Review: I Used a Powder Exfoliant for a Month and I Loved It for My Dry Skin

Is the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant truly gentle enough for everyday use?

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I love exfoliating. Sloughing off dead skin is extremely satisfying to me, and I love the soft, squeaky-clean feeling after. The only problem is that I’ve been committing a cardinal sin of skin care: using a rough, physical exfoliator on my face. Up until recently, I’ve just had a hard time believing a liquid or chemical exfoliator can get me the same results as a cleansing brush or exfoliating washcloth. But that was until I started using the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant powder exfoliator.

If exfoliating isn’t a regular step in your skin care routine, it should be. Exfoliating helps clear out the buildup of dead skin cells and dirt on the surface of your skin. But your face is a sensitive area. Exfoliating too harshly or with rough products can cause irritation and even wrinkles. A liquid or powder exfoliant skips the tugging to create a gentler routine. And after a month of daily use, I’ve been converted for good. 

What is the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant? 

Before and After of Mixing Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant Powder on Hand with WaterAndrea Carrillo/

When you think of face exfoliation, a facial scrub or microtool probably comes to mind. The Daily Microfoliant, however, is a powder exfoliant. It has a rice-based formula and comes out as a fine, off-white powder, as opposed to a gritty cream. 

The rice-based powder activates with a few drops of water. When mixed into a light paste and applied on the skin, the exfoliant buffs away dead skin cells and brightens your complexion. Best of all, it’s gentle enough for daily use.  

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Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant features 

The exfoliant has a mix of ingredients that polish skin and beat dullness. Rice is the star player, smoothing out skin texture. (Rice water is also an amazing tool for hair growth.) Salicylic acid clears follicles and minimizes acne, while colloidal oatmeal calms and smoothens skin. Other ingredients like papain, phytic acid from rice bran, white tea and licorice root work together to bring life back into dry skin.

It comes in two sizes, including a 0.45-ounce mini and a 2.6-ounce full size. Dermalogica ensures that the packaging is fully sustainable. Specific recycling instructions are available on the website, and refill bundles mean you can reuse the bottle. 

How I tested it 

Before and After of Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant applied on faceAndrea Carrillo/

I can always feel dryness on my face before I see it. Although my face oils up throughout the day, my combination skin dries out if I don’t exfoliate every few days. It’s a step I look forward to, but I figured it was time to swap my harsh cloth and cleanser combo for something gentler. I cleanse beforehand with my usual Kiehl’s cleanser to prep my skin for scrubbing. 

Dermalogica suggests adding half a teaspoon of rice powder to “very wet” hands. With about four days since my last scrub, I admit I was skeptical that such little product could handle the job. I mixed the powder into a thin paste and began rubbing it in circular motions. I kid you not, my face began to smooth out in seconds. 

My textured pores felt softer even before I rinsed off the paste, especially around my nose. (The instructions say to apply it for a minute.) There’s hardly any bumpy texture in the paste and no microbeads that scratch your skin like in some body scrubs. Let’s just say I’ve come a long way from the St. Ives Apricot Scrub I used as a teen. 

It worried me slightly that I would have to use an exfoliant every day because a once or twice-a-week treatment is usually enough for me. But after the first couple of uses, I didn’t experience any type of sensitivity. Eager to maintain results, the Daily Microfoliant was a consistent part of my routine for 30 days. 

Although I admittedly skipped a day or two throughout the month, my skin feels so much smoother. I don’t have to wait until my skin gets dry and patchy to exfoliate, and my face glows even when I’m not wearing makeup. It pairs well with my moisturizer, giving me a smoother base for skin care and makeup products. I’m lucky enough not to struggle with acne, but even when I do get a breakout or two, they don’t last as long.

Just be careful as you use it. There’s no turning back once the powder gets wet, so keep water out of the bottle. I took it in the shower with me a couple of times, but it’s best to be mindful. Using this exfoliator is a skin care step I’ll take into my 30s.


  • Rice-based exfoliant 
  • Removes dead skin and brightens complexion 
  • Only needs water to activate 
  • Extremely gentle!  
  • Fit for everyday use 
  • Refillable bottles available 


  • The full-size bottle is on the pricier side 
  • Sensitive product—getting water in the bottle ruins the powder 


Is Dermalogica Microfoliant good for blackheads? 

The Salicylic Acid in the formula seeps into pores to prevent blackheads and congestion. It may take some time to see long-term results, and everyone’s skin is different, but reviewers say it worked against blackheads. 

Should you use Microfoliant in the morning or at night?  

It’s best to use Microfoliant at night because your skin is sensitive and vulnerable after exfoliation. Your face gets to rest overnight, rather than facing the elements and sun exposure during the day.  

Can you use retinol with Daily Microfoliant?  

Retinol is a strong chemical. Mixing retinol with an exfoliant might cause irritation and redness. To prevent a bad reaction, use them interchangeably.  

What other reviewers had to say 

“I’m obsessed with this,” raves reviewer Madison B. “My skin has drastically changed for the better since I started using it. Softer, more even skin tone and so simple to use!” 

Five-star reviewer Lauren calls this exfoliant pure magic. “I love how it sloughs off dead skin cells leaving my skin feeling fresh and renewed,” she writes. “Most exfoliants are rough, but not this one. It’s super gentle and I’m obsessed with how it foams when you lather it up.”  

“This is by far one of the best products I have ever used for my face!” says Blaize Mettler on Amazon. “I have big pores… and a lot of them, especially on my nose and on my cheeks next to my nose, but this Daily Microfoliant minimizes my pores and makes my skin look so much brighter! Plus it makes my skin feel so soft and clean!”  

Product comparison 

Dermalogica is one of the best skin care brands. Multiple products in its skin care array help boost complexion and give a lasting glow. Its Daily Milkfoliant is another popular exfoliator. The Milkfoliant is oat-based and helps support hydration and the skin’s moisture levels. I’d say the powder Daily Microfoliant beats out other scrubs I’ve tried, including those from St. Ives, Neutrogena and Bioré.

If you prefer liquid or chemical exfoliants, Paula’s Choice Liquid Exfoliant is a powerful option. It’s best for once or twice-a-week use, but the water-based formula doesn’t need to be rinsed off. “I added it to my updated skin care regimen and used it consistently for four weeks,” says Marisa Hillman in her review. “Spoiler alert: Three weeks in, I was already receiving compliments on my glowing, younger-looking skin.”

Final verdict 

I love that the Daily Microfoliant is a powder because it lasts so long. The bottle doesn’t get crusty, there’s no liquidy mess and I can adjust the paste to my liking. It’s super user-friendly, not to mention the effect it has on my skin. My face feels brighter and softer, and even my makeup goes on more seamlessly. It is on the pricier side compared to other drugstore beauty products, but for the results, it’s worth it in my book. 

Where to Buy the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant 

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliantvia merchant

The Daily Microfoliant is available on specialty skin care sites like Bluemercury, the Dermalogica website and Dermstore. It’s also conveniently found at places you may shop regularly, like Sephora, Amazon and Ulta. Your skin will thank you!

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Andrea Carrillo
As Associate Shopping Editor at Reader's Digest, Andrea is a lifestyle writer covering all things e-commerce. She has covered streetwear, sustainability and culture for a variety of publications. When she's not on deadline, you can find her reading, collecting vintage fashion and furthering her goal of visiting every country in South America.