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Natural Ingredients for Your Exfoliation Routine from Around the World
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Natural Ingredients for Your Exfoliation Routine from Around the World

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Exfoliation has been lauded for helping to unclog pores, cleansing the skin of dead cells and dirt and subsequently combatting acne. Clearing the skin in this way can also deepen the effects of products in your skincare routine, even out skin tone and boost circulation. So how do you pick an exfoliation regimen that works best for you?

First off, to echo esthetician, Juliette Samuel: “if it ain’t broke, honey, don’t fix it! Some of you are blessed with clear, radiant, even-toned skin that looks supple with or without moisturizer. You have few or no breakouts. If this is the case – congratulations! Chances are you don’t need to exfoliate.”

But those of us in the exact opposite genetic situation stand to benefit from giving our skin a little help in fighting dirt and buildup of dead skin cells. This practice could be beneficial to people with brown skin in particular. Dr. Virginia Hubbard of London Bridge Hospital explains that, generally speaking, black skin has more compact dead skin cells, larger pore size and higher secretion of natural bodily oils (sebum).

People with skin that is darker and prone to pigmentation issues should exfoliate with caution. Hubbard explains that “over-exfoliation could be one of the main players in skin aggravation. Darker skin is more likely to develop patchy pigmentation (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) if it is irritated or damaged.” Over-exfoliating might also disrupt your skin’s balance in producing its own natural oils.

To treat your skin right without compromising its health or appearance, Juliette Samuel recommends:

  • Avoiding over-exfoliation. Adult skin typically takes 20 – 40 days to renew itself, so it’s best to exfoliate every 7 to 10 days;
  • Avoiding facial cleansers that contain micro-beads, coarse salts, large pieces of ground nuts, and ingredients that you know your skin will react poorly to;
  • Never using body exfoliators on your face, and;
  • Moisturizing after exfoliating.

DIY and natural exfoliants like the ones here in the Coco & Curl marketplace have been cherished by communities around the world throughout history – and are made of ingredients that make it easy to follow Samuel’s advice. The added bonus? They work for every skin color and almost every skin type.

Black Soap

In communities with Yoruba roots, black soap (also known as ose dudu and anago samina, among other regional names) has long been used for skin hydration, soothing, combatting skin issues and exfoliation. This time-honored product is made from natural elements – ash from palm tree leaves, plantain, cocoa pods, and shea tree bark - mixed in with water and moisturizing oils like coconut or shea butter.

It is widely considered to be a safe and welcome addition to the regimens of people with all skin types – dry, oily, normal, combination and, in some cases, sensitive. But, of course, its beneficial qualities vary from person to person, and depending on which ingredients are used to make the soap.

People with oilier skin tend to fare better using it. Meanwhile, those who feel their dry skin issues have been exacerbated by black soap might benefit from using it in  smaller quantities, and by using blends which incorporate shea butter or other moisturizing oils.

Holy Raw has gone a step further to maximize on black soap’s exfoliating properties, and made the traditional product into a scrub with their SAMINA | SCRUB. For those looking to reduce the soap’s drying effects, check out the brand’s SAMINA | LIQUID black soap.


As much speculation as there is around the negative effects that sugar can have on your skin from inside your body, it can actually be a wonderful addition to your skincare routine when applied on the outside of your body. Communities in the present-day Congo have used sugar cane as the base of many beauty and skin-care routines, as sugar can be a great exfoliant.

According to Coco & Curl vendor, Lani Bryn Essentials, like maple syrup and honey “sugar is a natural humectant – which means that it draws moisture from the environment into your skin. Using sugar to exfoliate is actually less coarse and abrasive on sensitive skin.”

Canadian maple syrup and Ghanaian sugar cane are the main ingredients of Holy Raw’s O’Canada Lip Scrub



And Beauty Butters combines the softening properties of coconut oil to complement the benefits of sugar with their Coconut & Honey Lip Scrub and  Macadamia and Vanilla Body Scrub.



Like honey and maple syrup, nectar from the Agave plant can give exfoliators a good moisturizing boost. In Mexico, Agave’s country of origin, the nectar is mixed with oatmeal or cooked rice and made into a scrub.

Vermillion Cosmetics have combined Agave and its benefits with other natural ingredients like soy wax (which is rich in vitamin E and is known to provide relief for skin conditions) to make their Clinical Lip Scrub.

Natural Antioxidants 

Dating back centuries before the term exited, naturally occurring anti-oxidants have been used to treat skin irritation, inflammation and blemishes. Because of this, green tea (for example) has long been used for topical and internal curative purposes in Eastern traditional medicine.

 Vendors on Coco & Curl have turned to other potent anti-oxidants native to their own spheres of the globe. 103 Collection brings together the antioxidizing benefits of blueberry, cranberry and aloe vera with their Blueberry Cranberry Facial Scrub. And Mask Off Beauty has infused multiple superfruits like into one of their many face masks, Superfruits Exfoliation Face Mask to give your skin a healthy glow.



Find these products or other great additions to your skin and body routines in the Coco & Curl marketplace, or check out more tutorials from the Coco & Curl blog. Image is from the Instagram feed of Lani Bryn Essentials