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We will never get tired of waxing poetic about the wonders of exfoliation. Yes, it’s a process that our bodies naturally go through already, but as we get older and forget to show our skin a little more love, it requires even more just to stay afloat. It’s an unfortunate reality that requires the use of topical formulas, including face exfoliators, to fix. Fortunately, it’s an add-on that product junkies like ourselves don’t mind giving into.
If you’re new to this, there are a couple ways to go about helping your body slough away dead skin cells so new, fresh ones can settle in faster. If you wouldn’t categorize yourself as a sensitive skin type and the idea of chemical exfoliation is something you’d rather ease into, physical exfoliants are an ideal option to start with. This includes anything made with grains or sugars or a cleansing brush, though you should always steer clear of using this too frequently and risk irritation.
On the other hand, skin care experts frequently recommend incorporating a chemical exfoliant into your routine, whether it’s in a cleanser, serum, toner or mask. This makes exfoliation routine maintenance instead of a once-in-awhile thing you do whenever a pimple pops up. The most popular ones are split into two categories–AHAs for exfoliating top layers and BHAs for tackling deeper ones–as well as enzymes that provide a gentler cleanse. Not sure which method to go with? Start by investing in any of these exfoliators. All of them are top-rated and at an affordable price so you can get a glow-up that’ll have friends asking who your facialist is.
C&C by Clean & Clear Black Out Blackhead Clearing Coffee Scrub
Oil-free and scented with coffee, this chemical exfoliant is made with salicylic acid–a BHA for combatting breakouts–to gently clear dirt and buildup without drying out the skin.
$12 at Ulta
Dermalogica Travel Size Daily Microfoliant
No need to worry about irritation since this physical exfoliant is made with barely-there rice enzymes and papain that activate once combined with water to smooth the skin and encourage faster cell renewal. Also includes salicylic acid for preventing future breakouts and treating current ones.
$15 at Ulta
Garnier SkinActive 3-in-1 Charcoal Cleanser, Scrub & Mask
This one literally does it all. Formulated with the oily skin-fighting combo of charcoal and clay, you’ll be reduces oil, as well as addressing breakouts and smoothing out rough texture.
$7.99 at CVS
The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Microdermabrasion
This physical exfoliant, thanks to ultra-fine garnet particles, is also made with Amazonian camu camu berry, a fruit rich in vitamin C, which helps brighten the skin’s complexion over time.
$17.25 at Ulta
Bliss micro magic Skin-Renewing Microdermabrasion Scrub
Bring the spa home, thanks to this tiny tube of microdermabrasion ingredients, including volcanic pumice, which acts as a gentle exfoliant, and kaolin clay, which draws out excess oil.
$15 at Bliss
Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Nightly Brightening Pads- Travel Size
A gang of fruit acids, vitamin B3, and hyaluronic acid work overnight to gradually diminish dark spots and promote an overall brighter complexion.
$12 at Juice Beauty
Mario Badescu Keratoplast Cream Soap
If you’re looking for a gentle option that will still exfoliate, this one’s for you. It’s made with isodecyl salicylate, a little-known beta-hydroxy acid that’ll attack breakouts head-on, as well as keratoplast, which tackles redness.
$12 at Ulta
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
Dermatologically-tested, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, this salicylic acid-infused cleanser removes dirt and oil without the help of harsh physical exfoliants like grains and beads.
$13.99 at Ulta
Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub
A hypoallergenic option also infused with extra skin conditioners to address uneven texture and breakouts without irritating the skin.
$7.94 at Walmart
Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Cleanser
With both AHAs and BHAs in one formula, you’ve got all bases covered when it comes to addressing deep-rooted breakouts and top layers of dead skin cells at the same time.
$6.99 at Target
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel
The lesser-known astrigent in this cleanser, zinc pidolate, works to slough away dead skin cells, as well as suck dirt and grime out of the skin.
$14.99 at La Roche-Posay
Freeman Cleansing Clay Mask + Scrub
Formulated with apple cider vinegar for your most clarifying rinse yet, leaving skin squeaky clean without over-drying it.
$5.80 at Amazon
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that exfoliates the top layer of skin, making this a must-have addition to your cleansing routine.
$8.70 at The Ordinary
L’Oreal Pure-Sugar Scrub/Exfoliant
If you prefer the physical scrub feel of an exfoliant, this scrub–made with three pure sugars and ultra-nourishing cocoa–will leave you feeling brand new.
$9.28 at Amazon
Acure Brilliantly Brightening Facial Scrub
All of the exfoliants in this treatment come straight from and around the sea: sea kelp for softening, French green clay for cleansing Madonna lily for brightening.
$7.22 at Amazon
Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub
Both a physical and chemical exfoliant, this sensitive skin-friendly cleanser includes vitamins B5 and vitamin E for lifting dead skin cells and moisture, as well as rice for gentle exfoliation.
$7.99 at CVS
e.l.f. Gentle Peeling Exfoliant
With the exfoliating powers of tangerine, papaya and licorice, your skin is getting the fruit acid boost it needs to shed dead cells and get a fresh start.
$10 at Ulta
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant-Travel Size
This cult fave includes a healthy dose of the famous BHA salicylic acid to shed the lower layers the dead skin and address breakouts.
$10 at Paula’s Choice
Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic
This drugstore formula includes 5 percent glycolic acid for gentle exfoliation and aloe to soothe the top layers simultaneously.
$15 at Target
MD Complete Clarifying Gel Mask
This once-a-month treatment is a powerhouse of AHAs and BHAs, all of which exfoliate the skin from its to inner layers for a brighter, clearer and smoother complexion.
$19.99 at MD Complete
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