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These Are the Best Exfoliants for Brown Skin

Mar 27, 2022 12:00PM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
Black woman with short curly hair smiling and winking, face covered in brown sugar scrub

For Black women, the most prominent concerns are usually uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, and textural changes. The reason these affect brown skin more frequently than Caucasian skin is that melanin-rich skin has more reactive melanocytes. “Melanocytes are the cells that make pigment,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd. “Any irritation, such as a pimple, turns on those melanocytes and produces a dark spot.” And while fairer skin also experiences dark spots, the problem appears more prominently in darker shades. We also have an article that explores how acne scars may be treated and sometimes prevented, in people with darker skin.

Regular chemical exfoliation promotes longer-term results and over time can altogether reverse the effects of discoloration. Exfoliating your skin is an important step in any skincare routine. Just as cleansers, toners, and moisturizers are important steps in keeping your skin clear, smooth, soft, and grime-free, you need an exfoliator in between to create a smooth effect. Exfoliators are necessary for cleansing and keeping the skin fresh, as well as dirt, grime, and oil-free. 

Without the practice of exfoliation, you would notice your skin becoming dull, heavy, and sticky due to all the buildup. Some of the exfoliators are from vegan beauty brands since the demand for cruelty-free and vegan beauty products is higher than ever before. You can also read up on seven Black-owned vegan beauty brands to add to your skincare routine. Here we’ve found some of the best exfoliants for brown skin.

Brooklyn Botany Brown Sugar Body and Face Scrub

In July 2016, Joseph Zigelboum launched his skincare brand Brooklyn Botany. All their products are designed in their state-of-the-art lab, delivering the latest healing properties in their untainted forms. Brooklyn Botany is more just than a skincare brand as it is their philosophy is to revolutionize industry standards by delivering science-driven, botanically-rich skincare in the purest state possible. Brooklyn Botany Brown Sugar Body and Face Scrub use brown sugar because it contains glycolic acid, which fights bacteria. Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid, which is important in keeping your skin vivacious and healthy. Brown sugar gives you younger and fresher-looking skin by breaking down glue-bonded skin cells which supports cell turnover. It also helps to improve sun damage and offers support to aging skin.


Glo Skin Beauty Brightening Polish

Glo Skin Beauty believes skincare is self-care, and that the products you use every day should make a significant difference to your health and wellbeing. Glo Skin Beauty offers the most extensive back bar collection of medical and spa-grade exfoliants and the first-ever collection of professional peels designed exclusively for at-home use. Powered by kojic acid, botanical brighteners, plus eco-friendly jojoba beads, it targets tone and texture, for a smoother, more radiant effect. This post-cleansing treatment gently polishes the skin, leaving behind a brighter, more radiant complexion.


Corium Skincare Green Tea Exfoliating Scrub

Corium Skincare is a Black-owned South African skincare brand. The skincare range offers face and body care products that cater to dry, aging, and scarred skin. Vuyi Zondi is the founder of Corium Naturals Skincare and started the skincare line in 2016 when she was still a management consultant and it is now a flourishing brand. Each product from Corium Skincare is created with its core values of simplicity, purity, and credibility in mind. With unrefined green tea, this coarse but gentle exfoliator will have your skin feeling renewed and naturally revived.


Humanrace Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator

The past few years have been filled with new celebrity beauty brand lines. American rapper, record producer, singer, songwriter, Pharrell Williams launched Humanrace. Pharrell created Humanrace in the belief that taking better care of ourselves can teach us to take better care of each other. Humanrace provides useful products and perspectives to help all individuals deepen their understanding of themselves and enrich their commitment to everyday wellness.

The Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator packs in 8% glycolic acid, a personal favorite of Pharrell’s, which helps get rid of dead cells and rejuvenates skin in the process. The formula is boosted with 2% Fruit AHAs, pumpkin, papaya, and pomegranate enzymes, hydrating apple extract, and antioxidant lotus leaf. Lotus leaf protects against UV rays and environmental stressors.


Rosen Enzyme Scrub

Founder of Black-owned brand Rosen, Jamika Martin, dealt with acne for most of her life, so this brand is a direct response to a hole she saw in the market for an effective line to treat acne with clean formulations. It emphasizes natural ingredients and gentle formulas, omitting many of the harsh standbys of traditional acne products. Rosen embraces acne positivity and ingredient transparency in its products. Their Enzyme Scrub is a fine paste with a slightly fruity scent. They formulated our Enzyme Scrub to be a similar physical grain size as a microdermabrasion tool to allow for gentle physical exfoliation. The enzymes and antioxidants help to fade dark marks even quicker.

 Anne’s Apothecary Rice Milk Microexfoliant

Anne’s Apothecary is a clean brand that makes skincare for every concern in every budget, with its products being carried in over 100 stores nationwide. Founder Anne Suinner-Lawoyin is a nurse turned natural beauty philosopher. While she developed a sincere passion for naturopathy and wellness, she purveyed the market for clean skincare and realized that the prices were too high and in turn excluded many to access clean skincare products so she created a line of skincare products using cold-pressed herb-infused oils, clays, and other natural ingredients to fill this gap of clean budget-friendly skincare. Their Rice Milk Microexfoliant features brown rice milk, oat kernel flour, and licorice root powder. Brown rice is grounded to yield very fine granules that exfoliate your skin giving you spa-level microdermabrasion results.



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 Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content. 

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