MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator Review, Photos, Swatches

MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator

Finally Permanent: MAC Volcanic Ash

MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator ($28.00 for 3.4 fl. oz.) is supposed to be a “foaming, cleansing, and exfoliating scrub” that combines volcanic ash with sugar crystals that is supposed to “leave skin feeling soft and comfortable clean.”  I’ve been using this exfoliator on and off since it originally debuted in 2008.  Why any brand rolls out limited edition skincare (or other basics, like eyeliners) is beyond my comprehension, but MAC has continued to re-release this exfoliator since 2008 in limited edition quantities.  However, it is now part of the permanent skin care range!

It’s a great sugar-based exfoliator that spreads evenly, easily, and foams and lathers up as you massage the granules against the skin.  It definitely leaves skin feeling softer and smoother in a few minutes.  I prefer using this in the shower–still, even after all these years!–because it also has black ash that creates a gray lather, so it’s easier to make sure it all washes off and doesn’t stay on the counter in the shower.  I haven’t used it in awhile, but I used it last night, and it is really a nice exfoliator.  It’s simple, effective, and is fun to use.

I was looking back on my previous reviews, though, and I was surprised to see the price of this change $8.50 over the past three years ($9.00 over the past four years, plus after it re-released the first time and they put it in a new tube and did some reformulation, quantity went down by about 25%).  It’s more observation than anything else, as I so rarely repurchase skincare that I’m not certain how much other brands increase skincare prices year-to-year.  MAC says it can be used on both face and body, but at this price point, it’ll just be a facial exfoliator for me!

See more photos!

MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator

MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator

MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator


Comments that do not adhere to our comment policy may be removed. Discussion and debate are highly encouraged but we expect community members to participate respectfully. Please keep discussion on-topic, and if you have general feedback, a product review request, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us!

Please help us streamline the comments' section and be more efficient: double-check the post above for more basic information like pricing, availability, and so on to make sure your question wasn't answered already. Comments alerting us to typos or small errors in the post are appreciated (!) but will typically be removed after errors are fixed (unless a response is needed).

We appreciate enthusiasm for new releases but ask readers to please hold questions regarding if/when a review will be posted as we can't commit to or guarantee product reviews. We don't want to set expectations and then disappoint readers as even products that are swatched don't always end up being reviewed due to time constraints and changes in priorities! Thank you for understanding!

Comments on this post are closed.
Veronica Avatar

The positive reviews from both you and the Muse are really tempting me to try this…but I admit I’m not particularly thrilled to hear about the price increase considering most of the drug store exfoliators I use work just fine. I’ll have to sit on it a bit before I decide to try it. 🙂

Nicole Avatar

I bought mine back in 2008 with Style Black and the tube contains 100 ml. The price policy of MAC is unbelieveable, 30 % over 4 years is not worth discussing. I don’t know any other brand I use, who increases the prices the way MAC does. Because of that I try to avoid buying MAC products and I bought lots of products over the past 13 years.

Rosalinda Avatar

I have curious to try this, but seeing as though the price has increased so ridiculously, I will pass. Quantity down, price up? Haha MAC you are seriously delusional!

xamyx Avatar

I wanted to try it in the past, but I never indulge in LE skincare. Now that it’s permanant, I may indulge. Of course, with my luck, and because it’s MAC, it’ll probably be DCd within the next year…

blueraccoon Avatar

Christine, how would you say this compares to ExfoliKate if it does at all? That’s what I’m currently using, but it’s so pricey I’d love to find a decent alternative.

Christine Avatar

Nahhhhh. The thing is, ExfoliKate does it primarily through enzymes if I’m not mistaken, and this is more of a physical exfoliator since it uses sugar granules and silica beads. You’d want to look for a chemical exfoliator, which would be more comparable to ExfoliKate.

Lark Avatar

I have my doubts about MAC Treatment. It’s an afterthought for the MACaddicts. And pretty pricey. The wipes used to be standout, but are now a perfect dupe of Neutrogenas. I think I can do better than this.

Kristina Avatar

I have a bottle from a previouse release and its taking me forever to finish because i can’t stand the smell but I never notice anyone mention it. Does anyone notice a stong mettalic smell? I’ve noticed it from the first time I used it so its not a “its gone bad smell.”

Stacey Avatar

Cant say it enough. The first time whenever whatever product is introduced is the best…the best…in cost and in volume and in quality. Afterwards it goes down the hill. Estee Lauder brand does this ALL the time…I am so used to it. It doesnt matter if it is makeup/ cosmetics, clothing, shoes, car products, gadgets, dental anesthetics, computers…all the same…quality decreases…starts being made in the USA, Japan, Germany…and then goes to China, Mexico, Pakistan. Louis Vuitton is an iconic French brand…and now makes its ware in Mexico?

Good example recently is MAC Stereo Rose…advertises .30oz on their OWN website, but if you look at the packaging…it says .29 oz. It may not be alot, but the company saves .01oz for every product that goes out…it adds up in cost savings. Same thing with dental anesthetic carpules….used to be 1.8oz per carpule…now it is 1.7oz per carpule, but the price only increases.

Lavinia Avatar


I just want to know if this is safe to use when pregnant as you need to be careful of what ingredients you use on your skin as it may not be safe for the baby

Many thanks

Lavinia Avatar


I just want to know if this is safe to use when pregnant as you need to be careful of what ingredients you use on your skin as it may not be safe for the baby

Many thanks

Kris D Avatar

This product works great for me. I seemed to break out at first, waited a week or so and tried it again with nice success. It looks like we are about 50/50 on this one.

Linda Avatar

I’ve used this exfoliator a couple years ago. I thought the size and texture of the granules were just right and I liked the way it felt on my skin. I think I actually used it on my chest (which is very comedone prone) more than my face. Anyway, after reading the review, I was rather shocked at the current price point. I mean, this is a good product, but nothing out of this world in my opinion, and I’m not sure whether this new price is justified

Nekona Avatar

This sounds pretty neat, though as a geology major I’d note that volcanic ash can be like small bits of glass.

Never the less the geology factor is probably going to lead me to buy this…

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!