After the eyes, the lips are the next most-noticeable feature of your face. Unfortunately, apart from swiping on a lip balm or lipstick most of us do not pay much attention to our lips. The beauty of it is that your lips do not need all that much care to look great, but the little bit they do need will do wonders for your overall look if you are regular with lip care. One of the main things you can do to make your lips really pop is exfoliate them.
Note that you do not need to exfoliate your lips very often. The frequency with which you need to exfoliate will, of course, depend on factors like your age, skin type, the climate where you live, etc, but once a week is usually enough.
Preparing to Exfoliate
How to Exfoliate Lips
Although you can exfoliate your lips any time you want, you will notice that doing one or two things before you start benefits the process and gives you smoother, softer lips.
Have a warm shower. The heat from the water helps to loosen dead skin cells clinging to the new skin underneath and this in turn will lead to more efficient exfoliation. Since the skin cells are already loose, you will also not have to scrub so hard, which means there is a lower probability of damaging the sensitive skin on your lips.
If you cannot take a shower or simply do not have the time for it, then try other ways of introducing gentle heat to your lips before exfoliating. Use a face cloth which has been dampened in warm water to gently dab your lips before you exfoliate. Do it for a minute or two until you feel your lips getting softer.
Exfoliate Lips with a Toothbrush
This is the simplest way possible to exfoliate your lips. Use a toothbrush, preferably a new one, to very gently scrub your lips in circular motions. The key word here is ‘gently’. The bristles of your toothbrush are actually quite hard for the soft skin on your lips and putting too much pressure can lead to sore lips and even bleeding. If you know that you have a heavy hand then try using a baby toothbrush with softer bristles to reduce damage. Scrub for a couple of minutes. If you feel uncomfortable, stop immediately. Once done, apply a layer of petroleum jelly to moisturize.
Some lip scrub veterans suggest applying honey on the lips for maybe 10 minutes before scrubbing with a toothbrush. Honey is a natural moisturiser, restorative and also helps to heal damaged skin.
Sugar Lip Scrubs
Before there were toothbrushes and fancy exfoliants, women used white or brown sugar – natural exfoliants – on their lips and even their bodies. The problem with using sugar on its own is that it is too rough on skin and can lead to scratches. Mix it with water and it will dissolve, rendering its exfoliant properties completely useless. So you have to have a medium of some kind which will buffer the sharp edges of sugar crystals for a smooth, damage-free scrub as well as hold the crystals together in a pasty or malleable form for easy application. What’s more, use the appropriate medium and you can moisturise your lips at the same time as you exfoliate them.
Olive oil and honey are two popular mediums used to create the perfect, homemade sugar lip scrubs. Some folks will use lip balm or petroleum jelly if the first two options are not available. The recipe is simple. Take a spoonful of sugar in a small bowl. Add one of the ingredients above to the bowl in enough quantities to give it a consistency of a paste. Add too much and you could end up with a very messy lip scrub. Give it a short but brisk mix.
Apply this on your lips and rub in circular motions for a few minutes. Leave it on for a minute or two after so that the honey can do a good job of naturally moisturising your lips. Wash off with water or wipe off with a wet face cloth. Finally, apply moisturising lip balm or petroleum jelly.
Lemon & Sugar Lip Scrub
Lemons – like most citrus fruits – are known for their acidic content which benefits the skin tremendously. They are also natural astringents to help clean and refine pores. Plus, they have natural bleaching properties. Cut a lemon in half and rub the open end in sugar. Now scrub this sugar-encrusted lemon on your lips for about 2 minutes. It will sting, there’s no getting around it. Wash off with very cold water, preferably icy. Moisturise. Your lips will be soft and smooth and the lemon will also take care of any discoloration.
Baking Soda Lip Scrub
Cheap and with a variety of uses, baking soda is a common kitchen item that is a wonderful beauty tool too. One of its main advantages is that it makes for an effective exfoliant. Mix 1 teaspoon of baking water with just enough water to make a paste. Apply it on your lips and leave it there for a few minutes. You may feel a slight stinging sensation if you have never used baking soda before. It will subside with time and the more you use baking soda, the less you’ll feel the sting. Before washing off the paste, gently scrub it in circular motions over your lips, doing your best to avoid the corners of the mouth. Do this just for 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t forget to moisturize after.
Exfoliating with Coffee Grounds
Caffeine in coffee naturally plumps the lips in addition to having the right kind of texture to exfoliate dead skin smoothly and gently. Of course, here you need filter coffee and not the instant variety because the latter will dissolve away when you start to scrub. The recipe for this lip scrub is similar to the one made with sugar. Mix with honey or olive oil to make a paste and use to gently scrub lips. Wash off and dry. Moisturise.
Post-exfoliation Lip Care
- We’ve already mentioned this but we’ll say it again because it’s so important. ALWAYS moisturize your lips once you are done with exfoliating them. Exfoliation will reveal the new skin underneath which needs to be taken care of to maintain the softness and will also create a layer of moisture to protect it from dust, environmental particulates, food – all of which are harsh enough to cause scratches on the surface of the new skin. You can use regular lip balm to moisturise, but petroleum jelly or Vitamin E is a better option. Even better is a lip balm with moisturiser and built-in SPF, which brings us to the next tip.
- The sun causes untold damage to skin in ways that are not immediately discernible. Many of us will use sunscreen on our face, neck and hands but we forget that our lips too are made of skin and are prone to sun damage. Hyper-pigmentation, dryness and chapping are all exacerbated by repeated and prolonged exposure to the sun. So protect your newly-exfoliated lips by applying either your regular sunscreen on them or investing in a lip balm which has a SPF of at least 20.