year in review

What Actually Is It About the Laneige Lip Mask?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask dominated 2022. It appeared almost monthly in our series What I Can’t Live Without, with Yuna Sarai, Ty Hunter, and Ashley Benson recommending it within a ten-day span in November. Storm Reid also gave it a shout-out in June, as did Beverley Nguyen in February. When it went on sale in October, as part of Amazon’s Prime Early Access Sale, our readers bought it in droves and it became our second best-selling product that month.

But the Laneige lip mask launched nearly five years ago, and the first celebrity to recommend it to us was Keke Palmer — back in 2019. So why is a five-year-old, $25 lip mask having a moment all these years later?

As the Strategist’s resident beauty writer and self-professed lip-balm/gloss-obsessive, I have a theory. The main thing is that this lip mask is truly excellent. I started using it in 2018, not too long after it debuted at Sephora. The mask was designed to round out Laneige’s Sleeping Beauty line, an assortment of nighttime-focused products, which included the already popular Water Sleeping Mask. The first time I dipped my finger into the small pink tub, I was surprised by the thick, melty texture, which I’d liken to gummy candy that’s been softened by the sun. I applied it in the dead of winter, my lips peeling, and found the fraying skin almost melting back into place.

The magic came down to ingredients: hydrating hyaluronic acid, a cocktail of nourishing oils and butters, and a kick of vitamin C. It was an upgrade from my trusty Aquaphor, which works but doesn’t have that same luxuriously thick feel. I loved the Laneige so much that I started using it all day, even though it was meant to be a before-bed indulgence. And I wasn’t alone. That same year, editorial and celebrity makeup artist Grace Ahn told the Cut it was one of the best products at Sephora under $60, describing it as “a super-intense lip mask,” that works “great as a lip balm too.”

That’s the key to the Laneige lip mask’s success: It’s an intense treatment product that’s transitioned to being a surprisingly effective staple, and it’s the word-of-mouth recommendations that have made it go viral (along with over 14 million mentions on TikTok—Delaney Rowe, a star on that platform, also told the Cut she uses it all day long). Charlotte Lawrence, for example, learned about it from her mom, Christa Miller. Delila Belle Hamlin stole it from her sister, and Reid heard about it from her makeup artist, Pauly Branch. In the intervening years, celebrity mentions have accelerated. Hamlin and Beverly Johnson told us it was a must-have. The latter is such a fan that she gifted it to her daughter and granddaughters not long after. In 2021, Lawrence emphatically cosigned it, noting she also uses it as a lip balm. “I’m always stocked with it,” she told us. “If I were to ever run out, I’d freak. I have to have it.”

In 2022, the mask reached ubiquity, and all the celebrity chatter has had a significant effect on brand visibility and sales. I asked Laneige PR manager Jennifer Berryman about the uptick in mentions, and she confirmed this year’s sales surge, though she didn’t give me exact figures. According to Berryman, Kate Moss’s Vogue “Beauty Secrets” video single-handedly delivered Laneige its largest spike in followers and impressions over a five-month span. In the video, a radiant Moss walks us through her daytime skin-care routine, and at the two-minute-and-forty-second mark, she dips her finger into the classic pink pot. “It’s a sleep mask, but it’s so good,” Moss says. Apparently, she had heard about it from her daughter, Lila.

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What Actually Is It About the Laneige Lip Mask?