All About Exfoliants 

Let’s face it; making beauty products is like a giant science experiment in your kitchen. (Well, unless you are already a pro and you have moved onto bigger and better things!)  One of my favorite parts of making beauty products is experimenting with different exfoliating ingredients.  There are literally so many different exfoliants to choose from you will never be at a loss for something to use. Many of them you have in your kitchen right now.  Today we will talk about some of the more popular and favorites we all like to use.

But first – what is an exfoliant you ask?  An exfoliant is a material that is used to scrub off dead skin cells and dirt. Exfoliants come in so many shapes and sizes – there is literally no “one size fits all”. Some are mild and hardly noticeable while others are extremely coarse and not for the most sensitive skins.

When adding an exfoliant to any product you are making, you will first need to determine what the use of the product will be. For example, if you are making a facial soap bar, you will want to use a gentle exfoliant.  However, if you are making a soap that is intended to be used to clean very dirty gardener’s hands, you’ll choose an exfoliant that is courser and more apparent in the product.

As with any ingredients in your handcrafted beauty products, there are no rules or strict guidelines to follow.  It is a preference that will work for some, but may not work for all.  Experiment – like variety is the spice of life, exfoliants are the scrubby of soaps!  Check some out below:

Colloidal Oatmeal:  This form of oatmeal is a micro ground powder that is ideal for facial products. It is known to be a soothing, yet a hardly noticeable exfoliant.  Note that oatmeal can also be ground into a “not so micro” texture if you prefer to have a more coarse oatmeal experience.

Baking Soda: This is a gentle exfoliant, which is oil absorbing and a great additive for face masks and toothpastes.

Activated Charcoal:  This is a great exfoliant for facials scrubs, as it’s known to trap toxins in the body and allow them to be flushed out. It works by binding the toxins and not allowing them to be reabsorbed.

Jojoba Beads: These are a somewhat gentle exfoliant that you can get in several different colors and sizes.  Jojoba beads are derived from jojoba oil and are completely biodegradable.

Salt: Like jojoba beads, salts come in many sizes and colors. You will find several varieties of salt, as well as the qualities they contain.  Dead sea salts are great to use in a scrub, while you can use a more coarse salt in a salt soap recipe.

Coffee Grounds:  As I said – some exfoliants can be found right in your kitchen – here is one of them! Used fresh, coffee grounds are a more coarse exfoliant that are great in a soap recipe. While using brewed coffee ground, they are a softer exfoliant and have the “edge” removed, making them great in a facial scrub.

Loofah: Whole loofah sponges are a fun exfoliant for soap. Loofah is actually a vegetable that grows on a Luffa plant. Whole slices of loofah can be placed in a soap mold and poured over with soap to create a loofah soap.  Because the texture of a loofah is rough, it is not typically a good facial exfoliant, rather a perfect exfoliant for rough heels, elbows or knees.

Seeds: There are many types of seeds that can be used as exfoliators, including blueberry, cranberry, strawberry and poppy seeds.  Most seeds are considered a coarser exfoliant and are most suitable used as a body exfoliant rather than facial.

Dried Botanicals:  Lavender, Chamomile, Calendula, Mint, Rosemary to name a few. Not only do these dried botanicals add exfoliating properties to your soaps, they also are loaded with beneficial properties and smell great!

Clays:  Clays are perfect for facial scrubs. Much like activated charcoal, clay helps to remove skin toxins. They are also oil absorbing and help hydrate your skin.

As you can see from the rather brief list above, exfoliants come in many shapes and sizes. There really are no limitations to your imagination and experimentations!

You’ve got the exfoliants, now you need the fragrances! Make sure to check out our fragrance blending article, Fantastic Fragrances and How to Blend Them.

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