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Exfoliation 101: How to Pick The Best Face and Body Scrubs For Your Skin

There’s nothing better than a great exfoliator. Pick the right one, and it can slough away dead skin, resolve texture concerns, soften the skin, help your other active ingredients soak into the skin, and more.

Pick the wrong one, though, and you can deal with major issues like over-exfoliation, micro-tears in the skin, breakouts, and more. Here are the top ingredients you should always include and why.

1. Get The Right Particle Ingredients

The right scrub, first and foremost, is all about the right particles.

Damaging, abrasive particles like salts, nuts, fruit pits, volcanic rock, and synthetic microbeads can actually cause microtears in the skin -- small cuts that damage the skin, exacerbate irritation and lead to skin sensitivity, eczema, rosacea, and other irritations.

That totally misses the point! Which is why you want to avoid these no-no ingredients and opt for a product with good-for-your skin particles like:


Often considered the best natural exfoliant, bamboo powder is a gentle, ultra-fine, effective exfoliating particle. It’s primarily made of natural silica extracted from bamboo sap. Silica is shown to:

  • Facilitate collagen synthesis
  • Improve skin elasticity and strength
  • Provide anti-wrinkle benefits
  • Activate hydroxylating enzymes, which also improve skin elasticity
  • Re-mineralize the skin and provide anti-acne benefits

Jojoba Beads

Made from hardened (or hydrogenated ) jojoba wax, jojoba beads are a colorless, odorless, all-natural exfoliant. They actually imitate the structure and consistency of sebum, the oil naturally produced by the skin, which means that applying them topically can actually trick your body into thinking it’s producing enough sebum.

This, in turn, can decrease your actualoil production, making your skin less oily over time and protecting against related symptoms like acne and skin congestion.

Even better? Jojoba beads are super smooth and round, meaning they won’t cause micro-tears or any damage that comes with harsh exfoliating ingredients.

Find iti in:

Rice Bran

Made from the outer layer that surrounds each kernel of rice, rice bran is usually ground into an extremely fine powder. This makes it an ideal exfoliant for sensitive and oily skin. It works by gently removing dirt and dead skin cells while:

  • Calming inflammation
  • Balancing skin’s natural moisture
  • Reducing overall blemishes

Rice bran also contains powerful antioxidants and amino acids.The former can fight free radicals and provide strong ant-aging properties, while the latter can help to break down and remove dead skin cells.

Cane Sugar

cane sugar welcome to the scrub body scrub

Unlike salt, sugar is an amazing natural exfoliant. For one, sugar is not as jagged as salt, meaning that it can buff away dead skin cells without irritating or damaging the skin. It also has other beneficial properties:

  • It’s a natural humectant,meaning it can draw in moisture from the surrounding environment - helpful for those suffering from dry or dehydrated skin.
  • It contains glycolic acid,an effective but gentle AHA that can “unglue” dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.

And don’t worry, it won’t cause breakouts when applied topically.

Oat Flour

Made from ground up oatmeal, oat flour is a gentle exfoliant that’s suitable for sensitive and dry skin types (that’s why we put it in our Hometown Honey bar soap). That’s because it has a ton of beneficial compounds, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory compounds like avenanthramides, which are actually antioxidants that work like an antihistamine to reduce itching in the skin.
  • Zinc, which can reduce inflammation and kill acne-causing bacteria
  • Saponins, compounds which can naturally unclog pores
  • Lipids and proteins, which gives oats humectant, occlusive, and emollient properties
  • Beta glucan, a form of fiber that moisturizes the skin, helps with wound repair and stimulates collagen production.

Plus, it won’t cause any surface damage to the skin - and you can learn about more benefits here.

2. Incorporate Hydrating Ingredients

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is an excellent ingredient to look for in any exfoliating product. Not only is it immensely hydrating, but it’s also rich in:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Amino acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Anti-viral properties
  • Anti-fungal properties
  • Cell-regenerative properties

It also contains salicylic acid, an effective natural BHA. These give aloe vera the ability to increase collagen production, prevent dark spots, fight acne, and add moisture to the skin without leaving a greasy residue.

Natural Oils

You want to make sure that your exfoliant doesn’t strip away your skin’s natural barrier or leave it dry and itchy. That’s why you should look for a formula with natural, good-for-your skin oils like:

That said, be sure you steer clear of comedogenic or pore clogging oils. You can learn more about how to find the right oil for your skin type here.

3. Throw Some Actives in the Mix

No skincare regimen would be worth its snuff without some effective active ingredients.

Look specifically for ingredients that will further help you resolve acne, smooth skin texture, increase collagen and more. These can include:

AHAs or BHAs

Effective AHAs and BHAs provide gentle and even chemical exfoliation. The most effective? Glycolic acid, an AHA derived from natural sugars. This can be used along with physical exfoliation to smooth skin and encourage cell turnover.

Fruit Enzymes

fruit enzymes eight saints organic skincare

Natural enzymes from fruits like papaya, pumpkin, and pineapple can also provide some additional exfoliating properties.


Antioxidants are naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that protect against free radical damage. This can ultimately:

  • Correct signs of aging
  • Guard against sunburn
  • Brighten the skin
  • Prevent skin cancer
  • Soothe and moisturize the skin.

The best antioxidants you can find? Vitamin C and vitamin E (you can learn more here).

Final Thoughts

There you have it - with the right particles, hydrating ingredients, and actives, you can find the best exfoliator for face and skin, that’ll deliver serious results.

Find it all in Zen out of Ten face exfoliant and Welcome to the Scrub coconut body scrub.