What is the Difference Between Lip Gloss and Lip Balm? Balm is defined as a medicated ointment that can be used to soothe or resolve skin issues. Lip balm in particular may come in small round jars, or in cylinders like those used in Chap Stick®. In many cases, it may be applied with the fingers from small jars and is used to help soothe chapped or sunburned lips. This differs from the more oily lip gloss, which may contain color or glitter, and is used to give the lips a shiny appearance.