I don’t believe in the concept of Holy Grail products.
Within the skincare community, especially the Korean beauty niche, Holy Grail is a term that’s tossed around frequently.
Now, this isn’t me throwing shade at anyone who christens a product (or multiple) with such a heavy title.
In my short skincare career, I’ve had products that I’ve loved. Really loved. Until one day, they weren’t as effective, or worse — they created problems for my skin.
Thus, I’m hesitant to call anything I use or have used a Holy Grail. I’ll have products that I’ll promote until I’m blue in the face (or my fingers fall off, as it were). But in the back of my mind, I realize that someday these items may not be there for me in the capacity that I’ve come to expect. It’s often because my skin is fickle and prone to change.
Okay, so what does this have to do with lip masks?
Thanks for asking! When I was a newbie in the skincare/Asian beauty community, there was one product I would see on my Instagram feed almost daily. I still do. It’s considered a crown jewel in many skincare routines.
The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
This infamous baby pink cylinder was everywhere I looked, and the accompanying comments were always glowing. The Klog called it The Sleeping Mask That Gives You The Softest Lips Ever. An Allure contributor boasted that it made [her] skin so soft. And of course, over on Instagram, there was no shortage of adulation.
My lips are often dry. Ever since I was introduced to the wonderful world of lip tints, it’s a condition that has only worsened. I’m that person who has to reach for lip balm regularly, often to no avail.
Last September, I took a chance. I plunked down $20 at Sephora and awaited the product that was going to give me my softest, smoothest pout yet.
This was my first post about the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. My initial impressions were clearly positive! For the record, I still do love the smell, but I seem to have lost the cute little applicator that came with it. (Oops.)
After a while, however, I wondered if I was just trying to justify the Andrew Jackson note I threw at this heralded product while attempting to fit in with the rest of the community that seemed to love it so. About three weeks later, I began to openly express my dissatisfaction with the product. Gradually, I had phased the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask out of my routine.
In November, I re-introduced it to my nightly routine, adding that it was neither good nor bad — but it still tasted delicious!
I continued to use the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask off-and-on as the new year approached. I’ll admit, it looked good in my flatlays. But was it really doing anything for my lips? I didn’t think so.
The problem with the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
I would apply a rather generous layer of the Laneige lip mask on my lips. While it never really stained my sheets, it still felt messy. When I would wash it off, my lips didn’t feel that much softer or more hydrated. The results, if any, were minimal.
A friend of mine in the IG skincare community asked if I had exfoliated my lips often. I did not –only here-and-there, when I actually had access to such a product (a rather beat-up stick of e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator). Heeding her advice, I began to exfoliate regularly, especially on days when I layered the lip tints.
The exfoliation helped, but when it came to enhancing the effects of the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, it wasn’t incredibly effective.
Again, I continued to use the product because it wasn’t cheap. Plus, I didn’t want to be wasteful. I was determined to use up this product that everyone and their dog seemed to love, but I wasn’t digging.
One day last month, I realized I wasn’t so alone in my indifference of this beloved skincare product.
Eventually, I saw comments from other Instagrammers that the Laneige mask didn’t really do anything for their lips, either. Like me, they gave it a chance, but the returns were minimal. Several of these dissenters presented an alternative solution.
Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask
Canadian cosmetics company Bite Beauty had produced a lip mask of its own that had accumulated its own group of faithful admirers. Compared to the Laneige mask, Bite Beauty fans found it less messy, more effective, and totally free of guilt. (Bite Beauty is cruelty free; Laneige is not.)
I had used Bite Beauty once before, in the form of a sample of one of its Amuse Bouche Liquid Lipsticks. Despite never getting around to buying the full-size version, I really liked it and found it to be longer lasting than most lip colors I had used at the time.
Based on my one positive experience with the brand from years ago, I decided to put some gift cards to use and pick up the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in Champagne along with a jar of the Agave Lip Scrub.
Yes, the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask ended up being $6 more than the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. But when you have a gift card — essentially free money — you tend to overlook such details. Or at least I do. Heh.
When I received the Agave Lip Mask in mid-January, I was instantly in love. Of course, I had a good first impression with Laneige’s lip mask, too. But that’s the only commonality they share.
What makes the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask better?
- Texture: The Bite Beauty lip mask is a thicker consistency than the Laneige, which to me is creamy to the point of being mushy. I don’t have to put a lot of the Bite mask on in order to feel like I’ve applied an adequate amount. The Laneige I felt like I had to slather it all on. Maybe I didn’t have to, but putting on very little seemed to do…well, very little.
- Application: The Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask comes in a convenient tube. Yes, I thought the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask’s tiny applicator was so cute. But I also lost it. Oops. For a lip product, I certainly appreciate the ease of using a tube over a jar.
- Versatility: I know of fellow skincare friends who would use the Laneige as a sort of balm over lip color during the day. I never did this. I found it too messy to wear in the daytime. The Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask, on the other hand, I wear day and night. Sometimes, I’ll wear it on its own, but I’m also prone to sealing my lip tints with it. By the way, the Bite Beauty Lip Mask comes in several colors, so it’s certainly capable of giving lips a pop of color, too.
What about the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Scrub?
“It tastes like cake batter.” But it’s so much more than that. While I wish it wasn’t as gooey as it was, it still does a good job of sloughing the flakes off my lips. It serves as a decent companion to the Agave Lip Mask. I don’t know if I’d purchase again, however, especially at $18.
There is one takeaway from all of this…
On Instagram, especially, it’s so easy to get caught up in product hype. When it seems like every single person you follow has their hands on a product that is just ABSOLUTELY AMAZEBALLS AND LIFE-CHANGING-LY FANTASTIC, of course you’re going to be curious about it, and even want to try it for yourself.
That doesn’t mean you will feel the same way about it. Hell, you may even hate it. And that’s perfectly fine.
OK, I’ll admit that I jumped from one ‘yuge hype train to another, albeit smaller, one. But I had my reasons for ultimately trying Bite’s mask. And in this case, it’s worked to my advantage. I forked over quite a bit of (free) money, but I’m satisfied with my purchase.
Unfortunately, lip masks and beauty jars are tough products to re-gift to other people. I certainly don’t want to waste my Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask if I can help it, so I’ll see what else I can possibly do with it. However, I’m relieved that I can finally be honest with myself in how I feel about it. I don’t think it’s a bad product. It’s just not what works for me.
At the end of my Instagram posts, I’ve started to add disclaimers at the end, often along the lines of, I am not a professional, just a gal who loves her skincare. Results are based on my fickle skin at the time.
And that’s important to remember. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. Of course there are products out there that are just bad. But most of the time, the skincare item that may be your definition of bad is based on what your skin’s condition is at the time. You may even be using the wrong products along with the said bad product in your routine. There are plenty of things to consider before casting something aside for good.
This experience has taught me to listen to my skin’s needs, first and foremost. I’ll continue to be open to new products, especially if they generate buzz. (I like being in the know of these things!) If they work well for me, great! If not, well, that’s the way the pressed powder compact crumbles.
By the way…
If you want to know what my favorite lip product of all time is:
But in gold. I haven’t been able to find these at T.J.Maxx since last summer. I NEED MORE OF THESE. Nothing has made my lips feel so smooth or soft.
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I am not a professional. All opinions are my own.