just as pretty post-sunset.
Ahead, our favorite SPF-packed lip colors to carry you through summer and beyond.
There is a lot of product out there — some would say too much. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but if you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
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1 of 16
Color: Bold
Finish: Satin
SPF: 20

This lipstick slides on like balm, yet has surprisingly opaque color payoff. One layer offers an even veil of coverage; two will make a big impact.

Sephora Collection Rouge Balm SPF 20, $13, available at Sephora.
2 of 16
Color: Subtle
Finish: Glossy
SPF: 15

Perricone MD's entry into makeup includes a variety of subtle, SPF-packed everyday products, including this light and universally flattering petal-pink gloss.

Perricone MD No Makeup Lipgloss, $30, available at Perricone MD.
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3 of 16
Color: Subtle
Finish: Demi-matte
SPF: 20

Neutrogena's balm in Sunny Berry is an editor favorite for its hydrating, non-sticky finish and light wash of color. What feels like a quenching balm stays put like a powerful tint.

Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm, $8.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
4 of 16
Color: Vibrant
Finish: Demi-matte
SPF: 20

Baby Lips' bright hues and smooth texture has made it a best seller. (Also, the packaging is très cute.) Try Cherry Me this summer: It's a vibrant hue that's brighter than a traditional balm — but lighter than an all-out lipstick.

Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm, $4.49, available at Maybelline.
5 of 16
Color: Buildable
Finish: Demi-matte
SPF: 15

This lightweight, tinted balm, which is made of 65% organic ingredients (and 100% cruelty-free ones), goes on sheer and builds easily for a more intense wash of color. It comes in three flattering, versatile, and decidedly summer-ready shades.

Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner SPF 15, $28, available at Sephora.
6 of 16
Color: Subtle
Finish: Demi-matte
SPF: 15

Fresh's classic Sugar balm comes in a rainbow of colors — 12 and counting — all of which feel amazing, smell heavenly, and offer a hint of a Popsicle-stained tint.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15, $24, available at Sephora.
7 of 16
Color: None
Finish: Demi-matte
SPF: 31

Yes, this is a lip-color story, but Dr. Grossman and Dr. Swann both recommend this hydrating formula as a "topcoat" on days when you want to sport your favorite non-SPF lip colors. In fact, this is both derms' top lip-protection recc!

Elta MD UV Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 31, $10, available at DermStore.
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8 of 16
Color: Clear
Finish: Demi-matte
SPF: 35

Let's be real for a moment: It's hard to pull off a bold lip color when it's hot and sticky outside. If you're after hydration and protection, however, then this SPF 35 balm is for you. And when it comes to sunscreen, Shiseido does not mess around.

Shiseido Sun Protection Lip Treatment SPF 35, $24, available at Shiseido.
9 of 16
Color: Clear
Finish: Matte
SPF: 25

Don't just reserve your protective lip balm for PTO days spent in the sun. Consider keeping an emollient balm by your side for in-flight travel, too. Believe it or not, the potential for sun damage is high while on plane — especially if you scored the window seat.

Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25, $7.50, available at Sephora.
10 of 16
Color: Clear
Finish: Matte
SPF: 20

Although this balm feels as hydrating as an overnight mask, the finish — and feel — still remains nearly undetectable on lips.

Moroccan Oil Lip Balm SPF 20, $17, available at Sephora.
11 of 16
Color: Subtle
Finish: Demi-matte
SPF: 30

Formulated with organic cupuaçu butter and mongongo oil, this rosy tinted balm offers up a creamy texture and tint that looks natural and wards off burns.

Coola Mineral Liplux SPF 30 Organic Tinted Lip, $18, available at Coola.
12 of 16
Color: Subtle
Finish: Lightly Glossy
SPF: 15

Cruelty-free and oxybenzone-free, these tinted balms are the perfect accessory for a beach day.

Sun Bum SPF 15 Tinted Lip Balm in Nude Beach, $5.99, available at Sun Bum.
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13 of 16
Color: Subtle
Finish: Demi-matte
SPF: 25

Formulated with SPF 25, electrolytes, sunflower seed oil, and vitamin E, this tinted balm conditions while protecting like a pro.

SweatWELLth Lip Quench, $12.50, available at SweatWELLth.
14 of 16
Color: Subtle
Finish: Glossy
SPF: 15

Something that makes us look good, feel hydrated, and avoid sunburn? Sold.

Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster SPF 15 Lip Gloss, $27, available at Bluemercury.
15 of 16
Color: Clear
Finish: Demi-matte
SPF: 15

Following a strict vegan and cruelty-free beauty routine? This is the moisturizing lip balm for you.

Jane Iredale LipDrink® Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 15, $17, available at Nordstrom.
16 of 16
Color: Clear
Finish: Glossy
SPF: 30

Deep and instant hydration is just what we need before, during, and after a day in the sun.

Supergoop! MintFusion Lip Balm SPF 30, $9.50, available at Nordstrom.
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