Masks have been doing a lot of weird stuff to our faces.
We talked about maskne a few weeks ago, but there’s another thing has happened to me recently: my lips are really dry and chapped.
Wearing a mask for prolonged periods of time can wreak havoc on our lips. Imagine licking your lips for hours and how chapped and dry they would become. Yeah, that’s what’s happening under there. That buildup of hot moisture underneath our masks from sweat, our breath and the summer heat creates an environment for dryness, irritation and even fungus under the right conditions.
When your lips are chapped, you might want to reach for the Vaseline, but this medicine cabinet staple may not be your cure-all here. I’ve heard for years about people using Vaseline for lip care. However, Vaseline — the brand name for petroleum jelly — is an occlusive, which means it acts like a barrier and prevents moisture from escaping.
It’s not going to add any moisture, however. Our lips aren’t great at retaining moisture. Similar to our under-eye area, the skin on our lips is very thin with no oil glands, which can translate to dryness and, very easily, peeling and flaking. If you’re someone with dry skin or dry lips, petroleum jelly won’t do anything to actually nourish your pout.
There are some ways we can give our lips the love they deserve, and the best part about it is that now we don’t have to wait until we’re in the privacy of our own homes to do so. Thanks to our masks, we can give our lips a spa-level treatment during a trip to the grocery store.
Here are some of my favorite techniques and products for keeping lips healthy, soft and hydrated.
Moisturizing and exfoliating are like peanut butter and jelly. You can use the fanciest lip balms in the world, but you want to get that layer of dead skin off the top so all the good ingredients can penetrate. I love a good lip scrub for the job. After a shower, when your lips are moist and soft, apply a scrub to your lips in a circular motion and wipe off the excess with a warm washcloth.
ELF Lip Exfoliator is so good because it’s under $5 and comes in a stick. Sometimes lip scrubs can get messy, but this stick makes it super easy to use.
If you don’t want to buy a lip scrub, you don’t have to. While DIY beauty always feels questionable to me, I’ve been known to do an at-home lip scrub every once in a while. Take any oil, mix it with sugar, and you have a lip scrub. (I like to use something like Weleda Skin Food mixed with a little sugar since it has a thicker consistency.)
If you have severely cracked, dry lips, you would be better off without using any granules. (That would be like putting sugar in an open wound.) Use a warm, wet washcloth and slowly move it around to gently buff lips. It will take longer, but it’s worth it to not do any more damage.
You don’t have to do this step, but a lip serum might be what you are missing in your life. Just like their facial counterparts, lip serums target a whole host of concerns while hydrating and nourishing the very delicate skin on your lips. Depending on the formula, they can penetrate deeper and more effectively than traditional lip balms. When choosing a lip serum, think thinner, creamier textures and not heavy waxes, which will sit on top of skin.
Blistex Conditioning Lip Serum is infused with oils and vitamin E to deeply condition lips with just one drop.
As we age, more lines appear on lips as our lip line fades. Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy helps to define the lip contour, smooths the look of fine lines and improves elasticity so lips appear firmer. Glossier Bubblewrap Eye + Lip Cream has peptides, fruit extracts and natural hydrators such as hyaluronic acid, squalane and avocado oil to help make lips look fresher, smoother and more hydrated.
Lip oils work great, too. Smashbox Mindful 5 Nourishing Lip Oil is made with a blend of hemp seed, chamomile, jojoba, sunflower and apricot oils to moisturize lips all day and make them look better over time.
If your lips are in really bad shape, a medicated lip balm such as Dr. Dans CortiBalm Lip Balm could be helpful in this step. Originally made for clients on Accutane, an acne drug with side effects such as extremely dry skin, it contains 1% hydrocortisone, a topical steroid used to treat skin irritations, rashes, eczema and more. This isn’t designed to be used forever, though, since it can cause skin thinning. If your lips haven’t healed in a week, consult a dermatologist.
Seal it up
Finally, lock in that moisture. If you used a lip serum or oil, you’re more than welcome to slather on some petroleum jelly to hold it all in place. If you’re looking for extra nutrients, try a lip mask. Just like a face mask, you can apply it whenever you want, but using it at bedtime or under your mask are great times to let the ingredients to get to work.
I have a few favorites. Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm has been a staple in my summer beauty. While it isn’t technically called a mask, its ultra-rich consistency wraps lips in shea and murumuru, which are known to nourish dry skin. Vegan waxes keep it extra thick, which is great for those who struggle with minor cracks. It also smells like an ice cream cone. Finally, Milani Rose Butter Lip Mask is a perfect drugstore option. Made with a blend of nourishing rose oil, rich shea and cupuacu butters, and moisture powerhouse hyaluronic acid, this mask hydrates, conditions and helps repair lips for petal softness.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT