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When winter rolls around, our lips often react in an angry way. “Due to lack of oil production in this area of skin, the lips quickly and more easily lose moisture content as the temperature and humidity drop,” explains Dr. Anar Mikailov, a Harvard-trained board-certified dermatologist and founder of KP Away. The result is lips that are cracked, dry, flaky and sometimes even painful. In these cases, your trusty lip balm alone isn’t enough to remedy the situation. Rather, it’s time to invest in a lip scrub.
The benefits of using a lip scrub
“Lip scrubs can help physically exfoliate the dry, chapped skin to allow moisturizing lip balms and lip creams to be more effective,” Dr. Mikailov says. essentially, think about lip scrubs the same way you think about exfoliators for your face. “Lip scrubs sluff off the delicate top layer of dehydrated dry skin, clearing the way for new skin to naturally be produced,” explains Smashbox Global Lead Pro Artist Lori Taylor Davis, who likes to use lip scrubs on set to prep her clients — including Sandra Bullock and Rosario Dawson — before applying lip color or lip gloss.
“Most lip scrubs tend to have a nice emollient base, which adds moisture to the lips as you are scrubbing to help smooth,” Dr. Mikailov adds. But don’t go overboard with product, he warns. “Too much scrubbing can make the lips much worse. A little goes a long way.” For the best results, Dr. Mikailov advises using a lip scrub one or two times a week.
If you’re dealing with smokers lips (which tend to be discolored and prone to vertical fine lines and wrinkles), a lip scrub is also a good option. “Quitting smoking is the best way to help, but lip scrubs can help remove the outer stains and lift some of the color, while the nourishing base can help keep them hydrated,” Dr. Mikailov says.
The best ingredients to look for in lip scrubs
Most scrubs use a base of moisturizing oils like jojoba, squalane, shea, sunflower or coconut. “These are some of my favorites because they are gentle for the lips but have so many skin-loving ingredients,” Davis says. Dr. Mikailov recommends opting for natural ingredients and avoiding synthetic ones that may irritate skin.
How to use a lip scrub
“Be gentle and don’t apply too much pressure,” Dr. Mikailov says. Apply the product in circular motions to help massage it in. When you’re ready to remove it, use a warm towel. When working in the studio, Davis usually applies the scrub as part of her skin prep. “I allow it to set in a few minutes so the ingredients have an opportunity to go to work,” she describes. Once she wipes it off, she’ll pair it with a lip mask to help keep lips soft. (FYI Davis calls Laneige’s Lip Mask her “current obsession.”)
Ahead, find the 12 best lip scrubs to help you achieve your softest lips ever. The list includes editor-approved products as well as those backed by Dr. Mikailov and Davis.
Top Lip Scrubs
- Best Overall: KNC Beauty Supa Scrub Set
- Best Drugstore: Burt’s Bees Conditioning Lip Scrub
- Fresh Sugar Lip Polish Exfoliator
- Best Overnight Lip Scrub: ILIA Balmy Nights Lip Exfoliator
- Best Anti-Aging: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Lip Scrub
- Best Flavors: Beauty Bakerie Sugar Lip Scrub
- Best Natural Lip Scrub: French Girl Lip Polish
- Best for On-the-Go Application: Dior Addict Lip Sugar Scrub
- Best Vegan Lip Scrub: Kopari Exfoliating Lip Scrub
- Also Consider for On-the-Go Application: Fenty Beauty Pro Kiss’r Lip Loving Scrubstick
- Also Consider Vegan Lip Scrub: Bite Beauty Agave + Weekly Vegan Lip Scrub
- Henne Organics Diamonds Lip Exfoliator
KNC Beauty Supa Lip Scrub Set
KNC Beauty‘s bright pink set comes complete with a lip-shaped silicone scrubber pad and a tube full of sugar polish. The formula is made with sunflower oil, which is packed with hydrating essential fatty acids and omega 6, as well as moringa oil and shea butter to keep skin supple. Apply a few thick swipes, then go in with the silicone pad for a healthy dose of exfoliation.
Burt’s Bees Conditioning Lip Scrub
Best Drugstore Lip Scrub
Davis is a fan of this Burt’s Bees‘ conditioning lip scrub, featuring real honey crystals that gently melt into your lips as you massage. The humectant is paired with responsibly-sourced beeswax and exotic oils to naturally moisturize and recondition chapped lips in no time at all.
Fresh Sugar Lip Polish Exfoliator
Fresh‘s popular lip polish gently buffs away at flaky lips while also maintaining moisture. The fast-dissolving crystals are made of brown sugar, a natural humectant, and paired with shea butter and jojoba oil for lasting hydration.
ILIA Balmy Nights Lip Exfoliator
Best Overnight Lip Scrub
Whereas other scrubs utilize sugar, this one from ILIA uses a blend of volcanic stone and jojoba seed powder for a fine exfoliation. “It’s also in a handy stick packaging, and you can apply it as if you’re applying a regular lip balm,” Dr. MIkailov says. It’s meant to be worn overnight to remove dead skin cells. Come morning, simply wipe it away to reveal healthy, hydrated lips.
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Lip Scrub
There’s a reason they call this Charlotte Tilbury buy a coveted backstage secret. It’s packed with a long list of anti-aging ingredients: olive oil, squalane, jojoba oil, shea butter, beeswax, cocoa seed butter and vitamin E. Pro tip: Use it to prep lips before wearing a vivid lip color to help prevent lips from flaking.
Beauty Bakerie Sugar Lip Scrub
Prep your lips with this hydrating treat from Beauty Bakerie that comes in four sweet-smelling flavors (peach, peppermint, strawberry and vanilla). Each is delicious and almost good enough to eat. Fair warning: You might have to fight the urge to lick it off before applying your lip color.
French Girl Lip Polish
Best Natural Lip Scrub
“French Girl adds rose to this formula, which is super hydrating,” Davis notes. That’s not the only uncommon ingredient here. French mint adds a tingle and a slight plumping effect, while Beet juice powder naturally gives the scrub a pink tint in lieu of synthetic additives. Staple hydrating ingredients like cocoa and shea butter and coconut oil are all in there, too.
Dior Addict Lip Sugar Scrub
Best for On-the-Go Application
This Dior Beauty scrub comes in a luxurious lipstick tube for easy application. It’s made with mango, antioxidants and ultra-tiny sugar particles that melt into a luxe balm once applied. No wiping off needed since it leaves you with a pretty tinted gloss-like finish.
Kopari Exfoliating Lip Scrub
Best Vegan Lip Scrub
Dr. Mikailov points to Kopari’s lip scrub for its rich emollient properties thanks to the inclusion of coconut and other plant-oil ingredients. “It also has volcanic sand, which gives a very fine and gentle exfoliation,” he says. The best part about this vegan scrub is the natural vanilla flavor you’ll get with every swipe.
Fenty Beauty Pro Kiss’r Lip Loving Scrubstick
Also Consider for On-the-Go Application
Courtesy of Fenty Beauty, this portable twist-up stick is conveniently packed with apricot seed scrubbers that gently slough off dead skin. The formula is lightweight and non-greasy, just like your favorite lip balm. A slew of natural oils like jojoba and squalane ensure lips will stay nourished for hours to come.
Bite Beauty Agave + Weekly Vegan Lip Scrub
Also Consider Vegan Lip Scrub
Think of Bite Beauty‘s vegan lip scrub as a three-in-one product. First, it cleanses then gently exfoliates with papaya enzymes and fair-trade golden sugar. Finally, it conditions via plant-derived squalane, which mimics your skin’s moisture and decreases inflammation.
Henne Organics Diamonds Lip Exfoliator
“This Henne Organics exfoliator is actually very straight forward — it’s simple and effective,” Dr. Mikailov says. It’s made with sugar oils to gently loosen dead skin cells as well as plant oils like coconut and jojoba to restore moisture and promote healing.