All About Exfoliation Guide.

Welcome to Part IV of our exfoliation guide!

In this section we cover exfoliation tools, meaning the physical scrubbing and scraping devices that enable physical exfoliation. The tools themselves are relatively straightforward, but come in a vast and ever-increasing variety. Below are some of the major options available, and generalizations about their usage. But before we get started:

it cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to clean and/or replace tools regularly.

Physical exfoliation buffs dead skin cells off of your body, but all that gunk goes somewhere, and that place isn't necessarily down the drain. This means dead skin will build up on your tools, and the less even the tool's surface, the more nooks and crannies there are for dead skin to collect. The combination of dead skin and water provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, fungi and pathogens. All of this is then ground right back into the skin the next time the tool is used if it is not properly cleaned.

Exfoliation Tools:

Pumice/Stones

The most common exfoliating stone is pumice, and it is also one of the oldest. Today, exfoliating stones can range from natural rocks such as pumice, to synthetic abrasive materials in any manner of shape, color and roughness. Pumice itself, and similarly abrasive stones, should be used sparingly, and almost never anywhere but feet. While finer grain stones may be used elsewhere on the body, this is generally not recommended.

Loofah/Sponge

This is a broad category encompassing a range of natural and synthetic sponge-like materials that vary greatly in roughness/scratchiness. These can include tubular natural sponges, plastic bath poofs, or small rounds. How, when and whether to use them depends entirely on what specifically they are made from. However, extra care should be taken to replace regularly, as these are almost impossible to fully clean. It should also be noted that when it comes to synthetic composite materials, the line between stones and loofahs can get blurry.

Brushes

Brushes can be natural fiber or synthetic, and can range in stiffness from incredibly stiff foot brushes, to medium hard back and body brushes, to very, very fine bristled face brushes. When using brushes, pay attention to whether the bristles are softer when wet or dry, and whether they are intended to be used on wet or dry skin, or with soap/lotion as lubrication. The gentlest way to exfoliate is to use brushes on wet skin with a generous amount of cleanser. Small, very fine-bristled face brushes may be used to exfoliate the bikini area (a critical step if you wax!) but brushes should not be used on the lips.

Rotary Brushes/Cleansing Brushes

A relatively new variant of the brush is the rotary brush. Sometimes called an electric face brush, a facial cleansing brush, or a polishing brush, these are any form of electrified brush or silicon pad that is quickly spun by a motor like a human polisher. Mostly geared towards facial care, they can sometimes be found for body, or, combined with a stone, for the feet. In addition, there is a significant range in quality available on the market, and just because a brush is labelled “facial brush” does not guarantee that the brush will be gentle enough not to damage skin on the face. We therefore recommend that you research carefully before buying, and test before using.

Cloths

This category is a bit of a misnomer, because the range of fabric exfoliators have moved well beyond the traditional terry cloth washcloth, which, believe it or not, has an exfoliating effect when rubbed in a circular motion on the face! Other examples include microfiber, or other advanced material clothes, bath poufs (also known as loufahs), or exfoliating gloves that can be made from a wide variety of scratchy synthetic materials.

Scrapers/Exfoliating Spatulas

Scrapers are somewhat less common than the other tools listed here, largely because they tend to be less effective than other methods. That said, there is a growing number of scrapers coming to market at the moment, some with truly extraordinary claims (in the bad way, in case our sarcasm wasn’t obvious). This is most likely because the category is fairly underutilized, leading inventors to see greater opportunity to create the next big thing in beauty tools. We don’t generally put much stock in this type of tool for exfoliating purposes for the simple reason that scraping along your skin does less to loosen dead skin, and more to stretch it out, than using a circular motion. Let’s just say there’s a reason you polish and sand things in a circle not by dragging products across the wood!