Masks have been doing a lot of weird stuff to our faces.

We talked about maskne a few weeks ago, but another thing has been happening 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 your lips would be. 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 funguses 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.

“Vaseline” is just the brand name of petroleum jelly, like a “Band-Aid” is an adhesive bandage. I’ve heard for years people using Vaseline for lip care. However, Vaseline or 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 any moisture. Similar to our undereyes, the skin on our lips are very thin with no oil glands, which can translate to dryness and very easy peeling and flaking. If you’re someone with dry skin or dry lips, Vaseline isn’t doing anything to actually nourish your pout. 

There are some ways we can get 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. 

Exfoliate

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 of 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 to your lips in a circular motion and wipe off excess with a warm washcloth. 

ELF Lip Exfoliator is so good because it’s under $5 and it’s in a stick. Sometimes lip scrubs can get messy, but this stick makes it super easy. Tarte Pout Prep Lip Exfolitant is a minty lip scrub and treatment balm that’s infused with hydrating maracuja oil, shea butter and exfoliating sugar that buffs away dead skin to leave behind softer lips. Bite Beauty Agave+ Weekly Vegan Lip Scrub is a little more pricey, but worth every penny. A three-in-one lip scrub, this cleanses, exfoliates and conditions, for smooth and soft lips.

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 will have a lip scrub. (I personally 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.

Treat

You don’t have to do this step, but a lip serum might be what you were 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 balm formulas. When choosing a lip serum, think thinner, creamier textures, 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. Keep this small lip moisturizer in your bag or car so you’re always taken care of.

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, smooth the look of fine lines, improve elasticity so that lips appear firmer and more toned. Glossier Bubblewrap Eye + Lip Cream contains peptides, fruit extracts and natural hydrators such as hyaluronic acid, squalane and avocado oil, which 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 Vaseline 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 bedtime or, under your mask are great to allow the ingredients to get to work. 

I have a few favorites. Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask is enriched with vitamin C and other antioxidants, plus hyaluronic acid and more. It also forms a protective film over the lips to lock in moisture and active ingredients. Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm has been a staple in my summer beauty routine. While it isn’t *technically* called a mask, its ultra-rich consistency wraps lips in shea and murumuru that 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 a vanilla 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.