Image of a woman washing her face.

10 tips to properly exfoliate your face & body.

Last Updated: October 29, 2021

If you’re on a quest for radiant skin, you’ve probably heard of exfoliating. There are some important things to know before you dive into the vast world of exfoliating. Learn about some of the best practices and find natural products to exfoliate.

If you’re on a quest for glowing, radiant skin, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of exfoliation. Removing built-up oils, dirt, and impurities can improve skin’s appearance and help you feel refreshed, but there are some important things to know before you dive into the big, wide world of exfoliating skin products.

Even though exfoliating is about sloughing off dull, dry, and damaged skin cells, it’s still important to be gentle and protect your skin from abrasive exfoliating methods or harsh ingredients.

Here are some of the best practices and natural products to naturally exfoliate skin and keep it looking fabulous.

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin.

Your body already naturally exfoliates, but some believe that helping it along in the process with gentle products and scrubs has extra benefits, like:

  • Brightening your complexion.
  • Smoothing the skin.
  • Preventing clogged pores.
  • Improving skin’s appearance.
  • Helping skin better absorb moisturizers.

You can exfoliate in two ways: Mechanical exfoliation or by using natural skincare products. Mechanical, or manual, exfoliation involves using sponges, brushes, or other scrubbing tools to manually remove dead skin cells. If you opt for an exfoliating product, that means you’ll be using a scrub, cream, mask, or serum to help exfoliate your skin.

Here’s the American Academy of Dermatology’s explanation of exfoliating your skin and its benefits.

How to exfoliate by skin type

The best way to exfoliate depends on your unique skin type. Over-exfoliation can lead to dryness, itching, redness, and inflammation, so start slowly and pay careful attention to the way your skin reacts to the process.

Here are some tips for each type of skin.

Dry skin

Those prone to dry skin may want to skip mechanical exfoliation, as it can increase dryness or even cause micro tears.

Instead, opt for a mild exfoliating serum or cleanser and immediately follow with your preferred moisturizer.

Oily skin

Oily skin can benefit from physical exfoliation with scrubs and brushes to help remove build-up.

If you use a brush or sponge, use light strokes to avoid damaging skin.

Combination skin

For combination skin, use a combination of exfoliation methods.

Try a scrub or brush, as well as a gentle exfoliating cream or cleanser; however, make sure you space treatments out. Don’t use two exfoliation methods on the same area in the same day.

Sensitive skin

In general, those with sensitive skin should avoid scrubs and brushes, since they can cause redness and irritation.

Try a small amount of a mild serum or cleanser, and follow it with your favorite moisturizer. You may even want to test products on a small patch of skin before applying to a larger area.

Normal skin

Most exfoliation methods are safe for your skin if you aren’t prone to acne, dryness, excess oil, or sensitivity.

Try different methods to find the one you prefer. Only use one method at a time so you can see how skin reacts.

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How can I exfoliate my face?

Image of a woman putting a product on her face.

When exfoliating your face, you’ll want to use extreme care to protect your delicate facial skin. Choose a type of exfoliation based on your skin type. (Remember reading about that above?)

Regardless of the method you’re using, always do the following:

  • Use scrubs in light, circular motions and avoid pulling on skin.
  • Apply liquid exfoliants with a soft cloth or cotton pad.
  • Rinse skin with lukewarm water. Hot water may cause irritation.
  • Apply moisturizer immediately following exfoliation.
  • Use a natural sunscreen daily to protect skin.

What are the best natural products to exfoliate your face?

Below we’ve listed some of Grove members’ favorite exfoliating products for your face. Have a look to see which ones might be right for you.

Image of Mad Hippie Exfoliating Peel

Mad Hippie Exfoliating Peel

Why we love it: This serum uses alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), like glycolic and lactic acid, to gently exfoliate your facial skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

It’s natural and non-abrasive so it can work with a variety of skin types.

Lacey W. says “Sloughs off all the dry winter skin & brightens my complexion! Love it so much! Going to last a long time as well.”

Image of Lavido Purifying 2-in-1 Facial Mask and Exfoliator

Lavido Purifying 2-in-1 Facial Mask and Exfoliator

Why we love it: This multipurpose mask offers a host of benefits, including exfoliation, cleansing, and anti-aging properties.

Plus, it’s made with plant-based ingredients and formulated to work for a variety of skin types.

Laura C. writes “I like that I only have to use this product twice a week and it exfoliates the skin and leave it feeling really clean.”

Image of konjac sponges

Konjac Sponge

Why we love it: This natural sponge is made of konjac plant fiber and infused with bamboo charcoal and green tea.

It’s a great pick for sensitive, oily, or combination skin, and it’s gentle enough for everyday use.

Read about Grove writer Leslie Jeffries experience trying konjac sponges for the first time.

Image of Beauty By Earth Lip Scrub

Beauty By Earth Lip Scrub

Why we love it: This lip scrub hydrates and lightly exfoliates the lips without being harsh or abrasive.

The ingredients are certified organic, and it’s available in two delicious flavors: Mint or vanilla.

June R. says “I love this lip scrub. It makes my lips feel so soft after use.”

Image of Terra Beauty Bars Rose Coconut Dry Facial Clay Mask

Terra Beauty Bars Rose Coconut Dry Facial Clay Mask

Why we love it: This dry clay powder can be combined with water or coconut milk to create a hydrating and exfoliating mask for dry to normal skin.

It is 100% waterless, vegan, natural and cruelty-free.

We actually tried this mask out. Learn how to use a dry facial mask here.

How can I exfoliate my body?

image of someone applying lotion.

The easiest and most common way to exfoliate your body is by using a brush, loofah pad, or exfoliating glove. Those with extra sensitive skin may want to stick to washcloths.

You can also apply an exfoliating body scrub or make your own using coconut oil mixed with sugar, coffee grounds, or dry oatmeal.

For best results:

  • Scrub skin using light strokes or gentle circular motions.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water.
  • Apply moisturizer as the final step.
  • Use a daily sunscreen on exposed areas to prevent damage.
  • Consider a pumice stone for thick skin on feet and hands.

Grove Tip

What is dry brushing?

Dry brushing is another common method of body exfoliation. This involves using a dry natural shower brush with stiff bristles to gently buff away excess oils, dirt, and skin cells.

To dry brush:

  • Use long, gentle strokes on limbs.
  • Brush in small, circular motions on the torso and back.
  • Ease up on or even skip sensitive areas like the chest and neck.
  • Avoid brushing over moles, warts, acne, burns, or cuts.

What are the best natural products to exfoliate your body

Below are the top natural exfoliants for your body to keep your skin nice and smooth all year round.

Beauty By Earth Exfoliating Gloves

Why we love it: These nylon gloves make it easy to scrub dry, dead skin from your legs, arms, and torso.

Use with a natural body wash or scrub, and then hang them up to air dry.

Learn more about exfoliating gloves, their benefits, and how to use them here.

Image of Peach Exfoliating Bar Soap + Stone

Peach Exfoliating Bar Soap + Stone

Why we love it: This mild yet effective body bar is a part of Grove’s line of waterless and plastic-free bath and body products.

Lather it on your hands or on your favorite sponge to gently exfoliate while cleansing.

Julie D. says “Works great after working in the garden! It’s exfoliating and made my skin feel wonderful. And bonus it smells like peaches! (Customer received this complimentary product in exchange for their unbiased opinion.)”

Image of The Seaweed Bath Company Detox Exfoliating Body Scrub

The Seaweed Bath Company Detox Exfoliating Body Scrub

Why we love it: This body scrub uses organic, sustainably-harvested ingredients, like bladderwrack seaweed, clay, ground walnut shells, and green coffee bean extract to provide soft exfoliation that leaves skin feeling refreshed.

Abigail S. writes “Love this product! I am not a fan of super fruity or unnatural smells and this is great. It also makes my skin feel so clean and soft.”

Image of Naturally London Moisturizing Foot Polish With Calendula

Naturally London Moisturizing Foot Polish With Calendula

Why we love it: Show feet some extra love with organic, non-GMO ingredients, like avocado, jojoba, and vitamin E. It’s lightly scented with 100% Therapeutic-Grade Essential Oils, and it’s gentle enough to use on hands and legs as well.

Kayla G. says “My heels were getting cracked from being outside too much without shoes. Used this twice and no more cracks.”

Image of Acure Energizing Coffee Body Scrub

Acure Energizing Coffee Body Scrub

Why we love it: Coffee, lemon, charcoal, and coconut combine to exfoliate, soften, and energize the skin.

This scrub is gentle enough to be used up to three times per week, and it contains natural aloe to keep skin hydrated.

Melissa H. writes “I love the coffee smell of this scrub But it also makes my skin so soft!!! Like other reviewers have mentioned it does leave a bit of a mess in the shower but otherwise I like it!”

How often should I exfoliate?

Your exfoliation routine will depend on your skin type, complexion, and which products you use. Most methods are effective when used one to three times a week, depending on the instructions and how skin reacts.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association warns some medications and over-the-counter products can cause skin to be more sensitive, leading to drying, peeling, or breakouts. Certain complexions can also be more sensitive to damage from exfoliation.

You may want to skip exfoliating if you:

  • Use prescription retinoid creams or products containing retinol.
  • Use products containing benzoyl peroxide.
  • Have a darker skin tone or develop dark spots after burns, bug bites, or acne.
  • Have dry, flaky, or extremely sensitive skin.
  • Have open cuts, wounds, or sunburned skin.

  • If you aren’t sure how much exfoliation your skin can handle, a dermatologist can help you determine the best routine.

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