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16 best face scrubs of 2021 for a soft, youthful glow

Newsflash: If it's glowing and radiant skin you're after, you might need to exfoliate.
Woman washing her face, leaning over her sink, in the bathroom
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/ Source: TODAY

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If it's glowing and radiant skin you're after, you'll likely need to exfoliate. After all, it's exfoliation that apparently keeps Pharrell Williams and Heidi Klum looking ridiculously young.

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is "the process of removing dead cells from the surface of the skin. As dead cells accumulate, they interfere with light reflection, giving a dull appearance. Exfoliating can help improve skin radiance and even skin tone," said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a New York-based dermatologist.

Exfoliating can help keep your pores unclogged and your skin free of blemishes by reducing the amount of bacteria (yuck!) on your face. It gives your skin an instant glow. It helps your visage feel fresh and invigorated.

But before you go scrub-mad, Zeichner had some advice so you don't wind up with irritated, angry, blotchy skin (speaking from experience as someone addicted to exfoliators).

"You should look for an exfoliator that matches your skin need," said Zeichner.

(Of course, consult with your dermatologist before embarking on any skin care regimen, or if you have specific concerns or questions.)

But, it can be overwhelming to sift through the hundreds of scrubs and exfoliation products out there to find the best one, so we've done the work for you.

Face scrubs for oily or acne-prone skin

"Look for a product that contains salicylic acid. This beta hydroxy acid helps remove excess oil from the skin while exfoliating," said Zeichner.

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub

This vegan and cruelty-free brand is an Amazon bestseller. Made with natural ingredients like sea kelp to soften your skin, along with lemon peel and French green clay to exfoliate and cleanse, this scrub boasts success for all skin types.

St. Ives Fresh Skin Face Scrub

"An oldie but a goodie" is how many describe this face scrub. "It's always sure to slough off dead skin cells and build-up."

Tom Ford Exfoliating Energy Scrub

If you use this brand, you cannot go wrong. This is great for oily skin and the crushed apricot seeds help remove impurities.

Colbert MD Intensify Facial Discs

Not only is Dr. Colbert an absolutely stellar dermatologist, but these wipes help diminish dullness, fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.

Face scrubs for dull or aging skin

"Look for products that contain alpha hydroxy acid like glycolic acid. It is water-soluble and does not penetrate past the outer surface of the skin, where it can remove dead skin cells," said Zeichner.

M3 Naturals Premium Activated Charcoal Scrub

"Oh yeah that GLOW is amazing!!" wrote one Amazon reviewer. Sold!

Bobbi Brown Radiance Boost Face Mask

This face mask is made with tiny bits of walnut grain which act as a quick scrub that make the skin look fresh and polished.

Face scrubs for sensitive skin

"Look for a manual exfoliator. You have complete control over these products as you can put as much pressure as you'd like on the skin as you use them," said Zeichner.

Goldfaden MD Doctor's Scrub for Face

This dermatologist-developed scrub is gentle enough not only for sensitive skin, but also for aging and mature skin.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads

These are alcohol-free, and can be used on sensitive skin. They make for a great way to really get your face clean when you're wearing SPF creams and makeup.

Image Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque

This is an editor favorite because "this one does not have rough grains in it, so the product goes on smoothly, which is great for my sensitive skin. Bonus: it has a wonderful orange scent!"

Face scrubs for dry skin

Wishful Yo Glow Facial Enzyme Scrub

This gentle exfoliator is infused with natural ingredients like pineapple and papaya enzymes, alongside AHA and BHA which are acids that help leave your skin glowing.

Fresh Sugar Face Exfoliator

This makes your skin look brighter every time and the sizable sugar granules feel luxurious when they melt on your skin.

Ole Henriksen Transforming Walnut Scrub

This scrub foams lightly and is made with a blend of walnut powder, ginseng and chamomile extracts. "This cleanses but doesn't overly dry my skin either," wrote one Sephora reviewer.

Crepe Erase Refining Facial Scrub

"Not gritty and gentle on my delicate skin. I like it and use it twice a week," wrote one Amazon reviewer.

Susanne Kaufmann Enzyme Peel

This Austrian-made face peel is made from active plant ingredients and is perfect for sensitive skin.

Face scrub for men

Bulldog Original Face Scrub

Bulldog skin care is designed for men to help their skin handle things like the daily rigors of shaving and strain that is put on the skin. This cruelty-tee face scrub contains aloe vera, camelina oil and green tea to help lift dead skin cells and leave your face soft and smooth.

Scotch Porter Exfoliating Face Scrub

Get a spa experience for a fraction of the price with this exfoliating face scrub from Scotch Porter. Everything about this scrub will feel luxurious down to its scent, which is described on the website as "Natural West Coast citrus notes flow into a sultry spice infusion of Vetiver (Bourbon) on a rich blend of exotic wood-resins, like Palo Santo Wood and Alaskan Cedar." In other words, it smells expensive and manly.

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This article was originally published on Sept. 1, 2018.