Natural Ways to Cleanse and Exfoliate Problem Skin

If you have problem skin (oily, sensitive, acne prone, or dry skin), you know how frustrating it can be trying to find the right product. Perhaps you’ve already wasted hundreds of dollars on creams, cleansers, and spa treatments that only make your skin worse. Really, what can you do to help your skin? Well, you can always try the natural route. Nature has provided us with some amazing things (such as fruits, oils and minerals) that can be used as cleansers or exfoliators (or in some cases, both!).

A cleanser is a product which removes dirt, makeup, oil, and dead skin cells from the skin, unclogging the pores. An exfoliator, on the other hand, removes dead skin cells from the outermost surface of the skin, revealing a layer of younger skin.

These 12 natural products are gentle, safe, and inexpensive. Before trying them on your skin, we recommend speaking to a skin expert (such as your dermatologist), or at least testing them on a small area before putting it on an entire portion of your body.

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Natural Cleansers

1) Honey

Honey is known as liquid gold and for good reason. You’ve probably heard of some of its benefits. It heals sore throat and wounds, and helps prevent heart disease. But, did you know honey can cleanse your skin, too? That’s right — honey is a great cleanser for those with sensitive skin, acne, and blemishes.

That’s because honey is a natural antibacterial, so it helps to fight and prevent acne. It is also loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and amino acids, all of which can slow down aging. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to heal scars, improving the skin’s complexion. On top of all this, honey is moisturizing and soothing, so it will leave your skin feeling soft. It is important that you use raw honey, instead of processed honey, to reap the benefits of its active ingredients.

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2) Milk

You may be aware of milk baths — a popular spa treatment, especially for pregnant women — but, do you know why milk baths are so popular? Well, the history of milk baths dates all the way back to Cleopatra’s time. The Egyptian pharaoh was known for her captivating beauty and she attributed it, in part, to her use of milk baths.

Milk is a wonderful option for those with dry, sensitive, or irritated skin. It acts as a moisturizer, thanks to its water, fat, and protein content. It also cleans the skin, removing oil-soluble and protein-based impurities, with the help of the enzymes lipase and protease. The lactic acid in milk also promotes the shedding of dead skin cells, leaving you with lighter and softer skin.

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3) Grapeseed oil  

The oil-cleansing method can do wonders for oily, acne-prone skin. It may sound odd to put oil on oily skin, but it makes sense if you think about it. When your skin is dry, it tries to fix the issue by producing more oil (sebum) and in some cases, it overcompensates, leading to breakouts. To get rid of the excess “bad” oil and other dirt on your skin, use “good” oils. Grapeseed oil is recommended because it is light, odorless, and has antioxidants, which have anti-aging properties.  Using grapeseed oil will restore the oil balance of your skin and leave it feeling soft.

There are many other oils you can use, too, such as avocado, sunflower, and olive oil. Just remember to get the organic, cold-pressed version of whichever oil you choose as they contain fewer chemicals and impurities.

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4) Apple cider vinegar

If you have oily skin, apple cider vinegar may be the answer you’ve been looking for. It has astringent properties, which minimize pores.  Apple cider vinegar also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, its pH is 5.5, which is close to that of our skin, so it assists in balancing the skin’s pH. These properties all help to prevent acne, by clearing the pores of bacteria, oil, and other particles.

Apple cider vinegar is also rich in alpha hydroxy acids, which increase blood flow to the skin, giving you that glow we all desire. When using apple cider vinegar on your face, it is important to use the organic version and dilute it with water.

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5) Lemon

As you likely already know, lemon contains a lot of vitamin C. This, coupled with its antibacterial properties, make it a great skin cleanser.  Lemon helps to eliminate those pesky blackheads, clear up acne, and lighten skin thanks to its citric acid, which eliminates dead skin. Of course, if you’re planning to use lemon on your face, you should dilute it first. You can either use lemon juice mixed with water or with honey and yogurt.

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6) Clay

Clay is one of the most popular ingredients in facial masks. If you’ve been to a spa, you’ve probably tried a clay mask. There’s a good reason that it’s so popular — it really works! Clay is a detoxifier, which means that it pulls out bacteria and other impurities from the skin, without over drying it. There are many different types of clay masks that you can try, including bentonite (which is good for oily skin) and Fuller’s Earth clay (which helps to even out skin tone).

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Natural Exfoliators

1) Oatmeal

You’re probably thinking that oatmeal is only good for eating, but it works as an effective exfoliator, too! Because of its grainy texture, oatmeal helps to remove dead skin and unclog pores, leaving you with smooth skin. To make an oatmeal scrub for your face, mix one tablespoon of oatmeal with warm milk or water. Wait until the mixture becomes soft, then gently apply to your face and wash it off. You can also mix honey, yogurt, or oil to make an oatmeal exfoliant.

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2) Coffee

Most people include coffee in their daily routine, but it isn’t just useful for keeping you awake; it can also be used as an exfoliant! Of course, you shouldn’t go rubbing dry coffee grounds on your face, though. First, you need to moisten it (either by making a cup of coffee and using the grounds left in the filter, or adding oil or egg white to it). The caffeine in coffee also helps to reduce redness and inflammation, leaving your skin tone looking even. This property also makes it useful for reducing dark circles.

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3) Baking soda

Baking soda is a kitchen staple, but it has plenty of other uses, as well. It can be used as part of your beauty routine, to whiten teeth and exfoliate skin. To use baking soda as an exfoliator, mix it with water until it makes a paste. Then, apply the paste on your face. Baking soda helps to balance the pH of the skin and has antibacterial properties. So, using it will leave you with clearer skin. Just be sure not to overuse it, as it can cause irritation. It’s always best to test it out on a small area of your body (such as your arm) first.

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4) Sugar

Sugar is not something you’d expect to see in the skincare aisle. Consuming sugar is bad for your skin, but applying it to your skin has benefits. Fine sugar is a great exfoliant. Unlike salt, it won’t sting and it’s gentler. Sugar is also more hydrating for the skin than salt, keeping moisture in.

Sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid, which encourages cell turnover, revealing younger skin. It is recommended that you use brown sugar to exfoliate the skin, as it is softer than granulated sugar. You can mix it with the oil of your choice, too.

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5) Papaya

If you have sensitive skin, papaya is an especially good choice for an exfoliator because it isn’t abrasive. The fruit contains vitamins, alpha hydroxy acid, and an enzyme called papain, the latter of which restores the look of your skin by removing dead skin cells and lightening skin. Papain also reduces wrinkles and heals wounds. In addition, papaya has a high water and healthy fat content, so it moisturizes dry skin.

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6) Sea salt

What’s the difference between sea salt and regular table salt? Well, table salt (which comes from salt deposits in the earth) is heavily processed, while sea salt is not. The ancient Greeks used sea salt as a stress reducer by taking warm seawater baths. Thanks to its texture, sea salt makes a good exfoliator.

Though, it is important that you pay attention to the grade of sea salt you use on your skin—it should be smooth. Like clay, sea salt also absorbs toxins from the skin, leaving you with cleaner pores. To exfoliate your skin with sea salt, mix it with water and make a paste. Then, wash it off after a minute or two.

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