how to exfoliate lips | City Beauty



Everything You Need to Know to Expertly Exfoliate Your Lips

May 27, 2021 By

Is there anything worse than trying to rock a bold lipstick look with dry lips? A bright, colorful lip is a statement, but don’t let that statement be “my lips are chapped and flaking.” Instead, exfoliate your lips to keep them looking smooth, supple, and picture-perfect. There are a few different ways to exfoliate lips — and we’ll cover all the techniques below — but first, you need to know what exfoliation is and why your lips need it. 

Is The Skin On Your Lips Different From The Rest Of Your Skin?

“Lips are made from mucous membrane tissue, which is a special type of skin that is quite different to the skin found on the rest of your body.” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna Chacon. The skin on your lips is much thinner, which means the skin barrier isn’t as strong and isn’t as capable of retaining moisture — making lip skin more susceptible to a lot of environmental factors like wind,
sun, cold weather, or even air conditioning. Unlike the rest of your body, lip skin has no oil glands, so it needs a little extra help staying hydrated or moisturized. 

Why Are My Lips So Chapped?

If your lips are chronically cracked and chapped, that’s actually dehydration. “Chapped lips are dry lips,” says Dr. Enrizza P. Factor, a clinical dermatologist and
researcher. “Drink plenty of water,” and, Dr. Factor reminds, “Stop licking, biting, and picking at your lips. When lips feel dry, it may feel natural to wet them by licking them, but this can worsen the problem. As saliva evaporates, your lips become drier. Lip licking can be a hard habit to break,” but Dr. Factor has an easy solution: “When you catch yourself licking your lips, try applying a non-irritating lip balm instead.”

lip gloss for dry lips“Do not exfoliate your lips when they are severely chapped as you can cause harm and bleeding,” warns dermatology student David Gray. Peeling at chapped lip skin is not a natural part of the exfoliation process. While you are badly chapped, stick to a soothing treatment like City Lips, which uses Hyaluronic Acid and Oligopeptides to hydrate and visibly plump, instead of irritants that sting. “Many people mistake discomfort, such as burning, stinging, or tingling, as a sign that the active ingredients in a product are working. That’s not what’s happening. You’re actually irritating your lips, [and] you want to stop using any product that irritates your lips,” cautions Dr. Enrizza Factor. “Cinnamon, citrus, mint, and peppermint flavors can be especially irritating to dry, chapped lips.” But flavors and fragrances aren’t the only ingredients to avoid. Steer clear of salicylic acid, parabens, and anything that can be drying.

Don’t Lips Exfoliate Themselves?

“Technically, our skin is constantly subtly exfoliating,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Erum N. Ilyas. David Gray concurs, adding, “Your lips do shed and renew themselves, but exfoliating them every now and then can help move this process along and it can be necessary to do.” 

Regular Exfoliation Will Benefit Your Lips in 3 Ways:

Removes Dead Skin to Optimize Cell Turnover 

Instead of allowing dead skin to accumulate on the lips, gently exfoliating your lips sloughs off dead skin cells, uncovering smooth and fresh skin. Consistently exfoliating dead skin or dead cells can also help lessen the appearance of
discoloration or dark spots on the lips, since you’re constantly making room to reveal new, even-toned skin.

Smooths Out And Plumps Up The Appearance Of Lips 

Exfoliating lips helps stimulate blood flow to the lip area. This encourages the appearance of
plumper, healthier lips by sending vital nutrients where you need them most.

Helps Keep Lips Hydrated 

Remember to always follow up exfoliation with
moisturizing lip care. Exfoliating your lips will remove the dry layer of skin that blocks moisture from getting deep into your lips, paving the way for your lips to stay soft, healthy, and moisturized.

How Do I Exfoliate My Lips?

Gently! That’s the number one word to keep in mind when you exfoliate your lips. “Lip scrubs are becoming very popular,” says Dr. Ilyas. When looking for a scrub, be sure to avoid any irritants listed above. Dr. Ilyas points out that “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.” If a scrub does feel painful, it is too harsh on your sensitive lips. Dr. Mya Bellinger suggests “rubbing your lips with a wet towel [or] gently brushing your lips with a toothbrush.”  Whether you choose a scrub, towel, or brush, the process is the same. 

Steps to Properly Exfoliate Your Lips:


  • Dab a warm moist towel over your mouth for 6 seconds to get your lip skin softened and ready.
  • Apply lip scrub. (If you’re skipping the scrub, apply a moisturizing lip balm instead)
  • Use your finger, a soft toothbrush, or a soft, damp washcloth to gently massage the scrub or balm in small circles over the skin of your lips. Apply light pressure here. Your goal is to only remove the outermost layer of skin.
  • Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse with warm water.
  • Apply your favorite lip moisturizer.


Don’t be tempted to skip the last step. After exfoliating, your lips are primed and ready to be moisturized. Make sure you slather on a generous amount of your favorite lip treatment post-scrub.

How To Make Your Own Lip Scrub

Our favorite lip exfoliation tip at City Beauty is the
Coffee Shop ‘Lip-Plumping’ Hack. Next time you order your coffee, grab an extra packet of raw sugar, a coffee stirrer, our favorite City Lips in Clear, and follow the instructions below:

  • Prep the end of the stir stick by running it under hot water, patting dry, then inserting it about halfway into the tube of City Lips. (You may need to twirl a few times.) 
  • Open the sugar packet and dip the gloss-coated stick into it. Swish the stick around a few times to combine the lip plumper + RAW sugar.  
  • Exfoliate your lips with the sugar/plumper combo and gently rub your lips together. 
  • Relax for 15 minutes, then wipe off the sugar and VOILA! Your perfectly smooth, plump-looking lips will be ready to take on the world. 


Pay Yourself Some Lip Service

Whether you are hoping to have your daring makeup looks pop more or you want to show off your healthy, natural lips without makeup, exfoliating your lips will get you closer to your goal. You will be amazed how much more evenly lipstick applies once you exfoliate your lips. Slough off your dull dead skin cells to reveal plump, soft, and supple lips that shine. Share this blog with a friend who has chronically chapped lips…and maybe grab a
City Lips for them too!

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