Exfoliation is so important for skincare. Removing the topmost layer of dead skin cells and stimulating skin cell turnover can help with clogged pores, acne, and even wrinkles. But it’s got to be done right or you can damage your skin and risk pain and irritation.
The best way to exfoliate is to use an organic or natural facial exfoliator. They are free harsh abrasives, damaging acids, and any nasty preservatives. But which one should I buy you may ask. That’s where we come in. We’ve examined some of the best natural facial exfoliators out there on the market, and come up with our Top 5.
To help you consolidate your decision, we also have a buying guide for you, if you scroll further down, followed by answers to a series of your most frequently asked questions.
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Best Natural Exfoliators for Face - Comparison Table
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Best Natural Exfoliators for Face - Reviews
What a product! This pink clay facial mask does it all.
First of all it’s exfoliating properties. It gently removes pigmentation clusters from the surface of your skin's surface AND stimulates regeneration of new skin cells. And it does all this without causing any irritation whatsoever. It’s particularly good at removing blackheads.
It’s also cleansing, detoxifying, and anti-aging.
The clay draws out impurities, toxins, pollutants and other nasties from your skin, detoxing it from the day’s nasty pollutants.
It’s anti-aging properties come from its ability to maintain and improve the skin’s collagen levels which supports the elasticity of the skin, making skin tighter and more supple.
It’s packed with natural skin loving ingredients such as aloe vera, kakadu plum, rose damascena, lactic acid, althaea officinalis, and retinyl palmitate (better known as Vitamin A).
It’s suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin, all thanks to use of only natural ingredients, and it’s light texture.
We love that it’s not tested on animals and is 100% cruelty free.
The manufacturer is so confident in their product, there’s a full money back guarantee if you weren’t happy for any reason.
It’s super easy to use, using the applicator stick included in the price, evenly spread the clay over your clean dry face, allow 10 to 15 minutes for the mask to dry before washing off with warm water, and patting dry.
The star ingredient of this exfoliator, as the name suggests, is himalayan salt. It’s a truly unique salt that originates from salt mines some 5000 feet deep below the Himalayan mountains. Unlike common commercial salt, this salt is unprocessed, unbleached, and unrefined.
The scrub effectively removes excess dirt, oils, dead skin cells and other impurities from the skin’s surface. This helps to detoxify skin, drawing out unwanted toxins and bacteria from your pores.
In addition to the exfoliating effect of the himalayan salt, the salt also absorbs excess oils from the skin and has antiseptic properties and is great for disinfecting acne prone skin.
It’s infused with lots of other skin loving ingredients too, not least of which is collagen, which repairs damaged skin tissue, increases collagen production, and protects the skin from free radicals.
Similarly, there’s also apple stem cells which ensure the longevity of skin cells, adding further still to the anti-ageing effects derived from the collagen.
The other natural ingredients include sweet almond oil, lychee fruit oil, which smells delicious, jojoba seed oil, grapeseed oil, and aloe vera.
We love how it reduces the appearance of acne, blackheads, cellulite, and scars.
And you can use it on your whole body, not just your face.
Palmer’s is a well known, well trusted brand. They are perhaps best known for their scar and stretch mark reducing creams and lotions, but they have a whole host of skincare products in their remit.
This particular one is super popular with customers, and it’s easy to see why.
Firstly coconut oil has become super popular in recent years. It’s certified organic, fair trade, extra virgin coconut oil is nutrient-rich and has great anti-bacterial and skin purifying properties.
Coconut oil has vitamin E, which is a good antioxidant, and works to prevent UV induced free radical damage to your skin.
Besides coconut oil, it also features raw coconut sugar, which is a natural abrasive, but not overly so, which works to gently buff and polish away dirt and dead skin cells, to reveal a brighter complexion underneath.
In addition to it’s exfoliating properties, this scrub can also help with uneven skin tone, thanks to the coconut oil, coconut water, and hyaluronic acid, to leave your skin with a luminous glow.
We also like how it contains chamomile extract, for further nourishment and soothing effects.
As a 100% natural exfoliator, it’s completely free of nasties like parabens and sulfates.
We love that there’s no animal based ingredients and it’s not tested on animals.
All Palmer’s coconut oil facial formulas are dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic.
This natural exfoliator is a huge hit with customers, and after checking it out we can see why!
What’s unique about it is that you can either use it as a scrub or use it as a mask.
It’s principal ingredients are manuka honey and walnut. It has a gentle Microdermabrasion effect, thanks to it’s sugar and crushed walnut base, loosening dirt and grime to reveal the beauty beneath. It gently polishes away damaged skin, blackheads, stretch marks and acne scarring.
And because this Microdermabrasion is 100% natural, it doesn’t harm the environment like it’s microbead counterparts do.
The manuka honey meanwhile means it’s gentle enough even for the most sensitive of skin, and provides deep hydration.
It’s not short of other natural ingredients either, it’s got aloe vera, rapeseed oil, orange oil, and cehami. All of which have a range of benefits for your skin.
We love it’s anti-ageing properties that are brought out when you use it as a mask. It balances your skin tone, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and corrects age spots.
It’s no surprise to us that Era Organics are so confident in their product, that they’re prepared to offer a full money back guarantee if you’re not happy with it.
You can enjoy all the skin benefits of mud from the Dead Sea right at home with this beauty!
It’s 100% authentic and is enriched with natural soothing minerals for a gentle yet deep cleanse.
It’s prime function is as an exfoliator, but it also provides deep cleansing, combats acne, and reduces pores. Bye bye blackheads, hello radiant skin!
The mask removes dirt, debris and excess oil from deep within the skin and leaves your skin feeling not just clean, but vibrant and glowing.
The mask has collagen peptides added to it, to more thoroughly nourish the skin than traditional mud masks. Collagen reduces fine lines and wrinkles and tightens skin where it’s loose, like under the eye.
It comes with a soft sponge, so you can keep your hands clean when applying it to your face.
It’s suitable for all skin types, even the most sensitive skin.
Best Natural Exfoliators for Face - Buyers Guide
Exfoliation done right is like a secret beauty weapon for lush, youthful glowing skin all year round. It’s a solution to any number of skin problems from dull, or dry skin all the way through to acne and blackheads.
The hands down best way to exfoliate is to use an all natural exfoliator. This is the best way to ensure you won’t get any of the totally unnecessary side effects you can get from exfoliation, such as skin damage and irritation. This is because natural exfoliators don’t have any of the harsh nasty chemicals and preservatives you find in other exfoliators.
Our recommendation is not to go down the route of Googling Do It Yourself exfoliators, because there are some great brands who have done all the hard work for you. Here are some things you might like to consider before making your purchase.
Types of exfoliation
With chemical exfoliation, gentle acids are used to dissolve dead skin cells, dirt, and oil. Chemical exfoliation can include peels and masks, and despite the term, these can be natural peels and masks.
Peels use acids to exfoliate the skin by breaking down the dead skin on the surface. Exfoliating masks meanwhile work by breaking down dead skin cells and drawing impurities from deep within the pores. So you get more effective exfoliation with a mask than with a peel.
Manual exfoliation on the other hand uses physical abrasives which serve to physically brush off and remove the dead skin cells. This includes using exfoliators with plastic microbeads, something which has been banned in many US states and countries.
Both chemical and manual exfoliating methods have their merits and can produce amazing results when used effectively as part of a full skincare routine.
Popular natural exfoliator ingredients
There are a number of natural exfoliator ingredients that can work wonders on your skin, and are frequently available in store bought facial exfoliators. We’ll tell you about some of our favorites.
Muds and clays are usually more known for their detoxifying properties, but there are some that gently exfoliate the skin, and here’s the important bit, whilst retaining moisture. Clays are ideal for more sensitive, dry and aging skin.
Salt and sugar scrubs make for great exfoliants too, due to their natural physically abrasive effect on the skin, much like plastic microbeads, but without their significant cost on the environment. Crushed nuts can be used in much the same way.
Honey helps to speed up the natural exfoliation process and also has humectant qualities, which means it can help to attract moisture, making it a fantastic ingredient as a hydrating and exfoliating facial scrub.
Papaya is another great natural ingredient, it contains the enzyme papain, which dissolves dead skin cells, without irritating the new skin cells. Papain may also heal skin and cause fine lines and age spots to lighten.
Oatmeal is a gentle natural exfoliator that helps to absorb oil, so it is ideal for people with greasy skin. It’s a physical exfoliator rather than chemical, and is a good choice for those with sensitive skin. Oatmeal also has anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties.
Apple cider vinegar meanwhile contains lactic and malic acids, which are not only good for exfoliating, but are also good for reducing blemishes, and treating acne. And if that wasn’t enough, it also contains alpha-hydroxy acids that can help the skin to rejuvenate more quickly, loosening dead skin cells and revealing the new skin cells beneath.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should you exfoliate your face?
Although exfoliating is good for you on the whole, doing it too much can lead to tiny cracks in the skin’s protective barrier that can lead to loss of hydration and inflammation. The most you should exfoliate your face is 3 times a week and you should exfoliate your body, again at a maximum of 3 times a week.
Why are exfoliators with microbeads banned in so many countries and US states?
Exfoliators with plastic microbeads have been banned in many US states, and countries the world over because of the horrific effect they have on the ecological equilibrium of the whole planet. They are detrimental to marine life and they damage water supplies. It’s thought that there are 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating around contaminating our waters.
This is all made worse by the fact that microbeads function in the same way as a sponge, and absorb chemicals such as pesticides and flame retardants which are then ingested by marine animals and can work their way up the food chain.
How does skin cell turnover change with age?
As you age, skin cell turnover slows down quite dramatically. As a result, dead skin cells build up on the skin's surface, making skin look duller. This is where exfoliation comes in, to remove dead skin cells to leave skin looking radiant.
Here’s a little table for you of skin cell turnover for different age groups.
Skin Cell Turnover Cycle
Infants / Children