Lip masks are beneficial to smooth, soothe and plump delicate lip skin, which tends to dry out and is thinner and more sensitive to ingredients we may apply elsewhere on the face. This becomes more apparent in dry conditions like on plane rides, or even seasons like dry winter months when cold, windy weather can increase transepidermal water loss and thus, dehydration of the lips. Lip masks can be used throughout the day, but are most commonly used on long plane rides, in dry high altitudes, or nightly to seal in moisture overnight. When we sleep, our core body temperature actually rises causing an increase in transepidermal water loss, especially through mucosal surfaces like the lips, so a nightly lip mask is a great way to combat that dehydration. Everyone can benefit from a lip mask because even low-grade dryness can lead to chronic inflammation, which can irritate or cause the lips to have a crinkly, aged appearance.
Almost everyone uses lip balms, which are typically formulated a bit lighter for multiple applications throughout the day and can often be layered with lipsticks. A lip mask is more for when your lips feel particularly dry, or for nightly use as it is typically characterized by more occlusive ingredients, with actives that are more concentrated for specific benefits like exfoliating or anti-aging. Lip masks are generally a more intense version of regular lip balms and are meant to sit on the lips for hours without the messiness of eating or talking a lot.
Ingredients to look out for:
- Look for deeply moisturizing ingredients such as sunflower oil, sesame oil, vitamin E, omega fatty acids, linoleum acids, and coconut oil to moisturize, soften, and soothe dry lips.
- Occlusive ingredients like petrolatum and shea butter seal in moisture to help even deeper penetration of other ingredients.
- Exfoliating ingredients like pumpkin extract and sugar molecules rid the dry dead cells so other ingredients can better penetrate the lip skin and the lips look smooth and plumped.
- Hyaluronic acid and honey are humectants with slight anti-inflammatory activity to help hydrate and maintain moisture.
- A good lip mask typically will have antioxidants to reverse the oxidative damage lips can encounter during the day from UV light, pollution, or smoke and help against premature aging.
Dr. Chiu’s Lip Mask Recommendations
1. Ilia Lip Wrap Treatment Mask: this product pretty much hits all the ingredient categories you look for in a lip mask. Exfoliating papaya enzymes are formulated elegantly with hydrating hyaluronic acid, antioxidants like Vitamin E, along with deep moisturizing skin occlusives like Shea Butter and other plant oils without feeling too sticky or heavy.
2. Tatcha Kissu Lip Mask: One of the most lightweight masks on the market, this gel texture mask is great for sensitive lips as it is formulated without any fragrance. This mask contains primary ingredients like squalene which is a natural occlusive and a precursor to the skin’s naturally made fatty acids in the lip. Peach extracts soften and heal the lips without any stickiness.
3. Burt’s Bee’s Moisturizing Lip Mask: These single-use, ultra sanitary (think no re-dipping into a jar) lip masks are perfect for plane travel or your winter ski trip. Simple natural ingredients including sweet almond oil and sunflower seed oil deeply moisturize and penetrate the lip quickly.