Plumping, Smoothing (Non-Ridiculous) Lip Treats

Have you seen these ridiculous sheet masks for lips that seem to be all the rage? Patches of gel, or sheets of serum-infused fabric that are pressed over the lip area and left on for an “intensive treatment”. I mean, each to their own and everything, but who wants to sit there with a floppy sheet of slimy jelly slapped over their mouth? It’s just absurd. Not only is it completely unnatural to have to keep your mouth clamped shut for minutes on end (for me, it’s almost an impossibility), the bloody things don’t even work. I’ve tried quite a few of them now, and even the best of the bunch did absolutely nothing in terms of lip appearance. It merely gave an intense tingling sensation as I lay there like a prize idiot, my mouth area covered with a giant lip-shaped (nice touch) piece of plasma.

I do like the sheets and patches for under the eyes; the slimy, cooling sensation is actually nice – but on the mouth? Just weird.

So stick-on lip masks are in my bad books, along with those coffee body scrubs that come in paper packets. Have you tried those? Don’t. Your shower cubicle will look as though there’s been some sort of dirty protest. And you’ll find coffee granules in your “secret areas” for days afterwards. Who wants coffee granules in their creases? Not I.

But less of the moaning: onwards to the beautiful (and infinitely more usable) lip treats I’ve come across over the past couple of months. The first, Espa’s Nourishing Lip Treatment, is a non-greasy oil that can be used as a top-coat over lipstick or as a nourishing base. In consistency it’s rather similar to the Clarins Lip Comfort Oil, but (controversially, as the Clarins version is so well-loved!) I think I prefer the ESPA. It feels more “skincare” than “makeup”, the texture is just slightly more nourishing in feel and it’s a nice one to bung on alongside an overnight mask so that you wake up with plump, smooth lips. It also smells beautifully lemony. You can find the ESPA Nourishing Lip Treatment here* – it’s £19.

lip treatments

And then the Fresh Sugar Treatment Perfecting Wand, which I thought I’d hate from the name alone – wand! – but actually liked very much. The lip treatment formula is very softening and leaves a lovely sheen to the lips, but it’s the rubbery, nobbly applicator that makes this special:

It does a fine job of giving the lips a low-key exfoliation session without any abrasion or risk of irritation and I love the feeling of the blood rushing to the surface and plumping everything out. It really does give a bit of a temporary boost, though I don’t even know whether that’s one of the wand’s selling points! It’s a treatment session in one step – exfoliation, massage, plumping and then a nourishing little top coat to send you on your way. Just excellent.

The Fresh Sugar Treatment Perfecting Wand is £20 at Harrods here* or $24 at Sephora (with full ingredients list) here*.

liz earle superskin superlip balm

Finally, the Liz Earle Superskin Superlip Balm; this has a similar feel to the rest of the Superskin range, which is Liz Earle’s “power” range, for want of a better description. Smoothing, plumping, skin-boosting, the balm is formulated with argan oil and shea butter to nourish and moisturise and then a variety of oils and extracts to boost hydration and help to protect the lips. If you love the sound of the ESPA oil above but you’re wary of the “oil” element, then go for this balm – I find the effects, texture and smell to be very similar, but the finish is ever so slightly less tacky and the squeezy tube packaging a little more familiar.

Superskin Superlip Balm is £16 here* – you actually get three times the amount that you do in the ESPA lip oil, so this is a good cost-effective alternative too.

lip treatments

For those looking for a dedicated lip mask that’s not a leave-on sheet of silly goo, I’m currently testing out the BITE Agave Lip Mask, as recommended to me by so many of you! It’s lovely. There’s no real difference in formulation or texture when compared to a good lip balm, like one of those above, it’s just marketed in a different way. “Mask” makes it sound more of a treat, doesn’t it? It’s £20/$26 at Sephora here*. This one is lanolin-based (like Lanolips) but has a whole load of extra ingredients for hydration and protection, including resveratrol for a bit of antioxidant action and Jojoba oil for non-greasy healing. You can find the full ingredients list here*.

Tell me: what do you think of a) these sheet masks for lips and b) coffee body scrubs. Please tell me I’m not the only one…

Gorgeous printed notebook is by Arden Rose at Ohh Deer – it’s £3.95.

© 2018 A Model Recommends®: all opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. Please see here for full "about" section and disclaimer. A Model Recommends and Ruth Crilly are registered trademarks.



  1. Poorani
    June 1, 2017 / 10:43 pm

    I want to try the Fresh one. I can’t get Espa and Liz Earle. I thought lip masks were funny until I saw bum masks. I drink coffee at home everday and the coffee grounds from the filter are good for clearing the sink drains once in a while. I didn’t like it as a body scrub.

  2. June 1, 2017 / 10:59 pm

    Great review, these products sound amazing.

  3. ziloa
    June 2, 2017 / 1:43 am

    Great article (as usual <3 ) !
    I tried the coffee-olive oil-sugar body scrub the other day, I liked it but it was a hassle to clean the bathroom after… The olive oil is too greasy and could be dangerous (no one wants to fall in a bathroom, no one) and there is coffee everywhere.
    I'm still going to do it again because it is cheap and I need to exfoliate my legs as I use an electrical razor (is that the right English word?)

  4. Claire L
    June 2, 2017 / 3:44 am

    You are not alone, those lip masks look weird and I can’t bring myself to try those coffee scrubs. I do love the Rituals Ayurveda Scrub but that’s as far as I go with body scrubs (and no, I don’t put that on my bits, I use plain old shower wash!). These lip products look lush but a bit of a splurge, maybe one day I’ll treat myself to one.

  5. Jan Kelley
    June 2, 2017 / 6:00 am

    Another fabulous post. I used to love the Bite Beauty Lip Mask until I started to react adversely to something in it. Now I’ve fallen in love with a Korean lip mask, LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask. It’s very soothing and hydrating. It comes in a small pink plastic jar. Along with the jar is a tiny plastic and silicone spatula in a little silicone envelope for those who don’t want to stick their finger into the jar. I am curious about the Fresh product. But, I think I will stay with the LANEIGE. Oh, those lip masks are creepy. I do not like the way they feel. And, I don’t find they do much.

    • Debz
      June 2, 2017 / 9:33 am

      Jan i have the laneige sleeping lip mask too. How do you find the texture? Mine feels a bit….it’s like a more liquidy lip balm, it’s quite light and has a waxy taste to it?

  6. June 2, 2017 / 12:41 pm

    I have never tried a coffee scrub, but I completely agree on the lip things. i don’t even like regular sheet masks, so there is no way I am putting these things on my lips. I do masks in my leisure time, and leisure time without eating is time wasted!

  7. Jaclyn
    June 2, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    Pixi do a very similar product to the Fresh Sugar Wand. It’s called Nourishing Lip Treatment and about £14 I think. I’ve been using it the last few months and love it. Picked it up in M&S.

  8. Alice
    June 2, 2017 / 4:57 pm

    I am loving your posts lately, you’re on a real roll with the witty personal honesty!
    Coffee scrub is only enjoyable in my book because it’s the grown up equivalent of mud pies or stomping in rivers and generally making a big old mess without getting into trouble. But….”creases”….yeah…..ick!

    • June 2, 2017 / 10:48 pm

      Haha, thank you. I’m not sure what’s come over me. x

  9. June 2, 2017 / 8:14 pm

    The Fresh one sounds great!

  10. SomeGirlMel
    June 3, 2017 / 12:04 am

    Yes, that infamous or should I say “instafamous” coffee scrub in the brown packet had me finding brown bits all over my bits for days. I’ve been compulsively applying Paula’s Choice Lip Balm lately. It’s a pot balm and very thick. I like that it’s more of a matte finish but still very hydrating. I massage it into my cuticles too.

      • SomeGirlMel
        June 4, 2017 / 8:26 pm

        Yes, it’s similar in the way that they’re both matte in texture, and they don’t have the same “slip” that most balls do. The PC is more hydrating. It doesn’t have the grainy feel that Nuxe does. I use the PC alone on no makeup days and my guy uses it too since it isn’t shiny. It’s great under other lip products. It keeps my lips from drying out when I paid it with liquid lipsticks, but it doesn’t mess with the finish or longevity.

        • SomeGirlMel
          June 4, 2017 / 8:28 pm

          Balms* not balls! That wasn’t a Freudian slip about slippery balls, it was autocorrect! Lol!!

  11. Ensa
    June 10, 2017 / 8:31 am

    Thanks for this post as recently I totally neglected my lips , occasionally use instafamous gold infused elixir rose gold oil. What abt Clinique’s all abt lips I remember Mrs hirons used it

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