Exfoliation is key to maintaining smooth skin. It removes oil and dead skin, which allows moisturizer to absorb more easily.
The exfoliant you choose depends on your recipe. Fine exfoliants work well for the face and large exfoliants work well for the body, especially dry areas like elbows and feet. It’s also based on personal preference – the best way to find out what you like is to experiment.
Start with 1 teaspoon of exfoliant per pound of product. For cold process soap, add medium and large exfoliants at thin trace and whisk to incorporate. Mix 1 teaspoon of fine exfoliants with 1 tablespoon of a lightweight oil or distilled water first to prevent clumps. For melt and pour, add medium and large exfoliants and stir until the soap is around 125-135F. It needs to be thick enough to suspend the particles. For fine exfoliants, mix 1 teaspoon with 1 tablespoon of 99% isopropyl alcohol.
Fine exfoliants – best for the face, need to be dispersed
Colloidal oatmeal is one of the most gentle exfoliants. It can be used in face masks, soap, and more. We added it to the Oatmeal Bath Bombs and Gentle Oatmeal Baby Soap because of its silky texture and soothing properties.
This natural powder comes from bamboo stems. It starts as a thick liquid, then crystallizes at room temperature. Add it to handmade soap and cosmetics for gentle exfoliation. You’ll love the way it feels in the Black, White, and Gold All Over Soap.
Pumice powder is a fantastic gentle exfoliant created from milled volcanic glass. Its fine texture works well in the Pumice and Poppy Seed Melt and Pour Bars.
Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
Baking soda is an amazing multi-purpose product. It’s used in bath bombs, bath salts, and natural cleaning products. It’s great for scrubs as well – try it in the Sea Clay Dry Salt Scrub, Walnut Facial Scrub, or Cranberry Seed Foot Scrub.
Medium exfoliants – suitable for both the face and body
Along with exfoliation, walnut shells add a natural brown color to handmade soap and cosmetics. We used them for the crust in the Pumpkin Pie Cold Process Soap and the dirt in the Carrot Cold Process Soap.
Salts and Sugar
There are a variety of salts and sugars that can be used for scrubs, bath bombs, and more. Depending on the size, they can offer gentle or more powerful exfoliation. Salt can also be used in cold process soap – it creates really creamy lather. Learn how to use it in the Lavender and Rose Pink Salt Bars tutorial.
This biodegradable exfoliant is made from jojoba oil. The beads come in various sizes and colors, so there’s an option for every recipe. Try them in the Rainbow Jojoba Bead Sugar Scrub or the Cleansing Charcoal Facial Scrub. Learn more about jojoba beads in this blog post.
This exfoliant comes from whole loofah sponges. They’re ground to a fine texture, making it easy to disperse throughout soap or scrubs. Try it in the Lard and Loofah Cold Process Soap or the Gardener Melt and Pour Soap.
Icelandic Black Sand
This product comes from a volcanic beach on the South Coast of Iceland. It has mild exfoliation and a beautiful natural color, as seen in the Coastal Rain Cold Process Soap.
Large exfoliants – best for the body
Don’t throw used coffee grounds away – they’re perfect for recipes like the Simple Coffee Soap. Used grounds are best for cold process to prevent bleeding, but we recommend dry grounds for scrubs. The DIY Coffee Body Scrub leaves your skin feeling fresh and clean.
Loofah sponge is a unique natural exfoliant. They come in long tubes that can be cut down and added to soap like the Garden Melt and Pour Bars. Their texture is great for rough areas like the feet or elbows.
This powerful exfoliant will leave your skin feeling clean. It has larger grains and a more intense exfoliation than pumice powder. Try it in the Pumice Body Scrub.
Strawberry, Cranberry, Blackberry, and Broccoli Seeds
These are great for adding intense exfoliation and a pop of color. See how to use them in the Cranberry Sugar Scrub, Wildflower Honey Sugar Scrub, and Blueberry Thyme Soap.
This product adds such a pretty pop of color to DIY bath and beauty products. We love it as a design element as much as we love the powerful exfoliation. Try it in the Raspberry Jam Scrub, Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Melt and Pour Soap, or Lemon Poppy Seed Cold Process Soap.
This post was updated in July 2018.