Chapped, dry lips letting your pout down? Fed up with your lipstick looking uneven and fading fast? Chapstick not doing the job? It's time to arm yourself with a lip scrub, which, just as it sounds, exfoliates and conditions the sensitive skin on your lips to a whole new level of smoothness. Sloughing away excess flakes not only better preps the lips for colour, but can lend a hand with the absorption of balms and salves, putting back the much-needed moisturisers your winter skin is so thirsty for.
If you've never tried this relatively new star on the beauty scene, you may already have a few questions, one of which is probably "If it's made of sugar, can I eat it?". The answer is sometimes, by the way, but we've got plenty more tips and tricks on how to choose your perfect scrub, as well as our ranking of the 10 must-have products from John Lewis, Amazon, and eBay including drugstore picks like Burt's Bees and Barry M, Korean cult fave Tonymoly, and vegan options from e.l.f. and Lush. Time to pucker up!
Before we delve into our lip-smacking buying guide, we thought it best to clear up what a lip scrub actually is, and why you may want to incorporate one into your routine.
Lip scrubs exfoliate in exactly the same way as a face or body scrub, buffing away dry flakes to reveal renewed, smoother, moisturised skin, making them beneficial to both daily lipstick or gloss devotees and those who prefer to go bare (or like most of us, those residing somewhere in between). For lippie wearers, there's the added bonus of helping your colour stay put for longer, too.
Scrubs can be used a few times a week as a healing treatment for chapped (but never sore or cracked) lips, or simply to maintain their health and appearance – work the product in with a clean, dry and soft toothbrush before wiping off and adding a good slather of lip balm or cream. Alternatively, they can be applied less intensely as a daily exfoliant, and either tissued off or left to absorb.
So, you're convinced that a lip scrub is the answer to all your lip-related woes – and you'd be right! Although picking out your favourite candy-inspired flavour and shade are part of the fun, there are a few other things worth sussing out that we'll get into below, such as ingredients and application style.
Lip scrubs have two jobs to do: exfoliate and moisturise. Each of these will be accomplished by different ingredients; usually sugar for scrubbing, oils and butters for moisturising, and a few other natural or chemical inclusions. Have a look at which you'd prefer, and consider that what's inside determines whether or not your scrub is edible!
Your lip scrub should include plenty of moisturising ingredients, not only to give the exfoliants something to bind to, but to put back any oils that may be stripped away as you scrub. Not to mention, freshly scrubbed skin is much more likely to absorb whatever you apply on top of it, so any extra moisture will only help to heal and hydrate.
The best scrubs contain one, or several, vitamin-rich, skin-loving plant oils to nourish, soothe, and soften. Some examples to look out for are jojoba oil, beeswax (although this can be avoided if you are vegan) shea butter, almond oil, and vitamin E. It's your decision whether to go 100% natural, or whether you don't mind some chemical ingredients – like most skincare nowadays, you'll have the option of both.
Chemical additives are typically petrolatum (a.k.a. petroleum jelly) which is used as a moisturiser and emollient, and the usual silicones, perfumes, and dyes. It's worth noting that all-natural scrubs eliminate any worry after accidentally ingesting them, and are much more convenient to leave on or lick off when on the go.
More often than not, the exfoliating component of your lip scrub will be sugar, sometimes listed on the ingredients as sucrose. Most experts recommend it because it's the ideal candidate for the task at hand: it's not artificial, it's grainy enough to slough dead skin without being too abrasive, and it's a natural preservative. Oh, and it makes for a deliciously sweet treat!
Owing to lip scrubs' surge in popularity, other natural exfoliants like coffee, walnut shell, and apricot kernel are also being introduced, as well as non-natural plastic derivatives such as polylactic acid. All of these are somewhat more abrasive than sugar, so should only really be used as a bi-weekly treatment, or if you think your lips can handle it.
Traditionally, lip scrubs have always been housed in pots, but these days you'll also also have the option of a stick or a tube, similar to other lip products like glosses and balms. Whilst largely down to personal preference, there are some advantages to each type.
Scrub sticks are the least messy option and are perfect for use on the go. However, due to the fact they are not fully contained in any packaging, their formula will have fewer oils and therefore often be less moisturising. Pots, on the other hand, can contain all the oils they like, and are easier to slather on in greater quantities – handy when an intensive treatment is required.
Hygiene-wise, some people prefer to avoid potted products that touch the face and mouth, but if you use a brush or clean fingers you should be able to avoid bacteria transference. Another option if you're concerned about hygiene is a squeezable tube.
Fruity, citrus, tropical, or reminiscent of your favourite sweets, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to lip scrub flavours. So long as those all-important moisturisers are part of the mix, feel free to choose whichever appeals to you the most, especially if it encourages you to use it!
If you like the idea of a scrub that adds a pop of colour to your pout, you'll find these are readily available too, with bigger brands offering several shades to choose from. Be aware that pigmented scrubs aren't usually of natural origin, but they are certainly a fun, convenient, and tasty way to tint your lips.
Next up, it's recommendation time! Here are the 10 best scrubs you can get your hands on, reviewed and ranked by us for their abundance of effective ingredients that guarantee healthy, luscious lips all year round.
|Moisturising Ingredients||Castor oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, shea butter, petrolatum|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Jojoba oil, macadamia oil, argan oil|
|Exfoliating Ingredients||Walnut shell|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Sweet almond oil|
|Exfoliating Ingredients||Caribbean cane sugar, Hawaiian sea salt, hibiscus flower powder|
|Flavour||Tropical fruit, mint|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Shea butter, beeswax|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Jojoba oil, cocoa butter, sunflower seed wax|
|Removal||Wipe off or leave on|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Jojoba oil, olive oil, avocado oil, vitamin E|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Beeswax, castor oil, lanolin|
|Exfoliating Ingredients||Honey crystals|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Jojoba Oil, vitamin E, shea butter, avocado oil|
|Removal||Wipe off, leave on|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Organic jojoba oil|
|Exfoliating Ingredients||Castor sugar|
|Removal||Wipe off, lick off|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Papaya, olive oil, castor oil, sunflower seed oil|
|Removal||Wipe off, lick off|
|Flavour||Mango, orange and coconut|
Scrub & Nourish Lip Scrub and Balm
Bubblegum Lip Scrub
Sweet Cherry Lip Exfoliator
Conditioning Lip Scrub
Peppermint Lip Scrub
Vanilla Lip Scrub
Lip Scrub Stick
PoutMud Fizzy Lip Exfoliating Treatment
Kiss Kiss Lip Scrub
Sweet Pots Sugar Scrub & Lip Balm, Red Velvet
|Features||Ultra-Hydrating and Soothin...||Totally Addictive Candy-Fla...||A Gentle Scrub for Super-So...||Sweet and Healing Honey for...||A Zingy Scrub to Plump Your...||All-Natural, All-Vegan Cake...||A Quickie Stick for On the Go||Totally Tropical Fizzing Tr...||Buttery, Nutty Korean Cult ...||A Tinted 2-in-1 Scrub and Balm|
|Moisturising Ingredients||Papaya, olive oil, castor oil, sunflower seed oil||Organic jojoba oil||Jojoba Oil, vitamin E, shea butter, avocado oil||Beeswax, castor oil, lanolin||Jojoba oil, olive oil, avocado oil, vitamin E||Jojoba oil, cocoa butter, sunflower seed wax||Shea butter, beeswax||Sweet almond oil||Jojoba oil, macadamia oil, argan oil||Castor oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, shea butter, petrolatum|
|Exfoliating Ingredients||Sugar||Castor sugar||Sugar||Honey crystals||Sugar||Sugar||Polyethylene||Caribbean cane sugar, Hawaiian sea salt, hibiscus flower powder||Walnut shell||Sugar|
|Removal||Wipe off, lick off||Wipe off, lick off||Wipe off, leave on||Rinse off||Wipe off||Wipe off or leave on||Wipe off||Rinse off||Rinse off||Wipe off|
|Flavour||Mango, orange and coconut||Bubblegum||Cherry||Honey||Peppermint||Vanilla||None||Tropical fruit, mint||Fruity||None|
Changes in the seasons, the strange habits of the British weather, and life stresses can cause not just our lips to become dry, chapped, and unhappy, but the rest of our bodies too. It's a pain, but it does give us even more of an excuse to spend some time on our self-care! Are you with us? Check out the links below for some additional advice and buying guides.
We can't blame you if you want to grab one of all of our recommendations! But, failing that, choosing the best lip scrub for your needs should come down to a simple matching of your preferences to the ingredients, coarseness, and convenience of each, as well as making sure it provides the right benefits for the current condition of your skin.
Author: Natasha Dziubajlo
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