Using an exfoliator for dry skin promotes the dual benefits of removing dead skin cells to expose fresh, bright skin and creating an opportunity to topically moisturize the skin. The best exfoliator for dry skin will utilize small, gentle exfoliating particles that will be least likely to irritate sensitive dry skin. Assessing the ingredients that comprise the substance supporting the exfoliating particles is also important; the best exfoliator for dry skin will contain ingredients that are generally believed to nourish dry skin. Some processed ingredients can be beneficial, but most artificial colors or fragrances should be avoided.
Exfoliators for dry skin should typically be gentle and non-irritating because dry skin tends to be sensitive. The particles should be relatively small and have smooth, not jagged edges in order to avoid tearing the skin and causing further damage. This is especially true for facial exfoliators because the skin in this area is particularly thin and delicate. Most commercial exfoliating cleansers use smooth synthetic exfoliating beads that should be acceptable for dry skin. Sugar and salt scrubs, if they contain moisturizing essential oils, should also be gentle enough for dry skin — however, very large salt crystals or scrubs containing coarse ingredients such as ground nutshells might be too abrasive.
Natural oils and butters are good ingredients to look for when you are choosing an exfoliator for dry skin. Shea or cocoa butter are common moisturizing ingredients that can help hydrate during exfoliation. Just about any will be beneficial; restoring oils topically to compensate for the skin’s lack of naturally produced oils will also add moisture and help heal dryness. If you are making an exfoliator at home, basic ingredients such as olive oil or coconut oil can be mixed with sugar or salt to create a moisturizing product.
While artificial ingredients can irritate or even worsen dry skin, there are some commercial ingredients you can look for in an exfoliator for dry skin that will help moisturize. Alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic, citric, or lactic acids, actually exfoliate the skin without the use of scrubbing particles. Lactic acid is also a humectant, along with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerol, and sorbitol. Humectants pull moisture out of the air and draw it into your skin. You should be careful to avoid products that are heavily scented with artificial fragrances as well as products that are designed to absorb excess oil or treat acne, as these might exacerbate dry skin.