The Best Exfoliators for Dry, Winter Skin

Lauren Caruso
Best Exfoliators Dry Skin
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Photo: Imaxtree

Exfoliation in and of itself is kind of a gross, morbid concept: You’re basically waiting for your cells to kill themselves so you can get rid of them, making your skin bright and even. And in the winter, your face practically feels like it’s flaking off on the daily, which can make it tough to put makeup on or generally leave your house.

MORE: How to Make Dry Skin Look Dewy

But, something to keep in mind before you grab the grittiest scrub in sight: “The skin may be dry and flaky during winter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should exfoliate,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital. “After moisturizing, if there are still flakes, then you can exfoliate,” he says—but gently. That’s right: Repress the urge to scrub your face into oblivion.

Best Exfoliators Dry Skin


Instead, if your skin is truly flaking off, look for a gentle chemical exfoliator, like one with lactic acid. Not only will the lack of grit help you resist the urge to slough as hard as possible, but lactic acid is a pretty big molecule as compared to other alpha hydroxyl acids, so it won’t penetrate the skin as deeply or feel as abrasive—which is especially important for already-dry skin,  or grab a cleanser and exfoliator in one to cut down stripping your skin of its natural oils.

MORE: The 9 Best Hydrating Makeup Primers for Dry Skin

Not into lactic acid? Stick to something gentle—aka, nothing with jagged apricot seed shells—that won’t suck the moisture out of your skin. Ahead, 11 of the best exfoliators for dry, winter skin.

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Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, $55; at Ulta

Photo: Ulta

La Roche-Posay Physiological Ultra-Fine Scrub, $17.99; at Dermstore

Photo: Dermstore

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, $105; at Sephora

Photo: Sephora

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream, $35; at Sephora

Photo: Sephora

Juice Beauty Exfoliating Cleanser, $22; at Ulta

Photo: Ulta

Juara Radiance Enzyme Scrub, $38; at Credo Beauty

Photo: Credo Beauty

KORRES Wild Rose Daily Brightening Refinishing Buff Cleanser, $28; at Sephora

Photo: Sephora

Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel, $18; at Peach and Lily

Photo: Peach and Lily

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant, $29; at Paula’s Choice

Photo: Paula's Choice

Proactiv+ Skin Smoothing Exfoliator, $35.95; at Proactiv

Photo: Proactiv

Fig + Yarrow Facial Scrub, $22; at Fig + Yarrow

Photo: Fig + Yarrow

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