How to keep lips healthy and hydrated under face masks

Face masks can be cute and even make a statement. But they’re not fabulous for makeup, especially lip color. Low maintenance lip care is a major trend in 2021, and all-day hydration is e-eeeverything. If you can’t heal chapped, irritated lips from your face mask, try these helpful tips. 

The truth about why face masks dehydrate lips 

If you’re wondering why face masks are so hard on lips and skin, it all boils down to heat, friction, and moisture. That might seem paradoxical, we know. But masks trap moisture that we expel when we breathe, which puts our lips in a state of constant, low-key irritation. 

Why? Saliva is mildly acidic, and even a tiny amount of moisture diffused throughout the day weakens  our skin’s natural barrier against inflammation. The solution: Make a few simple tweaks to your self-care routine. 

6 ways to protect your pout from your mask 

Take small (and safe!) mask breaks during the day

Water breaks are a helpful 2-in-1 for irritated lips: they give your pout a break from the confines of your mask, and they target dehydration from the inside out. The more water you drink, the softer your smile. 

You probably don’t need to drink eight glasses of water for good lip and skin health. The better alternative: calculate how much water is ideal for your body type and daily activity levels. While you’re at it, take fresh air breaks without your mask (while social distancing, of course) a few times each day. Unless you have a healthy lifestyle, even heavy duty lip care treatments won’t be as effective! 

Steer clear of acidic drinks, including soda  

If there’s one thing that will make your lips look smooth and youthful, it’s following a more alkaline diet. Most drinks high in acids (with the exception of lemon water) are bad for your body, and they do a number on dehydrated skin. 

To help your lips bounce back from cracks and abrasions faster, avoid these drinks when you regularly wear masks: 

  • Coffee 
  • Soda
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Orange juice
  • Milk 

Apply a highly moisturizing lip balm, and often   

Your lips are red, irritated, and cracking after a long day of wearing face masks, and you don’t feel like your usual gorgeous self. (Frustrating, we know.) Your first instinct might be to reach for the big guns, like Vaseline. But it’s actually an occlusive, which means it locks in moisture. If your lips feel thirsty, Vaseline won’t do a ton of good. 

Instead, apply a lip balm with a hydrating, non-irritating formula filled with humectants before you wear your face mask, and reapply it on your mask breaks. Dab on more lip balm before bed to wake up to supple lips. 

Do exfoliation treatments to remove unhealthy skin 

Exfoliation: it’s not just for keeping your skin looking youthful and radiant. Your lips don’t produce natural oils, so they’re even more likely to suffer from dead skin build-up. 

Unlike manual exfoliation, lip scrubs offer just enough friction to keep your pucker healthy and smooth, even if you wear a face mask on the daily. But before you buff your lips like crazy, set an exfoliation routine. If your lips need some TLC, stat, exfoliate twice per week but no sooner than three days apart. For routine maintenance, use your lip scrub once per week. 

Fight and heal cracking with a leave-on lip mask

If face masks are a part of your daily routine, and deep, painful cracks on and around the border of your lips might crop up. Unlike dryness and chafing, cracked lips can take even longer to heal and make it tough to move your mouth. 

The answer? Leave-on lip conditioning treatments with all-natural hydrators, like jojoba oil, and honey can heal cracked lips. Jojoba oil is highly moisturizing, while honey prevents deep cuts from becoming inflamed. 

And finally...wear a hypoallergenic face mask

If none of these solutions do the trick, you might be wearing a mask with irritating fabric. The cheaper your mask, the more likely you’ll experience chapping, cracking, and bumps. 

Wear a hypoallergenic face mask made of lightweight cotton or moisture-wicking bamboo. Cotton is usually the safest fabric for highly sensitive skin.

For more helpful pandemic beauty tips, read our 2021 self-care survival kit blog!