Discover These Natural Exfoliating Alternatives to Acids

Discover These Natural Exfoliating Alternatives to Acids

Using an exfoliator in your skincare routine is great a great way of removing dead skin cells to achieve soft, supple and glowing skin. There are many types of exfoliators available – you could choose a cleanser, mask, or even a cream exfoliator.

There are also different ways that exfoliators can work, with some using chemicals and others using physical exfoliation. Some chemical exfoliators use acids that can be too harsh on the face, causing irritation and inflammation. The alternative is to use a natural exfoliant, which can be gentler and more nourishing for your skin. 

Below, we look into some of the best natural alternatives to acids for your skin. 

Types of natural exfoliators for your face

Rice bran

Rice bran is derived from the outer lay of a grain of rice. It is commonly used in natural exfoliators as it is a gentle cleanser. Rice bran is ground to a very fine powder which helps to slough away dead skin cells on the face without causing damage or irritation. It is also rich in vitamin B and vitamin E which can help to soothe redness and irritation in the skin, leaving an even, radiant complexion. 


Clay is a popular natural exfoliant, often used in a clay face mask. Clay purifies skin by absorbing excess oils and clearing congested pores. At the same time, it gently exfoliates the skin, removing dead skin cells to leave skin soft and glowing. It helps to resurface the skin and draw out impurities, for a clear complexion. 

Fruit enzymes

Fruit enzymes act as effective natural exfoliators. They break down the protein that binds dead skin cells together, helping to remove it from your face. Unlike other types of acids, fruit enzymes won’t affect the natural pH levels in your skin, so they’re less likely to cause any redness or irritation. Fruit enzymes help to resurface the skin for a smooth, even complexion. 


Oats can make for a great natural cleanser for those with sensitive skin. When ground to a fine powder, oats remove dead skin cells to leave smooth, glowing skin. Oats are rich in antioxidants, so they can also help to protect the skin from environmental damage. They soothe skin and help to calm redness and irritation, for clear, even skin. Unlike some acids, oats won’t dry the skin out. 


Sugar is a gentle exfoliator, which can be used to remove dead skin cells and excess dirt and grime from the face. Sugar granules are rounded so won’t damage the skin, unlike some other natural exfoliants such as salt. Brown sugar is best for use on your face as it is less harsh than white sugar.

Skincare products with sugar in them will usually have ground the granules down so they’re super-fine. You should be careful of using homemade sugar scrubs for your face, as these can damage your skin with micro-tears. 

How to use a natural exfoliator in your skincare routine 

You can incorporate a natural exfoliator into your skincare routine with an exfoliating mask or cleanser. You should only exfoliate your skin a couple of times a week at most. Exfoliating too much can strip the skin of its natural oils, which causes it to dry out and can also irritate skin. 

Those with more sensitive skin or dryer skin may only need to exfoliate once a week or less. You should start infrequently and only add in more exfoliations if you find your skin needs it. 

When using a physical exfoliator like rice bran, oats, or sugar, you should always apply the product very carefully. Scrubbing your face too hard with a physical exfoliator can damage the skin, causing small tears on the surface. However, gently massaging the products across your face will only remove the dead skin cells, and not affect the healthy skin below. 

You may need to try a few different types of exfoliator to find what works for you, whether that be a physical or chemical exfoliant.