All About Exfoliants

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
Colloidal oatmeal is one of the most gentle exfoliants. It can be used in face masks, soap, and more. We love adding it to bath bombs and cold process soap because of its silky texture and soothing properties.

Oatmeal bath bombs

Oatmeal Bath Bombs

Bamboo Powder
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.

Pumice Powder
Pumice powder is a fantastic gentle exfoliant created from milled volcanic glass. Its fine texture works well in cold process and melt & pour soap.

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!

Medium exfoliants – suitable for both the face and body

Walnut Shells
Along with exfoliation, walnut shells add a natural brown color to handmade soap and cosmetics. We used them as the soil 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. Try them in the Salt Scrub Cubes, Pink Peony Body Scrub, and Agave Sugar Scrub.

Jojoba Beads
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 Cleansing Charcoal Facial Scrub.

Shredded Loofah
This exfoliant comes from whole loofah sponges. They’re ground to a fine texture, making it easy to disperse throughout soap or scrubs.

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 Project.

Pouring coastal rain cold process soap

Large exfoliants – best for the body

Coffee Grounds
Don’t throw away used coffee grounds – they’re perfect for handmade beauty products! Used grounds are best for cold process to prevent bleeding, but we recommend dry grounds for scrubs. The Coffee Body Scrub leaves your skin feeling fresh and clean.

Loofah Sponge
Loofah sponge is a unique natural exfoliant. They come in long tubes that can be cut down and added to cold process and melt and pour soap. Their texture is great for rough areas like the feet or elbows. Try it in the Garden Loofah Soap.

Pumice Sand
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 and Sea Salt Scrub.

Strawberry SeedsCranberry SeedsBlackberry Seeds, and Broccoli Seeds
These are great for adding intense exfoliation and a pop of color. See how to use them in the Wildflower Honey Sugar Scrub and Blueberry Thyme Soap.

Poppy Seeds
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 KitMini Lemon Poppy Seed Soap, or Lemon Poppy Seed Cold Process Soap.