How to Exfoliate Your Skin Naturally

by Elizabeth Denton

You’ve probably been exfoliating since you were a teenager — but skincare has come a long way from the grainy, rough products you used to attempt to slough off all those dead skin cells. Though some physical exfoliating isn’t always bad for the skin, it’s actually chemical exfoliants — hydroxy acids — that smooth texture without irritating your skin. It's a far gentler way to unclog pores while also having anti-aging benefits.

But chemical exfoliants doesn’t have to mean incorporating synthetic or highly processed ingredients into your otherwise natural skin care routine. With this in mind, we’ve broken down how to use natural exfoliants to reveal glowing skin. Let’s get into it!

Why Exfoliating Your Face is So Important 

Proper exfoliation allows serums and moisturizers to sink into your skin. With dead skin cells hanging out on the surface, skincare can’t penetrate beyond them and you won’t receive the product’s full effects. By removing dead skin cells safely you’re creating space for your skincare to do its job. And it saves you time and money in the long run. 

Exfoliants also work to increase cell turnover, reducing acne, fine lines and wrinkles. Whether in skincare with other ingredients or on its own, exfoliating also evens out your skin texture and makes makeup go on smoother. Add in some brightening benefits, and chemical exfoliants become key skincare must-haves. Many Altilis Beauty products contain these natural exfoliants.

Types of Exfoliants 

The Deal with Physical Exfoliants 

Physical exfoliants are products made up of rough materials such as nuts or grains. Many used to contain microbeads, but those have been banned in the U.S. for their devastating effects on marine life. If you love what physical exfoliators do for your skin, there are a few characteristics to look for — and to look out for. 

The most important is the size of the particles. Large pieces, such as nut shells and fruit pits, can cause micro-tears in the skin. This is a bad idea and can lead to long-term damage. Some people like sugar scrubs with tinier particles for a lightweight exfoliation without as much damage. Note: those with sensitive skin may find even sugar too harsh, and will want to stick to chemical exfoliators. 

Chemical Exfoliants for Sensitive Skin 

Chemical exfoliants — those acids that vanquish dead skin cells — are particularly helpful for those with dry or sun-damaged skin. But just the word, “acids,” can sound harsh. It’s really the opposite. Acids can be broken up into two categories: AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids). Each is an umbrella for a few different types of acid found in skincare. 

AHAs include lactic acid and glycolic acid, both great for sensitive and aging skin. They dissolve dead skin cells from the skin’s surface but don’t go too deep as to cause even more skin issues. On the flip side, one of the most popular BHAs is salicylic acid. This is a key ingredient for acne as it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. BHAs are often a bit harsher on the skin. There are three important natural exfoliators to know about in Altilis Beauty. 

Natural Exfoliants

Just like the word “acid” the “chemical exfoliants” can raise red flags from those new to the natural skincare world. But rest assured, chemical exfoliants aren't synonymous with synthetic or harsh ingredients. Instead, the best chemical exfoliants leverage nature. There are three important natural exfoliators to know about in Altilis Beauty. 

Lactic Acid

One of those AHAs, lactic acid is probably the gentlest natural exfoliator. It’s usually tolerated well by all skin types, but those with dry or sun-damaged skin will see seriously great skin-smoothing effects. Lactic acid removes dead skin cells, while also lightening dark spots. It can also help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, especially when added to other anti-aging ingredients. 


It might not be your typical exfoliator but this unique ingredient provides powerful skin benefits. Honeybush extract is excellent for problematic skin, since it improves skin texture and smoothness. The active ingredient in honeybush, mangiferin, has anti-photoaging activity against UVB-induced damage. Did you sit in the sun too often as a teenager? This is an important antioxidant for you. 

Gotu Kola

An astringent, regenerative and skin healing ingredient, Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) has been used to treat both skin and medical conditions for thousands of years. It has the ability to smooth skin texture, fight the signs of aging and protect skin from environmental stressors. It also improves blood circulation to heal minor wounds, including pimples and scars. Gotu kola is added to other natural exfoliators and anti-aging ingredients for the maximum skincare benefits. 

Our carefully crafted products feature precise combinations of each of these natural exfoliants to help you reveal clear, smooth skin. These exfoliants also clear the way for our hero ingredient — breadfruit flower extract — to work it’s glow-boosting magic

Elizabeth Denton is an LA-based beauty and fashion writer.