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Chapped lips are no fun, but we all get them from time to time. If you find yourself constantly reaching for your lip balm, then maybe it’s time to consider a lip scrub.

The reasons for dry lips can vary, but can include allergies, sunburn, dehydration, excessive heat, cold weather or wind, and behavioral habits such as persistent licking or smoking.

In terms of barrier function, lips are fairly inefficient at retaining moisture so it’s not unusual to experience dryness. But exfoliating your lips can pick up the slack where lip balms fall short.

You’ve probably heard of exfoliation for your face or body, but you might not have heard of exfoliating your lips. What exactly are lip scrubs, and why should you use one?

What are lip scrubs?

“Lip scrubs are a method of physical exfoliation for your lips, an area easily affected by harsh environments.

“Lip scrubs are different from lip balms because they remove the layers of flaky, dead skin that cause lips to look and feel chapped,” explains Heather Marianna, skincare expert and founder/CEO of Beauty Kitchen.

The harsh environments Marianna mentions can include things like sun, wind, cold, and heat. If you’ve experienced chapped lips, it’s likely been during the winter or after getting a sunburn on your lips.

Why use them?

There are several reasons to consider using lip scrubs, whether it be environment, weather, age, or something else.

“As we age, lips become thinner due to the loss of collagen over time,” explains Marianna. “Lip scrubs can smooth lip lines and stimulate blood flow, which is essential in fighting signs of aging.”

Lip scrub benefits include “removing dead skin that builds up around the lip which can lead to dull, dry lips,” explains celebrity aesthetician Joshua Ross of SkinLab.

To sum up the benefits: With the right ingredients, a lip scrub can offer exfoliation, hydration, moisture, nourishment, and antiseptic benefits all at the same time, according to Marianna.

Your lips are more delicate than most other areas of your skin. Therefore, you’ll want to use different ingredients than you would for a general body scrub. Some of the ingredients will overlap, but for the most part, you’ll use finer-grained ingredients.

Examples of exfoliants to use on the lips include finely ground sugar, cinnamon, and coffee.

Unless otherwise noted, the directions for these lip scrubs are all the same. Combine all ingredients, mix well, and store in an airtight container when you’re done.

Basic lip scrub

A very simple homemade lip scrub recipe is great when you’re short on time or only have a few basic ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar

Sugar lip scrub

A DIY sugar lip scrub like this one will not only taste delicious, but will leave your lips feeling luxuriously soft.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp finely ground sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1-2 drops of your favorite essential oil

Honey lip scrub

Honey is a popular humectant in all scrubs, including lip scrubs. Combine it with sugar and almond oil for this homemade lip scrub.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp almond oil

Honey-coconut scrub

This DIY lip scrub recipe with coconut oil also includes olive oil and honey, leading to an incredibly moisturizing scrub.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, softened
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • Pinch of vanilla bean powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the honey, coconut oil, and vanilla bean powder until well mixed.
  2. Stir in the coconut sugar until evenly combined.
  3. Stir in the olive oil.
  4. Store in an airtight container.

Oatmeal lip scrub

Oatmeal isn’t just great for breakfast — it’s also good for removing traces of dirt, oil, and impurities from your lips. Combine oats with vegetable oil and a couple of other ingredients for an exfoliating and moisturizing lip scrub.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ground oats
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Coconut lip scrub

Whether you’re vegan, have an allergy, or just don’t have honey on hand, a lip scrub without honey is of course possible. This simple all-coconut recipe will do the trick just as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar

Brown sugar scrub

This lip scrub without coconut oil exfoliates just as well using olive oil and honey as the humectants of choice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp olive oil

Brown sugar and petroleum jelly scrub

If you would rather use petroleum jelly instead of oil, then this is the perfect recipe for you. The red food coloring isn’t required, and if you love the idea of giving it some color but would rather not use regular dye, all-natural food dyes are available at many grocery stores.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp petroleum jelly
  • ½ tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3 drops of vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 drop of red food coloring (optional)

Cinnamon lip scrub

“To keep up with the trend of plumper, fuller lips, I recommend lip scrubs with cinnamon (or peppermint) in them,” says Marianna. Try this cinnamon-based lip scrub recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp honey

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients and use as a scrub.
  • Store in an airtight container when not in use.

Coffee lip scrub

This coffee lip scrub doubles up on the exfoliants and moisturizers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp finely ground coffee
  • 1 tsp finely ground sugar
  • 1 tsp oil (coconut, olive, or jojoba)
  • ½ tsp honey

Peppermint lip scrub

Using peppermint essential oil in your lip scrub could boost circulation, which may lead to fuller-looking lips. It can also provide relief for lips that feel dry.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • 3 drops of peppermint essential oil

Strawberry lip scrub

Strawberries are full of citric acid and vitamin C, which help polish your lips and combat aging signs around your mouth.

Ingredients:

  • 1 strawberry
  • ½ tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp raw sugar
  • ½ tsp honey

Directions:

  1. Mash the strawberry with a fork.
  2. Combine with remaining ingredients.

Vegan lip scrub

Many lip scrub recipes are vegan or can be easily made vegan. A great example is this chocolate vegan lip scrub.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp agave

Lavender latte scrub

The coffee grounds (make sure to use finely ground coffee) in this scrub will exfoliate dry skin, and the honey will lock in moisture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp ground coffee
  • ½-1 tbsp honey
  • 1 drop lavender essential oil

When do you use a scrub?

“If someone finds their lips feeling flaky and irritated more often than moisturized, it’s best to start an exfoliation regimen,” explains Marianna. “Like exfoliating any other body part, moderation is key to get the lips accustomed to this process.”

As with all exfoliation, it’s important to not overdo it. Marianna suggests exfoliating with lip scrubs twice a week during warmer months and increasing during the winter months as needed.

After using your lip scrub, Ross suggests applying a lip balm like Clean & Pure Manuka Honey Lip Balm. This contains manuka honey beeswax, which he explains is extremely anti-inflammatory, healing, and includes antimicrobial and clean ingredients.

When not to use a DIY lip scrub

Using lip scrubs isn’t always a good idea. It’s best to avoid them if:

  • You have bleeding or chapped lips
  • Your lips are sunburned
  • You have acne or blisters on your lips

You should also be aware of a few things, such as:

  • Over-exfoliation. Marianna suggests exfoliating no more than twice a week and to not scrub too hard or for too long.
  • Direction matters. Be sure to scrub in a circular motion, as this protects your lips from tearing.

DIY lip scrubs are a great way to exfoliate your lips simply and affordably while also knowing exactly what ingredients are going on your lips.

Make sure to always use very fine (not coarse) exfoliants such as finely ground coffee and sugar.


Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, social justice, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. Visit her website wild-hearted.com.