How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Lips? This Top Derm Says Never

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

Any time our lips are chapped and peeling, we reach straight for a scrub to slough it all away. The goal? To buff and shine and get back to a baby-soft pout. But is that actually a healthy habit? According to Dr. Dennis Gross, one of the most respected derms in the industry and founder of his namesake skincare line, the answer is a big "no."

When we got curious and posed the question, "how often should you exfoliate your lips?" Dr. Dennis Gross told us that you actually shouldn’t be doing it at all. Considering that he's been in the business for over 25 years and his award-winning product line is directly inspired by the real-life skincare concerns of patients at his NYC practice, when he says something, we listen.

Why You Shouldn't Exfoliate Your Lips

Lip skin is extremely thin (approximately one third of the thickness of the skin on your face). It also lacks sebaceous glands, which are critical for maintaining moisture. When you exfoliate your lips, you remove the protective outer layer of skin, leaving them even more compromised and dry 

How to Get Rid of Dead Skin on Your Lips

In order to heal chapped lips, you need to repair the barrier by using a nourishing treatment instead. Look for something with sodium hyaluronate, which holds 1,000 times its weight in water (and penetrates easily) to help smooth things over. We love Dr. Dennis Gross's Hyaluronic Marine Collagen Lip Cushion, PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Lip Booster, Kosasport LipFuel, Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lip Treatment.

As for the residual flakes? Try to resist peeling them—the lip treatments should help to soften any harsh edges, and over time with consistent use, the flakes will completely disappear. We know it sucks, but leaving them be is the best thing for the health your your lips.

Henne Organics Tinted Lip Balm Does the Most, but Requires the Least Amount of Effort

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...

BL Headshot


Brianna Lapolla formerly held the role of Senior Commerce Editor at PureWow covering all things shopping across beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. Now, she's putting her 12 years of...