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As a travel journalist, I’m perpetually dehydrated. With all the traveling (230,000 miles flown in 2016!) and generally not drinking enough water, my lips have been a challenge the last few years. It’s only getting worse the further I age away from the perpetually oily conditions of youth and the more I indulge in the ultra-matte liquid lipstick trend (Lime Crime Velvetines and Kylie’s Lip Kits).
I've tried pricey lip scrubs, creams, and medicated ointments to heal my peeling, red-around-the-edges mouth, but they’re just temporary balms, pun intended.
As fate would have it, the source of my problem — too much travel, too little water — would lead me to the cure. Somewhere over Alaskan airspace, mid-way through the marathon non-stop flight from Hong Kong to New York, I gave in to boredom and opened the Cathay Pacific duty-free magazine. The only item that hadn’t been on the beauty pages for eons (looking at you, YSL Touche Éclat) was Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, a $17 cherry-pink pot that promised “smooth, firm lips” by “gently melting away dead skin on the lips overnight.” Sold.
The container is tiny — there’s only 0.7 ounces of product inside — and it’s all a very au courant shade of dusty pink with a faint berry scent, not unlike the scratch-and-sniff Strawberry Shortcake storybooks of the late ’80s. It comes with a tiny wand applicator that makes me feel SUPER FANCY when I apply it at bedtime. It works its magic overnight, when I’m sufficiently unconscious enough to leave my lips alone to heal. They now look and feel healthy, and the ritual of smoothing it across my pout every evening doubles as a reminder for me to drink more water.
Laneige is one of the brands under the umbrella of Korean skincare conglomerate AmorePacific, but the Lip Sleeping Mask hasn’t tempted me into adopting a 10-step pre-slumber beauty regimen. Yet. I'm on my second pot of the stuff and just bought a third while going through duty-free again last week. (I confess that I’ve even considered a quick jaunt to Seoul to sniff out the three scents that are only available in South Korea: grapefruit, vanilla, and applemint.)
Before finding the masks plain as day on eBay, my research led me down a deep black hole of beauty discussion threads, where I discovered that they have a devoted fanbase. It seems that they’ve already become the heroes this lip-fixated trend cycle needs.