What Are the Different Types of Natural Exfoliant?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2019
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A natural exfoliant can be used to remove the top layer of dead skin, resulting in a healthier and more youthful looking appearance. Some natural exfoliants, like salt and oatmeal, remove dead skin by physically sloughing it off. Other natural exfoliants, like lemon juice and papaya, work by chemically removing dead skin.

The very top layer of a person's skin is mostly made up of dead skin cells. If these skin cells accumulate, they can cause a person's skin to look dull or rough. Exfoliating is a safe method to remove these skin cells.

Some types of natural exfoliants contain rough surfaces that slough off dead skin cells. Salt, particularly coarse sea salt, is one of the most popular types of natural exfoliant. The sharp grains of salt can often easily remove dead skin cells. Salt is sometimes mixed with oil, glycerin, or liquid soap to make a simple homemade exfoliant.

Sugar can also be used as a natural exfoliant. It is typically a little gentler than salt, and it can be used to exfoliate sensitive skin, including the skin on the face. A number of types of sugar can be used as exfoliants, including white sugar, brown sugar, and raw sugar.


Oatmeal is another very popular natural exfoliant. People with sensitive skin will usually benefit from oatmeal as an exfoliant. This type of natural exfoliant can also add moisture to very dry skin, especially when it is mixed with honey.

Instead of throwing them away, some people prefer to use old coffee grounds as a natural exfoliant. Since coffee grounds are somewhat rough, they can easily remove dead skin cells. Coffee can also tone the skin somewhat, making it firmer.

Some natural exfoliants work by chemically loosening the dried skin cells from the healthy layer of skin. One example of this type of exfoliant is lemon juice. Like some commercial exfoliants, this natural exfoliant contains alpha-hydroxy acids, which are very effective at removing dead skin.

Papaya can also be used as an exfoliant. The flesh of the papaya contains an enzyme known as papain that is a very effective natural exfoliant. To use papaya as an exfoliant, the flesh can be pureed and applied to the face.

Since a commercial exfoliant will often contain harsh ingredients. These ingredients can cause a number of side effects, including redness and peeling. Many experts recommend using a natural exfoliant to remove these dead skin cells. Natural exfoliants are typically less likely to irritate the skin, and they are also usually more economical.


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Post 4

Lemon juice is good to use as an exfoliant, especially if you are looking to lighten up some dark age spots. It can bleach as well as remove dead skin.

Since my face has several age spots, I use lemon juice mixed with salt as an exfoliant. The juice loosens up the dead skin, but the salt is what sloughs it off.

It is a really sticky solution, and I do have to wash my face very well after using it. It really makes a difference in my appearance, though. It makes me look brighter and a little bit younger.

Post 3

I like using raw sugar to exfoliate with rather than white sugar. The raw kind is in the form of much bigger grains, so to me, the benefit is greater.

I use a gentle liquid facial cleanser, and I mix the sugar in with this before rubbing it across my face in a circular motion. I do this carefully, only rubbing each area a couple of times, so that I don’t irritate my skin.

After I have done this, I wash my face again with the cleanser alone. This gets off any sugary residue and prevents bees from following me around all day!

Post 2

@seag47 - I think that if the shells are ground up finely enough, they won’t hurt your skin. I have used a commercial exfoliant that contained almond shells before, and though it was rough, it didn’t injure me.

Perhaps if you put them in a blender, you could get the texture required for safe exfoliation. I would think they would need to be mixed with something moist, like a paste made of baking soda.

I have used plain baking soda as a facial exfoliant before, so you might try this. It is very grainy yet soft enough to spread across your face.

Post 1

My friend says she uses almond shells as an exfoliant. This sounds incredibly painful to me!

How can rubbing something like a nutshell on your face do anything but rough it up and cause redness and possibly bleeding? I don’t know her secret for using them, but she never has scratches on her face, so she must know a good trick.

It sounds like a desperate attempt at recycling to me. Does anyone know how you could use nutshells without hurting your skin? Is this something you shouldn’t try at home?

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