Powder cleansers and dry scrubs are such a simple innovation that it is genuinely shocking they haven’t been a skin care staple for decades. These cleansing powders and powder exfoliants are fun and easy to use, so they are a worthy thing to try.
I feel like dry scrubs turn my bi-weekly exfoliation habit into an adventure in which I get to become my own chemist, while powder cleansers are great for frequent travelers that don’t want to get bogged down with liquids.
If you’re considering switching over to #teampowder, then I’m here to help! I’ve gathered all of the best powder cleansers and dry scrubs for you to try. I’ll also make sure you fully understand what dry scrubs and powder cleansers are, how they work, their pros and cons, and what the best way to use them is. I’ve peppered the whole article with quite a few tips, so that you can get dry scrubbing.
Powder Cleansers & Dry Scrubs to Polish Your Face to Perfection: Contents
• 19 Best Powder Cleansers & Dry Scrubs
• What Are Powder Cleansers & Dry Scrubs and How Do They Work?
• How Are Dry Scrubs Different From Traditional Scrubs?
• What Should You Mix Your Dry Scrub or Powder Cleanser with?
• Pros & Cons of Powder Cleansers and Dry Scrubs
• How to Use Powder Cleanser
• How to Use Dry Scrub
Is it your first time trying cleansing powder? We recommend getting any of these 19 powder cleansers and dry scrubs, as they are the most effective ones on the market.
1. Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder
This dry face polish instantly brings luxury to mind. Rice powder gives a physical exfoliation, but this formula also includes papaya enzymes for an ultra-light chemical exfoliation. It’s a dry scrub that leaves the skin feeling soft and soothed, since it also contains green tea and algae extracts. It is best blended with just water, and should be rinsed away shortly after it’s used. You can purchase it from Sephora.
2. Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant
With a few drops of water, this cleansing powder transforms into a paste that is one of the best powder exfoliants around. It is gentle yet thorough, making it a fabulous choice for normal and combination skin types. It contains alpha hydroxy acids for a touch of chemical exfoliation, along with a collection of skin-nourishing extracts. If you’d like to try it, you can find it at Nordstrom.
3. Babor Cleansing CP Enzyme Cleanser
Powder cleansers don’t get much better than this one. This enzymatic formula cleanses the skin beautifully once blended with water, effectively removing all kinds of makeup and impurities. It also helps to lightly and very gently exfoliate the skin. It is available for sale online via Dermstore.
4. DHC Face Wash Powder
This is one of those powder cleansers that are more thorough, so they are well suited for oily and combination skin types. It is a gentle formula that exfoliates just a tiny bit, and is best blended with water, since it foams up. It leaves the skin feeling soft thanks to a touch of honey. You can find it for sale at Dermstore.
5. Diptique Radiance Boosting Powder for the Face
This cleansing powder is like a very gentle dry scrub and dry mask in one. It leaves the skin matte yet radiant, thanks to ultra-gentle kaolin clay. It works for all skin types, and has a gentle floral scent. You can purchase a bottle from Nordstrom.
6. Clinique Fresh Pressed Renewing Powder Cleanser with Pure Vitamin C
Tiny packs make this powder cleanser the perfect travel companion. It helps to totally cleanse the skin and soften it lightly, and it also includes a dose of vitamin C to brighten and prevent pesky signs of premature aging. You can find this powder cleanser for all skin types at Nordstrom.
7. Dior Hydra Life Time to Glow Ultra Fine Exfoliating Powder
This is a two-in-one facial cleansing powder and exfoliant that gives the gentlest polish to the skin. It lathers on contact with water, to cleanse the skin. It includes polishing lotus seeds and hydrating sugar extract, so it’s an excellent choice for oily and dry skin alike. It is available for sale at Sephora.
8. UMA Ultimate Brightening Rose Powder Cleanser
This luxurious and all-natural powder face wash works to brighten and gently resurface the skin. It is made with a delicate blend of soothing flower petals, a collection of gorgeous essential oils, and just a hint of clay to pull impurities and excess oil from the skin. It blends well with water as well as other mediums, and can even be left on the skin as a mask. You can find it at Nordstrom.
9. Amarte Daily ExfoliPowder
This cleansing powder exfoliant is a choice you really can’t go wrong with. It has a blend of ingredients to prevent premature aging as well as acne, and it is gentle enough for even sensitive skin. It exfoliates with a soft blend of powders that won’t irritate the skin. It is sold online via Dermstore.
10. Origins Clear Improvement Powder Cleanser
If you have oily skin, and you’d like some deep cleansing, then this charcoal-infused take on cleansing powders should be your go-to. It gives a thorough exfoliation and cleansing to the skin, and is best combined with water. If you’d like to give it a try, you can find it at Harrods.
11. Bobbi Brown Buffing Grains for Face
This oh-so-simple exfoliating powder is made of Japanese adzuki beans, also known as mung beans, along with some moisturizing jojoba oil and lightly foaming surfactants. This is one of the most delicate cleansing powders that will gently exfoliate and nourish normal and dry skin types. You can find it at Sephora.
12. Farmaesthetics Vassar Rose Perfecting Polish
This is one of those dry exfoliants that keep a rustic, natural feel going. It exfoliates the skin with a blend of rose petals, kaolin clay, and pumice, while a touch of powdered sweet milk gives some softness to the skin. This powder cleanser is best suited for normal and combination skin types. It is available for sale at Dermstore.
13. SW Basics Exfoliant
Oats, almonds, and a hint of salt – sounds like a healthy breakfast, doesn’t it? Those are actually the simple, gentle, and skin-soothing ingredients in this thorough yet natural powder cleanser. It’s one of the best dry scrubs for those who prefer all-natural formulas without hard-to-pronounce ingredients. It can perfectly exfoliate any skin type. Try if for yourself by purchasing it from Dermstore.
14. Peter Thomas Roth Camu Camu Cx30 Vitamin C Brightening Powder Cleanser
This one of those powder cleansers that are on the more exfoliating side of things. It contains oatmeal for exfoliation, along with a ton of vitamin C to visibly brighten and rejuvenate the skin. You should give it a try if you have acne-prone skin, especially if it’s been plagued with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, although it’ll technically work for any skin type. It can be picked up at Ulta.
15. Nyakio Chinese Rice Exfoliating Cleansing Powder
This formidable formulation is one of the best options for all-natural dry scrubs and cleansing powders. It contains both African black soap for cleansing, and rice powder and gluconolactone to gently slough away dead skin, leaving it soft and supple. It is an excellent choice for all skin types! You can buy it from Ulta.
16. Murad Transforming Powder
With silica, jojoba esters, and salicylic acid, this powder cleanser looks like a more traditional scrub formula, just in the form of a dry scrub. It gives the skin a perfect exfoliation with some cleansing, so definitely use it with water for that foamy effect. It can work for all skin types, but especially for acne-prone skin. You can pick it up from Skin Store.
17. Leahlani Skincare Kalima Coconut Cream Cleansing Powder
This is probably the most moisturizing of the dry scrubs and powder cleansers out there. It includes coconut milk, followed by a long list of natural exfoliating and purifying ingredients that polish and purify the skin into perfection.
It is a strong exfoliant that can be blended with just about anything, and is ideal for those with dry, combination, or normal skin. Since it is surfactant-free, it can also double as a skin-softening mask. Find it online at Cult Beauty!
18. French Girl Organics Rose Facial Polish
This is another one of the best powder cleansers and dry face scrubs for those who like a hint of florals. It is a wonderful choice for those with normal, combination, and oily skin. It is a beautiful pink shade, thanks to rose petals, and it exfoliates gently with brown rice powder and skin-purifying kaolin clay. The natural fragrance blend is absolutely to die for. You can find it for sale online at Revolve.
19. One Love Organics Brand New Day Microderma Scrub & Masque
This phenomenal dry scrub works for all skin types, including those who are very sensitive. It exfoliates gently with pea flour and cornstarch, while kaolin clay ensures that it can double as a skin-clarifying mask. It is available for sale online through Dermstore.
Powder cleansers and powder exfoliants are the next great thing in the skin care world. They come in a form of a powder, and are meant to be mixed with a liquid right before they are applied to the skin in order to either cleanser it, exfoliate it, or both.
I’ll start by explaining facial cleansing powder, which is the more complex powder product. Powder face wash is basically a cleanser in powder form. Once blended with water, it forms into a paste that can be used to cleanse the skin and remove makeup, sunscreen, sweat, dirt, oils, and other debris.
Cleansing powders are usually made with a dry cleansing agent like sodium cocoyl glutamate or sodium lauroyl glutamate, along with other powders that hold some benefit to the skin. Traditional cleansers normally already have water in them, so in a way cleansing powders are like concentrated cleansers.
Next there are dry scrubs. These are abrasive powders that are normally made of some sort of finely milled ingredient, like rice, clay, or dry beans. Dry scrubs can be combined with water as well as other things like oils or cleansers. As the dry scrub is rubbed against the skin, it removes build-up of dead skin cells and polishes the skin so it feels smoother and softer.
A lot of facial cleansing powders also contain an abrasive element so they end up being both cleansing powders and powder exfoliants. In that case it is usually best to only blend them with water.
While a traditional face scrub is some sort of abrasive powder dispersed in a gel formula, dry scrubs are just the abrasive powder. The idea is that the user can take the dry scrub and mix it with the medium of their choice: water, cleanser, oil, or anything else they might have in mind. Then they can apply the dry scrub to their skin, and get a perfect exfoliation.
Dry scrubs tend to have a finer texture that is more gentle on the skin, so they are a better choice for those with sensitive skin. This kind of texture is harder to achieve with traditional face scrubs, since in order for the abrasive pieces to be so small and still exfoliate properly the ratio of liquid/ cream to abrasive has to be about equal. This makes for a product that would be very hard to squeeze out of a tube, while in a jar it would dry up very quickly.
To cleanse with your dry scrub or powder cleanser, you should combine it with any of the liquids mentioned below.
Water is the simplest choice, since it is easy to find just about anywhere, and it won’t cause issues with anyone’s skin. When it comes to powder face wash, water is usually the only liquid that will create a lather and turn your powder cleanser into a proper paste. With dry scrubs there is more leeway, but water is always a fine choice.
Your toner could also work as a mixer for your powder face wash or dry scrub. Since toners are as liquid-y as water, they will give you a paste with a similar texture, but they will also provide your skin with their own unique benefits. This can be a great way of cutting out the toning step from your routine, and still enjoying the balancing, hydrating and skin-tightening effect of your toner.
There isn’t a lot of sense in combining your cleanser with a cleansing powder, but it’s a great mixer for your dry exfoliant! This is another great way of cutting steps out of your skin care routine, and still getting the full benefits of your products.
Feel free to do this if all you’re getting rid of is some light debris and excess oil, but I generally recommend not jumping straight to exfoliation if you have been wearing a full face of makeup or if your skin has gotten seriously dirty.
If your skin is on the dry or dehydrated side, then oil is a great medium for using your dry scrub. Adding oil will make your exfoliation process more nourishing to the skin, as botanical oils contain a host of skin-healing and replenishing ingredients. It will give your skin the softest texture possible.
Adding honey to your dry exfoliant is a great way of getting a dose of moisture with your exfoliation. Honey has the ability to pull moisture into the skin, and it also presents some skin-healing and antibacterial properties, so it can work for any skin type.
By mixing it with your dry scrub and leaving it on the skin for a few moments you can give your skin a fortifying skin treatment. This is especially wonderful to do in the bath or shower when the air is super saturated with water.
Whether it’s really worth ditching your traditional cleansers and investing in the powder options depends on the pros and cons of these products, which we discuss below.
• Dry scrubs and powder cleansers are really fun to use. They allow you to play around and feel like a chemist, which makes the whole skin care regiment much more exciting!
• Since liquids are not allowed on airplanes, powder exfoliants and cleansing powders are a great alternative to traditional gel formulas that is easy to travel with. Since they are concentrated, they take up less space, and there is no issue bringing them on an airplane.
• Dry scrubs allow you to adjust your exfoliation ingredients based on your skin condition at any given time. So if you’re feeling dry, you can use honey or an oil, while if you need a stronger exfoliation you can use less of the mixing medium.
• In skin care, it is the mixture of water and other ingredients that requires all kinds of preservatives, some of which are thought to be harmful and are generally shunned by the natural cosmetics community. Since dry scrubs and powder face washes are free of water, they don’t require preservatives and they tend to have much more natural formulas.
• Some people find that dry scrubs and powder cleansers can be a little messy, although for others it’s not an issue. You may want to consider how clumsy you are before trying them out.
• Powder cleansers tend to have a higher pH than creamy cleansers, so using a pH-adjusting toner after cleansing is mandatory, in order to keep the skin’s acid mantle healthy and balanced.
• Facial cleansing powders are usually on par with foaming and gel cleansers, so they’re not always the best choice for removing heavy makeup, especially around the eyes.
• Since dry scrubs tend to have a much smoother texture than traditional scrubs, it’s easy to forget how well they exfoliate. Be careful not to over-exfoliate your skin, and don’t use them more than 4 times a week!
This information applies to both exfoliating powder cleansers and non-exfoliating ones. If your powder cleansers of choice are non-exfoliating, you can use them every day. If they do have an exfoliating effect, only use them 2-4 times a week.
• Begin by dampening your face. If you are wearing heavy makeup, you might want to use an oil or a makeup remover to remove it first.
• Pour out a small amount of the cleansing face wash you chose into your palm. You will need about ½ a teaspoon worth of product.
• In your palm add a few drops of water to your powder cleanser. Rub your hands together so that the cleanser can dissolve into a thick paste in the water. The paste may foam up slightly.
• If you feel like the paste is too thick, add a few more drops of water until it reaches a consistency you like.
• Using circular, upward motions gently massage the cleanser into your skin, allowing it to dissolve impurities. Some brands may recommend massaging up to a minute, although that can be irritating to the skin. 10-15 seconds is more than enough for most people.
• Once all debris has been broken down, rinse your face with cool or lukewarm water. If you feel like that’s not enough, you can use a damp face cloth to properly remove the rest of the cleanser.
• Since powder facial cleansers tend to be somewhat alkaline, apply a pH-adjusting toner to your skin with a cotton pad.
Since dry scrubs can feel so gentle on the skin, people forget that they are still thorough exfoliants. It is better to use them, following these instructions, every other day at the most. Exfoliating the skin every day can seriously irritate it.
• Start with cleansed skin – you can even use one of the cleansing powders I’ve recommended to get it perfectly pristine!
• Either in your palm or in a bowl, combine your powder exfoliant of choice with your medium of choice. If it’s a dry scrub that foams up a bit, then toner or water is the better choice, although otherwise feel free to play around.
• Mix your dry scrub with whatever mixing medium you chose, so that it is evenly dispersed within it and has a pleasant texture that is not too thick or too thin.
• Using circular motions begin rubbing the exfoliant mixture into your skin. Don’t use too much pressure or massage for too long, as this can irritate the skin.
• If your dry scrub is not of the cleansing variety and does not contain surfactants, you can leave it on your skin for a few minutes as an impromptu mask.
• Remove the exfoliant. Just a splash of water is usually not enough, so you can time it with your shower or use a damp face cloth to remove everything.
• Finish off your skin care routine with a toner, serums, and a moisturizer. If you’ve exfoliated your skin in the daytime, then apply a product with at least 30 SPF.
Photos via @courtneytoliver, @emilyjessica_x, @belle.by.joelle