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How Often Should You Apply Lip Balm? (Men’s Guide)

The answer to “how often should you apply lip balm?” is so simple it’s dumb. You should apply lip balm whenever your lips feel dry and your previous coat has worn off. The real trick is learning how to properly use and treat lip balm so that you don’t over-apply it.

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What Is Lip Balm?

Lip balm is moisturizer for your lips. Unlike the rest of the skin on your body, your lips don’t produce their own natural, hydrating oils, so they need your help to stay soft and smooth – or, the help of a lip balm, that is.

Some people use the words ChapStick and lip balm interchangeably, but that’s not quite right. ChapStick is a brand of lip balm, and though it’s great, it’s not always the best choice for guys with especially irritated, cracked lips. Lip balms get a bad rep because ChapStick just isn’t as high quality as other smaller lip balm brands out there.

Some of the best lip balms have the simplest ingredient list: oil and wax. If you’re feeling fancy, you can buy a balm that includes butters, natural fragrances, vitamins, and more, but oils and waxes are the two basic ingredients you need to have a great lip balm.

How Often Should You Apply Lip Balm?

You should apply lip balm in the morning, evening, and after every meal – that’s the skin care expert rule of thumb.

And it’s a good regiment when you think about it for a second. That lip moisturizer is going to wear off overnight, and you’ll wipe it off with your napkin or sleeve while you’re eating. 

If you don’t follow a strict lip balm regiment, then just stick to the general “no more than 5 times daily” rule. Any more, and you might find that your lip balm is actually doing you more harm than good.

Is It Bad To Use Lip Balm All The Time?

It’s bad to use bad lip balms all the time. It’s great to use great lip balms semi-frequently throughout the day.

Bad lip balms often contain ethyl alcohol, petroleum jellies, artificial fragrances, and more. Certain alcohols are disinfecting, but they dry out your lips. Petroleum jellies are good for stopping your lips from losing moisture, but they themselves don’t actually moisturize your lips. They’re more like ointments. And artificial fragrances can cause an allergic reaction.

Another set of iffy ingredients: salicylic and glycolic acid. Both are great for your facial skincare routine, and in fact, they do a great job of exfoliating cracked lips. But if you’re applying on-the-go without another moisturizer, they’ll dry out your lips even more.

Can You Overuse Lip Balm?

Overusing lip balm is another way to dry out your lips, and not for the reason you’re expecting.

If you find yourself frequently and heavily applying lip balm, it’s probably because you’re unconsciously licking it off and biting your lips. As your saliva dries and evaporates against your skin, it leaves you drier than before.

So it’s not necessarily the lip balm itself that’s drying you out. It’s you who’s doing the dirty work.

That’s why I don’t recommend flavored lip balms. They’re so tempting to lick, which is the exact opposite of what you should be doing to dry lips. It’s also where the “lip balm addiction” myth comes from. If you frequently lick your lips, you’ll need more lip balm, which will make you want to lick your lips more, and so on.

Is It Good To Use Lip Balm Every Night?

Ever wake up with morning breath and cracked lips? It’s a common problem. Using lip balm at night before you go to bed can help, if not solve, that issue.

One of my favorite skin care fun facts – you actually lose moisture as you sleep. That’s why dermatologists recommend you apply a great facial moisturizer at night and in the morning. And it’s why I also recommend keeping a glass of water on your nightstand. 

How Long Should You Leave Lip Balm On?

Lip balm isn’t a product that you wash off. If you’re using it during your skincare routine, you should apply it last and leave it on. That goes for daytime use too. Leave it on.

On the other hand, lip masks follow different rules. Maybe you’re reading a package label right now and thinking, “it says I should take this off?” That’s a lip mask. They look like those papery face masks that you drape over your skin for a while then take off later. For guys with horribly chapped lips, you can start using a lip mask every once in a while to supplement your daily lip balm. Follow the directions on the package to know how often you can use your lip mask and how long you should leave it on.

Lip balm often gets written off as a “girly” product, but everyone deserves soft, non-irritated lips, for yourself and for the few lucky people who get to feel the touch of your lips.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.