Best Nipple Cream of 2021
Weleda Nipple Balm uses a combination of lanolin and other plant-based ingredients such as sunflower seed oil, olive oil, calendula, and beeswax. This mixture provides a perfectly balanced cream that is not too sticky or too thin. The formula glides onto the skin like butter, and thanks to the lanolin, it has enough staying power to create a barrier between the skin and your clothing. This reduces friction while soothing and moisturizing cracked skin. There are no added fragrances to the Weleda cream, but we find the oils' natural scent fresh and slightly floral. We like the addition of calendula for its potential antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Weleda comes in an itty bitty tube that has a high price tag. You need very little of this product for each use, so it will likely last a long time, but it is not the most economical choice. The tube is a metal foil, which has pros and cons. We like that it provides the ability to get every last drop out of the container. However, if the tube is accidentally squished while the cap is on, you will have a surprise mini-explosion of cream the next time you open it. Also, calendula and lanolin are possible allergens for some, so this is something to check beforehand. Weleda Nipple Balm is one of our top choices for soothing sore nipples, and we think it is perfect for almost every nursing mother.
Badger Nursing Balm is a plant-based product that utilizes a blend of oils from sunflower seeds, coconut, and olive. All of it is held together with a combination of beeswax and carnauba wax. All of the ingredients are organic. The coconut and sunflower give this balm a deliciously warm and nutty scent that we love. The formula is extremely lightweight and does not feel goopy or sticky like some others. Our tester found that applying Badger Balm soothed cracked nipples while also allowing for some breathability. To get a smooth application, it helps to warm the product between your fingers first. Once applied, the formula absorbs into the skin quickly and provides excellent hydration without feeling oily.
We found the lightweight combination of oils does not last long on the skin relative to some competing products and doesn't do much to provide a friction-free barrier between nipple and fabric. For this reason, you may find yourself needing to frequently reapply and use much more product in the long run compared to some of the competition. The tin container is super convenient for stashing in your purse or diaper bag; however, it is not as easy to get the product out as a squeeze tube. We recommend warming the tin in your hands before digging in. While not as heavy-duty as some other products, we love Badger Nursing Balm results and recommend it to anyone who wants some lightweight hydration.
Dr. Bronner's Organic Magic Balm is a multi-purpose moisturizer that comes in a 2 oz tin with a screw-on lid. It is mostly plant-based, using avocado, jojoba seed, coconut, olive, and hemp seed oils. This blend creates an extremely hydrating balm that is easy to scoop out of the tin and is readily absorbed into the skin. Although it has many ingredients in common with nipple-specific creams, Dr. Bronner's is marketed as an all-purpose balm. Many parents use it as a diaper cream, hand lotion, lip balm, or nipple cream.
Unfortunately, we found the mixture's oils tend to separate over time, and they may leak from the tin, as we found no way to get a tight seal with the metal container. The texture of the formula is slightly grainy, but if you warm it in your hands before applying, the grains quickly dissolve. Lanolin is not listed as an ingredient, but it contains tocopherol, a byproduct of lanolin. So it is not vegan, and if you are trying to avoid lanolin, Dr. Bronner's is not the one for you. However, if you are looking for a product that can cover many bases at a price that will fit a tight budget, Dr. Bronner's Magic Balm is a great choice.
Lansinoh Lanolin is the only product in this review that is 100% pure lanolin. Lanolin has a well-earned reputation for being effective at soothing tender nipples. The consistency is thick, sticky, and ultra-hydrating. The gooey texture stays put and creates a long-lasting barrier that prevents additional friction against the skin. We like that Lansinoh comes in a squeeze tube, making it easy to open and apply.
For some moms, the texture is a con. It is so thick and sticky that it pulls the skin a lot while applying, which may be uncomfortable for tender nipples. The level of protection may be overkill depending on your needs. Many users also say that the lanolin will stain any clothing that it touches, so be sure to either have a nursing pad handy or be prepared for potential stained bras and shirts. But if you are at your wit's end trying to alleviate pain from a breastfeeding newborn, then Lansinoh Lanolin may be just the thing you need.
Bamboobies Boobease is a buttery smooth moisturizer using a blend of olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, and calendula. All of the ingredients are organic, and there are no added fragrances. Our favorite part about this product is the consistency. It melts easily in your fingers for a smooth application that will not irritate sensitive nipples, but it is thick enough to stay put and form a substantial barrier between skin and clothing. Ingredients such as shea butter and calendula help to soothe irritated skin, and for those who wish to avoid animal products, Boobease is lanolin-free.
This nipple balm is almost twice the price of comparable options. And, coming in a 1 oz container, it may not last as long as you would like. This specific blend of ingredients has an unusual smell that some may not find pleasant, luckily, it is not very strong, and it fades quickly after applying. Our tester felt that Boobease was a bit oily for her, but this is inevitable with a plant-based cream like this one. There are a few comparable products, but Bamboobies is one of our favorite lanolin-free nipple balms. We love the silky texture, and if you can get past the scent, this may be perfect for you.
Medela Tender Care Lanolin is a lanolin-based product with Caprylic Capric Triglycerides and Oat Beta Glucan added to improve texture and hydration. We like the Medela lanolin's consistency better than the Lansinoh, as it is much smoother and has less of a gooey feeling. It applies smoothly on the skin and outlasts most other creams on our list. It has a much lighter feel than pure lanolin, and many moms prefer that if nipple irritation is only mild. The plastic tube makes it easy to squeeze just the right amount of product.
While we like this cream's feel, we aren't sure how we feel about the added ingredients. Baby will be ingesting small amounts of whatever balm you use whenever you are breastfeeding. So we prefer to be extra cautious about the types of products our children are exposed to. Also, because it is a lanolin product, it may stain clothing, so it is extra important to use a nursing pad if you don't want stains. If you like to use lanolin but want something a bit lighter on the skin, Medela Tender Care Lanolin may be a possible contender for you.
Motherlove Nipple Cream is a plant-based formula of olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, and calendula flower. We like that all the ingredients are organic and that the product comes in a glass jar, and the packaging is plastic-free. It is a good choice for moms who would like to avoid creating plastic waste or potential chemical leaching. The cream applies smoothly on the skin and does not need any prep or warm-up beforehand; it already a spreadable consistency. It provides average soothing relief for chapped nipples and is a good balance between lightweight and protective coverage.
Motherlove has a super runny consistency that may make it somewhat difficult to apply without causing a drippy mess. It also means that you must store the container right side up at all times, or else the oils in the balm will leak. For this reason, Motherlove does not travel well. We are a bit confused because the listed ingredients are the same as those in the Boobease cream. However, the ratios are enough to cause a drastic difference in texture. We like the ingredients of this balm and feel that it works well for its intended purpose; however, the consistency is something we didn't enjoy using as much as some others. If you do not plan to bring along your nipple cream wherever you go, Motherlove can be a good choice to keep on your nightstand or bathroom cabinet.
Earth Mama Natural Nipple Butter is an organic plant-based nipple cream that includes olive oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, mango seed butter, and calendula. All the ingredients are organic, and it is a Non-GMO Project Verified product, so you can feel good about putting it on your body and your baby. Thanks to the cocoa butter, the smell is subtly warm and chocolatey. We like the general consistency of the product, as it is firm yet still very pliable. Earth Mama advertises the nipple butter as multi-purpose and recommends using it on other parts of the body such as lips, cheeks, heels, or cuticles.
Our biggest gripe with this product is the weird little lumps found in some (but not all) containers. According to many user reports, small, hard beads inside the jar dispersed throughout the cream. We can confirm that these beads were present in our batch, but some users do not have this problem. We are concerned by the lack of quality control and cannot predict when this issue will occur. If you get a good batch, this nipple butter works great. We love the buttery texture otherwise, but the hard beads can feel almost abrasive to the skin, and we prefer to use other products for this reason.
Why You Should Trust Us
Abriah Wofford is a Senior Review Editor at BabyGearLab and has been testing mom and baby-related products for over 6 years. She laid the foundation of this review with many research hours on each nipple cream, its ingredients, and alternative uses. Justice Wofford, a newly breastfeeding mother, used each product over a multi-week period and commented on her personal experience with each cream's soothing ability. Many of the balms are advertised to be multipurpose, and we tested that by using the products on our own elbows, cuticles, lips, and hands. With all this information, we form a well-rounded opinion of which creams are the most hydrating, which ones are best for chafing prevention, and the ones to use when you need a little extra moisture.
Getting a Good Latch
While nipple cream is great to have on hand, nipple pain may be a sign of other underlying issues. Aside from minor soreness, breastfeeding should not be a difficult or painful experience after the first week. According to La Leche League International, if you are experiencing cracked or chapped nipples, it may be due to a problem with the baby's latch, position, or suck, or even possible infection.
In addition to using a good nipple cream, these tricks may help alleviate some pain:
- Avoid wearing tight bras that put extra pressure on your nipples.
- Apply a bit of your own breastmilk to the nipple area.
- Vary the positions you nurse in.
However, if you are experiencing any unusual or prolonged nipple soreness, contact your doctor or a lactation consultant. Achieving a secure latch is the number one way to relieve nipple pain.
Analysis and Test Results
While paying special attention to the soothing ability, ease of application, and scents/ingredients, we tested each nipple cream to see which ones we prefer and which ones we think you can live without.
Your preferred nipple cream may vary depending on your needs. All of the products we tested have ingredients known for their natural soothing potential, but some are more heavy-duty than others. One of the most important factors in soothing sore nipples is adding some hydration to dry, cracked skin. For intense hydration and long-lasting chaff prevention, lanolin is the way to go. Lansinoh Lanolin has the thickest texture of all the products we tested, and many moms swear by its ability to aid in the healing process of even the most distressed skin. Not only does it hydrate, but it creates a slippery barrier that reduces friction from your clothing. The texture is so thick that it lasts a long time before being rubbed away or absorbed. However, we find that Lansinoh is overkill in many scenarios; it is goopy and sticky to apply and may stain clothes.
For a lighter-weight formula that still has lots of staying power, Weleda Nipple Balm is our first choice. It has many oils and herbs with natural calming properties and some lanolin that gives it a bit of a thicker texture and extends its wear. Unless necessary, we prefer balms that are not sticky during application and are quickly absorbed into the skin. If you need a lightweight moisturizer for mild irritation, Badger Nursing Balm is a perfect multitasker that is easy to stash to take along with you. We love the fact that it is hydrating but also allows the skin to breathe.
Ease of Application
The products in this review come in a variety of containers. Some have plastic squeeze tubes, others are in metal tins, and some come in plastic or glass jars. We like the squeeze tubes like Medela Tender Care and Lansinoh Lanolin the best in terms of application. They are easy to open, and it is easy to get exactly the right amount of product on your finger. There is also less risk of debris, dust, or hair getting into the cream or other contamination created from fingers in tubs. Nipple balms in a tin are handy to take along in a diaper bag or purse, but the product's firmer texture usually takes a bit of warming up before it is spreadable.
When it comes to texture, the easiest and smoothest creams to apply are Weleda, Boobease, and Medela Tender Care. All three of these glide onto the skin like butter and do not pull the skin or have a grainy texture to look out for. Our least favorite product to apply is Earth Mama Nipple Butter. The small chunks in the product are uncomfortable on the skin and do not melt at body temperature, so you have to pick them off one by one.
Nipple cream may hydrate dry and chapped skin, but there's no substitute for a good latch. If pain continues or worsens, be sure to talk to a doctor or lactation consultant about what can help.
Scents and Ingredients
None of the nipple creams we tested have any added fragrances; however, some ingredients have a natural scent that permeates the mixture. This is good news for those who have sensitive skin and would like to keep additives bare minimum. In our opinion, the two best smelling products are from Badger and Weleda. Both have a warm and slightly floral aroma, thanks to the sunflower oil found in both. Earth Mama, Boobease, and Motherlove all list olive oil as their first ingredient, and so olive oil is what you smell. While not exactly unpleasant, it is a scent that some people would choose to wear if there are other options. Dr. Bronner's Magic Balm has one of the most subtle scents of all the creams. It is barely noticeable with your nose up to the tin and disappears completely when applied to the skin, making it a good choice for anyone sensitive to smells.
All of the products included in this review are either plant-based or lanolin-based. Lanolin is a tried and true moisturizer that is extracted from sheep's wool after they are shorn. It is used in many cosmetic products such as lip balm, lotion, and diaper cream. Plant-based options usually have a base made from fruit or nut oil such as olive oil, avocado oil, or sunflower seed oil. These oils are combined with beeswax to create a more stable texture, and other oils are added for soothing properties. Weleda Nipple Cream is the only product we tested that uses both lanolin and plant-based oils. We love the combination and feel that it works very well for most skin types.
As a new mom, learning how to breastfeed your infant can be challenging, and having to deal with nipple pain on top of everything else can be frustrating. Chapped nipples are fairly common in the early stages of breastfeeding. You can know that it won't last forever, and you are not going through it alone. Nipple creams can be a lifesaver when tending to your sore skin, and adding one to your nursing routine can save you a lot of irritation later down the road. We hope our extensive hands-on testing process can help you find the best product to fit your needs as a new mom.
— Abriah Wofford