Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Exfoliators are cosmetic products made with ingredients of a certain porosity, which on contact with the skin remove impurities, dead skin cells, blackheads and acne. In addition, they reactivate blood circulation and provide greater smoothness and luminosity.

These excellent products come in different formats and presentations, adapted to different skin types and the specific needs of each person. There are varieties for both face and body, as well as special accessories to apply them.

Exfoliants are prepared with natural or chemical components that help to improve the skin and keep it cleaner, smoother and healthier. Throughout this article we will tell you everything you need to know about these great health and beauty products, so don’t miss out!




Summary

  • Exfoliants are facial and body beauty products, made with different components whose properties and textures help to remove impurities and dead skin cells, leaving the skin smoother, brighter, healthier and rejuvenated.
  • There are different varieties of exfoliators, including mechanical, enzymatic and chemical ones, which differ from each other mainly in terms of their components, functions, textures and varieties, among other aspects.
  • When choosing a scrub, it is important to take into account certain factors, such as their presentations, your skin type, complementary exfoliation accessories and the difference between facial and body variants.

The Best Exfoliator: Our Picks

Buying guide

The main purpose of this buying guide is to provide you with information about the product you are interested in buying. Therefore, we will tell you about the most important features of exfoliators, including their advantages and those aspects that are not so beneficial.

Exfoliators come in different presentations, formats and textures, adapted to each skin type. (Photo: Baiba Opule / 123rf.com)

What are exfoliants and what are their advantages?

Exfoliants are cosmetic products used to remove dead skin cells, eliminate impurities, tighten pores, reduce blackheads, deep cleanse, reactivate blood circulation and combat acne, among many other benefits.

They can come in the form of creams, gels, masks and soaps, or acid-based chemical products (which are usually applied by a dermatologist, cosmetologist or beautician). There are also exfoliating accessories such as sponges and brushes, in different formats and textures.

These wonderful personal beauty items keep the skin soft, fresh, healthy, luminous and toned, whether on the face or body. They also help fight cellulite and flaccidity, making them an excellent choice for staying young and healthy.

Advantages
  • Remove impurities
  • Tighten pores
  • Reactivate blood circulation
  • Tone the skin
  • Reduce acne and blackheads
Disadvantages
  • May cause itching or redness in some cases
  • May be counterproductive for very dry skin
  • Acids can be dangerous if not administered correctly

Mechanical, enzymatic, or chemical exfoliators What should you look out for?

There are different types of exfoliators, including mechanical, enzymatic and chemical. Below, we will discuss the main characteristics of each of these variants so that you can compare them and choose the one that is right for you.

Mechanical exfoliators. These are granulated masks that cleanse the skin and remove impurities. They can be gentle (made with waxes, natural extracts of peach, bamboo or nuts, and oils such as jojoba) or stronger (made with salts, calcium carbonate, microcrystals, polyethylene granules, etc.).

Enzymatic exfoliants. These are masks and creams that do not contain granules, so they are very gentle and are suitable for all skin types (especially the most sensitive). They are usually made with natural compounds such as papaya, pineapple, figs, tropical fruits, etc.

Chemical exfoliators. They are stronger or more aggressive than the other types, due to the chemical products they use, and are mainly indicated for more punished or aged skin. They are usually made with lactic acid, citric hydroxy acids, retinoic acid, phenol, vitamin A, etc.

Mechanics Enzymatic Chemicals
Components Natural fruit extracts, oils, waxes, soaps, etc. (soft) and salts, microcrystals, polyethylene granules, etc. (coarse). (coarse) Natural compounds such as papaya, pineapple, fig, tropical fruits, etc. Lactic acids, citric hydroxy acids, retinoic acid, phenol, vitamin A, etc.
Presentations Masks, gels Masks, creams Products with different concentrations of acids
Texture Variable Gentle Gentle (intense effect)
Skin types Depends on granulation and components All skin types (mainly sensitive) Very oily, damaged, aged skin
Main characteristics Different textures and components, adapted to different skin types Very gentle and at the same time deep effect Very powerful and effective exfoliation

Are there homemade exfoliators?

In addition to the types of exfoliator mentioned above, there are also homemade and extremely economical alternatives. In fact, many of the commercial products, with the exception of the chemical ones, are made with components such as those mentioned below:

Coffee. Coffee is one of the most widely used products for making exfoliating masks due to its grainy texture and regenerative properties. It is usually mixed with olive oil or coconut oil to further enhance its natural benefits.

Sugar. Sugar is also a widely used ingredient for homemade scrubs, and is often combined with honey, lemon, natural oils, etc. It is recommended that you use the brown or organic variants, which are finer and more natural than the refined varieties.

Sea salt. Sea salt is characterised and noted for its antiseptic properties, making it excellent for healing wounds, combating acne and reducing inflammation of the skin. It also has a granulated texture that is ideal for removing impurities (it should be applied gently as it is quite coarse and rough).

Grated coconut. Coconut is an excellent moisturiser of natural origin, so its grated variant is widely used as an exfoliant (combined with olive, linseed, almond, sesame, etc. oils). Its oil is also used mixed with granulated household products.

Chocolate. Besides having an irresistible taste for any palate, chocolate deeply moisturises the skin, has antioxidants that fight free radicals and activates blood circulation, making it an effective homemade exfoliator, which is usually combined mainly with coffee.

Please note that combinations of exfoliating scrubs with oils are not recommended for oily or combination skin, as they will increase the oiliness of the skin. Therefore, they are more commonly used for the body, or for very dry or rough skin.

How much do exfoliators cost?

The prices of exfoliators depend mainly on their components, presentations, sizes and brands. In the following paragraph we will tell you the approximate costs of this product so that you can have a reference of the commercial values.

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate the different models of exfoliating scrubs

In this last section of the article, we will discuss the most important factors to consider when buying a scrub, as it is a very versatile product, and it can sometimes be difficult to choose the right one from such a wide variety and choice.

  • Presentations
  • Exfoliating Soaps
  • Skin types
  • Exfoliation accessories
  • Facial and body scrub

Presentations

Exfoliators come in different presentations, adapted to different skin types and specific skin conditions. Below, we will tell you about the most common presentations of these products and what makes them special.

Masks. Exfoliating masks are made with components of different textures and intensity, which act on the skin regenerating the tissues and providing purifying, decongesting, refreshing, etc. effects, depending on the specific characteristics of each substance.

There are soft masks made with natural fruit or bamboo extracts (for more delicate skins), and other stronger ones, made with salts, polyethylene granules, microcrystals, calcium carbonate, etc. (for thicker or oily skins, which need a deeper exfoliation).

Creams. Exfoliating creams contain almost no granules, so they are very gentle and refreshing. They are made from fruit enzymes such as papaya, pineapple or fig, and have a renewing, antioxidant and purifying function that is ideal for sensitive skin that is intolerant to intense granules.

Gels. They are similar to masks, since they are also made with particles or granules of various textures and sizes that are applied with gentle massages on combination, dry or oily skin (depending on the components and granulation of the gel). They are ideal for exfoliating, purifying and decongesting the skin.

Acids. They are chemical products made with different concentrations of retinoic acid, citric hydroxy acids, lactic acids, phenol, vitamin A, etc. Their effect is extremely deep and powerful, so they are used for skin with acne, blackheads, wrinkles, etc., which need more intense cleansing.

These products are usually applied by professionals specialised in the field, such as dermatologists or cosmetologists, who know the appropriate doses for each type of skin and specific skin problems, as the improper use of these acids can cause very serious burns.

Exfoliating soaps

In addition to the masks, creams, gels and acids mentioned in the previous point, there are exfoliating soaps that help to cleanse the face and body of impurities such as blackheads, acne, etc. Here we will tell you about the most common types and their characteristics.

Mechanical exfoliating soap. These soaps have the same particularities as the other mechanical exfoliating soaps (camomiles and gels), since they are made with soft components (such as jojoba oils) and stronger ones (such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, etc.) that determine their function and intensity.

Organic exfoliating soap. These soaps are made with natural ingredients such as coffee, brown sugar, coconut, seeds, cocoa, etc., which nourish, moisturise and exfoliate the skin in a natural and harmless way. They are sold in health food shops, but can also be made at home with homemade products and glycerine.

One of the many advantages of exfoliating soaps is that most of them are suitable for all skin types, as well as for the face and body, making them extremely versatile, practical and functional. In addition, their prices are usually quite affordable.

Exfoliating soaps act as peelings that remove acne, blackheads and impurities from the skin. (Photo: Desislava Vasileva / 123rf.com)

Skin types

Exfoliating scrubs provide excellent results, but you should consider which variety is best suited to your skin type. Here are a few variations, but keep in mind that each case is unique, so it’s best to consult a specialist.

Dry skin. Dry skin is characterised by its sensitivity and lack of hydration, so enzymatic exfoliating creams are an excellent option to moisturise and nourish in depth, without causing irritation, redness, itching or any other discomfort.

Oily skin. Oily skin tends to be thicker and more resistant, so it can withstand exfoliants with more granular textures such as some masks and gels. They also tend to have acne, blackheads, open pores, etc., which makes a more intense treatment than that provided by creams essential.

On the other hand, chemical products made with different types and concentrations of acids are fantastic for removing dead cells and reaching the deepest layers of the skin, eliminating the unsightly impurities that oily skin tends to have.

Combination skin. Combination skin has oily areas (usually on the forehead, nose and chin) and dry areas (cheekbones and cheeks), so they need masks and gels with an in-between texture that is neither too invasive nor too soft. Acids are also perfect (in moderate concentrations).

Exfoliation accessories

Although exfoliation massages can be done with your hands, there are also specific accessories to facilitate and enhance the work. In the following, we will describe the most important characteristics of these complementary elements.

Facial sponge. Facial exfoliating sponges have different types of textures and patterns that optimise exfoliation as they glide over the face to remove the remains of cream, mask, gel, etc. They also come in different thicknesses, sizes and formats.

Body sponge. Exfoliating sponges for the body are usually thicker and harder than those for the face and are mainly used during bathing, to remove dead cells and cleanse in depth. The most popular are loofah sponges, which come as a whole or in glove format.

Facial brush. Exfoliating facial brushes are used alone or in combination with cleansers. There are extremely practical and innovative electric models that work by means of a vibration that massages the face while removing impurities and activating circulation.

Body brush. Body scrub brushes perform a similar function to sponges, but have coarse bristles of different sizes and textures that cleanse and remove dead skin cells and impurities. Some have long, slightly curved handles to access the back area.

Both body brushes and sponges are recommended for reducing cellulite, which is so common in most women. For a more profound effect, they should ideally be used as a complementary accessory to specific products to treat this inflammation of the cellular tissue.

Facial and body scrubs

Exfoliators are designed to improve the appearance of skin on the face and body, so there are different variants for each area with different textures and specific dermal effects. Here we will tell you the differences between facial and body exfoliation:

Facial. Facial skin is very different from body skin, as it has a greater number of sebaceous glands and is more exposed to environmental factors (mainly the sun) and chemicals (smoking, alcohol consumption, etc.). This is why it needs more continuous, but at the same time careful, treatments.

As mentioned in the previous point, the right exfoliants will depend on the type of skin (dry, oily, combination) and its particularities or specific pathologies. The important thing is that facial skin is cared for daily and with the right products so as not to generate side effects or none at all.

Body. Body skin is not as exposed to environmental factors as facial skin, and it is also more resistant (depending on skin type), so body exfoliants are usually more intense and powerful than those for the face.

In addition, they are usually combined with natural oils of olive, linseed, sesame, coconut, etc., which provide softness, moisture and nourishment. Due to their greasiness, these oils are not used as much on the face because they may cause acne or blackheads (except for very dry skin).

Combinations of exfoliating scrubs with oils are excellent for areas such as the soles of the feet and elbows, which almost always tend to become cracked and dry. Note that exfoliation products for specific areas of the body (lips, hands, etc.) are available on the market.

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