I can only think of a few times in my life that I’ve had someone else put makeup on me. Both times involved a wedding, and both times the makeup artist fussed at me for not exfoliating my skin properly. One of them even gave me a scrub and made me use it on part of my face before she would put makeup on me.
That’s kind of embarrassing, but I only mention it because I’ve since realized that exfoliating my skin is something I should be doing regularly. Exfoliating basically means getting the top layer of skin off – not the good, living skin, but the older, flaky skin that rests on top. When the old skin is gone, the newer skin looks healthier and shinier (in a good way). Naturally exfoliating also means there is less dead skin to clog pores, which makes for fewer break-outs and blackheads.
Why should you avoid store-bought exfoliants?
There are many products that you can buy to exfoliate your skin, but the problem with most of them is that they contain microbeads. Microbeads aren’t only rough on skin, but also terrible for the environment. The small plastic beads in these products aren’t filtered out by water treatment plants and are being washed right back into our water supply, often with harmful results for marine life. Illinois recently banned the use of microbeads, and several other states are hoping to follow.
The good news is, the best exfoliators are all-natural, so you don’t need to buy any harmful, expensive products. With ingredients that you already have on hand, you can have your face shining and refreshed in no time.
Sugar grains are naturally small and rough, which make them perfect for sloughing skin cells from your face. When added to an oil, such as grapeseed or olive oil, sugar is a fantastic exfoliant. Another benefit to sugar? It’s full of glycolic acid, which helps to naturally break down dead skin cells and decrease fine lines. People pay a lot of money for glycolic acid facials, but you can have a bit of that power from your own sugar facial at home.
Oatmeal is one of the gentlest exfoliants you can find. If you have sensitive skin, it’s a great place to start for exfoliation. Oatmeal works best when whole oats are ground up in a food processor, then added to water or another base and applied to the face with your fingertips. Another benefit to oatmeal is that it absorbs oil, so you will be cleansing as you exfoliate.
Find organic oats here for a nice sensitive skin exfoliator.
Have you noticed how much we love baking soda around here? We use it for just about everything, and natural exfoliation is no exception. And since all you really have to do is make a paste out of baking soda and water, it’s quite possibly the simplest and least expensive exfoliant on this list. Baking soda is one of my favorite exfoliants; my face always feels so much fresher after I’ve rinsed all the baking soda off, and it’s very gentle, too.
Sea salt (not table salt!) makes a great exfoliant, too. The granules are large and coarse, and don’t dissolve easily. This makes it fantastic for use on the rougher parts of your body, like elbows and feet. Another nice thing about sea salt is that it isn’t at all sticky. To use, simply mix with a small amount of oil and rub into your skin.
I remember a few years ago when big makeup companies started putting caffeine in their facial products. The idea was that if caffeine could perk us up every morning, it could probably perk our skin up, too. Caffeine is known to decrease puffiness around the eyes. Exfoliating and decreasing puffiness at the same time? Sounds good to me! You can use either fresh coffee grounds or those you’ve already brewed (which makes more sense to me – recycling is always a good thing!), add them to a small amount of the oil of your choice, and apply to your skin. The only downside I see to using coffee as an exfoliant is that coffee grounds are inherently messy, so be prepared for a bit of cleanup.
Find organic coffee beans here (so pesticides from conventionally grown coffee don’t end up on your face).
It probably sounds strange to think of rubbing almonds all over your face, but when they’re ground up very finely, almonds make for a great exfoliant. Almond powder is a chemical-free, nutrient-rich method to exfoliate your skin. When added to a small amount of water, almond powder will exfoliate the skin without leaving behind any residue.
Using an exfoliant a few times a week is one of the best ways to keep your skin healthy and young-looking. Make sure you use them gently – exfoliating shouldn’t hurt! Scrubbing your face too hard or too often can result in irritated skin, and redness is definitely not the look you’re going for with this.
If you think it’s going to be difficult to incorporate natural exfoliation into your routine, take heart. If I can learn to do it, you can learn to do it. Once you get used to having such bright skin, you’ll never want to go back.