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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.
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.
"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."
If you use this brand, you cannot go wrong. This is great for oily skin and the crushed apricot seeds help remove impurities.
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.
"Oh yeah that GLOW is amazing!!" wrote one Amazon reviewer. Sold!
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.
This dermatologist-developed scrub is gentle enough not only for sensitive skin, but also for aging and mature skin.
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.
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
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.
This makes your skin look brighter every time and the sizable sugar granules feel luxurious when they melt on your skin.
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.
"Not gritty and gentle on my delicate skin. I like it and use it twice a week," wrote one Amazon reviewer.
This Austrian-made face peel is made from active plant ingredients and is perfect for sensitive skin.
Face scrub for men
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.
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.
For more stories like this, check out:
- What every skin care routine should have, no matter your skin type
- 7 skin care products you should be using, no matter your age
- 14 best anti-aging wrinkle creams, serums and more
This article was originally published on Sept. 1, 2018.