It’s 2024, and it’s about time to upgrade your lip-care routine. Like the rest of your complexion, your lips require maintenance, nourishment, and protection to look and feel their best, and indulging in a homemade lip scrub session is a great place to start. Lip scrubs are an easy DIY, as homemade exfoliants can be easily crafted to suit your needs and tastes — literally.
A quick and gentle lip scrub sloughs dead skin from the surface of the lip to reveal its soft, glowy potential. “Removing dead skin cells helps to increase cell turnover in the lips, which is great for keeping our lips young and healthy,” says board-certified dermatologist Georgina Ferzli, MD. “Increased circulation from the rubbing and scrubbing also brings more blood and therefore more antioxidants and oxygen to the area, providing our lips with increased nourishment.
Meet Our Expert
Georgina Ferzli, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
Kemi Fabusiwa, MSSB, is a dermatologist with the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.
Your favorite lip products will wear better, too. “By eliminating the build-up of dead skin, lip scrubs can also enhance the absorption of lip balms and moisturizers, making them more effective,” says dermatologist Kemi Fabusiwa, MSSB. And thanks to that aforementioned boost in blood circulation, she adds that exfoliation will "give your lips a healthy, rosy appearance.”
A couple of caveats: Even the most natural of scrubs should be applied with care to avoid damaging delicate skin, and a post-scrub slugging session is a non-negotiable. (Reach for Aquaphor or Vaseline, followed by an SPF-infused lip balm should you be leaving the house.) “It is important to moisturize after exfoliating, even if the exfoliant is moisturizing in and of itself,” says Dr. Ferzli, who recommends lip masks like BYROE Mojito Lip Mask ($55) or Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask ($25). Still, when used with care, a lip scrub can take lips from sapped and chapped to plump and product-ready.
Here are five homemade lip-scrub recipes with ingredients that will fuel a smooth and pretty pout.
5 Easy Homemade Lip Scrubs to Make
1. Honey Brown Sugar Scrub
Esthetician Shannon Lee suggests combining brown sugar and honey for a nourishing lip exfoliant. “Brown sugar offers gentle exfoliation that helps to remove dead skin cells, is a natural humectant (meaning it draws in and retains moisture), and is a natural glycolic acid (AHA), which helps with skin cell turnover,” says Lee. Add in honey’s antibacterial, antioxidant, and similar humectant properties and you have the ultimate duo.
Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of brown sugar. Gently scrub your lips with this mixture in soft circular motions. Let the scrub sit for five to 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Follow up with lip balm to maintain hydration in the lips.
2. Brown Sugar and Petroleum Scrub
“My favorite at-home lip scrub is simple: sugar and petrolatum — Aquaphor, Vaseline, or anything ointment-based,” says Dr. Ferzli. “I recommend using brown sugar instead of white sugar since it is softer and a bit larger, providing better exfoliation without being too abrasive. The sugar will exfoliate the lips, while the ointment will restore the skin barrier and moisturize.”
Add a dollop of your preferred petroleum product to your palm. (Or crack open one of the tiny Vaseline tubs that can found at the checkout line in most drugstores.) Add a drop of oil. Next, sprinkle in brown sugar at a 3:1 ratio of petroleum to sugar. Mix well. Exfoliate gently for 30 seconds, rinse with warm water, and follow with your favorite balm.
3. Pineapple Coconut Scrub
For a scrub infused with tropical notes, reach for pineapple, “a natural fruit enzyme that exfoliates the skin, helps brighten the lips, and has antioxidant properties because of its vitamin C content,” Lee says. Add that to coconut sugar (a gentle exfoliant rich in iron, zinc, and calcium) and moisturizing coconut oil, and expect your at-home spa moment to feel like a miniature getaway.
Mix one tablespoon of finely blended pineapple with one tablespoon of coconut sugar. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil. Gently massage it into your lips in a circular motion. Leave it on for five to 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Follow with your preferred lip balm or mask.
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4. Coffee Scrub
Your coffee grounds are good for more than just a morning jolt. Combined with brown sugar, honey, and coconut oil, the mix makes for a go-to exfoliant, "Coconut oil helps with moisture, has antibacterial properties, and the fatty acids help strengthen the skin barrier and help [manage] environmental stressors,” says Lee.
Mix one teaspoon of coffee grounds with two parts both sugar and honey to create a paste, adjusting quantities as needed. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil and blend well. Apply on lips in a gentle circular motion before rinsing. Follow with your favorite lip balm or mask.
5. Cucumber Brown Sugar Scrub
The next time you slice a cucumber to depuff your eyes, save some for your lips. “Cucumber helps with hydration and [is] rich in vitamins A and C, both of which help promote overall skin health,” says Lee.
Grate half a cucumber and mix it with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Apply the mixture to your lips, and gently scrub in a circular motion. Leave on for five to 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Follow with your favorite balm or mask to maintain hydration.
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