Six Natural Exfoliants For Your DIY Skincare Routine
Have you noticed that your skin looks a little dull lately? Or, do you have dry and patchy areas that are darker than the surrounding skin? If so, you may be due for some exfoliation.
Our skin sheds cells daily. A buildup of dead skin cells on the skin's surface can lead to dullness, clogged pores, and breakouts. Exfoliation removes those dead skin cells leaving you with brighter and smoother skin. Also, exfoliation helps your skin absorb moisturizers more effectively and can improve skin tone and elasticity.
There are two types of exfoliants that are commonly used in skincare: chemical exfoliants and physical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliants can employ alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids, but enzyme exfoliants like papaya and pumpkin can also be used. Alternately, physical exfoliants use gentle friction to remove dead skin.
Here is a list of six natural exfoliators that you can use at home:
Oatmeal is a gentle exfoliator for all skin types but can be especially beneficial for sensitive or acne-prone skin. Oatmeal is rich in amino acids and antioxidants. It is a humectant and works to maintain your skin’s moisture levels. It is hypoallergenic and can soothe and alleviate irritation and redness.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E, magnesium, and other antioxidants that improve circulation to the skin. Almonds are a good source of copper, which plays a role in skin and hair pigmentation. Also, almonds contain the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid, which prevents skin dryness. Ensure that you use almond powder rather than larger sizes of ground almonds that may scratch the surface of your skin.
Papaya contains papain and chymopapain which act to dissolve dead skin cells. Papain can also remove damaged keratin which is responsible for causing small bumps on your skin’s surface.
Coffee contains caffeic acid. Caffeic acid is an antioxidant which may also boost collagen in your skin. Coffee also has antimicrobial properties, a plus for acne-prone skin. Plus, coffee contains chlorogenic acid which helps fight inflammation and is also antimicrobial. Coffee grounds may be too harsh for your face but are perfect for your body.
Lemon juice makes a great addition to your exfoliating routine. Lemons are astringent, antimicrobial, and can help fade discoloration, thanks to their vitamin C content. Another bonus, lemons contain natural AHA’s to dissolve dead skin cells and brighten skin. But, here's a warning: lemon juice can cause sun sensitivity. Rinse thoroughly and don't use before exposure to sunlight.
Flaxseeds have a high concentration of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Also, flaxseeds contain lignans which act to control the production of acne. Flaxseed can also moderate oil production and increase moisture retention in your skin.
How To Make a DIY Exfoliating Treatment
To make a DIY exfoliating treatment, add any of these natural exfoliants to your favorite base, such as water, hydrosol, soy milk, or non-dairy yogurt. Try adding coffee grounds to coconut or sunflower oil. Make a mixture starting with one part exfoliator to one part base and adjust to your liking. Apply 1x-2x a week to your face or body, and very gently massage in a circular motion. Rinse clean and follow with your favorite serum or moisturizer. Throw away any leftover mixture to avoid contamination.
Regular exfoliation can help you maintain a brighter, clearer complexion. And, regular exfoliation will help turnover new skin cells to fade dark spots left behind after a breakout. Remember that it’s possible to over exfoliate with either method, though. Chemical and physical exfoliation can leave your skin irritated or damaged if you exfoliate improperly or too often and never exfoliate broken or irritated skin.
If you don’t want to go the DIY route, try Purple Maize Purple Corn and Papaya Facial Polish. Purple Maize contains purple corn grains to help turnover dead skin cells that can cause dullness plus papaya to gently dissolve old keratin that can cause roughness.
Packianathan, N. &. Kandasamy, R. (2010). Skincare with herbal exfoliants. Functional Plant Science and Biotechnology, 5(1), 94-97.
O’Connor, A. A., Lowe, P. M., Shumack, S., & Lim, A. C. (2018). Chemical peels: A review of current practice. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 59(3), 171–181.