One of the biggest mistakes I made when I had acne was over-exfoliating and using scrubs that were WAYYYY too harsh for my skin (I’m lookin’ at you, St. Ives Apricot Scrub), and way too often. Little did I know, it was actually making my acne worse. So today I’m so excited to share some of my fave natural exfoliators that are gentle, effective, and will leave your skin super smooth and radiant!
Before we begin, let’s note the difference between chemical and mechanical exfoliation. According to The Dermal Institute:
- Mechanical (also known as physical or manual) exfoliants are any abrasive material or substance that physically removes cells from the skin (small grains, scrubs, brushes, washcloths, etc.)
- Chemical exfoliants dissolve keratin protein or break apart the bonds (desmosomes) between the skin cells to aid in cell turnover (acids, peels, enzymes, etc.)
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So, here are some of my faves, both chemical and mechanical exfoliators:
By now you might know that I’m obsessed with manuka honey and use it frequently as a face mask because of it’s amazing properties 🍯 Obviously, honey is very smooth so you might be wondering how it exfoliates. But manuka is thicker than regular honey and has a suuuuuper slight crystalline grit to it that helps exfoliate very gently. And according to The Beauty Proof:
Manuka honey contains small amounts of gluconic acid and alpha-hydroxy acids, which gently remove dead skin cells and brighten the complexion.
Check out my blog post about manuka for more info and what type to buy. I seriously can’t live without it! I recommend this one most if you have sensitive skin.
You might have used something like a Clarisonic before. I used to too until my esthetician told me that it was actually making my acne worse! Clarisonics can be too harsh on your skin and the bristles actually trap dirt and bacteria. That’s why I love these scrubbies! It’s made with medical-grade silicone that doesn’t hold onto dirt or bacteria. It’s safe for sensitive skin and gently vibrates at different speeds for a gentle yet effective cleanse. The vibrations releases blackheads, clogged pores, dirt, and oil.
Related post: “6 Simple Facial Tools for Clear, Glowing Skin”
Gentle yet effective (it only takes 3 minutes to work its magic). There are so many enzymes in this mask that quickly exfoliate dead surface skin while accelerating cell turnover. If you usually use scrubs or peels and get irritated, this might be a good option for your skin. And it’s packed with probiotics! It also has:
- Pomegranate Enzymes – exfoliates
- Hibiscus – brightens
- Pineapple – smoothes
- Alfalfa – promotes elasticity
- Aspen Bark – soothes
- Sodium Hyaluronate – retains moisture
Whenever I feel like my skin looks dull and needs a little pick-me-up, I grab this! It contains walnut shells which provide a gentle scrub, and papaya enzymes to help further exfoliate. My face always feels so smooth and soft after using this. Plus, it has honey and turmeric, so you know it’s good stuff. You can leave it on up to an hour as a mask. It’s a thick, brown paste and smells heavenly.
This product is considered both chemical AND mechanical because it’s made with organic dried powdered milk 🥛 (contains natural lactic acid) as well as cornmeal, finely ground herbs, and lavender buds which gently exfoliate. According to Farmaesthetics:
Milk has been used throughout the ages to enhance beauty. It is well-known that even Cleopatra used sweet milk for beautifying and brightening her complexion. The healthy carbs and fats inherent in milk have known properties that remove dull, tired surface cells.
I usually mix it with a cleanser so it lathers and applies easily. This one is gentle enough to use daily or weekly as a mask.
Hope that helps! My skin has seriously been saved by these methods. Makeup and products apply SO much easier when your face is well-exfoliated. Basically, don’t feel like you need to exfoliate daily, that can be overdoing it for sure. Do what feels right for YOUR skin. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these and how they work for you!