What is the best exfoliator for Black skin? When should you use it?
If you have a radiant complexion that’s smooth and even-toned, you probably won’t be reading this article. But if you’re like most of us that struggle with ashy skin, dark marks, congested pores, and fine lines, we bet you’re interested in this topic.
Exfoliating helps dark skin as long as it’s done correctly. Depending on the exfoliant you use, you shouldn’t need to do it more than three times a week.
Let’s talk more about the best way to exfoliate Black skin.
How to exfoliate Black skin naturally
You can exfoliate with sugar or salt scrubs as these are the best for Black skin. But it’s crucial to follow certain guidelines to prevent keloid scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
- Gentler is better. Start exfoliating with a mild method like a washcloth or a fine-textured scrub.
- Try a chemical exfoliator like salicylic acid for oily skin or lactic acid for dry skin. Stick to a low concentration at first.
- Please don’t combine mechanical and chemical exfoliation on the same day. Moreover, skip days between exfoliation sessions.
- Always rinse well and moisturize after exfoliating.
- Wear sunscreen, or all your hard work will be for nothing.
It may take longer to get results, but being gentle with your skin is worth it.
The different kinds of exfoliators
We’ve mentioned scrubs. Those are mechanical exfoliators, just like microdermabrasion and skin brushing. You can also use a loofah, a washcloth, a sponge, and so on. They physically remove the dead skin and excess oil.
Unfortunately, rough treatment can cause microscopic tears and lead to more discoloration, infection, and worse. Yet, many Black people stick to scrubs out of fear that chemical exfoliators will damage their skin.
Chemical exfoliators like alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are found in face washes, moisturizers, serums, and peels. They don’t have to cause hyperpigmentation or damage if they are correctly used. Here’s an explanation of what each one is best at doing (1).
Salicylic acid is excellent for congested, oily skin. It’s anti-inflammatory, which makes it perfect for treating acne. The acid dissolves built-up oil to cleanse pores, plus it removes dead skin. (But steer clear of salicylic acid if you’re allergic to aspirin).
Lactic acid is ideal for sensitive, dry skin. It draws in moisture while it dissolves dead skin, which helps it treat fine lines, mild hyperpigmentation, and even rosacea.
Glycolic acid is more potent than lactic acid and better at erasing acne scars and discoloration.
Citric acid is rich in antioxidants, so it brightens skin tone while it exfoliates.
As you can see, you have plenty of options. It might take a little experimentation, but you’re likely to find the perfect exfoliator for your skin.
One word of warning: if you choose to try chemical exfoliation, don’t mix products. Choose one type of exfoliant and check to make sure it won’t interfere with any other skincare products you use. For example, don’t use alpha or beta hydroxy acids at the same time you use retinol.
We cover facial scrubs, body scrubs, chemical exfoliators, and manual exfoliators in the reviews below.
Best Exfoliator for Black Skin in 2022
Facial exfoliators for Black skin
Wouldn’t it be nice to have baby soft skin? Try these face scrubs and more to enjoy a smooth complexion.
Buttah Skin by Dorian Renaud Facial Cleanser
Here’s one of the best exfoliators for sensitive skin. It was developed by a Black-owned company, and it’s backed by a satisfaction guarantee.
It’s a gentle cleanser with citric acid to brighten the complexion and remove dead skin and impurities. The formula is mild enough to use every day. Plus, it keeps pores clear so that you look radiant, not shiny.
It’s pH-balanced and sulfate-free. The creamy cleanser relies on coconut and palm oils to keep the skin supple. There’s also calming lavender to soothe inflammation.
Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask
You only need to use this mask once or twice a week to polish your skin. It will make your face glow with health.
The active ingredient is straight from nature. The natural pumpkin enzymes contain alpha hydroxy acids that remove ashy skin and rehydrate at the same time.
Then, there are aluminum oxide crystals for an effect similar to microdermabrasion. They provide additional buffing power.
You’ll need about ten minutes to use the mask. Apply a thin layer to clean, dry skin. Use wet finger tips to gently massage. Then wait up to seven minutes maximum before rinsing with lukewarm water.
Please remember to moisturize and wear sunscreen afterward.
Paula’s Choice–SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant
Do you have oily, acne-prone skin? Then give this serum a try. It can also help smooth fine lines and fade hyperpigmentation.
Paula Begoun had skin issues that she couldn’t resolve with any of the products available on the market. That’s why she started Paula’s Choice to create alternatives that were safer and healthier.
When you read the label on one of their products, you’ll see that each ingredient is explained. There are never artificial fragrances included – and that’s a bonus for sensitive skin.
Apply this liquid to a cotton pad and gradually smooth away trouble spots. It counteracts large pores, blackheads, oiliness, and signs of aging.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Scrub, 2% Salicylic Acid
Here’s one of the best exfoliating face scrubs for Black skin with acne. It has the maximum over-the-counter concentration of salicylic acid.
Furthermore, it’s formulated for daily use. It will continuously renew the skin and keep pores clear.
Neutrogena has developed MicroClear Technology that makes salicylic acid penetrate deeper and work more effectively.
On the downside, this product contains menthol, an artificial fragrance, and artificial colors. Those may irritate sensitive skin. But on the upside, it’s from a dermatologist-recommended brand.
THE FACE SHOP Jeju Volcanic Lava Deep Pore-Cleansing Foam
We’ve been watching Korean TV lately and feeling envious of their dewy-fresh complexions. That’s why we looked Eastward for solutions.
From South Korea comes a foaming cleanser that lathers away dead skin and oil. It uses volcanic soil to draw out impurities.
You can use it as a scrub, too. Put a small amount on dry skin and massage. When you add water, it makes a tremendous amount of lather, and it’s easy to rinse.
TOYO – CURE: Natural Aqua Gel
Japan’s popular skincare product uses “Activated Hydrogen Water” to cleanse dead skin and open pores. There are no abrasive ingredients and no harsh chemicals. That’s right, no preservatives, artificial colors, or perfumes.
Spread the cooling gel across your face, neck, or body. You only need to use it once or twice a week to get results. (They say a bottle will last up to four months).
It not only brightens the skin but also prevents acne breakouts. That’s due to the rosemary, and ginkgo, and aloe that promote healing.
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, Exfoliating Pads with AHA
Here’s one of the best exfoliators for dark spots. It’s straightforward to use as it comes in a jar with saturated pads. Grab one, wipe your face, and you’re done.
The serum will soak in, dissolving dead skin and impurities. At the same time, licorice and lemon peel even out skin tone.
There’s even a mild moisturizing effect, making the pads kind to sensitive skin.
First Aid Beauty doesn’t include alcohol, artificial colors, artificial fragrances, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and other nasty ingredients in their products. There aren’t any nuts, soy, or gluten, either. Everything is dermatologist-tested, vegan, and cruelty-free.
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow BHA + PHA Pore-Tight Facial Toner
We like this gel toner that smells like cucumber and fruit. It has willow bark, a natural form of salicylic acid to treat oily skin.
Happily, it’s more moisturizing than the average beta hydroxy acid formula. It hydrates with watermelon and cactus water. Both are packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants.
Pour a little into your palms and pat it into your face (except for around your eyes). It absorbs quickly.
Furthermore, it protects sensitive skin by avoiding alcohol, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic dyes.
Body exfoliators for Black skin
There’s something very satisfying about sheets of dead skin rolling off the body. Body scrubs can clear up keratosis pilaris, those ingrown hairs like chicken skin. They can also get rid of ashiness.
Shea Moisture Bamboo Charcoal Body Scrub
Charcoal is a natural exfoliant for Black skin. It absorbs oil and impurities to keep pores clear.
In this formula, it’s balanced with tea tree oil to lessen inflammation and purify. There’s also shea butter to moisturize and keep the skin supple.
Finally, there’s African Black Soap, a potent yet gentle cleanser.
The formula is free of parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, and sulfates. Moreover, the organic shea butter is purchased from Fair Trade sources.
M3 Naturals Superfood Body Scrub
Here’s an anti-aging scrub with added benefits.
The first ingredient is white sugar, which makes the perfect texture for scrubbing away dead skin. The next two are glycerin and purified water to keep you hydrated.
Further down the list, there are shea and mango butters, organic hemp seed, aloe, lavender, and chamomile. They keep the skin elastic and free of irritation.
Finally, white willow bark ensures that the pores are clear.
thisworks perfect legs 100% natural scrub
You know what’s interesting about pink Himalayan sea salt? It’s full of healthy minerals for the skin.
You’ll find it in this buttery-textured scrub. It’s nestled among sweet almond and black currant oil. We suspect you’re going to love it so much you use it for much more than just your legs.
It’s easy to recommend as it’s proven to work by an independent panel of actual users. It’s also made without phthalates, parabens, petroleum, artificial dyes and fragrances, propylene glycol, mineral oil, and GMOs.
Fresh – The Original – Brown Sugar Body Polish
Yes, it has real brown sugar. Worse, it smells good enough to eat.
Just look at these ingredients: sweet almond, apricot kernel, and evening primrose oil. There’s also peppermint and ginseng with citrus essential oils.
It buffs away dead skin, leaving your body silky soft, and moisturized. One reviewer was thrilled with how it cleared up ingrown hairs on her legs.
Herbivore – Natural Coco Rose Body Polish
It’s described as a “medium-grain polish” and suitable for all skin types. If you don’t mind the relaxing scent of Moroccan Rose, this scrub is like a spa in a bottle.
Based on virgin coconut oil, sugar, and roses, it quickly revives dull, ashy skin. Every ingredient is natural, including food-grade plant oils. Even the packaging is reusable and recyclable.
Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Coconut Sugar Body Scrub
Palmers makes both facial and body scrubs, and the packaging is similar. Be sure you’ve chosen the one you want.
The body scrub features coconut sugar and coconut oil for natural exfoliation. But don’t be surprised at the cooling sensation since it also has a little peppermint oil.
This is an all-time favorite for many users because it works well, and it’s inexpensive.
Dove Exfoliating Body Polish
Here’s another drugstore exfoliator to pamper you at bath time. It blends mango butter with crushed almond to keep dry skin at bay.
Unlike some nut scrubs, this one has a smooth texture. We’d say it’s delicate enough for all but the most sensitive skin.
Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliating Cream
There’s a little bit of shimmer left behind after you enjoy this scrub. It’s minty fresh, and soothing.
Regular use will keep your skin polished and baby soft.
The right exfoliator might be a reusable washcloth. Check out the one below if you have trouble reaching your back.
SALUX Nylon Japanese Beauty Bath Wash Cloth
Here’s a prize-winning nylon washcloth that softer than a loofah yet textured enough for exfoliating. It’s almost 3 feet long, ideal for scrubbing the back.
Use it with your body wash and discover a whole new level of lather. Or combine it with coconut oil to scrub away bumps from ingrown hair.
It’s machine washable.
Which exfoliator did you love the most? We’d love to hear what’s working for you. Feel free to leave us a comment below.
Exfoliation will help keep your skin in top condition. We hope you take pleasure in every moment you have to pamper yourself.
1. https://www.blackbeautyandhair.com/what-no-one-tells-you-about-chemical-peels-for-black-skin/ by aesthetician Dija Ayodele, accessed February 16, 2021