top of page

Exfoliating, Irritating or Polluting?

Exfoliating or Irritating

Exfoliator - a mechanical or chemical agent (such as an abrasive skin wash or salicylic acid) that is applied to the skin to remove dead cells from the surface

Exfoliating can be great for your skin. It can clear away old dead skin cells helping to keep your pores clean, clear and feeling fresh. Too much exfoliation can cause irritation and defeat the purpose of why you exfoliated in the first place.

There are mild exfoliators and harsh ones. Some are chemical and some are physical. You need to pick what is the best option for your skin. If you have sensitive skin you will want to stay away from harsh exfoliators, if your skin is a bit tougher it is ok to go a little more extreme.

Citric acid is an example of a light chemical exfoliator.

Trichloroacetic is a harsh chemical exfoliator used by professionals for deep facial peels.

Both can be over used causing irritation and possible damage.

The smaller the physical exfoliator the gentler it will be, the larger it is the harsher it will be.

Powders such as Matcha Powder, or Baking Soda are lighter exfoliators. Oatmeal is another example of a light exfoliator because it is soft and can break down easily when rubbed onto the skin.

Charcoal and Salts are moderate exfoliators.

Seeds and Beads are harsher on the skin.

Both of these can be over used causing irritation and possible damage.

Think of physical exfoliators as sandpaper. A larger grain or texture is going to scratch and scrape more that a smaller grain that will polish. Both can take away too much or not enough.

It is important to go easy on your skin. If you are planning on using an exfoliator everyday make sure it is gentle, a powder or something like citric acid. If you plan on only exfoliating once or twice a week it might be good to go a little rougher with a seed or Salicylic Acid (Acne Treatment).

It is always best to consult with your dermatologist before deciding on a skin care routine.


It is best to look for a physical exfoliator that is more environmentally friendly.

Plastic Beads are getting banned in several states because of their environmental impact. They take a long time to breakdown and are clogging and polluting water ways. Birds and other animals are mistaking them for seeds and are unable to process the beads once they have been ingested.

Using Apricot Seed, Blueberry Seed, or even a Jojoba Bead is the best choice when looking for a more aggressive exfoliator. Animals don't have as many problems if they are ingested and they break down much faster than plastic.

Don't over exfoliate. Use exfoliators that break down. Be Mindful

** I didn't discuss nuts in this blog because most of the time you won't find them in skincare products. They are incredibly damaging because they have jagged edges no matter how small they are ground. You can cause long term damage to your skin.**

Featured Posts
Recent Posts