Gentle exfoliation of the lips, using sugar or a soft toothbrush, may help remove any excess dead skin cells from a person’s lips. However, people may use a variety natural exfoliants and emollients to exfoliate their lips.

The skin on the lips is thinner than most of the skin on a person’s body. This makes it prone to flaking, peeling, dryness, and cracking. This may result in dead skin accumulating on the lips. By gently exfoliating the lips, people can remove the dead skin and improve the appearance of their lips.

Exfoliation is the process of either physically or chemically removing a layer of dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. While skin cells can naturally shed on their own, they may not shed fully, which can cause dry patches and flakes to develop.

Gentle exfoliation of the lips, using sugar or a soft toothbrush, can help remove any excess dead skin cells, which can help make a person’s lips look and feel healthier.

In this article, we will discuss why people should consider exfoliating their lips and how to do it safely.

A person looking in the mirror while exfoliating their lips.Share on Pinterest
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A person’s lips are a notable facial feature and play a role in expression, attraction, and intimacy. The skin on the lips is thinner than the rest of the body. They also have poor skin barrier function and are unable to produce their own moisture.

This means that they face exposure to a number of environmental factors that can cause damage, such as:

  • wind
  • sun
  • smoking
  • changes in temperature

These factors can cause dry or chapped lips, which is a common problem that many people face. As a result, layers of dead skin may cover the lips, which can prevent lip balms and other moisturizing products from reaching the skin of the lips.

Gentle exfoliation can be a useful method of removing the dead skin from the lips, which can help improve the appearance of the skin.

There are two main ways that a person can exfoliate: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical exfoliation uses an object to physically remove the dead skin cells, while chemical exfoliation uses chemicals to dissolve and remove the dead skin.

To exfoliate the lips, people may want to use a physical exfoliant and an emollient. This method will be gentler on the lips than a chemical method, and the emollient will help prevent the lips from drying out.

Common exfoliants can include sugar, cinnamon, or a soft toothbrush. Common emollients may include honey, olive oil, or petroleum jelly products.

A person can use the following steps to exfoliate their lips:

  1. Pour a tablespoon of the exfoliant into a small bowl and then add the emollient, stirring it in to create a mixture.
  2. Coat the end of a cotton swab in the mixture. If using a toothbrush, dip it into the mixture to ensure that the end of the toothbrush is fully coated.
  3. Before applying the exfoliant mixture to the lips, remove any product residue from the lips and slightly wet them with water to soften them.
  4. Apply the exfoliating mixture to the lips using the cotton bud or toothbrush. Gently rub the mixture over the lips in small circles, avoiding any harsh scrubbing as this can damage the lips.
  5. After exfoliating for 2–3 minutes, wash off any of the exfoliating mixture with a clean tissue or soft cloth and water.
  6. Finally, apply a lip moisturizer to the lips.

A person can aim to exfoliate their lips roughly twice a week. More frequent exfoliation could damage the lips. If irritation occurs, people should stop exfoliating their lips until they heal and consider performing it less frequently or trying a different technique or method.

There are a number of substances a person can use to exfoliate their lips. A person may wish to use one of these natural exfoliants in their exfoliating mixture:

  • sugar
  • cinnamon
  • ground coffee
  • a soft toothbrush

A person may wish to use these emollients when making their exfoliating mixture:

  • honey
  • jojoba oil
  • coconut oil
  • olive oil
  • shea butter
  • lip balms
  • petroleum jelly

As well as the exfoliating mixtures listed above, a person may also purchase an exfoliating lip scrub. There are a number of these available over the counter and online.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) states that people with chapped lips should look for products that contain healing ingredients when purchasing exfoliating lip scrubs.

They state that people with chapped lips should look for lip products that contain the following ingredients:

  • castor seed oil
  • ceramides
  • hemp seed oil
  • mineral oil
  • petrolatum
  • shea butter
  • white petroleum jelly

If a person exfoliates their lips, they may begin to see a number of benefits. Exfoliation has grown in popularity in recent years due to visibly positive results and how easy it is to do.

Common benefits of exfoliating the lips can include:

  • less dead skin appearing on the lips
  • smoother lips
  • more hydrated lips
  • neutralizing discoloration and removing dark spots

The lips are very sensitive to irritants. If a person feels a burning, tingling, or stinging sensation, then the substance they are using may be irritating the lips.

The AAD recommends that people with chapped lips avoid applying certain substances to their lips. They state that people with chapped lips should avoid using any lip scrubs that contain ingredients such as eucalyptus, menthol, or salicylic acid.

It is also important that a person avoids scrubbing too hard when exfoliating, as this can damage the lips and cause bleeding.

There are a number of other things a person can do to ensure that they have healthy, moisturized lips and to help prevent potential cracking or other damage. A person may want to consider:

Maintaining hydration

Dehydration can cause chapped, dry lips. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. To maintain healthy lips, a person should try to maintain hydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Using a lip balm

A person may also wish to use a lip balm to keep their lips hydrated and healthy. But it is important to remember that some lip balms contain substances that may dry out the lips.

A person should consider avoiding lip balms with potential irritants, and instead use one with lip-friendly ingredients such as petroleum jelly and shea butter.

Protecting the lips from the sun

Exposure to UV rays from the sun is a risk factor of skin cancer. So it is important that a person protects their skin using sunscreen with adequate SPF protection.

The American Cancer Society recommends that a person uses a lip balm that contains an SPF ingredient to protect the lips from UV rays.

Avoid touching or licking the lips

Constantly touching, licking, or chewing the lips can cause them to become dry and chapped.

If a person wishes to maintain healthy, moist lips, they should try to avoid doing this. It is important to note that these habits may become worse if the lips are already dry, which can make them even drier over time.

Avoid smoking

Smoking can irritate the lips and cause them to become dry and cracked. A person should try to limit or stop smoking if they wish to maintain healthy, moist lips.

The skin on the lips is thin compared with most of the other skin on the body, meaning it can easily become dry and chapped. By gently exfoliating the lips, people can help improve the appearance of their lips.

People can exfoliate their lips at home using common ingredients or items such as sugar, a toothbrush, honey, and petroleum jelly. Equally, people can purchase a lip scrub. But people should be careful not to exfoliate too hard or often as this can damage the lips.