The DIY Lip-Softening Trick My Haitian Grandmother Taught Me

RiRi Woo will be “RiRi Who?” if you’re walking around with jacked up lips.
Publish date:
November 8, 2013
DIY, lip balms, chapped lips, olive oil, sugar, family, lip balm, grandmother, Haiti

When I was about to enter high school, I was hit by a car. And by hit, I mean flying up in the air and breaking bones kind of hit by a car.

That summer day started off casual and calm as my three cousins, brother and sisters were all playing on the block with basically every other kid on the block where my grandparents lived on a 96-degree Sunday. It was like we were our own Spike Lee movie, sitting on the stoop, fire hydrant open, girls double-dutching in teams, stickball in the backyard and handball in the driveway. Spread love--it’s the Brooklyn way.

But (gulp) some of us were riding bikes. Well, I was riding a bike, and this idiot jumps the curb while I am on the sidewalk and HITS ME.

It was really, really bad but, I was close to home. My neighbors called the cops/ambulance. Help was on the way. But when I woke up after being KO’d for a few minutes, I see my grandmother standing over me with a spoon of olive oil.

She told me to take it. While everyone around me was like, “What the hell is she doing? Her granddaughter just got hit by a car!” I was like, “Oui maman.

I did what she said because she always had a reason, and I never asked questions. The oil wasn’t going to magically heal me or make me walk right then and there, but it was to calm my nerves in such a tragic state so I wouldn’t go into shock. Haitians.

Months passed and I couldn’t walk for a while. I went from wheel chair to crutches to a cane. (Imagine being in high school with a cane and having to switch classes. The struggle!) One day I was bored sitting at home and had this desire wear lipstick while everyone was out, but my lips were dry as a bone. I put this cheap lipstick on anyway and it was all flaky, filmy and gross.

My grandmother looked at me and kind of smirked. Since I couldn’t get up, run to the store and buy something to treat my lips, she taught me how to make my own lip exfoliant with ingredients in the kitchen, since all I had to do was “Lisa Turtle it” and hop over to the kitchen.

Haitians have a lot of home remedies that they grow up with. While there were pharmacies, modern medicine, doctors, etc. in Haiti, what they really cherished was what nature has to offer. For example, my mother doesn’t believe in Midol for cramps. There's a tea she taught me to make, and it works quicker than pills. When I was younger and had the chicken pox, my parents made a body masque for me that consisted of cassava starch and worked way better than anything I would have gotten in the store.

From taking olive oil after my accident to making my own exfoliant, my grandmother taught me SO MANY THINGS. I am now passing on our Haitian folklore to you to help maintain healthy lips and wear your favorite lip colors this winter so they look more fly than fail.

What you will need:

  1. A washcloth
  2. A small bowl
  3. Honey
  4. Brown sugar
  5. A soft toothbrush

Take 2 parts hot water and 1 part lukewarm water and wet your washcloth.

Take your washcloth and pat onto your lips. This is done to loosen up the dead skin on your lips. Wipe your lips with the washcloth.

Now that your lips are prepped, you will need to take 1 teaspoon of honey and 3 teaspoons of brown sugar and mix it in the bowl until it's a paste-like consistency.

Using your finger, apply the mixture onto your lips.

Take your soft toothbrush and gently rub the mixture in circular motions on your lips for about 2 minutes. The honey acts as a conditioning agent to soften your lips while the sugar is the exfoliant.

When done, take the washcloth and wet it with warm water. Pat the warm washcloth on to your now exfoliated lips. Pat dry.

Apply the lip balm of your choice.


This process can be done two times or week, or as often as you think necessary.

Some key things to remember to keep lips healthy, especially during the colder winter months:

  1. Add fish to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids that help rejuvenate dry skin and lips. You can eat it or take a fish oil supplement instead to help keep your lips moist and hydrated when the temperature drops.
  2. Do NOT lick your lips. This just dries them out faster and leaves you worse off than before.
  3. Use a lip balm with vitamin E to smooth cracked lips, fight skin damage and restore moisture in harsh weather.
  4. Take your vitamins: Maintain healthy skin and lips with vitamin A for skin maintenance and vitamin C for tissue repair.
  5. Drink lots of water: Dehydration will lead to dry and cracked lips, so drink plenty of water to avoid that.