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3 Korean lip balms to know about

K-beauty skincare is taking the beauty world by storm. Here are a few products our experts recommend.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
woman smiling in front of green background
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

The Korean skincare industry is known for its innovative and effective products, and lip balms are no exception. Known for their hydrating and moisturizing effects, these balms can make a great addition to any skincare routine to help keep lips looking and feeling their best. Here, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of Korean lip balms, highlight some of the top options currently on the market, and give you expert tips on choosing the perfect one for your needs.

Why is Korean skincare so popular? 

There’s no denying the fact that the Korean skincare industry, like K-pop, has many fans all over the world. Korean skincare is known for its unique ability to potentially help people achieve clear, hydrated, smooth skin. This distinctive look is often referred to as “glass skin.” 

From the use of fermented ingredients to different layering techniques, many Korean beauty products and practices are designed with healthy, radiant skin as their goal. From cleansers to moisturizers and lip balms, there’s seemingly a K-beauty product for everyone. That said, it’s important to remember that not all products are created equally—you need to look at each one individually to see if it may be right for you.

3 Korean lip balms to try

Here are three Korean lip balms our dermatology providers approve of, so you can feel confident about incorporating them into your routine, should you wish:

Laneige Lip Glowy Balm 

This pocket-sized lip moisturizer from the famous skincare brand Laneige is infused with murumuru and shea butter for powerful hydration. Its unique formula nourishes dry lips, leaving them with a subtle tinted, glossy finish. Designed for easy application, it’s lightweight and available in flavors like berry, grapefruit, peach, pear, and gummy bear, in addition to being free of parabens and phthalates.

Skinfood Tomato Jelly Tint Lip Balm

Made with real tomato extract, this hydrating lip balm nourishes and protects the lips while adding a subtle tint of color. Its jelly-like texture makes it easy to apply and leaves lips feeling soft and smooth. Skinfood Tomato Jelly Tint Lip Balm contains vitamin E, botanical oils, and macadamia nut oil, and it’s available in four shades: cherry tomato, orange tomato, milk tomato, and berry tomato.

IM MEME Pep! Balm

This tinted lip and cheek balm is multi-use and adds great color wherever you want it and keeps lips hydrated with shea butter. Rich, pigmented, and buildable, it’s moisturizing and comes in various colors. 

Pro tips for choosing Korean lip care products

Korean lip care can be excellent, but with so many options on the market, you may wonder what the best Korean lip balm really is. Our experts recommend considering what you need from the product—do you want intense hydration or a glossy, tinted finish? Here are a few pro tips to help you make the best decision: 

  • Choose a finish: Do you prefer a glossy, natural, or matte finish? Knowing this will help you narrow it down and find a product that suits your preferences, like a lip gloss or a moisturizing lip balm.

  • Get to know the formula: Look for a lip balm with SPF to help protect your lips from the sun. You can also check ingredient lists for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, natural oils, and glycerin.

  • Be on the lookout for irritants: Keep your eyes peeled for potentially pore-clogging or irritating ingredients and avoid them, if possible. Reading the labels is especially important if you have sensitive lips or skin.

Curology’s lip balm

If you’re looking for another option in addition to those we’ve covered here, Curology’s lip balm may be just what you need. Vegan and non-pore-clogging, it’s made with acne-friendly ingredients that are gentle on your lips. It’s designed and tested by dermatologists and comes in 5 unique versions, including one with SPF! 

Curology knows skincare trends

curology lip balm

Whether you’re looking to learn more about Korean skincare or achieve your own skincare goals, Curology has got your back. Founded in 2014 by board-certified dermatologists, we’re a skincare service offering products made with proven effective ingredients, including those that treat acne, signs of aging, rosacea, and more. 

Our experts help take the guesswork out of your skincare routine by determining the products your skin needs and creating a personalized prescription formula to help tackle your unique skin concerns. Our personalized prescription formulas can include active ingredients like tretinoin, a topical vitamin A derivative, azelaic acid, and niacinamide

Signing up is easy. Just answer a few questions and snap some selfies to help us get to know your skin. If Curology is right for you, we’ll pair you with one of our in-house licensed dermatology providers. The best part? Your new skincare routine may also include any of our recommended products, like our lip balm, cleansers, moisturizers, or sunscreen.


What are the potential benefits of lip balm?

Lip balm is a great addition for anyone looking to help keep their lips soft, moisturized, and healthy. One study demonstrated that using a natural lip balm may improve lip barrier function and maintain lip hydration.¹ Another recent study showed that applying a combination lip treatment containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, emollients, niacin, and essential fatty acids significantly improves lip scaling, cracking, the appearance of fine lines due to dryness, roughness, and more.²

What happens if you use lip balm every day?

Using lip balm every day can have a number of benefits for the health of your lips. Regular application may help moisturize and protect your lips, improving dryness.³ Our experts recommend looking for lip balms that contain nourishing ingredients, like Curology’s.

What are “Korean gradient lips”?

This K-Beauty makeup trend is a popular and fun way to add a pop of color to your lips. A style often worn by pop stars and actors in Korea, this look is achieved by applying a darker shade in the center of the lips and gradually blending it outward toward the edges with a lighter color. The technique creates a natural-looking ombre effect that is both subtle and striking.

What are “Korean cherry lips”?

The “cherry lips” trend uses lip filler to achieve plump, full lips. In this cosmetic procedure, dermal fillers are injected into the lips to add volume and definition. To achieve this Korean beauty look, dermal filler is injected into the middle of the lips only—it’s called “cherry lips” because the outer corners of the lips are not enhanced.

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P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Effects of treatment with a natural lip balm on lip barrier function. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Ibid.

  2. Trookman, N., et al. Clinical Assessment of a Combination Lip Treatment to Restore Moisturization and Fullness.J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (2009).

  3. Effects of treatment with a natural lip balm on lip barrier function. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Ibid.

Erin Pate is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Erin Pate Nurse Practitioner, NP-C

Erin Pate, NP-C

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