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How to Exfoliate Lips Properly: Ingredients, Benefits, and Other Tips and Tricks

A depiction of pink lips covered in sugar, collage-style on a white surface

Exfoliating your lips is a crucial part of any beauty routine (especially when the change of seasons comes), but it's also important to know how to do it properly. In this post, we'll go over the different methods and ingredients you can use for lip exfoliation and the benefits of doing so. We'll also share tips and tricks for getting the most out of your lip exfoliation routine. Read on to learn more! 

Why is Skin of Your Lips Different From Other Parts of Your Body?

We know by the look and feel that the skin on the lips differs from the rest of our face or body. But how is it different exactly? Our bodies are entirely covered in a layer of epithelial tissue - the part in contact with the environment is called the skin, and the part that lies within this layer is the mucous membranes. The skin of the lips lies at the boundary of mucous membranes and facial skin. Furthermore, the stratum corneum of the lips (or skin's barrier that prevents unwanted materials from entering and water from leaving the body) is thinner than on the rest of our bodies. And while our facial skin has 16 cellular layers, lips have only three or five, making them more sensitive and allowing the blood color to show through. They don't have hair follicles or sweat glands, which makes them dry out or get chapped more easily, and they have more nerve endings than other parts of our bodies - making them sensitive to touch, temperature, and other external factors.  

13 Possible Causes of Chapped Lips

1. Unprotected sun exposure, which can result in sunburns 2. Exposure to extreme weather conditions such as heat, wind, or cold without appropriate protection 4. Dehydration - dry lips are a common symptom of dehydration 5. Licking, biting, or picking at your lips 6. Eating a lot of salty and or spicy foods 7. Constant exposure to dry air 8. Vitamin and minerals deficiency: lack of vitamins B and C, iron, and zinc can lead to dry, sore lips 9. Actinic cheilitis - a skin condition caused by long-term sun exposure, resulting in scaly, discolored patches on the lips 10. Allergic reactions, such as allergic contact cheilitis 11. Inflammatory skin condition like lichen planus 12. Certain medications: antihistamines, chemotherapies, and diuretics 13. Ingredients (like phenol, menthol, and salicylic acid) in lip products, like lipstick or balms  

9 Benefits of Lip Exfoliation

Since our lips don't contain sebum-releasing oil glands like the rest of our skin, they tend to get dry and chapped more easily. We already wrote about different ways to deal with chapped lips, lip exfoliation being one of them. And why should we exfoliate lips at all? Here is a list of benefits:

  1. It will help you maintain the lips soft and supple
  2. Removing dry skin will help in the prevention of shedding
  3. Properly exfoliated, your lips will be readier to absorb moisturizers and protective layers
  4. Gentle yet efficient lip exfoliation might give your lips more pinkish note (by removing dead skin, which can cause a dull appearance)
  5. It might help with neutralizing lip discoloration
  6. Practice suggests that lip exfoliation makes your lipstick stay more stable for a longer period
  7. It might have a positive effect on collagen stimulation and impact on reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  8. As exfoliation temporarily helps encourage blood flow to the area, your lips might benefit from the plump-up effect
  9. Since these benefits result in keeping the moisture levels right, the lips will look healthier.


Choosing Your Type of Lip Exfoliant

When it comes to professional lip care, the exfoliants can be chemical, physical, or mechanical. When it comes to DIY lip care, there are a couple of lip exfoliant ingredients that you can find in your pantry. We're bringing all of them:

Difference Between Chemical and Physical Exfoliants

Physical exfoliants (considered a traditional method) imply rubbing rough or granular textures on your lips, while chemical exfoliants contain acids that dissolve the outermost layer of the skin.  Physical exfoliants are also called scrubs precisely because their activation implies scrubbing. Although some people prefer granular particles as they may psychologically seem more efficient, they might be abrasive. Consider that chemical peels might be a gentler alternative for sensitive lips. If your choice is based on cost-effectiveness, then you might turn to a physical exfoliant. Chemical exfoliators exclude any rubbing as they are not composed of granular particles but contain acids. When it comes to lips, the most common ones are lactic, mandelic, or glycolic acids, as they tend to be more gentle (many experts advise against using salicylic acid when it comes to lip exfoliation). When using chemical peels, the risk of over-exfoliation is lower, so certain dermatologists advise using chemical lip peels only. 

What Is Mechanical Exfoliation?

Next to physical and chemical exfoliation, you might come across the term mechanical exfoliation. Certain sources use it as a synonym for physical exfoliation, while others imply that mechanical exfoliation involves a tool or physical device to exfoliate the skin mechanically (such as a cleansing brush).  

How to Exfoliate Lips Properly?

Before suggesting how to do it, the most important thing to know is how NOT to do it- by overdoing it. Your lips are super sensitive and delicate, remember? Make sure you don’t do more harm than good. Guidelines on how to exfoliate are simple, containing three steps:

  1. Make sure your lips are clean and dry. This means gently removing all makeup and dirt residue from your lips and patting them dry (the most hygienic way is with clean tissue).
  2. Process to exfoliate: apply the exfoliant of your choice on your lips and rub it gently in slow, circular motions. 
  3. Rinse the exfoliant with warm (but not too hot water) and apply a thin layer of moisturizer or protective balm to form a barrier. Apply SPF if you are going out right after exfoliation.


Natural Ingredients for Lip Exfoliation

There are various ingredients you can use for lip exfoliation. Whatever ingredient or combination you choose, we recommend gently massaging it onto your lips in a circular motion for about one minute. Rinse off with warm water and pat your lips dry.


Sugar is a gentle yet effective exfoliator that can be used on all skin types. It's also relatively inexpensive and easy to find. Just make sure to use granulated sugar rather than raw sugar, as the latter can be too harsh on the lips. To use sugar for lip exfoliation, mix it with a little water or oil to form a paste. 


Honey is a natural humectant, meaning it helps keep the skin hydrated. It's also antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, making it ideal for sensitive skin. To use honey for lip exfoliation, simply mix it with a little sugar to form a paste. 

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is another natural humectant that's great for keeping lips hydrated. It's also packed with antioxidants and fatty acids that can help to repair dry, damaged lips.

Jojoba oil

Like coconut oil, jojoba oil is a natural humectant that contains antioxidants and fatty acids. It's also non-comedogenic, so you don't have to worry about it clogging your pores.

Shea butter

Shea butter is a nourishing, emollient ingredient that's often used in lip balms and other products. It's rich in vitamins and fatty acids, making it great for repairing dry, chapped lips. If you enjoy making homemade concoctions for your skin, why not combine your passion with professional skincare? FOREO has just the thing: Imagination mask is an ultra-hydrating base for your homemade mask. Add your preferred fruit, veggies, honey, or oil, and you're good to go!  

How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Lips?

Over-exfoliation can happen if the treatment is too long, too aggressive, or if you exfoliate lips too often. That could do more damage than good, as it can lead to dry, chapped lips. Exfoliating one to two times per week should be the rule of thumb for lips.  

Why Shouldn’t You Use Face Exfoliant on Your Lips?

Since the lips are thinner, more sensitive, and more delicate than the rest of your skin, you need to take special care when exfoliating. Make sure to use a product specially formulated for lips - products meant for your face, or even worse, body, are unsuitable for lips. In chemical peels, those designed for the lips have different percentages of acids than those for the rest of our face, and the physical peels for lips have tinier granular particles.  

Extra Tips for Lip Exfoliation

Now that you know the types of exfoliators and some of the best ingredients for lip exfoliation, here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your session.

Never use a toothbrush.

Many people think using a toothbrush is a good way to exfoliate their lips. Think of it. Why would you scrub your lips, the most delicate part of your body, with harsh nylon bristles designed to clean the teeth - the hardest parts of your body? Or rub the germs and bacteria left after brushing your teeth directly into the gentle skin of your lips? If you really want to scrub your lips, then using gentle, silicone, ultra-hygienic bristles, such as FOREO LUNA™ 4, is a way to go.

Don’t use toothpaste.

When searching for handy ‘solutions’ online, toothpaste can be found as a potential exfoliator. Please don’t do it. Toothpaste contains ingredients meant for cleaning teeth and may be too harsh for the delicate skin on your lips. Some toothpastes contain menthol or other potential irritants that can cause dryness, redness, or even an allergic reaction when applied to the lips. Why would you use that when you need just two affordable ingredients from your kitchen (sugar and honey) for effective yet risk-free lip exfoliation? 

Avoid using scrubs with large granules.

Lip scrubs with large granules can be too harsh on the lips. Stick to scrubs with smaller granules or no granules at all.

Test the scrub before you exfoliate your lips.

If you’re using a new lip scrub, it’s always a good idea to test it on a small area of your skin first. This will help you see how your skin reacts to the ingredients and avoid irritation.

Choose the right time of day to exfoliate.

Exfoliating your lips before bedtime is a good idea, as you can leave the moisturizer on overnight. This will give your lips plenty of time to absorb all the nutrients. However, if you choose a different time of day, provide your lips with adequate protection (that may include SPF).

Think twice about exfoliation if your lips are very dry.

If your lips are in a really bad shape at the moment, it might be smarter to skip the exfoliation until they make certain recovery. If your lips are dry and flaky, provide them with appropriate lip moisturizer. After the hydration process does its thing, proceed to exfoliation. We consider this to be safer as scrubbing already dry skin might lead to inflammation and cracks.

Never peel off dead skin from your lips.

It can’t be clearer than that. If you attempt it, you might accidentally peel off too much and cause damage that might need time to heal. It is not worth the pain and recovery period.   [caption id="attachment_12990" align="aligncenter" width="1014"] Gentle exfoliation will result in kissable lips. Still, overdoing it can lead to dry, chapped lips. We recommend exfoliating your lips 1-2 times per week.[/caption]  

BEAR™ 2 Eyes & Lips

To wrap up, your lips deserve to be and look healthy as much as other parts of your beautiful face and body. Treat them with care and enjoy the benefits of careful lip exfoliation. For adding another layer of beauty, you might want to consider using the most recent invention from FOREO’s house of innovation BEAR ™ 2 eyes & lips microcurrent device - for a plumper, smoother skin.  



MYSA user avatar
Elif 25/10/2022

Her zaman güzel bilgiler paylaşıyorsunuz, teşekkürler

MYSA user avatar
erika 26/10/2022

In reply to by Elif



Yorumun için teşekkür ederim!

Daha fazla makale için takipte kalın!

MYSA user avatar
Anilza Araújo 26/10/2022

Great tips and tricks! I'll use some of them!

MYSA user avatar
erika 26/10/2022

In reply to by Anilza Araújo


Hello! Thank you for your comment! Stay tuned for more articles coming your way soon!

MYSA user avatar
Donatella Sablone 26/10/2022

Thanks for sharing, I'll try some of these tips from here. Cold days are here soon and this will be very useful then!

MYSA user avatar
erika 26/10/2022

In reply to by Donatella Sablone


Hello! Thank you for your comment! Stay tuned for more articles coming your way soon!

MYSA user avatar
Samra 27/10/2022

Great! I have dry lips, so I will incorporate some of these tips into my nighttime routine.

MYSA user avatar
eyna 31/10/2022

Ah, dry and cracked lips look awful and feel even worse, so proper care is a must. I have learned something from this article and thank you for that. I love mysa, because you cover a lot of things, especially skincare part and you have helped me a lot

MYSA user avatar
Michael Lungu 04/12/2023

Good way to go

MYSA user avatar
dora 04/12/2023

In reply to by Michael Lungu


Hi dear,
Thanks! We agree as well ;)


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