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Powder Trip: How Facial Scrubs Got Rebranded in 2021

Facial scrubs are back in style except no one is calling them scrubs. You’ll hear the term exfoliator, micro-exfoliant, or refiner used to describe this new generation of powdered exfoliants—the re-invented facial scrub. Interestingly enough, this isn’t their first time in the spotlight. These types of facial scrubs have been around since forever and also had a moment back in 2016/2017 when K-beauty was exploding in the US.

What are Facial Scrubs?

Facial scrubs are physical exfoliants. These are typically very grainy in texture and slough off dead skin as the product is massaged across the skin.

Powdered exfoliants are identified by their texture (a powder form) and generally contain rice bran, enzymes, and even baking soda. These new age facial scrubs are activated with water by the user. 

What is interesting, however, is how people are somehow differentiating these facial scrubs from the traditional scrubs we’re used to (like St. Ives) and determining that powdered exfoliants are better. The truth is that they are actually the same. And in some ways, these new 2021 powdered exfoliants with added acids might be worse for your skin in the long run. Yes, St. Ives contains larger scrub particles which probably are wreaking havoc on your skin but at least there’s no glycolic acid in it.

There are very few skin conditions for which I’d recommend the use of a daily facial scrub. For most people, these types of powdered exfoliants aren’t necessary more than once per week. Sadly, most of the brands out there are making this type of exfoliant are making a large size which encourages at least once daily use. If you’ve been using any of the products described above or mentioned below more often than that, you’ll need to scale back a bit.

Should You Use a Facial Scrub?

If used once a week, it should be fine. But keep in mind that these are just scrubs by a different name. The same energy you have for St. Ives Apricot Scrub should be the same energy for these powdered exfoliants. 

In general, I tend not to recommend any type of facial scrub to the overwhelming majority of my clients though and it is a type of product I wouldn’t want to see too many people utilizing. It may work great for the body, however!


New Age Facial Scrubs You Probably Heard Of…

Humanrace Exfoliator: if using this once a week in a routine with very little other exfoliants (physical or otherwise) then this is an aaight added boost. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this for anyone with inflamed breakouts or anyone under the age of 35-40. This is better suited for those beginning to show signs of aging though it can also be helpful for those struggling with texture concerns. But overall, you can pass.

Klur Skin Soil: is my favorite facial scrub in the game right now for a few reasons. First, it is multi-functional meaning it can be used alone or with other products you may have in your routine. If using alone, it isn’t too overpowering and doesn’t end up leading to over-exfoliation. If used in conjunction with your existing cleanser or even a masque it supercharges your routine. Secondly, and what I love most, is that it is sized appropriately. There is little room for the consumer to get confused about using this product daily! It is so small that you have to be mindful when using it and, therefore, should limit use to 1-2 times per week if your skin permits, or even once bi-weekly. This stuff is small but mighty! It’s designed to last 8-10 months! Again, if your skin is inflamed, I wouldn’t recommend this product for use but this is gentle enough to be used with almost every other skin condition.

Tatcha Rice Polish Classic: This is a long time fan favorite in the skin care community and is a top-seller for Tatcha. To me, it’s another great product that is severely overused. Those with non-inflamed acne (think those “under the skin” bumps you may get) may benefit best from this product by utilizing 2-3 times per week at night. If you’re using this, you probably want to follow up with a good hydrator and an overnight cream that contains mild exfoliants. The brand says to only wash for 15 seconds which, considering the price, seems like an elaborate waste of money and product. What do you think about this? Tweet me your thoughts @fairyglowmother.

Josie Maran Exfoliating Enzyme Powder: This is a favorite to add in the treatment room. It’s effective while remaining gentle enough on the skin. But should it be used daily as the brand suggests? Not in my opinion. I do find that adding this powder to an oil or milky cleanser like Magic Milk really brings your routine into the world of luxury! And if this is a powdered exfoliant you prefer, I recommend only using it in an oil or milk (especially if your skin is dry or sensitive) as opposed to just water. If you are acne-prone this is hit or miss. Some clients reported an improvement with this product and some felt like it didn’t do much. This is a 1-2 times per week treatment at best.

Good Molecules Pineapple Exfoliating Powder: This is the cheapest one listed and it feels that way when you’re using it too. It’s just… very mid. Unfortunately, if you’ve got acne-prone skin, you’re going to want to steer clear of this. However, if you are searching for an at-home pedicure hack, this is your girl! So add this to your shower routine instead for baby soft feet.