Natural Skin Care Review: Exfoliants

If you haven’t checked out Part I to my natural skin care review check it out here!


Listen up: exfoliants are your friends!  If you’ve noticed you have started to have dry or dull looking skin it’s because you have dead, dry skin cell build-up on the surface of your skin.  SO being tricky and layering on a thick moisturizer to try and relieve your dry skin is really just attempting to re-hydrate your dead, dry skin cells…bummer.  As we age, skin cells die, collagen and elastin production slows down, and pores become blocked (yikes). Regular exfoliation increases the circulation in the skin, allows the skin to breathe easier by removing the layer of dead skin debris, and reveals younger-looking, dewy skin.

There are two main ways to exfoliate: physically (i.e. a scrub or microdermabrasion) and chemically (i.e. AHA’s and/or BHA’s).  Choosing which method or combination of methods works well for you ultimately depends on your skin type and sensitivity.  In general BHA’s such as salycilic acid are the preferred choice for oily, acne-prone skin to help clear blackheads.  This is because BHA’s are oil soluble and have the ability to dissolve the oxidized sebum (aka the blackhead) within the pore and decrease pore size by restructuring the pore lining.  AHA’s such as lactic acid or glycolic acid are preferred for sun-damaged and dry skin because they exfoliate the surface skin layer and are water soluble. However, AHA’s can also be helpful with acne-prone skin by reducing comedone formation.    

It’s important to note that the use of AHA’s and BHA’s can remove the outer layers of the skin leaving your skin more vulnerable to UVA/UVB damage - so make sure you are using sun protection in either your moisturizer, alone, or make-up products.  It’s also good to remember to go slow and be gentle with your skin when using any chemical exfoliant - build up slowly and listen to your skin if you start to see redness or irritation.   

And as a last tid-bit of advice: again remember what is happening with your skin is very much a reflection of what is going on on the inside so it’s important to address internal triggers in combination with topical treatments for a full package deal! 

Onto the review! Anyone who missed the prereq’s on why these were chosen see here.

Verdict: This is a great lemony smelling physical exfoliant that can help buff away dull surface cells, diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars.  You can also use this on any part of your body that needs some extra loving (ie. Lips, hands, elbows, knees, heels).  I keep this in the shower and use it maximum once a week - my skin can react badly if it is over exfoliated.   This pot should last you quite a while since you don’t need very much!

In this formulation I especially like the use of:
  • Kaolin Clay:  This is also known as “China Clay” and is composed of a slew of minerals like zinc, silica, iron, magnesium, calcium.  It is good for oil absorption for those of us with oily skin.
  • Lemon and Lime Peel Oil: Great for stressed, acne-prone skin as a purifying disinfectant 

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Stearic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Alumina, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan (Irish Moss), Volcanic Sand (Pumice), Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Glycerin, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Essential Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Magnesium Oxide (Dead Sea Salt), Hydrated Aluminum Silicate (Kaolin Clay), Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil* (.1%) Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate.

           Pure + Simple Skin Nourishing Exfoliant and Mask ($22)

Verdict: By now you must have sensed my affection for Kristen Ma’s carefully formulated products and my love affair continues. This is a great 3-in-1 product: gentle physical exfoliater and face mask topped off with a kick of moisturization!  Smells like lemon cream pie and feels as soft as butter with gentle little jojoba wax beads.  It left my face smooth, plump, and glowing.  A definite winner, especially for those with sensitive skin that may be timid of exfoliating products.  

In this formulation I especially like the use of:

  • Vitamin A, C, and E: A good combo of anti-oxidant, anti-aging vitamins that can brighten, moisturize, and re-texturize
  • Lemon Peel Oil:  Great for stressed out, acne-prone skin as a purifying disinfectant 

Ingredients: Water, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol + Glucoside (Plant Waxes), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Wax Beads, Vegetable Glycerin, Faex (Yeast) Extract, Arachidyl (Peanut) + Behenyl (Vegetal) + Benzyl (Vegetal)  Alcohol, Arachidyl (Peanut) Glucoside, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Nut Butter, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Water, Citrus Medica Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Xanthan Gum, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Squalane, Litsea Cubeba (May Chang Shrub) Fruit Oil, Dehydroacetic Acid (Sodium Salt), Phospholipids, Tocopheryl (Vit. E) Acetate, Retinyl (Vit. A) Palmitate, Ascorbyl (Vit. C) Palmitate, Cupressus Sempervirens (Cypress) Leaf Oil, Tilia Cordata (Linden) Blossom Oil, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract.

         Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($20)

Verdict:  After struggling with my skin to rebalance after coming off of OCP use controlling blackheads and break-outs have been somewhat of a constant battle.  After a few weeks of use I’ve noticed the biggest difference in my pore size shrinking, decreased breakouts, and reduction in blackheads from this product.  Although I’m not thrilled it contains disodium EDTA I have yet to find a better 2% BHA solution with the same results that I have personally seen at this price and product size.  Those suffering from hormonal acne may want to use this around the time of the month they experience breakouts.   

In this formulation I especially like the use of:
  • 2% Salicylic Acid: Made from willow trees (just like Aspirin) this is the BHA of choice when it comes to break-out prone skin.  Calms redness, reduces break-out severity, pore size, and black heads without irritation.    
Ingredients: Water, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Polysorbate-20, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA

                                Pure+Simple 5% Lactic Acid ($55)
Verdict: This is a good chemical exfoliant using the AHA lactic acid as a gentle exfoliator.  A word of warning – the first few times you use this you may feel some tingly stinging! After a few uses your skin will adapt however, I would not advise using this more than once or twice a week especially on sensitive skin. One bottle will last you a long time and the pump top is well-made and dispenses just the right amount. Don’t let the price tag scare you - this is a high quality products and a little goes a looooooong way.

In this formulation I especially like the use of: 

  • Aloe:  moisturizing and a soothing anti-inflammatory aloe works nicely in this exfoliant to help keep skin calm and happy during exfoliation
  • Lactic Acid: The chosen source of AHA’s to help remove old dead cell debris
    • One of the most gentle AHA’s that has a low chance for allergic reaction

Ingredients: Water, Algin (Sea algae derivative), Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Powder, Vegetable Glycerin, Lactic Acid

                      Andalou Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask ($15)

Verdict: If you live in Canada you can purchase this from your local Shoppers Drug Mart!  I have been using this on a weekly basis as part of my Sunday at home spa ritual.  It leaves my skin feeling soft and plump and is a very gentle exfoliant that hasn’t caused any redness or sensitivity.  As far as texture and consistency: it literally feels like pumpkin pie on my face - you could almost eat it!  All in all, a great affordable and effective AHA exfoliating mask.

In this formulation I especially like the use of:

  • Manuka Honey:  A lean, mean, moisturizing, anti-bacterial, and tissue repair generating machine - it’s no secret I LOVE MANUKA!
  • Pumpkin and Pinapple:  These fruits provide AHA’s that help exfoliate dead skin cells from the surface of skin
  • Tamanu Oil:  a great oil with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-oxidant activity 
    • Good for stretch marks, burns, eczema, post-acne hyperpigmentation, and general tissue repair
Ingredients: Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Puree*, Aloe Barbadensis Juice*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil*, Vegetable Glycerin, Manuka Honey, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Juice*, Pectin, Glycolic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cyamopsis Tetragonolobus (Guar) Gum*, Fruit Stem Cell and BioActive 8 Berry Complex*, Lecithin, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract*, Calophyllum Tacamahaca (Tamanu) and Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Oils, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos) Extract*†, Phenethyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cinnamomum Cassia (Cinnamon), Myristica Fragrans (Nutmeg) and Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Powders*
† Fair Trade

Have any of you tried these products? Do you have a natural exfoliant that you are head-over-heels with? I’d LOVE to hear about it! 



Sarah said...

Great review! I’m always on the hunt for gentle natural exfoliants! :)

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It is truly a nice and great review. I am satisfied that you simply shared this review with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

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