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Lipstick vs. Lip Balm: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 25, 2023
Lipstick is a cosmetic product adding color to lips; lip balm moisturizes and protects them.

Key Differences

Lipstick and lip balm, while both formulated for the lips, serve distinct purposes. Lipstick is primarily a cosmetic product designed to give lips a pop of color and can often define or accentuate the shape of the lips. It is available in a plethora of shades and can range from matte to glossy finishes.
Lip balm, conversely, is a product meant for hydrating and protecting the lips. Composed of ingredients like beeswax, petroleum jelly, and natural oils, lip balms aim to keep lips soft and shield them from external factors like cold or wind. Its primary objective isn't color, though tinted variants exist.
In terms of consistency and texture, lipstick and lip balm also differ. While lipsticks are usually more solid and pigmented, designed to apply smoothly for a vibrant appearance, lip balms typically have a softer or glossier texture, ensuring easy application for moisture retention.
From a usage perspective, lipstick often aligns with fashion or aesthetic choices, elevating an individual's overall look. Lip balm, while it can be used anytime, is especially beneficial in harsh climates or when the lips are dry, chapped, or cracked, offering them the needed care and protection.
While some lipsticks may contain moisturizing ingredients and some lip balms might offer a hint of color, it's the primary function that sets them apart: lipstick for beauty and lip balm for care.

Comparison Chart

Primary Purpose

To add color to the lips.
To moisturize and protect the lips.


Pigments with various waxes and oils.
Beeswax, petroleum jelly, natural oils, and other moisturizers.


More solid and pigmented.
Softer or glossier.

Typical Usage

Fashion or aesthetic choices.
Anytime, especially in harsh climates or for dry lips.


Matte, glossy, shimmer, satin, etc.
Tinted, flavored, with SPF, etc.

Lipstick and Lip Balm Definitions


A lip product in a plethora of shades.
Her collection included every shade of lipstick imaginable.

Lip Balm

A protective barrier against external factors.
Before hitting the slopes, she applied lip balm with SPF.


A makeup item in various finishes.
The matte lipstick lasted all day without smudging.

Lip Balm

A product for moisturizing the lips.
In winters, she never went anywhere without her lip balm.


A beauty enhancer for lip definition.
With her lipstick on, she felt confident and ready.

Lip Balm

A lip care product often in a small container.
She pulled out a tiny tin of lip balm from her bag.


A cosmetic product for coloring the lips.
She chose a bold red lipstick for the evening.

Lip Balm

A remedy for chapped or dry lips.
He used lip balm to soothe his cracked lips.


A lip cosmetic in stick or liquid form.
She applied the liquid lipstick with precision.

Lip Balm

A lip hydrator that can sometimes be tinted.
She loved her lip balm that gave a hint of rose color.


A small stick of waxy lip coloring enclosed in a cylindrical case.


Can lip balm offer color?

Yes, tinted lip balms can give a subtle hint of color.

Is lipstick always solid?

No, lipstick can come in solid stick form or as a liquid.

Can lipstick moisturize the lips?

Some lipsticks contain moisturizing ingredients, but they're primarily for color.

Why is lip balm essential in cold weather?

Lip balm provides moisture and protection against drying conditions.

Should you reapply lip balm throughout the day?

Yes, reapplying lip balm ensures continuous moisture and protection.

How often should you replace your lipstick?

It's generally advised to replace lipstick after it's a year or two old, or if it smells or looks off.

Can lip balm heal cold sores?

Some lip balms are formulated to relieve cold sore symptoms, but they don't cure them.

Can men use lip balm?

Absolutely, lip balm is for anyone looking to moisturize and protect their lips.

Can you use lipstick and lip balm together?

Yes, many apply lip balm before lipstick for added moisture.

Are there natural lip balms?

Yes, many lip balms use natural ingredients like beeswax and essential oils.

Are there vegan lipsticks?

Yes, many brands offer vegan lipstick options.

What is a lip balm with SPF?

It's a lip balm formulated to protect lips from the sun's UV rays.

How is liquid lipstick different from regular lipstick?

Liquid lipstick typically has a different application, often lasts longer, and can have a different finish.

Can I wear lipstick to bed?

It's not recommended due to potential drying effects; lip balm is a better choice for overnight moisture.

Is lip balm necessary in summers?

It can be, especially lip balms with SPF to protect against sun damage.

What is the main purpose of lipstick?

Lipstick primarily adds color and definition to the lips.

Do all lip balms have a glossy finish?

No, lip balms can have different finishes, but many offer a natural or glossy look.

How do you choose the right lipstick shade?

It depends on individual preferences, skin tone, and the look one wants to achieve.

Why might someone choose a matte lipstick?

Matte lipstick offers a non-shiny, velvety finish and often lasts longer.

Can lipstick expire?

Yes, like all cosmetics, lipstick has a shelf life and can expire.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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