Lip Scrubs

LIP SCRUB

April 02, 2022

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What is a Lip Scrub?


Lip scrubs are products used to gently exfoliate peeling skin on the lips.  Lips scrubs tend to contain a gritty base such as sugar and other oils to carefully remove excess dry skin while hydrating simultaneously. 




Can you exfoliate lips without a scrub? 


Technically, our skin is constantly subtly naturally exfoliating.  By hydrating the skin with lip balms or petrolatum-based products, the process of exfoliation is eased in that the lip skin is not left raw or sensitive. 



Related: Lip Balms | Ingredients matter









Should you exfoliate your lips? 



Lip scrubs are becoming very popular.  Lip scrubs often have a little grittiness to their texture that allow the delicate skin of the lips to gently exfoliate without leaving them feeling too raw or painful. Using a lip scrub perhaps once a week is not unreasonable. This dryness will incline some towards biting or pulling at this dry chapped skin.  When this occurs there can be tender, open, raw areas left behind. Using a lip scrub can achieve a smoother surface without causing open, painful or potentially bleeding wounds.  If you decide to use a lip scrub,  please follow this up with a lip balm or product. The slightly raw skin left over will need to be protected to allow healing to occur.








Why is it dry and irritated above my lip line? 


There is a medical diagnosis referred to as Lip Licker’s Dermatitis. This is relatively common, especially in children.  When the lips are dry, in an attempt to add moisture, repeatedly licking our lips is quite common to try.  Unfortunately, by doing so the temporary moisture achieved is quickly lost to evaporation that paradoxically dries out the lips and the lip margin.  This leaves the skin pink, inflamed, dried, and irritated on and around the lip skin.







Do lips need to be exfoliated? 



Technically, the manual removal of peeling skin of the lip is not necessary.  It will naturally occur in the course of hydrating and moisturizing the lips with lips balms or petrolatum-based products.







Are there any lip scrub benefits?



If used appropriately, there can be some benefits to using a lip scrub weekly or a couple of times weekly.  Most people have likely encountered a scenario where their lips were excessively dry with some free dried edges to the peeling skin.  It is common to inadvertently bite or attempt to peel this away.  Once this occurs, by peeling back from the edges, oftentimes there is a portion of this peeling skin that leaves behind raw denuded lip skin that can ooze, bleed, and/or be sensitive or painful.  By using a lip scrub, taking the time to address this skin appropriately, and hydrating it afterward can avoid excess peeling and discomfort. 



Related: Chapped lips | Tips & Tricks


How frequently should you exfoliate your lips?



If you choose to manually exfoliate your lips, limit the process to once weekly to avoid excess irritation.  Also, try to understand why your lips are drying out in the first place and address the underlying cause.  Are you a mouth breather? Are you using acne or anti-aging products that can be contributing to excess lip dryness?







Are there any DIY Lip Scrub recipes?


Making your own lip scrub is actually very simple.  Homemade lip scrubs usually contain granulated sugar or brown sugar with honey and/or coconut oil and potentially some essential oils. 


Lip scrub recipe options include:


1 tsp of Honey + 2 tsp of granulated sugar mixed together then gently rubbed on the lips. Leave on for 5-10 minutes then gently rinse.

 

OR


1 tsp of Honey + 2 tsp of granulated sugar + 1 tsp coconut oil mixed together then gently rubbed on the lips. Leave on for 5-10 minutes then gently rinse.


OR


1 tsp of Honey + 2 tsp of brown sugar mixed together then gently rubbed on the lips. Leave on for 5-10 minutes then gently rinse.

Lip scrub sugar choices tend to be granulated and not powdery.  White or brown sugar works well.  








What products should you avoid when exfoliating your lips? 



Avoid alpha and/or beta hydroxy acids that can contribute to the chemical exfoliation of the lips.  Avoid menthol-based products.


Menthol gives a cooling sensation when applied and gives people the impression that their product is getting to work! This sensation is more of a marketing effect and less reflects an actual effect of the product.  Patients often get “addicted” to need this sensation to “feel” like their product is working or do not think a product is effective if they do not feel the tingle!  Menthol has been shown to contribute to some drying or irritation with long-term use.



How are lip scrubs used?



Most lips scrubs are used by gently applying in a circular motion across the lips.  Allowing the product to sit on the lips for a few minutes followed by gently rinsing it off with water.  Be sure to apply a gentle lip balm afterward to give the lips a chance to repair themselves post exfoliation. 









What happens when you exfoliate your lips? 



Exfoliating the lips results in the manual removal of the most superficial layer of the skin.



Can you exfoliate your lips if you've had lip injections? 


Lip filler can expand and stretch the lip skin. For some, this will result in being more prone to dryness.  It is safe to exfoliate the lips with lip filler as filler is placed in the dermis, well below the epidermis where exfoliation occurs.

 







What is the best way to care for our lips?



An ideal lip care routine takes into consideration the needs to hydrate, protect and repair the delicate skin of the lips.  It is important to understand how much the lips are exposed to throughout the day and night from food and drink with varying pHs, temperature extremes, talking, facial products that can impact the thin skin of the lips, mouth breathing at night, yeast from the mouth, etc.

The morning lip routine…

During the day, keeping lip balms close as a personal care product is helpful to avoid a common habit that can lead to excessively dry lips.  Often during the day if the lips feel dry, many people are inclined to simply lick their lips.  This simple routine action can often ironically dry out the lips.  The layer of moisture applied without a protective barrier between the moisture and the delicate skin of the lips will evaporate and dry the skin out more.  This leads to a relentless cycle of lip-licking that worsens the lips over time.  

If using lipsticks throughout the day, some types and shades of lipstick can also dry out lip skin.  This dryness will incline some towards biting or pulling at this dry chapped skin.  It is important to think about using lip conditioners on the lips to hydrate the skin and allow lipstick to glide easier and more evenly. Lip conditioners are like moisturizers or emollients for the lips.  They often contain almond oil, shea butter, squalene, vitamin E, and/or mineral oil. 



The evening lip routine…

Nighttime is the most important time to think about routine lip care.  While we sleep at night, moisture that evaporates off of our lips from breathing overnight can leave our lips dry and cracked.  Getting into the habit of applying a lip balm before bedtime to protect the thin skin of our lips will continue to benefit us throughout the day. Lip balms often contain beeswax, carnauba wax, lanolin, and/or petrolatum.  These ingredients are designed to form a protective layer or barrier for the skin to avoid dryness that can result from the evaporation of the moisture from the lips.

 



The weekly or monthly lip routine…


Lip scrubs often have a little grittiness to their texture that allow the delicate skin of the lips to gently exfoliate without leaving them feeling too raw or painful. Lip scrubs are becoming very popular.  If you decide to use a lip scrub,  please follow this up with a lip balm or product. The raw skin left over will need to be protected to allow healing to occur.

 

 

Want to read more about lips?  Take a look at all of the articles Dr. Erum Ilyas has been quoted in... 

 

 

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