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NOW READING Lip Care for Less: Get Your Plushest Pout on the Cheap (or Even DIY)
November 28, 2018

Lip Care for Less: Get Your Plushest Pout on the Cheap (or Even DIY)

Though we may have our skincare routines down to a science, our lips are often given short shrift. This can especially be a problem during the cooler months when the air is dry and chapping is practically a rite of seasonal passage. But no more! You don’t have to spend a lot to get your lips in plush, kissable shape. Just follow this easy 4-step routine for affordable lip care you can buy or DIY.


As a K-beauty fan, you probably have your fair share of skincare goodies and a routine that fits your needs as well as your budget. But what about lip care? With winter setting in, you may be struggling with dry, flaky, chapped lips.


If the thought of spending money on a lip care routine makes you, well, pucker, hang tight. You don’t need to spend a fortune to pamper your pout.


affordable lip care


1. Love the lip scrub


In an article I wrote recently, I mentioned products that were worth spending extra money on. Lip scrubs are not among them, but a $10 tube of Swanicoco’s More Than Smooth Lip Scrub is a good buy. Unlike most commercial sugar scrubs, this one contains gluconolactone, which acts as both an exfoliant and a humectant. In the land of acids, it’s a PHA (polyhydroxy acid) and rarely causes irritation even for those with sensitive skin. Couple that ingredient with cellulose (a natural plant fiber), Centella asiatica extract (the universal love of most every K-beauty fan), and fatty acid-rich castor oil, and you’ll get mild exfoliation along with softer, smoother lips in just three minutes. Bonus: The super-fine particles work great on sensitive, damaged lips, plus the applicator tip makes it easy to dispense, eliminating the need to dig into (and potentially contaminate) a tiny jar.


affordable lip care
Even a DIY lip scrub deserves a pretty jar.


If you’re pinching pennies (and who isn’t?), try making a DIY version with a few pantry items. Mine includes melted unrefined coconut oil, brown sugar, and a few drops of lemon juice. There’s no need for a recipe — just blend these ingredients together until you get a consistency you like. You can also use olive or avocado oil instead of coconut oil. Just don’t make a ginormous batch unless you intend to use it on your body as well. Natural ingredients don’t have a long shelf life, so try to use it up within a week.


2. Plump your pout


You know how lip plumpers sting when applied? Ever wonder why? Most of them include ingredients that irritate the lips, such as cinnamon oil, clove, and peppermint. You may be OK with purposefully irritating your pout, but I’m not. Since I’m already layering hyaluronic acid on my face every morning, I follow my lip scrub with two layers of Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion. I learned this trick from Jude Chao years ago when she mentioned it in her review of this product, and it never fails me. It’s flavorless and works surprisingly well as a plumper. With all the money you’ve saved, you can treat yourself to a more luxe tinted hydrating lippie, like Sulwhasoo’s Essential Lip Serum or Clio’s Lip Syrup, and you’ll be good to go.


affordable lip care
Lip care = cheap. Lip color = not so much.


3. Protect throughout the day


Combatting midday dryness doesn’t have to be expensive. Making homemade lip gloss makes good money sense. I buy amber-colored essential oil roller ball bottles from Amazon and fill them with a 60/40 combo of organic castor oil and sweet almond oil. For less than $30, I now have bottles on my desk, nightstand, and end table. My husband even has his own bottle! If you can’t get past the taste, you can always incorporate a food grade flavoring or extract to mask the castor oil. Mine’s unadulterated ’cause I’m lazy.


If you prefer a truly nude lip sans lip stain and gloss, follow the advice of thousands of nursing mothers and pick up a tube of lanolin nipple cream (about $9). Don’t freak out. Lansinoh is completely safe and lip-friendly. It’s intended for breastfeeding moms, so don’t worry about ingesting it.


affordable lip care


4. Nighttime repair


When settling into bed for the night, don’t forget that your lips go into recovery mode while you sleep as well. Two of my favorites for repairing daily dryness and damage are Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask and Philosophy’s Lip Shine glosses. I apply a thin layer of the lip mask first and gently rub it into my lips. The lip shine does the heavy work, though, and despite being a non-AB item, it’s the best overnight treatment product I’ve found. I’ve always been prone to cold sores in windy winter weather, but that gloss has kept them at bay for eight years. That’s worth $10 ten times over!


So got any affordable lip care tips to share? I’m all lips ears.




Tracy is a "quality over quantity" word girl fascinated by eagles and life in a small SoCal mountain community. She believes in the now, has written professionally for 30+ years, and worships at the alters of serum and Sulwhasoo.




I used to mix good olive oil with sugar for DIY lip exfoliation. These days I prefer scrubs, and I need a new one, so I'll check into the products here.

I love the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in clear/neutral. I got a sample of it once and it's lasting forever. When it runs out, though, I'll want to look into k-beauty options too!


By "I prefer scrubs" I meant "I prefer scrubs other people made because I have become lazy in my old age." K, back to my coffee now ...


I used to apply sugar onto an old toothbrush and would use it to gently and slowly exfoliate dead skin off my lips.


When my lips are very very VERY chapped due to the weather, I apply a thick layer of Laneige's Lip Mask. I leave it for 10 minutes or so and wipe it off. It plumps my lips very well!

For scrubs, I love using Skinfood's Lip Scrub (the one that looks like an avocado). It's not too harsh on my lips and exfoliates very well!


My lips have been really chapped lately, so I finally ordered the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask as well as the Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask. I haven't tried a lip scrub yet -- the cost per ounce is usually pretty high, so I mostly just use regular face scrubs.

I also use the Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion before lip balm! I'm actually thinking of decanting some into a tiny bottle to keep at work, since I need to reapply lip balm a lot after sipping coffee and water all day...


I pat my toners all over my face so I think some inevitably ends up on my lips because occasionally I'll taste it (not a good taste btw). But the Laneige lip sleeping mask definitely makes a difference, especially now that the weather is colder and drier. I can tell when I don't apply it the night before.

Have you tried the Laneige Glowy Balm @mariposa? It's actually great for daytime and not just an occlusive that makes your lips sticky like a typical balm. We all swear by it here.


I haven't tried the Laneige Glowy Balm yet, but I want to! For a while I was thinking that it was a little expensive for lip balm, but when I consider how much I've spent on balms that turned out to be useless, it might actually be a bargain!


I really do think it's more of a treatment than a balm that's just waxy and sits atop of your lips. To me, it feels like a day version of the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask — lighter and with a yummy scent.


I love doing a lip mask at night ( I use the Laneige) and then exfoliating the next morning with a sugar scrub (I currently have the Bite Beauty on, and I'm meh on it.) I find it leaves me with super smooth, wonderfully hydrated lips!

I am also addicted to indie lip balms in all sorts of wonderful flavors!


The Laneige lip glowy balm is surprisingly good. I don't like balms usually because they're greasy, sticky, and/or just sit atop my lips without really treating them, but the Laneige one is amazing.