As the temperature begins to drop and the wind speed begins to increase, your lips may need additional TLC. Lack of moisture in the dry winter air can hurt your lips if you’re not careful, leading to painful chapping and bleeding throughout the season. If you prepare ahead of time, a lip mask can help prevent this painful condition – the skin care clip is designed to create a barrier between your lips and high winds to retain moisture. We spoke to dermatologists to learn more about how lip masks work and rounded up their lip mask recommendations.
How to buy a lip mask
The two dermatologists we spoke to noted that it is important that a lip mask contain moisturizing ingredients that “hydrate, soften and soothe dry lips.” Moisturizing ingredients to watch out for include sunflower oil, sesame oil, vitamin E, omega fatty acids, linoleum acids, and coconut oil.
Additionally, there are other ingredients you should watch out for to make sure you’re giving your lips the proper care:
- Humectants: These “draw water from the deeper layers of your skin and from the environment,” said Jeriel Weitz, DO, a dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. Popular humectants include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and honey.
- Occlusive ingredients: These “lock in moisture to help even deeper penetration of the other ingredients,” said Annie Chiu, MD, certified cosmetic and general practitioner dermatologist and founder of The Derm Institute. Popular occlusives include petroleum, shea butter, and other herbal oils and waxes.
- Exfoliating ingredients: An exfoliant “will rid the dry, dead cells so that other ingredients can better penetrate the skin of the lips,” Chiu said. Examples of exfoliating ingredients include pumpkin extract and sugar molecules.
- Antioxidants: Both experts noted that antioxidants can protect your lips against premature aging and UV damage.
- Collagen: While not a necessity in a lip mask, Weitz said collagen can be a good ingredient to look for because it “can help plump lips.”
The best lip masks in 2021
We asked dermatologists for their favorite lip masks, ranging from overnight lip masks to single-use sheet masks.
Laneige’s sleep mask is “a consumer favorite rich in antioxidants and hyaluronic acid,” Chiu said. It comes in different scents, including vanilla and berry, and each container comes packaged with a small applicator so your hands never have to touch your lips. At Sephora, the lip mask has an average rating of 4.4 stars out of over 13,700 reviews.
Chiu said Tatcha’s Kissu Lip Mask is ideal for the most sensitive lips as it is fragrance free and “one of the lightest masks on the market.” She pointed out that the product is made up of squalene, a “natural occlusive and precursor of fatty acids naturally made by the skin in the lips”, as well as peach extracts which “soften and heal the lips without any sticky effect”. Weitz also recommended this lip mask and noted that it was “super hydrating”.
According to Weitz, this lip mask from Play Cosmetics “will leave your lips soft and full” thanks to ingredients like jojoba oil, shea butter, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid. The mask is specially designed to be worn overnight and wiped off in the morning.
Chiu said that Ilia’s treatment mask “touches just about every category of ingredient you are looking for in a lip mask.” Notable mask ingredients include exfoliating papaya enzymes, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and “deep hydrating skin occlusive” like shea butter that create a barrier without being too sticky.
Nooni’s Applebutter lip mask is a relatively affordable and effective option, according to Chiu. “[It] contains mild lactic acid to improve skin cell renewal for gentle exfoliation, ”she explained. “Deep hydration comes from shea butter [and] jojoba oils and microcrystalline wax is the occlusive to seal all that goodness.
Clinique’s Overnight Lip Mask is designed to restore and retain moisture, Weitz said. “[It] contains ingredients like murumuru seed butter and hydrogenated castor oil, both of which are excellent moisturizers, ”she added. The mask comes in a tube for easy application and is fragrance free.
If you don’t particularly like the idea of dipping an applicator (or your finger) in a jar over and over again, you might prefer these Burt’s Bees single-use lip masks. They’re made with natural ingredients like almond oil and sunflower seed oil that “deeply hydrate and penetrate the lips quickly,” according to Chiu.
Chiu called this lip mask “luxuriously thick” and noted that it “kept lips hydrated for hours with organic avocado and rosehip oils and USDA certified beeswax. “. However, this might not be the best mask for nighttime use: depending on the brand, it contains sea buckthorn, which can stain your pillowcase if you sleep on your stomach.
Ranger Balm is designed to be used like everything from a moisturizer and beard balm to a lip mask and hair mask. Don’t be put off, though: according to Weitz, it “makes an ideal lip mask because it’s rich in fatty acids, restorative ceramides, vitamins, and antioxidants.” “This is one of my favorite masks for hydrating, nourishing and soothing dry or chapped lips,” she added.
This lip mask is a good option for daytime use because it contains “multiple antioxidants as well as a plumping effect,” Chiu said. “Papaya extracts exfoliate, while high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acids attract moisture,” she added.
What is a lip mask?
The skin on our lips is very thin and delicate, so it requires a lot of extra care. Because it’s so thin, the skin tends to dry out and become chapped – to combat this, a lip mask creates a barrier and seals in moisture. This is why many people wear lip masks at night: Our core body temperature rises when we sleep, which leads to increased transepidermal water loss and dries out several areas of the skin, according to Chiu. “A lip mask every night is a great way to combat this dehydration,” she noted.
Even if you don’t often suffer from chapped lips, Chiu said that you can still benefit from a lip mask, especially during the winter months or while traveling by plane. “Anyone can benefit from a lip mask because even low-intensity dryness can lead to chronic inflammation, which can irritate or make the lips look wrinkled and aged,” she said.
Lip masks versus lip balm: what’s the difference?
Although lip masks and lip balm are formulated to heal and hydrate the lips, they have different use cases.
Lip balms are “generally formulated a bit lighter” which makes them best for all day lipstick layering. A lip mask, on the other hand, is designed to help your lips “when they feel particularly dry” due to “more occlusive ingredients” and “more concentrated actives for specific benefits like exfoliation or licking.” ‘anti-aging,’ according to Chiu. An occlusive such as an oil or wax “works by preventing the loss of water through evaporation and thereby traps moisture,” Weitz explained.
“Lip masks are generally a more intense version of regular lip balms and [they] are supposed to sit on the lips for hours without having the mess of eating or talking a lot, ”Chiu added. Weitz noted that they “should not replace regular lip balm”, but should be used “in conjunction with your normal lip care routine”.
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