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By exfoliating your skin, you can help remove old, dead skin cells to reveal the healthy, new skin underneath. Almost any area of your body can benefit from exfoliation, from your lips to your feet.

Although dead skin cells should flake away when new cells are created, sometimes they hang around. This can make your skin appear uneven, blotchy, or dull.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the natural exfoliants you can use to boost the health, appearance, and vitality of your skin.

An exfoliant doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. In fact, many natural products that you likely already have in your pantry may be all you need to exfoliate your skin.

Many of these items have the ability to create just enough friction to remove dead cells from the surface of your skin.

Some popular natural exfoliants include:

You can also combine other products often found in your kitchen to these natural exfoliants.

Examples include:

These natural exfoliants are all physical exfoliants. This means that by gently rubbing or massaging them on your skin, the dead skin cells can be sloughed away.

Physical exfoliants are different from chemical exfoliants, which contain skin-friendly agents like alpha hydroxy acid and retinol to loosen and remove dead skin cells.

Exfoliants that are used on the face should be fine-grained with small, even particles. Because your facial skin is more delicate than most other areas of your body, coarser exfoliants, like sea salt or coffee, aren’t a good option.

It’s also important not to overexfoliate your face. Exfoliating too often can strip the skin on your face of its natural oils and lead to breakouts. Too much scrubbing may also cause your skin to become irritated.

Most skin care experts agree that exfoliating your face once or twice a week is best for most skin types.

Examples of natural exfoliants for the face include:

  • baking soda
  • finely ground sugar
  • finely ground oatmeal

DIY recipes for facial scrubs

Acne-friendly baking soda and honey scrub

This facial scrub recipe, with its anti-inflammatory and oil-reducing ingredients, is well suited to acne-prone skin.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. aloe vera gel
  • 1 tsp. finely ground sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vitamin E oil
  • 3 drops of tea tree oil

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mix them together well.
  2. After washing your face, apply the scrub mixture to your skin with clean fingers. Use light, circular motions with your fingertips to smooth the scrub all over your face. Think of the scrub as a gentle facial massage. Continue the gentle, circular motions for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Allow the scrub to sit on your skin for an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Rinse the scrub off your face with lukewarm water.
  5. Apply an oil-free moisturizer — yes, even acne-prone skin can benefit from a light moisturizer — after rinsing.

Moisturizing sugar scrub

This facial sugar scrub uses oils that can nourish and moisturize your skin after you’ve washed the scrub away. It may be especially beneficial for dry skin.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup finely ground white or brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut or jojoba oil

Directions

  1. Combine the sugar and oil in a mixing bowl, and mix together until they’re well blended.
  2. After washing your face and hands, apply the scrub mixture to your face. Use gentle, circular motions to smooth the scrub all over your face for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Rinse the scrub off your face with lukewarm water, and gently pat your skin dry.
  4. Use a gentle moisturizer on your cleansed skin.

Because the skin on your body tends to be thicker and less delicate than the skin on your face, you can often use slightly coarser exfoliants.

Some popular natural exfoliants include:

  • brown sugar
  • coffee grounds
  • oatmeal
  • coarsely ground sea salt

A word of caution: Hold off on using sea salt if you have a cut on your skin. The salt may irritate and burn an open wound.

DIY recipes for body scrubs

Oatmeal body scrub

This oatmeal body scrub helps soften your skin thanks to the skin-soothing beta-glucan compound that’s naturally present in oatmeal.

This scrub is great to use in the shower or bath once the warm water has already softened your skin.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (this type of oats is less processed than oatmeal in packets)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or jojoba oil
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 chamomile tea bags

Directions

  1. Grind the oats in a food processor until the oats have a fine dust-like consistency, then pour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Combine the other ingredients (empty the tea bags) with the ground oats, and mix until everything is well blended.
  3. Apply the scrub all over your body using gentle circular motions, but be sure to avoid your face.
  4. Once you’ve finished applying the scrub, rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  5. Towel or air-dry your skin before applying a moisturizing body lotion or oil.

Sea salt scrub

If you like, you can add essential oils of your choice to this sea salt scrub for a spa-like experience.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well blended.
  2. While in the shower or bath, apply the scrub to your body using gentle circular motions, but be sure to avoid your face.
  3. Rinse well. Once your body is dry, apply body lotion or oil to seal in the moisture.

Because your lips are more delicate than the skin on your body, you’ll want to use different ingredients than you would for a body scrub.

Examples of natural exfoliants include:

  • finely ground sugar
  • cinnamon
  • finely ground coffee

Additionally, you’ll want to include some ultra-nourishing components to a lip scrub. Examples include:

  • almond oil
  • coconut oil
  • honey
  • olive oil
  • vitamin E oil

You may also want to add a sweet-smelling component to make the scrub extra appealing. Some options include:

  • cocoa powder
  • vanilla extract
  • peppermint oil or extract

Overexfoliating your lips can cause them to become irritated and dry. For this reason, only exfoliate your lips once a week.

If you have any pimples or blisters on your lips, hold off on exfoliating until these are cleared up.

DIY recipes

Vanilla coffee lip scrub

This vanilla coffee lip scrub combines nourishing moisturizers, like oil and honey, with exfoliating ingredients such as finely ground coffee and sugar.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. finely ground coffee
  • 1 tsp. coconut, olive, or jojoba oil
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. finely ground white sugar

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well blended.
  2. Apply the scrub to your lips with clean fingers, rubbing in circular motions for about 1 minute.
  3. Gently rinse off the scrub with lukewarm water.
  4. Apply a moisturizer, such as petroleum jelly or lip balm, after exfoliating.

Sugar lip scrub

This DIY lip scrub uses sugar as the main exfoliant, and combines honey and oil to nourish and soothe the skin on your lips.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1-2 drops of your favorite essential oil

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well blended.
  2. Follow the same directions outlined above for the vanilla coffee scrub.

As with anything that’s applied to your skin, there’s always a risk that you may have an allergic reaction to one or more of the components. This is especially true for essential oils or the exfoliants themselves.

You may want to do a patch test on a small area of your skin to ensure you don’t get red and itchy from an ingredient.

Be careful of any natural exfoliant that’s not ground well. If an exfoliant, like coarse sea salt, granulated sugar, coffee grinds, or oatmeal, has jagged edges it could scratch or damage your skin.

Take a careful look at the texture of all natural exfoliants, and make sure the granules are smooth and small enough to apply to your skin.

By getting rid of dead cells on the surface of your skin, exfoliation can help keep your skin smooth, healthy, and vibrant.

Many natural exfoliants work well as granules that can remove dead or flaky skin from your face, body, or lips. Together with nourishing ingredients like oils and honey, you can create DIY scrubs that are quick and easy to make.

Be sure not to overexfoliate your skin. Once or twice a week is sufficient for your face, while your lips only need weekly exfoliation.