Beauty, Skin Care

How to Exfoliate Lips to Achieve Soft, Supple Lips



by mediavine


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Scaly, chapped and dry lips; you've seen them, had them and most likely continued to apply your favorite lip balm or lipstick. The result? A layer of flaky, dead skin and lipstick settling in the cracks of your lips. We are way too familiar with exfoliating, especially when it comes to having a good skincare routine.

If exfoliating your lips is not an agenda on your Sunday self-care ritual, we are about to change that. Soft, supple and kissable lips, like the ones you see in magazines, are not unachievable. However, knowing how to exfoliate lips will make the difference, not only in the overall health and appearance of your lips but enhance a smoother lipstick application.

Stick around to learn how to exfoliate lips, why this step is important and how often you should be exfoliating.

What is Exfoliating?

Exfoliating removes dry, dead skin cells from your face, lips, or body. It is done using a granular, chemical, or exfoliating tool. There are a few responsible factors for chapped and dry lips, such as the weather.

Lips are an exposed area of your skin, meaning that they are prone to dryness, which results in chapped lips. This is because the lips, unlike the face, do not contain sebum releasing oil glands that add moisture. Lip exfoliation ensures that the dry skin and flaky cells are removed completely. In turn, this gives you moist, natural-looking supple lips.

Now that we know what exfoliating is, let us look at ways of converting those dry, flaky and chapped lips into softer lips. 

What Are the Benefits of Exfoliating Your Lips?

The weather aside, skipping exfoliation could have serious effects on the appearance of your lips. A dehydrated, cracked lip could be painful and bloody, especially when removing the flaky bits by hand. Below are a few reasons why this step is important in your routine.

1. Remove Dead Skin

Being part of your skin, your lips shed dead skin cells to make room for new cells. However, sometimes, some of the dead cells remain on your lips, causing flakiness and dryness. Exfoliating your lips is the best way to ensure that you remove all the dead cells. In addition, an exfoliant polishes away the ugly dead parts, leaving you with softer lips.

2. Hydrate Your Lips

When you exfoliate your lips, a fresh, healthier lip layer is revealed. This lip layer is hydrated and does not dry out. In addition, you can apply a moisturizing lip balm or lip treatment smoothly. Exfoliating helps these products to be effectively absorbed into your skin, hence adding extra hydration.

3. Smoothen Out Your Lips

Your lips are a canvas on which you can express your mood through color. Unfortunately, applying lipstick on dry and flaky skin leaves you flaky and clumpy patches on the lips. However, when you exfoliate your lips, you are prepping and priming them for a smooth lipstick application.

Lip exfoliation temporarily increases blood flow to your lips. This makes your lips appear to be plumper than they are. In addition, it results in an even lip product application.

4. Improve Discoloration

Exfoliating gets rid of dark spots since they fall off with dry skin. Every time you exfoliate lips, you are left with lesser dark spots. Maintaining a consistent routine neutralizes and improves lip discoloration.

How to Exfoliate Lips

A lip exfoliant is course-grained to remove the dead skin better. The choice of the lip exfoliator will depend on your personal preferences, whether you'd like a ready-made lip scrub or if you would like to get involved in making your lip scrub from available kitchen ingredients. Let us look at different ways of exfoliating your lips below.

1. Lip Scrub

A ready-made store-bought exfoliator is an easy and convenient method to remove the chapped skin and replace it with a new healthy lip layer. Below are our top pick lip exfoliants.

i) Burt's Bees Conditioning Lip Scrub

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This lip scrub by Burt's Bees uses bees' exotic oils and honey crystals to exfoliate your lips, leaving them soft, smooth and nourished. In addition, it has castor oil and cocoa butter, which are rich in hydrating and sealing in the moisture overnight.

ii) Hanalei Sugar Lip Scrub

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The Hanalei Sugar Lip Scrub uses Hawaiian sugar crystals and kukui nut oil, which is rich in Vitamin A and C. The Kukui nut oil also has fatty acids and linoleic acids, which keep the lips hydrated and plump. In addition, this scrub has shea butter which helps to lock in moisture.

2. DIY Lip Scrub

Making a lip scrub from scratch at home is fun and allows you to use ingredients of your choice. You can stick to basic ingredients, such as sugar and honey. However, if you are up to it, you could add flavors like vanilla extract or cocoa powder as a fragrance.

The main area of concern when DIY-ing your lip scrub is to fuse your favorite exfoliating ingredient with a moisturizer or emollient of choice. This ensures that you scrub and moisturize your lips. DIY ways to exfoliate your lips include:

a). Honey-Sugar Lip Scrub

Sugar is a natural exfoliant that forms a basis for most lip scrubs. On the other hand, honey is hydrating and speeds up the skin renewal process. For this reason, it can be used in place of oil or together.


3 tsp. of brown sugar

1/2 tsp. of oil (olive oil, jojoba, coconut, or any oil of your choice)

1/2 tsp. of honey

1/2 a lemon (cocoa powder or vanilla extract)


  1. Pour raw sugar into a bowl, followed by your oil of choice.
  2. Next, add honey.
  3. Add lemon or vanilla extract for flavor. This step is optional.
  4. Mix the ingredients so that the honey, oil and extract are well distributed.
  5. Scrub your lips in a circular motion for two to three minutes. All the ingredients are edible, so do not panic if some of it gets into your mouth.

Note: You can remove honey or oil and use each in place of the other to achieve the same results. This way, you have two different lip scrubs that you can use interchangeably.

b). Lemon Juice Lip Exfoliator

Lemon juice is a natural exfoliant and a staple kitchen ingredient. Mix a tablespoon of lemon extract with glycerin or 1 tablespoon of castor oil. Apply this mixture to your lips. Leave it for an hour or less, then gently rub it off with a washcloth completely soaked in warm water. Finally, use a hydrating lip balm to moisturize your lips.

If you choose to use this method, note that lemon is known to cause an allergic reaction in some people, especially if you have sensitive lips and skin. In addition, it may not be very pleasant to the skin.

3. Using A Toothbrush

Another way to exfoliate lips is by using a soft-bristled toothbrush. However, to avoid causing lip injuries, apply a thick layer of your favorite lip balm to your lips, then scrub. In addition, you can use emollient oils like shea butter, jojoba oil, olive oil, castor, or coconut oil. Petroleum jelly like Vaseline also works well.

Ensure that you are using a clean toothbrush for this process. Next, start brushing your lips in a circular motion. Avoid applying too much pressure to prevent over-exfoliating and scabbing. Additionally, if you have sensitive skin, you might want to try other gentle methods for exfoliating lips.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Lips?

It would be best if you exfoliate your lips at least thrice a week. However, you want to start with once a week and slowly work your way up if need be. Over-exfoliating could lead to cracks on your lips, which in turn worsen the drying and scaling. In addition, sun exposure could burn your lips. Therefore, it is recommended to wear a lip balm that has at least SPF 30 protection.

Signs you are over-exfoliating include:

  • Breaking out
  • Inflammation
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Burning
  • Peeling
  • Over-sensitivity to other products

If you happen to over-exfoliate, stop for a few days until your skin heals. You will notice healing once it is back to its normal texture. After this, use mild exfoliators and be gentle to your lips. You can also switch to a fragrance-free lip balm to avoid overexposing your lips to many ingredients.

Exfoliating Tips and Tricks

1. Be Gentle

Not just when using a toothbrush! Use a gentle circular motion when dealing with your lips. Any pressure will cause pain and worsen your dry skin situation.

2. Do Not Over-Exfoliate

If you wear a lot of lipstick, exfoliating a maximum of three times a week is enough to remove dead dry skin on your lips. Otherwise, once or twice a week will still get the job done.

3. Protect Your Lips

Use a rich lip balm to hydrate and moisturize your lips. In addition, ensure that your lip balm of choice has SPF protection. Protecting your lips will ensure that you do not experience dryness caused by sunburn.

4. Exfoliate at Night

This trick gives your lips enough time to heal before exposing them to makeup, dust, sun, or pollution.

5. Stop When Irritated

Different ingredients, especially in store-bought lip scrubs, could cause your lips and skin to be irritated. If this happens, stop use immediately and give yourself time to heal.

What Should You Avoid When You Exfoliate Your Lips?

When you exfoliate your lips, it is important to keep in mind that the skin on the lips is super sensitive. How you exfoliate will have your lips soft or red and irritated. Here's what you should avoid.

  1. Hard particles or powerful chemical peels. Whether using a DIY lip scrub or a ready-made exfoliator, you want to use gentle products that will not react with your lips or skin. Avoid harsh ingredients at all costs.
  2. Applying makeup immediately after exfoliating. Once you are done exfoliating, use a lip balm to moisturize your lips. Waiting at least an hour before applying makeup will give your skin time to heal.
  3. Do not exfoliate your lips if they are peeling, are flaky, or irritated. This will do more harm than good.
  4. Do not use body scrub as a lip scrub.

Final Thoughts

Lip care should be just as extensive as a face or body care routine. If you are looking to add lip exfoliators to your routine, whether you opt for lip scrubs made from household ingredients or quick store-bought lip scrub, choose ingredients that are kind and gentle to your lips. Including this step in your evening routine will ensure you no longer have dry lips.


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