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What’s the Deal with Lip Scrubs?

woman puckering her lips after using a lip scrub and moisturizer
Roman Samborsky/Shutterstock

Every year, the beauty and personal care industry unleashes a host of new products—many of which don’t seem necessary. From hair perfume to butt masks (seriously!), a lot of these newfangled concepts might sound fun but are far from essential.

You may have put lip scrubs in this non-essential category—if you’ve heard of them at all. However, a lip scrub actually isn’t just a beauty-industry marketing ploy. It’s a handy product for people of all genders and all ages. After all, no matter who you are or how invested you are in your looks, your lips can still get chapped.

But what exactly is a lip scrub, how can you use one effectively, and is that name-brand scrub worth the $30 price tag? We’ve got the answers—here’s how lip scrubs can help you avoid the dry, chapped lips of winter.

What Is a Lip Scrub?

A lip scrub is a semi-liquid product that contains an exfoliating agent with a “scrubby” texture, like sugar granules. When gently rubbed across the lips, these scrubs remove flakes of dry skin, revealing the soft, unchapped lips beneath.

The base, or non-exfoliating part, of the lip scrub is usually made with hydrating ingredients like plant oils and butters. This means that they also add a dose of much-needed moisture to the sensitive skin of your lips while scrubbing away the dead skin cells.

Why You Should Be Using One

Let’s face it: chapped lips are super annoying, and almost everyone gets them.

Lots of factors can contribute to dry, chapped lips, from a lack of humidity in the air to the use of drying lip color products. For the solution, most people turn to chapstick and lip balm, which can help inject new moisture into your dry lips.

However, while these products are great, they won’t get rid of the gross layer of dry, dead skin on the surface. These dead skin cells give your lips a scratchy, peeling texture that’s absolutely no fun at all. A lip scrub is a surefire way to give your lips their naturally soft, healthy texture back.

How to Use a Lip Scrub

Luckily, these products are incredibly easy to use. You won’t need a YouTube tutorial or Instagram star to show you the ropes. But hey, if you like YouTube videos this one from Lush Cosmetics shows you how they make their lip scrubs and how they’re applied:

All you really need to do, though, is use your finger to gently rub the product across your lips for a minute or two. If you want to get fancier, you can also buy a tool specially made for applying lip scrubs.

However, be careful as you apply the scrub. If you scrub too hard, you could end up removing the next layer of skin below the dead skin cells, which will hurt and might even make you bleed. Make sure only to use products with gentle ingredients. Also, take care not to scrub too often—once a week or so should do the trick.

After you scrub, rinse your lips, and apply a high-quality moisturizer to keep them hydrated. For added hydration, consider investing in a lip mask as well. You can wear these masks overnight to really seal in moisture.

But no matter how diligently you apply your hydrating lip products, cold air, dry weather, and other external factors will eventually make your lips chapped again. Keep a lip scrub handy in your care routine, and you’ll never have to live with that unpleasant effect for long.

Your Lip Scrub Buying Guide

There is a myriad of lip scrub products out there. The best way to decide which one to buy? Check the ingredients list.

First, check that the base ingredients offer high-quality hydration. Look for natural moisture from sources like coconut oil, shea butter, or honey.

Sure they might be dry and chapped now, but your lips are still very delicate. Be kind to them and use mild and natural ingredients.

Next, check the exfoliating ingredient. Avoid anything with harsh edges, like crushed walnut shells. Instead, opt for gentle exfoliators like sugar or apricot seeds, which won’t irritate your lips.

And if you start shopping and decide you don’t like the steep prices these simple products often command, you can also make your own.

Our Super-Easy DIY Lip Scrub Recipe

To DIY your lip scrub, all you need to do is look in your kitchen.

Start by choosing the base ingredient. Plant-based oils tend to work well: try olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, or any other edible oil that you have on hand. Honey also makes a great (and great-tasting) lip scrub base.

Next, grab your trusty lip exfoliating agent: sugar (white, brown, or any kind you have). You could also use salt, but it won’t taste good and will hurt if you have any broken skin on your lips—so we’d recommend sticking with sugar.

Mix about a teaspoon of each ingredient in a small container, and that’s it! You’ve now got an inexpensive, effective DIY lip scrub to use.

If you’re feeling fancy, try mixing a custom blend of two or three hydrating base ingredients, or adding a drop or two of essential oil to the mix. You can also use a clean toothbrush to apply the scrub for some extra exfoliating action—but your finger works, too.


You don’t need to be health-conscious or a beauty aficionado to benefit from a lip scrub. You use your lips every day for eating, talking, smiling, and more. They do a lot for you—so why not take great care of them? Using a lip scrub to avoid chapped lips is one simple, guaranteed way to feel just a little bit better this winter.

Ready to extend the same care to the rest of your face? Check out our guide to skincare routines for every skin type next!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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