From sheet masks to foaming masks, to peel-off masks — face masks have suddenly surged to popularity in recent years.
Part of this is due to an overall increased interest in beauty and skincare, and another part is due to masks being super photogenic and great for social media posts.
Along with masks, another body part that’s been “having a moment” is our lips.
Ever since Kylie Jenner’s “did she or didn’t she” lip injections, we’ve all been more focused on using the right lip products, overlining our pout, and finding the best shade of matte lipstick for our skin tone.
But the problem with matte lipstick? It’s super drying.
We might look amazing in a nude-ish, pink-ish matte lip one day, but be struggling with dry and cracked lips the next.
Unfortunately, it’s not just matte products that can dry your lips out.
In fact, nearly all tinted lip products contribute to more dry, cracked, or irritated lips.
So, what to do when you want the perfect lip color to top off your full face of makeup, but don’t want to deal with the after-effects?
Or worse, when you want to put on your favorite lipstick, but the application is difficult because your lips are peeling and dry?
That’s where lip masks come in.
Chances are, just like matte-lippies and sheet masks, you’ve seen your favorite celebrities and beauty bloggers rocking lip masks too.
But, do you know how lip masks became popular? Do you know what they’re really supposed to do for you?
Better yet, do you know if they actually work?
I’m going to answer these questions and more in this blog post all about lip masks!
What Are Lip Masks?
While lip masks may seem relatively new to the US market, they’ve actually been popular in Asia for much longer.
Just like Korean skincare and sheet masks, lip masks also got put in the spotlight as US-based beauty bloggers became fascinated with Asian skincare.
Essentially, lip masks work in the same way that sheet masks do — they’re made to hydrate your skin.
Except instead of the skin on your face, lip masks work to hydrate the skin on your lips.
And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the skin on your lips needs a lot more TLC than the skin on your face does (at least in terms of moisture) — we’ll get into why later.
Most lip masks — like the one by KNC beauty that has been seen on Kim Kardashian — are made with thick hydrogel and saturated with serum.
They’re shaped like your lips, just larger, and some have a hole in the middle to allow you to move your mouth a bit more (not to mention, to allow you to breathe through your mouth).
Just like with thick sheet masks, lip masks are better done when you can lay down during the process.
And you should probably try to talk as little as possible to ensure the mask stays on!
Certain lip mask products are just a lot thicker than your average lip balm and don’t contain a sheet or hydrogel that you throw away after using.
Think of a wash-off face mask, but for the lips.
Some are formulated to be applied before you go to sleep so you wake up with softer, smoother, plumper lips, for example.
I personally love the plumping masque available in the Eminence Organics Lip Trio Kit.
For today’s topic, however, I’ll be talking about the sheet or hydrogel lip masks that you remove.
Why Your Lips Get “Chapped” and Have Other Issues Your Face Doesn’t
Not all skin is created equal, and chances are you’ve likely noticed that the skin on your lips can be super sensitive — whether that means dryness after one swipe of lipstick, or slight bleeding after you absentmindedly bite your lip during a meeting.
In fact, no other skin on your body has the same structure that our lips do, which is why your lips are so special.
You might be familiar with the “regular” skin’s structure, which consists of three layers: the stratum corneum (outer protective layer), the epidermis (barrier between the internal body and the environment), and the dermis (internal skin layer).
This skin also contains sweat glands (which provide moisture), sebaceous glands, and hair follicles.
The lip skin, on the other hand, is a bit different.
While the skin on your lips still consists of three layers, the stratum corneum (that outer protective layer) is much, much thinner — this is why your lips appear reddish, because the blood vessels shine through the thin outer layer.
The epidermis is also slightly thinner, which means that your lips are less able to produce melanin and therefore more prone to sun damage (yes, this means you should always use a lip balm with SPF!).
Both of these thinner layers make your lips much more susceptible to damage and fine lines.
In addition, you may have realized by now that your lips don’t sweat — that’s because they don’t contain sweat glands.
While you probably wouldn’t want to sweat from your lips, the lack of sweat glands also contributes to a lack of moisture — which is why your lips get drier more easily than the rest of your skin.
Unfortunately, the lack of these sweat glands and sebaceous glands are what lead our lips to become so easily chapped, dry, and even to peel.
The only real moisture our body can provide to our lips is saliva — and I think we all know what happens when we try to cure chapped lips with saliva.
As I’ve told my son when I’ve seen him come home with a red ring around his mouth — licking your lips is not the solution to dry lips!
Do Lip Masks Actually Work?
Most lip masks promise to moisturize your lips — which in turn will smooth out the skin on your lips and make them appear plumper.
Many lip masks also incorporate collagen, which they claim will act as a mini lip-plumper of sorts.
Some brands even go as far as to say that regular use of their masks will plump your lips long term.
The former claim — the moisturizing — is generally pretty accurate.
Much like regular masks, lip masks will help moisturize your lips (and the skin around your lips) by infusing a combination of vitamins, minerals, and other goodness into your pretty pout.
Many lip masks incorporate the same ingredients we use in other hydrating skincare products, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, and glycerin.
As for the collagen that many brands say accounts for the “tingling” sensation?
Moreover, some experts claim that the tingling sensation is not the collagen working.
In fact, one cosmetic chemist says that collagen can’t be absorbed topically by the skin because the molecules are too large and that the tingling feeling is likely caused by another ingredient — such as rose oil or cherry extract.
The lip mask that the chemist was specifically discussing was the KNC Beauty Collagen Lip Mask — the product that’s been seen on the Kardashians, Emma Stone, and other celebrities.
I agree with the chemist in regards to the KNC mask, and I would go so far as to apply his statement to all lip masks in general: lip masks can definitely help moisturize and smooth your lips (which can be great for combatting dry winter lips or simplifying makeup application) but don’t expect to get a Kylie Jenner-level pout without actual surgical enhancements.
How To Use Lip Masks
While masking seems simple, any mask aficionado knows that there are crucial before and after tips, plus hacks.
For example, spraying a mist on my face mid-way through a clay mask is one of my favorite life-savers!
Lip masks are no different.
There are certain ways to prep, ideal times to do them, and more – so let’s get into it.
First off, you want to decide on a lip mask.
As always, you’ll want to do research into reviews, price points, and functions.
You’ll also want to check ingredient labels to ensure you’re choosing a natural product that doesn’t contain any potentially irritating ingredients (especially if you have known allergies).
Most lip masks are larger than the average person’s lips, but you may want to go for a mask on the larger side if you’re trying to target dry skin around your lip area, or if you simply have bigger lips than the average person (lucky you!).
Of course, the first step after that is always reading any directions that accompany the lip mask you’ve decided to use.
Ideally, the instructions will let you know how long to leave the mask on, and any additional prep or after-care tips.
Many lip masks will also suggest that you exfoliate your lips before using the mask, which I also recommend!
You can use a specific lip scrub, like the Tokyo Milk Sugared Mint Lip Scrub or you can simply use a wet washcloth to gently rub some dry skin and uneven texture from your lips.
You can also use a new toothbrush and water for an extra diligent scrub — just be gentle!
After exfoliating, you’ll want to fully dry your lips to ensure that your mask doesn’t have trouble staying on.
Now, it’s time to actually apply the lip mask!
Most lip masks are packed in some serum, so open the mask on a flat surface carefully.
Then, apply the mask so that your lips are in the center of it.
Like I mentioned before, the mask will likely extend well beyond your actual lips.
I recommend laying down and letting the lip mask work its magic, this will ensure that you don’t have to worry about the mask slipping off.
Keep in mind that certain lip masks are one piece without a hole in the center, so you may want to wait to use it if you’re having any nasal congestion, as you might have trouble breathing!
Once your timer goes off, you can get up and peel off the mask.
Hopefully, your lips will feel moisturized and smooth — they may even look temporarily plumper.
If you’re planning on applying makeup directly after the lip mask (which is definitely not a bad idea as your lips should be nice and smooth at this time), just make sure to pat dry your lips so that your pout is prepped for makeup application.
While there’s technically no harm in regular use of a lip mask, I would say there’s no need to use a lip mask more than once a week.
If you’re still having trouble with dry, cracked, or irritated lips; it could potentially be the lip mask giving you issues.
Or, if that’s not the case, read on for other lip care tips to supplement your lip masking!
Other Lip Care Tips
While lip masks can certainly help with chapped, dry, or roughly textured lips, it might be beneficial to attack your lip woes from the root cause instead.
Here are some other tips to help you achieve the hydrated, luscious, and plump lips that we all hope for!
Apply SPF to your lips daily, just like you do to your face.
As I mentioned, your lips are even more susceptible to sun damage, so this is crucial! Many lip balms incorporate SPF already. Below are a couple of my faves!
Avoid tobacco use.
In addition to the plethora of other adverse effects of tobacco use, smoking can also lead to dry mouth, which then leads to dry lips. Not to mention, mouth sores and mouth cancer are possible with long term tobacco usage.
While a lip mask is a fun (and fun-looking) weekly treatment, you may want to consider incorporating a lip serum like the two below into your routine if you regularly struggle with lip issues.
Don’t “smack” your lips.
Blame it on the brand name “Lip Smackers,” but it’s often our first instinct post-lip-balm application to rub our lips together. Unfortunately, this is exactly what not to do. The correct way to apply lip balm is to apply it and let your lips be. This will allow the product to work as a protective layer on your lips (almost acting as the thick protective layer that the skin on your lips naturally lacks). When you rub your lips together, you break the seal of the product — which is why it seems like sometimes lip products that are designed to help actually make your lip problems worse.
When in doubt, keep it simple.
My favorite lip rescue product is simply Vaseline. It’s natural, it’s easy to apply, and there aren’t any artificial scents or flavors. Combining some good old Vaseline with the proper application (see above), should have your lips looking and feeling better in no time.
Use moisturizing lip glosses and lipsticks.
You don’t have to sacrifice moisturized lips to get the perfect color! These shades complement your look while helping to keep your lips hydrated.