How Do I Choose the Best Gentle Exfoliant?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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Choosing the best gentle exfoliant depends on your skin type and which part of the body the exfoliant is intended for. An exfoliant is a product that helps slough away or remove dead skin from the surface of the skin. A gentle exfoliant cream usually contains small grains that create friction when rubbed on the skin. If this is properly done, this will reveal clearer skin. A gentle exfoliant typically contains fine grains combined with a gentle moisturizing cream, and will feel somewhat like sandy cream when rubbed between the fingers.

A type of gentle exfoliant, instead of having a sand-like consistency, will feel almost powdery when rubbed between the fingers. The face should be exfoliated with a gentle exfoliant, but other parts of the body, such as the heels, can be exfoliated with a coarser skin exfoliant. Coarse skin exfoliants are made with sea salt or sugar. Some exfoliants even contain ground up pieces of fruit pits, such as apricots or peaches.

Choose a gentle exfoliant that does not have an offensive odor. A gentle exfoliant is less likely to cause an allergic reaction, however, people who are sensitive to perfumes or chemicals should read the label carefully prior to use. Before using the exfoliant, a patch test should be performed on a small area on the wrist or back of the hand. If irritation occurs, the product should be immediately washed off and future use should be avoided.


Even though an exfoliant may be labeled as gentle, overzealous scrubbing can cause skin irritation and possible permanent skin damage. Also, skin exfoliants are not intended to be used every day in the way that soaps or facial cleaners are. Exfoliating the skin should be performed in accordance with packaging instructions, or on the recommendation of the health care provider.

People with some medical skin conditions should not use exfoliants, even gentle exfoliants, unless directed to do so by a health care professional or dermatologist. If skin is sensitive to exfoliant products, a washcloth can used as a viable alternative. Like exfoliants, the overzealous use of a washcloth on the skin can cause significant skin irritation and tissue damage. A dermatologist should be consulted when skin becomes red, inflamed, or painful as a result of exfoliation.


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