The '90s and Y2K revival has rekindled our love for so many nostalgic beauty trends. We're wearing glittery makeup, especially including the TikTok "diamond lips" trend, along with prismatic lip glosses and now more than ever, viral lip oils. And if TikTok is anything to go by, it's because we're so over the thick and sticky lip glosses of yesteryear.
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 and summer. Within the last year, the #lipoil hashtag has garnered 1.5 billion views, with TikTokers enlisting high-shine and high-end gems like the glowy Dior Lip Oil and the cushiony Clarins Lip Oil. They're also choosing viral options like the matte Rare Beauty Lip Oil as well the honey-infused Gisou Lip Oil (and its newer, more shimmery interpretation) to make their lips appear plump, juicy, and hydrated. Some are even using lip oils to intensify the color of their lipstick.
Are lip oils actually good for your lips?
"Many lip oils contain coconut oil or jojoba oil," says nurse Dawn Attewell, clinical director at Dawn Attewell Aesthetics, Therapy House. Attewell adds that both of these ingredients would help with flaky and dry skin and would also give the lips a glossy finish. But for the most part, skin-care 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 Mansouri, skin-care expert and cosmetic doctor at The Skin Clinic, 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. Mansouri is generally not an advocate of routinely using oils as part of your skin-care regime — even on lips. "There is very limited data to back up their benefits in this context," she says.
Dr. Elif Benar, a 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 lip oils?
The trick to using a lip oil is first to apply a moisturizer 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 Attewell 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 lip oils?
Just like lip gloss, lip oils lend lips a coveted sheen that volumizes and enhances lips. While Dr. Mansouri says they are best used alongside water-drawing skin care or lip balms, she also says that any occlusive (a product that forms a protective barrier over skin) can provide this benefit. "I prefer using Vaseline for this purpose," says Dr. Mansouri, "especially for the lips as the last step in my evening routine."
If you want to try the lip oil trend, Dr. Mansouri recommends scanning the ingredients list for oils, which are less likely to clog pores. Look for sunflower, grapeseed, rosehip, and argan oils — 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. Mansouri.
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, Clarin's Lip Comfort Oil is a tried-and-true product available in several shades and infused with nourishing plant oils. For serious shine, Vieve's Lip Dew contains light-reflecting pigments plus sunflower seed oil and moisturizing vitamin E. It can be used on its own or layered over lipstick for a glossy, plump look.
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. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.