No discussion about skincare can ever be complete without first touching on exfoliation.
When you exfoliate, you’re helping to unclog your pores, promote natural collagen production (a protein which slows down the physical effects of ageing), prevent acne, promote the effectiveness of other skincare products, and aid in the general health and circulation of your body.
Exfoliation can make your skin glow – not to mention keep it sparkly clean. It can be an extremely useful tool in improving the immune system and promoting overall wellness.
If you’re looking to begin piecing together an effective, healthy skincare routine, exfoliating is one of the first things you should be looking into.
In short, exfoliation is the process of removing excess dead skin from your body.
Because your skin is constantly shedding off dead skin cells and requires different care based on different skin types, exfoliation should take place differently for different people.
Exfoliation is most helpful for those who have oily skin – if your skin becomes oily easily, your pores are always going to be more clogged than someone with dry skin.
However, when skin becomes dry and flaky, occasional exfoliation can help remedy the dryness and increase the effectiveness of moisturizers.
Natural Ingredients for Exfoliation
When you choose exfoliants with natural products and nutrients, you’re keeping your skin from being exposed to chemical compounds and nontransparent ingredients.
The ability to read an ingredients list and knowingly understand which ingredients you’re using on your body (along with understanding the essence and purpose of each ingredient) will help you make an informed, comfortable decision.
Let’s kick off by listing four common natural exfoliants:
Himalayan salt and sea salt are both incredibly effective ingredients in any exfoliating scrub. When used as an ingredient for exfoliation, salt can have healing, moisturizing, and restorative properties. It’s amazing for exfoliating oily, damaged skin.
A compound within sugar (alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA) promotes cell turnover by breaking down the bonds between skin cells.
Sugar is extremely efficient for treating skin that’s been damaged by age, excessive sunlight, and dryness. AHA is also effective when treating acne-prone skin, but some exfoliating products contain it in doses that are too high.
When used in exfoliating scrubs, coffee grounds can feel a bit coarse on the skin – especially with sensitive skin types.
However, when ground finely, it can aid in scrubbing dead skin cells and increase blood flow via the caffeine. Coffee grounds are effective at toning the skin and hydrating dry, flaky skin.
Additionally, it can treat oily or combination skin.
Raw honey is another great exfoliant for dry skin.
Although it can be an allergen for some people, typically it’s a very gentle exfoliating ingredient for treating sensitive, damaged, and acne-prone skin.
There are many, many other active exfoliating ingredients used in natural exfoliating scrubs (oatmeal, chokeberry seeds, and almonds – to name a few). Different ingredients work different ways on various skin types.
Before you try to find exfoliants that will be effective to you (skincare is a very personal, individualised science), it’s important to assess the active ingredients.
Now, these ingredients cannot usually form scrubs on their own (not unless you want to scratch up your skin). Rubbing salt or sugar into your skin is incredibly damaging.
However, when combined with other soothing, nourishing ingredients, these exfoliants can become incredibly effective:
This is a great ingredient for those with dry or combination skin. It’s a prevalent source of Vitamin C and soothes sensitive and dry skin by gently exfoliating flaky skin.
Pomegranate juice, pomegranate seed oil, and pomegranate extract are all great moisturising, nourishing agents.
This can’t possibly be a surprising addition to this list – there seems to be an infinite number of uses for coconut oil. None, however, are more prevalent than its ability to moisturise.
Coconut oil works wonders for dry, damaged skin.
Jojoba oil or wax.
Jojoba is an antibacterial moisturizer with a twist. It’s a non-sticky substance that removes oil from the skin while simultaneously hydrating it.
Jojoba promotes even skin tone and clean pores and clears off the oil that clogs them. It’s best for oily or combination skin.
Kiwi isn’t mentioned enough as an effective skincare ingredient.
However, its Vitamin C content, antibacterial properties, and natural astringency (meaning its ability to contract skin cells, thus minimizing the size of pores) earn it a place on this list.
It controls excessive oiliness and soothes the skin, making it great for those with oily pores or skin sensitivity.
Again, there are many other ingredients used in physical and chemical exfoliation that are helpful and effective.
Because so many nourishing, efficient nutrients exist in natural ingredients, it’s easy to vet exfoliation products which contain these easily researchable ingredients.
Natural exfoliation is a process of self-discovery and care (not to mention a hugely refreshing, affirmative experience when you find a hydrating body scrub that works perfectly for you).
Exfoliation for Each Skin Type
Exfoliating with natural ingredients means seeking out a perfectly balanced chemical cocktail that works for your individual skin type.
For dry skin
Exfoliation should really only take place once or twice every two weeks.
Because you don’t have to work as much on removing oil from the skin, much of the exfoliation process will center around a moisturising exfoliant.
To protect your skin from becoming clogged or damaged, don’t over-exfoliate.
For sensitive dry skin
Gently exfoliate your skin once every two weeks, and moisturize often.
Dry skin is already quite vulnerable to micro-tearing, so if you have sensitive skin, you have to be ultra-careful.
Your skincare routine, ideally, will be less centered around exfoliation (even though exfoliation is still important) and more centered around repairing and strengthening your skin and providing it with sun protection.
For oily skin
Exfoliate two to three times per week, depending on how oily your skin is.
When exfoliating, it’s a good idea to get in there with brushes (rather than wipes), and scrub your oil-regulating exfoliant in a circular motion on your skin.
For sensitive oily skin
Exfoliate once or twice per week, depending on how oily your skin is.
Don’t use a brush to exfoliate, simply scrub gently in circular motions until your pores are cleared out.
For combination skin
Exfoliate once per week.
When you have combination skin, you may have to experiment with different types of exfoliating techniques in order to find one that best suits you.
You may have certain areas of your skin that crack and dry up easily, and others that are shiny with oil. Treat each part of your skin as a separate one (for instance, if your cheeks are oily but your forehead is dry, use a natural exfoliant on your cheeks and a hydrating solid oil on your forehead).
Transparency with Natural Exfoliation
Exfoliation is one of the main components of any skincare routine. How you exfoliate will play a key role in determining how effective the rest of your skincare products and regiment will be.
It will take a few tries, along with experimentation and research, before you learn what combination is exactly correct for you.
This process is much easier, safer, and healthier when you use natural ingredients. Natural ingredients are far better as they provide biodegradeable exfoliators that break down naturally and are free of microplastics.
Learning how to pick and choose which ingredients are right for you can be done much faster when you read an ingredients list and know what each and every ingredient is (hundred-point bonus if you can pronounce them all) and how they impact you.
Try our Exfoliating Body Balms