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Dr. Alpana Mohta Ranka, MD, DNB, IFAAD, is a dual-board-certified dermatologist with over 90 research publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

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Why Not to Use a Lip Scrub: Dr. Alpana Explains

Lip scrubs are often heralded as the ultimate tool for achieving soft, kissable lips. But as a board-certified dermatologist, believe me when I say that they can do more harm than good.

A girl holding a burnt matchstick in between her lips

Let me help you explore the reasons you might want to think twice before reaching for that tempting tube of lip scrub.


Delicate Lip Barrier

The skin on our lips is markedly thinner than the rest of our facial skin. This delicacy means that it can be easily damaged. Over-exfoliating or using a harsh scrub can compromise the lip barrier, increasing sensitivity and dryness.


Risk of Micro-tears

Abrasive ingredients in some lip scrubs can cause micro-tears in the skin. This makes the lips vulnerable to external irritants and can lead to uneven texture and tone.


Potential Allergic Reactions

Many lip scrubs boast of 'natural' ingredients. However, natural doesn't always mean safe. Ingredients like essential oils or certain plant extracts can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.


Over-reliance Can Reduce Natural Exfoliation

Just as with any skin on our body, our lips naturally exfoliate dead skin cells. Over-reliance on lip scrubs can interfere with this process, making lips more dependent on external exfoliation over time.


Frictional Melanosis

Repeated and aggressive use of lip scrubs might cause chronic irritation, which can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on the lips in predisposed individuals.

Additionally, hyperkeratosis (aberrant thickening of the upper layers of the skin due to inflammation) induced by friction can also cause darkening of the lips.


Environmental Concerns

This is not related to skin and is not valid for all lip scrubs, but some lip scrubs contain non-biodegradable microbeads that threaten aquatic life when washed down the drain. Opting out of such products can be an eco-friendly choice.


Temporary Results

While a lip scrub might offer temporary smoothness, it doesn’t address the root causes of dry or chapped lips. Hydration and protection from the elements are more sustainable solutions.


Even after reading all this, if you still feel the need for a lip scrub, you might as well go for one that doubles up as a lip balm:


Revlon lip scrub balm

Recommendations for Lip Health

  • Hydrate From Within: Drink ample water. Hydrated cells are the foundation of plump, healthy lips.

  • Embrace Lip Balms: Look for lip balms with ingredients like shea butter, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid. They lock in moisture without the need for exfoliation.

  • Sun Protection: Lips need sun protection too. Always use a lip balm with SPF when outdoors.

In conclusion, while lip scrubs might seem like a quick fix to flaky lips, their potential downsides make them worth reconsidering.


By focusing on gentle care and hydration, you can maintain the health and beauty of your lips without the risks associated with abrasive scrubs.

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