Lip Masks: Shockingly, They're Not As Frivolous As They Sound

I had never even heard of lip masks until two months ago, and when I did, I rolled my eyes for about an hour. Then, I took a look at my peely, flakey, never-fully-comfortable lips in the mirror, and I thought, Holy crap, lip masks!
Let me explain: While all of my skin is sensitive and prone to breakage, my lips are an outright disaster. They break open and bleed in the winter. My lower lip is never flake-free. And, the corners crack if I eat something too acidic. (Side note: These issues aren't triggered by compulsive lip-balm use. It's just how my body is. As a teenager, I learned the hard way that lip-balm dependency can make my problem worse.)
There's a world of lip treatments out there that I'd never considered as part of my skin-care routine. It just seemed like overkill to spend so much time and cash on something I was used to treating with Aquaphor and other drugstore buys. Then again, those drugstore buys didn't actually work.
The only product I've found consistently effective is a European stick treatment called Dermophil. Unfortunately, the original version is impossible to purchase in the U.S. — or even order online (I've tried). And, I don't currently have the resources to pop over to Switzerland whenever I run out of it.
So, I decided to give it a go with the good stuff we have right here in the U.S. of A. And, you know what? It was worth it. The four products I tried are effective at tackling lip issues. While I only liked some, I fell positively head over heels for others.
Bring it on, lip masks, lip treatments, and electronic lip-exfoliating devices!
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Photo: Courtesy of Clinique.
A great cross-over product, All About Lips falls somewhere between anti-aging skin care and lip repair. It's designed to prevent feathering, stop flaking, and stave off wrinkles around the lips.

That's a lot of punch to pack, but it felt like nothing on my lips — in the best possible way. This mega-powerful cream is the best product out there if you want to feel like you're not wearing one at all. I applied one pump of cream on and around my lips (no need to be precise with this one) and, in under a minute, it had completely soaked in.

Oddly, my lips felt almost dry afterward, but in a matte way, not in a tight, chapped way. This matte surface made it easier to use any lip color I wanted — stain, lipstick, gloss — because it was perfectly smooth. Bonus: I threw this cream on before getting made up for a wedding, and not only were my lips soft and smooth, but it also acted as a primer. My color stayed put all night; no smearing or feathering. I thought that only happened in CoverGirl commercials!
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Photo: Courtesy of Bliss.
I've tried sugar scrubs before — sugar-and-honey, sugar-and-oil, and sugar-and-fruit scrubs. They've all worked fine, but I always ended up exfoliating myself raw, in an effort to rub off the peely bits, and then having to moisturize like crazy. The end result is almost always chapping and lip-adjacent zits. Welcome to the world of cranky lips.

Bliss' Fabulips is beloved among skin-care junkies, but I always steered clear, fearing it would be like the other sugar scrubs, just more expensive. But, I can't say I wasn't curious when I got to try the brand's new accessory: the 'Pout'-o-Matic system. Essentially, it's a Clarisonic for your lips. You dab some scrub onto the head and run the little massager over your mouth for 30 seconds.

The results? Wow. I'm completely sold on the lip-brush thing. This baby gently sloughed off all the rough bits on my lips and left them feeling soft — not stripped. Also, not to be a weirdo, but my lips looked babely and (I'm told) felt pretty damn good on someone else's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Clinique.
If you're looking for a highly protective, can't-stop-won't-stop lip balm, then Clinique's Repairwear is tough to top. It's designed to do all the stuff a good balm does (create a protective barrier, moisturize consistently), but it's also packed with anti-aging ingredients meant to tackle the lines around the mouth.

In practice, it's as simple as swiping on Chapstick, but a little goes a long way. Another advantage of Repairwear is how easy it is to use with other products: For example, you can amp up a lip stain by using this as a gloss. Yet, at the end of the day, your lips will feel like they've been given a spa treatment (because they basically have).

It's not quite as rich as a mask, but this is a great product for maintaining an exfoliation treatment for soothing wind- and sunburned lips.

Note: The shine is minimal, which makes this product great for the makeup averse, too. So much so, that my boyfriend borrowed it and has "forgotten" to give it back for three weeks. Not cool, man.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bite.
Odds are, if you've read about lip masks, you've read about this one. Bite Beauty's Agave Lip Mask gets almost nothing but rave reviews — and with good reason. Of all the products I tested, this one was the most effective at stopping my lips from peeling and generally moisturizing like you wouldn't believe.

It's SUPER thick and sticky, which was a turn-off at first. But, I rubbed some on right before bed anyway, resigning myself to goopy pillows. Cut to the morning: no goop, no hair stuck on my mouth, and the product was still on — no smearing. My lips felt fab, and thanks to the thick, clear, shiny gloss, they looked like I'd gotten non-tacky collagen injections.

Unlike other super-moisturizing lip products (ahem, Carmex), there's no rebound effect from the Bite mask. I suspect its efficacy has as much to do with the powerful barrier it creates as its ingredients. This stuff heals, protects, and gives you a big, juicy pout.
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