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From relentless winter air to space heaters on high, it’s a dry time out here, folks. If you find yourself licking your chapped, flaky lips out of pain and desperation every five minutes — even after you’ve applied the routine lip balm — it’s probably (definitely) time to throw exfoliants into the mix.
It may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but you really can’t get truly moisturized lips in the winter without getting rid of the dry and dead skin cells first; otherwise, your balms will just be sitting on top of a really sad situation. The key ingredient in essentially every formula is good old-fashioned sugar, and it’s that gentle roughness that helps slough away the patchy dry spots.
Plus, it’s easy to do! All you have to do is wet your mouth and then, in little circles, work the product along your lips for about 30 seconds. Wipe off the excess exfoliator with a towel, and you’re good to go.
To get started, here are five of the best lip scrubs on the market right now, from the grittiest to the most affordable to the most convenient to use.
Sara Happ Lip Scrub ($22): The OG! This just may be the most exfoliating scrub of the bunch thanks to its large sugar granules that are mixed in with a nourishing blend of scented petrolatum and jojoba and grape seed oils. I tried the Sparkling Peach version — which literally smells like a peach Bellini — but there are a handful of others if that’s not your thing. It feels a little oily after you wipe away the excess, but it dries completely and leaves your lips feeling soft and supple. Plus, it’s vegan!
Fresh Sugar Lip Polish ($24): Fan favorite for a reason. This classic from Fresh strikes the perfect balance between hydrating and buffing out your lips. It’s made with brown sugar crystals, shea butter, and jojoba oil, so it smells like your mom baking on a Sunday. (You’ll be tempted to ingest, but, you know, don’t.)
E.L.F. Lip Exfoliator ($3): Love a drugstore option. Along with tiny sugar bits, this tube is infused with vitamin E, shea butter, avocado, and grape and jojoba oils to soothe your lips while you exfoliate (even though you should definitely follow up with a lip balm). The only negative here is that you have to wear down the top waxy layer to get to the scrub — I’d suggest using the back of your hand to do so — but for the price, it’s not a huge deal. The best part is that it comes in a lipstick-like bullet, so it’s easy to throw in your bag and keep with you on the go.
Bite Everyday Agave Lip Collection ($18): Bite sells its lip scrub in a three-for-one set that also includes a lip mask and a balm, each of which can be used on its own or together for a nice little routine. The scrub itself is made with brown sugar and pineapple enzymes to gently exfoliate, and it smells like dessert. A dime-size amount is about all you need; wash away with water once you’ve massaged it onto your lips and pat down with a towel. (I should note this one’s a bit liquid-y, so it can be a little messy.)
Dior Lip Sugar Scrub ($34): If you’re feeling fancy, this option from Dior is pretty great and, in my opinion, worth the money. It’s another tube, so you don’t have to worry about making a mess or using your fingers, and as an added bonus, there’s no need to wipe the excess away: The sugar granules melt into a balm that even adds a flush of pink to your lips.