ouchless exfoliant?
February 26, 2009 11:53 AM   Subscribe

I need suggestions for gentle exfoliants.

I have pretty good skin (small pores, even complexion), but my face gets dry and flaky in the wintertime. I've been using St. Ives apricot scrub for sensitive skin, but I need something gentler. Lately when I use it, it stings my cheeks, and I'm already seeing early signs of rosacea so I'd prefer not to irritate it too much. But I do want to get the dead skin off.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
posted by happy scrappy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've suggested it before in a similar post: ground adzuki beans. I buy a package of dried adzuki beans from an Asian market, grind them in a blender until they are close to a powder (sift the large pieces out and re-grind), and usually store them in a plastic Kraft parmesan cheese container to keep in the shower. Put about a tablespoon in your hand, add water to make a paste, exfoliate away.

I like it because it is free of harsh chemicals, and really inexpensive. Hope this helps.
posted by bolognius maximus at 11:57 AM on February 26, 2009

Best answer: I find that a cheap washcloth works great for exfoliation. Buy them thin and cheap. The soft, pricey, luxurious ones aren't nubby enough. Also, you could try a moisturizer with lactic acid. Lactic acid is the most gentle of that AHAs.
posted by Fairchild at 11:58 AM on February 26, 2009

My skin is oily (yet flaky) and generally miserable, but a bit sensitive. The apricot scrub has always irritated my face something fierce. I think it has as much to do with the content of the creamy base as it does with those big chunks of exfoliant. On the other hand, some things that call themselves exfoliants don't have enough scrubby stuff density to actually do anything at all.

I came up with my own alternative. This is a little bit of work but super cheap and customizable to how scrubby you want it to be. I grind up rice (generally the brown basmati I have in the pantry) in a clean coffee grinder until it's very fine. Then I sieve it through my tea strainer to get out the bigger (and thus harsher) pieces and store it in a little tupperware. It takes about five minutes or so for the whole process.

When I want a scrub, I just mix the rice powder in with my regular face wash or with jojoba oil when my face is very flaky and in need of extra help. I can use a little or a lot so it's exactly as scrubby as I need it to be.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:00 PM on February 26, 2009

posted by MadamM at 12:07 PM on February 26, 2009

That Apricot scrub really irritated my skin. I've been using Clean & Clear Pore Cleanser for years now. Love it.
posted by meerkatty at 12:07 PM on February 26, 2009

A natural one - pineapple juice. The bromelins in the juice are a natural exfoliant. Even better is to use a chunk of fresh pineapple, rub it all over your face, let it dry, rinse it off.

Kiehl's make a pineapple and papaya cleanser that they call a facial scrub. It's not a scrub in the sense that it contains abrasives, but has the bromelin/enzyme effect and will exfoliate your skin without irritation. Not cheap, but a little goes a long way. The Body Shop used to make something similar but discontinued it a few years ago, sadly.
posted by essexjan at 12:09 PM on February 26, 2009

I like to use Clinique's 7 day Scrub. It's gentle enough to use, um, 7 days a week...I really love it.
It's gentle, and has no fragrance added so it won't irritate your skin or eyes...
posted by dearest at 12:11 PM on February 26, 2009

Baking soda is one. Oatmeal is another.
posted by Houstonian at 12:16 PM on February 26, 2009

i'd second aduki beans. I too find the St Ives apricot scrub too rough on my skin, but think their Radiance cleanser (it's a face wash with very gentle exfoliator) is fantastic. no idea if it's available outside the UK though.
posted by kumonoi at 12:18 PM on February 26, 2009

Salt. Same deal as mentioned before: mix it with a little water and scrub it over your face.
posted by runningwithscissors at 12:23 PM on February 26, 2009

Aveeno's oatmeal face scrub is very gentle and doesn't cause break-outs on my super-sensitive, normal skin. The CVS knock-off version is pretty much the same without the nice smell.
posted by Hwaet at 12:24 PM on February 26, 2009

I use a dollop (about the size of a couple of 25¢ coins) of Cetaphil for Sensitive Skin (or the store brand equivalent, depending what's on sale) and make a paste with a bit of baking soda (a little pile about the size of one 25¢ coin). Rub gently and rinse. I do this in the shower rather than washing my face at a separate time.
posted by angiep at 12:26 PM on February 26, 2009

I also find a lot of scrubs harsh and irritating. Lush's Angels on Bare Skin has worked well for me. It isn't cheap but a container lasts me a long time.
posted by pointystick at 12:28 PM on February 26, 2009

Like Hwaet, I use an Aveeno product to exfoliate. Very gentle on my sensitive skin.
posted by radioamy at 12:50 PM on February 26, 2009

Best answer: Washing your face with a washcloth "removes dead skin". Try going without a product?
posted by reflecked at 12:52 PM on February 26, 2009

I second hwaet and radioamy. That Aveeno stuff is fantastic. Gentle and smooth and exfoliating in a gentle and smooth way. Broken record.
posted by cachondeo45 at 1:31 PM on February 26, 2009

Seconding sugar. I use it with my normal face wash. When I want an all in one, store version, I love Clean and Clear Morning Burst.
posted by Epsilon-minus semi moron at 1:37 PM on February 26, 2009

Seconding oatmeal, with a little warm water or mixed into your cleanser. And Origins Modern Friction scrub is lovely (and pricey, but it lasts)--it can be more or less gentle depending on whether you wet your face first.
posted by paleography at 1:45 PM on February 26, 2009

I have the same problem with rosacea and sensitive winter skin. A few years ago I was given a sample of a great product called "Treatment Enzyme Peel" by Amore Pacific. It's a fruit enzyme peel in the form of a very fine pale yellow powder. You use the tiniest bit in the palm of your hand, mix it with a bit of tap water and it lathers up as you wash. It feels like washing with very gentle soap, but the fruit enzymes do a very gentle and effective job of clearing excess oil and surface dirt.

Despite having sensitive skin, I'm a also cursed with having a tendency toward pimples, so I was concerned that this product would not be strong enough to keep them at bay. I was wrong about that. Despite being extremely gentle, it does a great job of keeping pores clean. The only downside is the price - $60. I balked at that as I usually stick to inexpensive products, but soon found that it's actually very economical. My last bottle lasted a full year! There is an Amore Pacific shop in Soho in NYC or you can buy the product in Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman, or online at either.

If you want a less expensive product, Alba makes a pineapple enzyme facial cleanser for $11.99. A friend of mine swears by it, although I've never tried it myself. She gets it at Whole Foods, but I'm sure you could find it online.
posted by thenewyawkah at 1:57 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I vote for baking soda + cetaphil gentle cleanser!
posted by handabear at 3:37 PM on February 26, 2009

I use sugar mixed with jojoba oil.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:37 PM on February 26, 2009

I stopped using scrubs years ago for the same reason, and started using DDF Glycolic Exfoliating Wash (2-3 times a week), and Kiehl's Yerba Mate Tea Cleanser. They are all gentle but still strong enough for oily combination skin like mine. I also use a wet wash cloth to apply the cleanser in a gentle circular motion.

DDF is a bit expensive, I think around 40, but it takes less than a dime size and I've been using it for more than a year.

Drinking plenty of water also helps a great deal in the winter. Also, eat healthy protein and fat (like olive oil, avocados), which helps to protect your skin.

Most importantly, great moisturizer is the key in the winter and night cream.
posted by icollectpurses at 3:38 PM on February 26, 2009

Best answer: I use one of those exfoliating mitt thingums (I got mine at the Body Shop) just with water before using regular cleanser (I use the Cetaphil bar for sensitive skin). Follow with moisturizer. Works better than anything I ever bought in a tub.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:10 PM on February 26, 2009

I have mostly clear skin that gets dry and flaky in the winter. I do not use anything on my face at all. I have a vic cloth that I quickly scrub my face with while showering in the morning. I do not use any soap, scrub towards the end of the shower, and put lotion on after I get out. I have found this to be simple enough to do every day and takes care of any flakiness or blackheads that might be developing. The vic is made with thin thread that twists into knots as it is woven, making a cloth that is finely coarse and that doesn't soften up with water or use.
posted by Foam Pants at 7:21 PM on February 26, 2009

Exfoliants don't necessarily need to fit the "gritty bits and cream" formula to clear away dead skin. I recommend Paula's Choice, in particular the Exfoliating 2% BHA Liquid. Her exfoliants come in liquid, gel, or lotion form, and it all depends on which feeling you prefer on your skin. (The liquid simply feels like water, and I apply it with a cotton ball. I should mention this isn't for that ultraclean feeling-- you'd want to use a separate cleanser first, then leave this exfoliant on your skin.) You can order samples of each product by clicking on the product details.

My skin's natural wintertime condition is sensitive, red, dry and scaly, AND oily all at the same time. A morning routine of cleanser-toner-exfoliant-moisturizer really keeps everything in line for me.
posted by Gable Oak at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding the baking soda + gentle cetaphil. Sugar is too course.
posted by delladlux at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2009

Response by poster: I think I may try the scratchy facecloth / Body Shop mit thingy first, and see how that goes. I use Dove Soap and Curel moisturizer on it every day, so moisturizing isn't really an issue, just getting rid of that dead top layer of skin cells.

Thanks for all of your suggestions!
posted by happy scrappy at 2:20 PM on March 2, 2009

Response by poster: I got a mitt at Shoppers Drug Mart for like $7.00. It has a rough side and a soft side. Does what I need!

Thank you all for your responses.
posted by happy scrappy at 12:23 PM on March 28, 2009

« Older identical or sororal   |   Looking for glasses Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.