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22 Best Organic + Natural Face Scrubs & Exfoliators

26 Best Organic + Natural Face Scrubs & Exfoliators

PUBLISHED: 07/02/2019 | LAST UPDATED: 01/17/2020

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WRITTEN BY: TAMRYN BURGESS
Licensed Aesthetician

This article may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy for more details. To learn more about how we selected the products featured on this list, check out our product review & research standards.

Exfoliation is the secret beauty weapon for ageless, plump, glowing skin all year round. Peer into any beauty experts routine and you’re sure to find some form of routine exfoliation. Do you often experience skin that is dull, lackluster, and dry? Are your pores constantly clogged? Do you have blackheads? Acne? Wrinkles? If so, then adding a natural face scrub or exfoliant into your weekly regimen is truly a must. However, if done improperly, exfoliation can quite literally damage your skin. If the thought of exfoliating your skin conjures up thoughts of fear, pain, irritation, and raw skin– then chances are you’ve experienced the side effects of over-exfoliation. Whether you’re a newbie to facial exfoliation or have been (literally) burned before by the process in the past, we’ve created this simple guide to show you how to use gentle, natural face exfoliators and facial scrubs to transform your skin–pain free!

What is Exfoliation and What are the Benefits?

Our skin is constantly regenerating, leaving dead skin cells on the surface. This creates dryness, texture, and clogged pores. Exfoliation is the process of agitating the surface of the skin to remove the topmost layer of dead skin cells and stimulate cell turnover (new skin cell growth).

There are two types of exfoliation: chemical exfoliation and mechanical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation utilizes a variety of acids at varying strengths to dissolve dead skin cells, dirt, and oil. Manual exfoliation uses physical abrasives to remove dead skin cells physically. Both methods are valid and can produce amazing results when used effectively.

Routine exfoliation is beneficial because the buildup of dead skin can lead to irritated, dull, and blotchy skin. A lack of exfoliation can also be the cause of acne, blackheads, and clogged pores. To top it all off, regular exfoliation strengthens your skin’s barrier function, improves hyperpigmentation, and provides you with preventative anti-aging benefits (1).

Types of Natural Facial Exfoliators

The best way to exfoliate at home is by using a gentle, natural face scrub that is free from synthetics, harsh abrasives, micro-beads, and damaging acids.  The truth is that you don’t need to use heavy scrubs or overly concentrated acids to properly exfoliate and achieve glowing skin. A weekly all natural and organic mask, gentle fruit acid peel, or powder-based facial scrub is all that is needed. Natural peels use acids to exfoliate the skin by breaking down the dead skin on the surface. Common natural peel ingredients include fruit enzymes and AHA/BHA acids. Natural masks provide exfoliation by breaking down dead skin cells and drawing impurities from deep within the pores. Finally, gentle natural facial scrubs manually remove dead skin cells with powders (like almond, coffee grounds, oats, and clays), fine salts, and other abrasives like shredded coconut and sugar.  There are also other exfoliating options such as handheld cleansing brushes and exfoliating sponges.

How to Exfoliate to Avoid Damaging the Skin?

Over-exfoliation is what happens to the skin after exfoliating with ingredients that are too strong or exfoliating too frequently. The result is red, rough, and dry skin. In the worst cases, over-exfoliating can result in scars, bleeding, hyperpigmentation, and deep burns (in the case of potent acid peels) (2).

To avoid this, it’s best to start with a gentle exfoliation method once per week. This could be a natural peel, mask, or face scrub that we’ve researched and recommended below or another gentle product that is free from undesirable ingredients. See how your skin reacts to the product and process, then slowly increase usage to 1-3 times a week depending on your skin type and tolerance. Sensitive skin types should stick to once per week or less, while oily and dry skin types can work up to three times per week. There is no need to rush, take your time and find the right balance for your skin.

How to Find a Great Natural Face Exfoliator?

When it comes to exfoliation products, it is a classic case of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good are made with natural and organic ingredients that are beneficial for the skin such as oatmeal (gently abrasive and soothing), apple cider vinegar (contains good bacteria which is great for acne), and fruit enzymes and acids are all great natural exfoliators.  The bad and ugly are made with plastic micro-beads (irritating and harmful to the environment), synthetic fragrances, harsh abrasives and scrubs, concentrated synthetic acids, and alcohol (dries the skin).

If you want a quality natural facial exfoliator then you have two options: make your own facial scrub at home or purchase an all-natural product from a reputable organic brand. Making your own DIY exfoliator scrub is simple. Check out our DIY Exfoliator Guide at the bottom of this article for a few of our favorite recipes and a list of our 10 Best Natural Face Exfoliators that you can find in your kitchen right now.

For a list of vetted natural exfoliants, then check out our top list of battle tested products from the best organic brands. You won’t find any sulfates, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, mineral oils, sodium lauryl sulfate (a harsh detergent), synthetic fragrances + dyes, PEG compounds, or anything else from our list of banned ingredients. Happy scrubbing!

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The Ox Box: Organic Beauty Box (No Subscription!)

SPECIAL EDITION! 77% OFF one of the world's most premier certified natural skin care brands with this Limited Edition Amala Beauty Ox Box. Experience six Amala bestselling, clinically proven skin care products, like their Advanced Firming Complex Moisturizer and Skin Plumping Hyaluronic Serum, in this exclusive Skin Care Ox bundle!

*Josh Rosebrook – Active Enzyme Organic Exfoliator ($65)

Josh Rosebrook products are crafted from organic and all natural plants to rejuvenate skin to its natural glow. This active enzyme organic facial exfoliator with made with honey, ashwagandha, papaya enzyme, crushed walnut shells, rosemary, goji berries, neem, evening primrose oil, and many more. To use as a physical exfoliant, simply massage in circles on the skin. For a detoxifying enzyme exfoliation, let the product sit for up to 1 hour before rinsing. Great for acne-prone skin types.

*French Girl Organics – Organic Rose Facial Polish

A really lovely 100% organic and all natural facial exfoliator scrub that also doubles as a mask. This exfoliating mask has a beautiful floral scent and a light, sandy texture. This scrub is packed with organic ingredients like brown rice powder, rose petals, myrrh, rose hips, hibiscus, as well as pink and white clays. To use as a scrub, just apply to damp skin in a circular motion (mist with a toner if too dry) and let sit for 2 minutes before rinsing. A little goes a long way.

*Pai – Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Natural Exfoliator

Pai is a skincare brand focused on potent products for sensitive skin types. This 95% organic brightening exfoliator uses all natural jojoba wax beads which gently lift away dead skin cells and dirt without irritating the skin. These are natural beads (not micro-beads) which are perfectly harmless for the environment and your health. Other natural ingredients include sunflower, almond, apricot, avocado, safflower, and frankincense oils.

*May Lindstrom – The Clean Dirt Organic Exfoliant ($70)

A unique all natural and organic exfoliant that both brightens and dissolves dead skin cells. This humble looking powder comes to life when water is added and transforms into a silky mousse. Contained in the mousse is freshly activated vitamin c, various detoxifying clays, and active spices like nutmeg, turmeric, and cinnamon. To use, just apply the mousse to your skin, gently massage, and rinse off. A true luxury and perfect for all skin types including congested, oily, and dull complexions.

*Amala Beauty – Retexturizing Micro Polish Facial Scrub ($68)

This gentle organic micro polish is perfect for sensitive skin types. This facial scrub has a gel-like consistency and features tiny micro-silica beads, botanical AHA/BHA acids, and sugar enzymes to gently exfoliate the skin. It features Amala's signature Essential Mineral Complex for sensitive skin types as well as their pre + probiotic fermented Japanese seaweed blend. To use, simply apply a generous amount and massage around your face (you can also let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing). Works like a charm!

*Annmarie – Ayurvedic Organic Facial Scrub ($34)

This Ayurvedic herbal facial scrub is part organic exfoliator and part ancient aromatherapeutic. Made with 100% organic powders like fenugreek, lavender, rosemary leaf, lemon balm, neem, and aloe vera, it is the perfect scrub for oily, acne prone skin types. Simply add water to form a paste, massage onto damp skin, and rinse. Like many Ayurvedic formulas, this product has a strong herbal scent that takes some getting used to.

*SW Basics – Organic Facial Exfoliant ($20)

This USDA Certified Organic facial exfoliator is made with just three simple ingredients: organic oat flour, organic almond flour, and sea salt. This simple formula is perfect for sensitive skin types who cannot use chemical exfoliants or harsh physical scrubs. Because it is so simple, you can even make your own DIY scrub based on your skin type. Dry skin types can add olive oil, acne prone types can add honey and yogurt, while sensitive types can add water or chamomile tea

*OSEA Malibu – Vitamin C Probiotic Organic Facial Polish ($108)

An ultra-potent formula designed to visibly brighten skin, correct uneven skin tone, and clear clogged pores. The star ingredient of this formula is pure vitamin c (it is the first ingredient on the list!), but this scrub also includes other powerhouses like probiotics (reduces redness), bamboo extract (physical exfoliant), and rice powder (exfoliant). Can be used multiple times per week for radiant skin. Sensitive skin types may use this polish by mixing it with a gentle cream cleanser first.

*French Girl Organics – Neroli Organic Facial Polish

A really lovely 100% organic and all natural facial exfoliator scrub that also doubles as a mask. This exfoliating mask is the neroli version of French Girls Rose Facial Polish (also on this list). This scrub is packed with organic ingredients like brown rice powder, chamomile, yarrow, lemongrass, calendula, and frankincense. To use as a scrub, just apply to damp skin in a circular motion (mist with a toner if too dry) and let sit for 5 minutes before rinsing. Can be used on face or body.

*Annmarie – Natural Kaolin Micro Exfoliant ($62)

This premixed natural face exfoliator is made with green kaolin clay and diatomaceous earth. These gentle physical exfoliators work to remove dead skin, smooth skin texture, and remove impurities trapped within the pores. Other key ingredients include organic aloe juice, coconut oil, aspen bark, green tea, and lavender essential oil. Since it's premixed, all you have to use is apply the cream to your skin and gently massage before rinsing. Not recommended for sensitive skin types.

10 Best Natural Exfoliators and DIY Face Exfoliator Recipes

Making a homemade exfoliant from natural ingredients is as easy as a five minute trip to your kitchen. The goal of exfoliation is to remove dead skin as well as trapped dirt and oil within the pores. Fortunately, you don’t need fancy ingredients in order to effectively exfoliate your skin. Yummy natural ingredients like oatmeal, pineapple, milk, rice, and sugar are all effective options. As with all things skin care, the quality of the results depends on the quality of the ingredients and formulation. Remember, you’ll be using this DIY scrub on your face, around your mouth, and eyes. Be sure to use the best ingredients that you can find. We’ve suggested some organic versions of each natural exfoliant below. Look for certified organic, non-gmo, and 100% pure versions of each ingredient when possible.

Organic Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a gentle manual exfoliant which works by removing dead skin without irritating or cutting the skin. It’s anti-inflammatory and softening properties are great for soothing sensitive skin. Amp up the moisturizing properties of an oatmeal exfoliator scrub by combining with oils, yogurt or milk and rub into the skin in circular motions. To use, take organic rolled oats and grind into a fine powder using a food processor or coffee grinder. Take a tablespoon of the powder and add a few drops of water to turn into a paste. Massage the paste into your skin in the areas that need a good scrub (typically the nose, chin, forehead, and cheeks). Rinse and follow up with your favorite organic cleanser.

Organic Cane Sugar or Brown Sugar
The texture of sugar particles is effective for physically removing dead skin and gently agitating the surface of the skin to reveal smooth skin below. To use, find a quality organic cane sugar or brown sugar and mix with one or more organic oils to create a wet, sandy texture and rub into the skin in circular motions. If the sugar feels too rough on your skin, run it through a food processor or coffee grinder to create a finer scrub.

Sea Salt
Sea salt has coarse granules great for physically exfoliating the skin, and is best for people without sensitive skin as the granules are more abrasive (than other exfoliants such as sugar). Sea salt can help to cleanse the skin and fight bacteria. A good authentic and finely ground Himalayan Pink Salt is a great option.  Sea salt can be used on its own (just mix with a little organic oils before applying), or combined with any of the ingredients on this list to make your own DIY salt scrub.

Non-GMO Baking Soda
Baking soda granules are tiny yet effective at physically nudging dry skin away from the face, although not recommended for sensitive skin as it may trigger irritation. To use, find a non-gmo baking soda and mix 1 tsp with 1 tablespoon of another powder (like almond powder, oat meal powder, or coffee) and add enough water to create a paste. Massage the mixture skin in circular motions before rinsing thoroughly.

Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Organic raw apple cider vinegar is the fermented product of apple juice and good bacteria. The gentle acids in ACV help to break down dead skin cells and is great for acne-prone skin as it has antibacterial properties. Apple cider vinegar is potent and must be diluted with water before applying to the skin. Dilute 1 part organic apple cider vinegar with 4 parts water and mix. Soak a cotton round into the mixture and sweep over the face. You can also combine this diluted apple cider vinegar toner mixture with coffee, oatmeal powder, or almond powder to add a little more exfoliation power to the scrub.

Organic Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds have an abrasive texture for manually removing dead skin cells without damaging the skin. As an added bonus, the antioxidants and caffeine contained within coffee help to stimulate circulation while fighting fine lines and wrinkles. To use, combine organic coffee grounds with an organic oil (coconut oil is a great pairing) and massage all over the face and body.

Ground Rice
Ground raw rice has a gentle, yet abrasive texture. The amino acids in rice help to break down and softly remove dead skin cells. Ground rice is known to be an anti-inflammatory and helps to balance oily skin. Combine with oil, lemon juice and/or honey and rub in circular motions over the face.

Almond Meal
Almond meal is a very gentle way to get physical exfoliation without being overly abrasive or irritating. Almond powder contains oils which nourish dry and sensitive skin. Combine a non-gmo almond meal with a little fine ground Himalayan Pink Salt and organic oat meal powder. Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture and add enough water to form a paste. Massage the paste into the skin and rinse.

Fruit Acids
Certain fruits (such as pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and citrus fruits) contain natural enzymes and acids which break down dead skin cells. You can take advantage of these natural enzymes in your own DIY exfoliating fruit mask. Blend one or more of the fruits mentioned above until they form a smooth paste. Then, mix 1 tablespoon of the fruit mixture with 1 tablespoon almond meal and 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Massage the mixture of the skin and let sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. Think this is too good to be true? Turns out, topical application of enzymes in these fruits show significant improvement in skin smoothness and texture, reducing the depth and number of lines in wrinkles (3).

Milk (lactic acid)
Milk contains lactic acid which gently breaks down dead, dull skin cells. Milk also has a softening effect on the skin and is gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin. In a study, lactic acid proved to be one of the most effective acids in improving skin hydration and wrinkle improvement (4). To use at home, combine 1 tablespoon of milk with 1 tablespoon oatmeal powder and a drop of your favorite essential oil. Massage the mixture over the face and let it sit for a minute or two before rinsing. 

DIY Natural Face Exfoliator Recipes

There are endless ways to mix and match the above ingredients to make your own DIY natural exfoliant at home. Homemade facial scrubs and exfoliating masks can sometimes work as well or better than store-bought scrubs. We’ve listed two simple natural facial scrub recipes below, but don’t let us limit your imagination! Here are some tips to creating your own scrub:

  • Mix in a few drops (1 drop per tablespoon of oil or scrub) of your favorite essential oil to create your own signature scent.
  • Be sure to mix physical exfoliant powders and scrubs (like salts and almond powder) with a carrier oil.  These oils help to gently distribute the scrub, trap dirt and oil, and help to dissolve dead skin cells. Good carrier oils to explore are jojoba oil (for all skin types), olive oil (hydrates and soothes dry skin), grapeseed oil (non-comedogenic for oily skin), and sweet almond oil (all skin types).
  • It’s best to make your scrub as soon as you plan on using it. Bacteria love to hang out in moist environments and these scrubs are technically food-grade. Instead, prep and mix the dry materials in bulk separately from the oils and liquids. When ready to use, mix only the amount of dry and wet ingredients needed for one-time use.

DIY ORGANIC SUGAR & OLIVE OIL FACIAL SCRUB

Method: Combine all ingredients in a small container, cup or bowl. Stand over your bathroom sink and rub the mixture onto your (clean) face and neck with circular movements. Leave for a few minutes to allow the oils to soak into the skin. Rinse off and follow up with your favorite cleanser.

SOOTHING ORGANIC OATMEAL FACIAL SCRUB

MethodCombine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Prepare your skin for exfoliation by cleansing with a natural cleanser. Massage the oatmeal and yogurt mixture onto your face and neck with circular movements. It’s a good idea to stand over your sink as this scrub can get messy! Let the scrub sit on your face as a mask for a few minutes to allow the oils and oat extracts to soak into the skin. Rinse off and follow up with an organic toner.

SOURCES & REFERENCES

1. (2009) Clinical and cosmeceutical uses of hydroxyacids; Clinics In Dermatology https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0738081X09001564?via%3Dihub

2. (2013) Measuring Changes In Skin Barrier Function With Skin Impedance: Household and Personal Care Today https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/20b3/67d4d457b9fef3d963b351c68e0973aa0e35.pdf

3. (2007) Topical proteolytic enzymes affect epidermal and dermal properties; International Journal Of Cosmetic Science https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18489307

4. (1996) Comparative effectiveness of alpha-hydroxy acids on skin properties; International Journal Of Cosmetic Science https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19245467

PRODUCT BADGES LEGEND
100% NATURAL

100% NATURAL

The product contains only natural ingredients (non-synthetic or lab created). It does not contain anything artificial or synthetic.

100% ORGANIC

100% ORGANIC

The product has been formulated with 100% organically sourced and/or certified organic ingredients.

GMO FREE

GMO FREE

This product does not contain ingredients which have been genetically modified.

GLUTEN FREE

GLUTEN FREE

All of the ingredients contained in the product are free from gluten, wheat, and ingredients which are commonly contaminated with gluten.

VEGAN

VEGAN

The product is made without animal products or byproducts such as beeswax, honey, milk, eggs, etc.

CERTIFIED ORGANIC

CERTIFIED ORGANIC

The product has received an official organic certification from a third party organization such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA Certified Organic), ECOCERT, Australian Certified Organic, and others.

3 Comments

  1. skincareox April 10, 2019
  2. Taylor July 7, 2019
    • skincareox July 11, 2019

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