What are Exfoliants?

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  • Written By: Mandi Rogier
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2019
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Exfoliants are roughly textured cosmetic products that are used to slough away dead skin cells and other grime from the skin. The process of exfoliation is used to cleanse, refresh, and rejuvenate skin. The results are a clearer and younger-looking complexion.

While exfoliation occurs naturally and effortlessly for babies and children, this process becomes slower and more difficult as people age. Dead skill cells are not shed as easily and may linger on the skin. Exfoliants remove these cells and create a smoother, softer, and healthier complexion.

Exfoliants come in many forms. Some are reusable items such as rough sponges, loofahs, and brushes. These are typically used along with a soap or scrub on the body or face. Extremely rough sponges are appropriate for areas with tough skin such as the hands and feet. Softer brushes and cleansing cloths are more appropriate for the delicate skin on the face.

Facial scrubs and body scrubs are another type of exfoliant. These often contain sugar or salt, which are naturally rough and abrasive. These scrubs are rubbed onto the skin. Their rough texture helps remove dirt and dead skin.

Commercial exfoliants are widely available at vendors ranging from drug store chains to upscale spas. Many of these products also contain aromatherapy oils, which can help the user to relax. For those who want to ease the strain on their pocketbooks, quality exfoliants can also be made at home from items that have naturally exfoliating qualities.


Oatmeal is one of the best, and simplest, natural exfoliants. It is gentle enough to use on the face. Simply combine equal parts dry oatmeal and plain yogurt along with a tablespoon or two of honey. Bran, rice powder, and corn flour work similarly.

For an exfoliant that is especially invigorating, reclaim used coffee grounds as a simple body scrub. Mix coarse sugar or sea salt with a moist ingredient such as olive oil, apple juice, lemon juice, or milk until a thick paste has formed, for an easily customized body or face scrub.

Exfoliants are a popular part of many spa and beauty treatments. Those who regularly engage in these types of pampering activities may already have nicely exfoliated skin. Individuals with a busier lifestyle can still enjoy the benefits of exfoliants with drug store products or home made exfoliants. Adding any of the above types of exfoliation to a regular skin care regimen will help to create a clear, glowing, and youthful complexion.


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