HOW TO | Exfoliate at home without spending a cent (almost)

I WROTE THIS entire post and then my computer ate it. (My pulse starts to beat through my ears when that happens...)

Mainly, I was whinging about how so many so-called gentle or sensitive-skin exfoliators are just plain crap. Utter useless stuff. They’re cream cleansers with like 3 exfoliating beads in the entire over-priced tube. By taking out the scrubbing component, you think you can call yourself gentle? How about ineffective and lazy. It riles me. Exfoliation is good, even for sensitive (skinned) types like me. That’s what you’re doing with peels, microdermabrasion and all those acids. As a young girl with acne, I exfoliated religiously, and to this day rigorously thank St. Ives and Buff Puff for my lack of scarring.

Some products have hit the market, which I genuinely like -- which feel sophisticated enough -- like Emma Hardie’s exfoliating beads and Remede (sorry for lack of accent marks) Slough. And I’ve been desperate to try the rice and red bean powders that seem so popular in certain parts of Asia, though prior experience with similar things tell me they won't offer the type of scrubby goodness I’m after. At the end of the day, I am really in the mood for something out there that’s affordable, non-irritating and quickly accessible. My recent quest to be as DIY with my beauty stuff as possible has, actually, led me down the perfect path to trial such a face scrub.

An old quote from an interview with Marica Kilgore recently resurfaced in my mind. It was something that I had mentally noted by never gotten around to jotting down in one of my notebooks or sent to myself via email, and it had been subsequently lost in the ether for years, popping up occasionally only to disappear again before I could remember to do anything with it.

She gave a pretty brilliant beauty tip -- not something you often get from beauty insiders during interviews, really. When she wanted a good scrub at home, she would mix concentrated orange juice and baking soda for a brightening and fine yet effective exfoliant. It’s no wonder she blooming started Bliss all those years ago in her NYC apartment, when you consider just how handy she is with the contents of her Frigidaire. What do the world’s top beauty brand owners do when they want a good product? Turn to their kitchen cabinets!

For at least four years (at least I think that’s when I saw the quote in, maybe, The Sunday Times Style...), that concoction has been on my beauty DIY to-do list. This week I got around to... doing half of it. I don’t know why but concentrated juices seem to have almost disappeared from the shops. Although, that said, I wasn’t really looking forward to the sticky mess that my bathroom would be with said ingredient either.

So I went it alone with baking soda and a dab of Nature Girl cream cleanser. I mixed one part to one part and, you know what? It made an AMAZING exfoliant. Baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) is super fine yet the particles themselves are pretty tough so they gently buff away dead skin, debris, erm, left over makeup with no problem, just like they buff away the stains on your teeth and in your sink.
I rubbed it all about my face, neck and decollete in circles for a few minutes before rinsing cleaning with some warm water and my skin felt like a baby’s arse. It was super smooth, matte and not dry and taut, as has been the case with many exfoliators that, when you read the ingredient label, sound about as gentle as my shampoo or washing up liquid (true story).. Mix a bit of baking soda with a cream cleanser and you’re guaranteed a great scrub and some serious moisture.

If your skin feels irritated, use less baking soda and do it at night. I have seriously sensitive skin with hints of Rosacea flaring up every now and again, and this stuff didn’t bother my complexion at all.

For more info, check out the Beauty Brain’s post as she seems to have all the science-y bits that my less rigorous trial does not.

For mere fractions of a penny per use, this might be the cheapest yet most effective way to scrub your face out there.
Image from portfolio of packaging designer Christy Carroll