Of all the products I consistently recommend, physical exfoliants like face scrubs give people the most pause these days. I think the first reason is that many people don’t understand how face scrubs can be beneficial, especially if they’re already using exfoliating acids. But after more than 30 years as an esthetician, I firmly believe in the benefits of a facial scrub, especially when used in tandem with exfoliating acids. You see, while exfoliating acids loosen dead cells that are still stuck to the skin’s surface, a gentle scrub completes the process by actually lifting those loosened cells away. This leads to instantly brighter, smoother-looking skin (instant gratification, anyone?).
The second reason many people are hesitant about face scrubs is that they developed a reputation for being harsh, or even damaging. Scrubs all work in the same way—a granule of some sort is massaged over the skin to mechanically slough off dead cells. And it’s exactly these granules that have created so much controversy over the years (hello, walnut shells). Whether it was a growing awareness of how particles with jagged edges were causing micro-tears in our skin or the realization that plastic microbeads were wreaking havoc on the environment, scrubs haven’t enjoyed the best reputation lately.
Enter, jojoba beads. In this post, I’ll give you all the details you need about why these beads are such an awesome ingredient for exfoliation. You’ll learn what they are, how they’re made, and how they can give you instantly smoother, brighter skin without causing damage.
What Are Jojoba Beads?
Before answering this question, it’s important to note that jojoba oil (a popular skincare ingredient loved for its ability to soften and moisturize skin) isn’t actually an oil at all—it’s a wax. Jojoba “oil” is made up of esters, which technically makes it a liquid wax. Oils, on the other hand, are made up of triglycerides and fatty acids. Jojoba beads are simply a hardened form of the same wax used to make jojoba oil.
The Advantages of Jojoba Beads in Facial Scrubs
1. They’re Customizable—and Predictable
The greatest benefit of formulating with jojoba beads is that you can control the manufacturing process from start to finish, customizing them to your needs. Since you’re basically creating the particles from scratch, you get a leg up compared to other types of granules. You can control the size, shape, and firmness of the particles, molding them to the parameters of your choosing. When creating Triple Berry Smoothing Scrub, for example, I opted for very firm beads to provide a nice physical exfoliation.
Other granules— whether derived from seeds, shells, oats, sugar, rice, or anything in between—have to be broken down from something that already exists. This makes their shape unpredictable and hard to control, often resulting in shards rather than beads.
2. They Never Scratch or Damage Your Skin
Thanks to our ability to mold the granules, jojoba beads are consistently rounded with no sharp edges. A big reason facial scrubs fell by the wayside was that some of them contained jagged particles. People realized this could cause microtears in the skin, with repeated use leading to irritation and barrier damage. In fact, having a “damaged” moisture barrier actually means developing tiny, invisible cracks through which moisture can escape and irritants can enter. As you can imagine, using something that scratches your skin only makes matters worse!
Check out these microscopic images of jojoba beads compared to other exfoliating granules. While the jojoba beads are perfectly round, the others have sharp, jagged edges. You’d never be able to tell just by looking at them with the naked eye!
3. Jojoba Beads are Biodegradable
Finally, jojoba beads are completely biodegradable. Until fairly recently, many popular face and body scrubs used plastic microbeads made of polyethylene. These beads were officially banned in 2015 after it was discovered they were making their way into lakes and oceans, disrupting wildlife and potentially contaminating the water supply.
After plastic microbeads were banned, many companies turned to natural granules such as shells, seeds, or sugar. But, as demonstrated above, these can be harmful to the skin. Jojoba beads are truly the best of both worlds in this sense. They offer the smooth texture that made plastic microbeads perfect exfoliators, without any of the environmental ramifications.
How to Use Products With Jojoba Beads
Like most physical exfoliators, products with jojoba beads are fairly straightforward to use. Jojoba beads can be found in dedicated face scrubs or included in other products, such as cleansers, for an added benefit. Simply apply the product to slightly damp skin and massage gently in circular motions, focusing on areas of pigmentation or nooks and crannies where flaky skin tends to accumulate.
While jojoba beads are gentle on the skin thanks to their shape, they may not grab onto dead skin cells as quickly as other, more jagged granules. Because of this, I recommend spending a full minute massaging your skin with jojoba beads and applying medium pressure.
Next up, learn how to successfully use both a face scrub and exfoliating acids in your routine.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skin care expert has created a real-world solution — products that are formulated for nine different types of skin so your face will get exactly what it needs to look and feel its best. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”