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Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: We are not—we repeat, are not— suggesting that you trade in lip balm for a lip mask. Lip balms are a beloved beauty product staple for good reason and deserve to always have a place in your purse, pocket, nightstand, you get the picture. Rather, we’d like to make the argument that a lip mask isn’t a replacement for a balm, but instead, it’s a perfect pairing.
Jodi Shays, esthetician and owner of Queen Bee Salon and Spa, recommends lip masks with antioxidants, Vitamin E, and silymarin. "Antioxidants in lip masks help prevent premature signs of aging and also help retain moisture (less chance of chapping!) so your lips appear to be more smooth," she says. "They can also be very healing for those exposed to the elements... Always go with a trusted brand that can back up their results with science." The ones below are a great place to start, offering hydration, smoothing, and softening benefits (and more).
Meet the Expert
Here are the best lip masks to try now.
Best Overall: Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
A perennial Team Byrdie favorite, we have yet to meet someone who has tried this and hasn’t gotten hooked. Solid in the jar, it melts into a thick, buttery texture when applied to lips. Slather on a thick layer before bedtime and let the proprietary Moisture Wrap technology go to town. Moisturizing ingredients are time-released over eight hours, while also forming a protective coating to ensure they stay locked in. Plus, a blend of berry extracts makes for an addictively delicious fruity scent and flavor.
Best Natural: Kaplan MD Perfect Pout Lip Mask
Craving a fuller pout? This one gets the job done so well, that one Byrdie editor canceled a lip filler appointment after using it regularly. Not to mention, it's even Byrdie clean—color us impressed. Credit the results to a patented amino acid that boosts volume and fullness, coupled with hydrating hyaluronic acid. And the benefits don’t stop there; it also contains gently exfoliating papaya enzymes and it helps get rid of dead skin cells. You’re meant to wipe on a generous dose and leave it on for anywhere from three to 10 minutes, though our Byrdie staffer uses a smaller amount and leaves it overnight.
Best Budget: KNC Beauty All Natural Collagen Infused Lip Mask
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.
One of these costs just a few dollars but will leave your lips looking like Hailey Baldwin’s, according to one Byrdie editor who’s a big fan. We’re going to go ahead and say that’s a serious steal of a deal. The buzzy K-beauty favorite boasts collagen and hyaluronic acid and has the added benefit of covering not only your lips but the area around them as well (a big win if you’re prone to lipstick feathering into those tiny lines). Pop it onto clean lips for 15 to 20 minutes and prepare to be wowed.
Best Overnight: Sara Happ The Dream Slip
Jojoba oil is a natural oil produced from the seed of the Chinensis plant, a drought-resistant shrub native to southern Arizona, California, and Mexico. It conditions and seals moisture in the skin without clogging pores or exacerbating acne.
Think of this formula as a standard lip balm on steroids. It’s ultra-thick and ultra-rich, loaded with (among other things) deeply hydrating jojoba and sweet almond oils. Bonus points for the addition of relaxing chamomile, which makes it perfect for bedtime. You can wipe off any excess come morning, though we usually find that it’s all soaked in by the time we wake up.
Best Drugstore: Burt's Bees Moisturizing Lip Mask
This drugstore buy is so good that it may even rival the brand’s classic balm. Infused with meadowfoam seed and almond oils, the single-use mask hydrates lips stat, we’re talking in five minutes or less, no rinsing required after. Follow our lead and take one with you on your next overnight flight to quickly give your lips some love before landing.
Best Patch: skyn ICELAND Plumping Lip Gels
Just like a good de-puffing eye patch is part of our prep before a big night out, so too is this lip patch. It couldn’t be easier (or more mess-free) to use—simply stick it onto clean, no-makeup lips. In just 10 minutes, it packs a potent punch of natural ingredients that do everything from plump to fill in fine lines to hydrate, leaving your lips looking better than ever and ready for lipstick.
Best Fast-Acting: Patchology Flashpatch Hydrating Lip Gels
Green tea is a botanical derived from the leaves and buds of the tea plant Camellia sinensis. The active components of green tea are polyphenols (also called catechins) that are believed to benefit the skin due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Short on time? No sweat. These patches are meant to work in just five minutes, AKA so fast that you can even pop one on at your desk if you’re going straight from the office to a first date. (No? Just us?) A litany of skincare ingredients—think niacinamide, peptides, and green tea extract—soothe and deliver anti-aging benefits, while also hydrating and enhancing your lip shape, too.
Best Tinted: Bite Beauty Agave Lip Masks
This formula is meant to be left on all day, which is why we love that it has a shimmery, rose hue. But don’t mistake this for makeup, you are in fact getting the powerful benefits of a mask, thanks to plenty of hydrating and antioxidant-rich ingredients. Also noteworthy is the fact that it’s vegan, often not the case with lip products, many of which traditionally use animal-based ingredients such as beeswax and lanolin.
Best for Wrinkles: Jouer Cosmetics Overnight Conditioning & Repairing Lip Mask
No one wants wrinkles anywhere on their face, but there’s something particularly irksome about those itty-bitty fine lines that pop up on and around your lips. Enter this solution, which uses a proprietary ingredient known as Maxi-Lip to both decrease the look of lines and make your pout appear fuller. We’re here for both, as well as the hydrating benefits that come from the addition of shea butter and hyaluronic acid.
Best Organic: Henné Organics Lip Mask
A dermatologist once told us that over the course of our lifetime we end up ingesting about seven pounds of lip products. Yeah, we know. Hence the upshot of choosing a clean, organic lip mask, like this guy. Made with 96% organic ingredients (lots of deeply hydrating oils), it even has the distinction of being USDA organic certified. Super solid in the jar, it melts into a surprisingly lightweight texture that can easily be built up, depending on exactly how much hydration you’re craving. We’re also fans of the refreshing-yet-subtle peppermint scent, and of course, the inclusion of Vitamin E, which boosts circulation promoting new cell growth, according to Shays.
Best Hydrating: Kiehl's Buttermask for Lips
With a name like ‘buttermask’ you know this is going to be crazy moisturizing, and this formula definitely doesn’t disappoint. Even the most chapped and cracked of lips can be healed with a few coats of this guy, which is loaded with coconut oil and mango butter. Also nice: You can swipe on a thinner layer, leave it on for 15 minutes, and repeat throughout the day, or load up on a thicker layer and use it as an overnight solution.
Best Clay: Sara Happ Sweet Clay Lip Mask
Clay masks are a dime a dozen for your complexion, but they can be just as beneficial for your lips. Here, bentonite clay simultaneously detoxifies and moisturizes and soothes. FYI, this goes on super thick; it should look almost like cake frosting on your lips. Leave it on for anywhere from two to 20 minutes—you’ll reap the benefits no matter what.
Best Gel: Tatcha The Kissu Lip Mask
Like all the products from this brand, the formula takes its cue from traditional Japanese beauty secrets. In this case, it’s Japanese peach extract; Japanese women used to use peach seeds mixed with oils to treat dry lips. (File under: Who knew?) With an innovative, non-sticky, gel texture, this does in fact quickly address dry lips, thanks not only to that peach extract but also Tsubaki oil, an oil that's rich in fatty acids. Top tip: Leave it on without rinsing for the best results.