A pumice stone is an age-old beauty tool for exfoliating skin and rubbing away calluses, but if you're not enthusiastic about scrubbing yourself with what's essentially a rough rock, know that there are equally effective alternatives. Try other tools with a similarly abrasive surface or beauty products with exfoliating properties. Many are suitable for the whole body from your feet to your face, offering versatility that a pumice stone cannot rival.
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Another nature-made exfoliating tool that rivals a pumice stone's ability to smooth even the roughest skin is the loofah. This dense, cylindrical net of tough, rough fibers is a vegetable from the same family as the cucumber. Get your body and the loofah wet before gently scrubbing your skin; apply a cleanser directly to the loofah if you wish.
A body brush with stiff, natural bristles is a very useful tool to have in your bathroom. A brush with a long handle is especially easy to use over your whole body. Use the brush wet in the bath or shower, with or without a cleanser, to simultaneously exfoliate and thoroughly clean your skin. Use it dry for reported benefits ranging from dead skin cell removal to improved circulation.
Exfoliating gloves or mitts, usually made from a brightly colored plastic scourer-like material, might look and feel silly to wear, but they are a cinch to use. Optionally squeeze a cleanser into your hands, then wash your body as if you were just using your hands. You might want to avoid sensitive areas, including your face.
Don't underestimate the exfoliating ability of the humble washcloth, sponge or pouf. These tools' textured surfaces are too gentle for heavy duty callus removal, but daily use gently scrubs away dead skin cells, resulting in softer skin. They are a good option for anyone with sensitive skin.
Any cleansing product with "scrub" or "exfoliator" in its name will perform a similar task to a pumice stone, whether applied with an exfoliating tool or just your hands. Some are designed specifically for feet, some for the face and some for the whole body. These products generally contain tiny, textured grains, be they ground apricot stones, oatmeal, jojoba beads, volcanic ash or plastic microbeads, among other substances. You can also go the DIY route and whip up a sugar-or salt-based scrub.
A number of tools are designed specifically for exfoliating feet and removing calluses. A stainless steel foot file resembles a fine kitchen grater and works in essentially the same way. They might be manual or battery-powered. Rotary foot tools have rough-textured rollers that revolve as you pass them back and forth over the rough skin on your feet. For the toughest of calluses there are hand-held callus shavers. These tools have a sharp blade that acts like a razor, shaving off the outermost layer of tough foot skin.
Limit exfoliating your skin with harsher tools and products to once or twice a week.
If you exfoliate frequently, Glamour magazine recommends replenishing your skin's natural oils with virgin coconut oil immediately afterward.
For most skin types, exfoliating once or twice a week is plenty. If you have oily skin, you might exfoliate more often; if your skin is dry you generally only need to exfoliate a few times per month.