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10 Facial Exfoliators That Will Completely Transform Your Skin

Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliators

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The secret to better skin might just be the step you always skip. Cleansing and moisturizing are second nature to one’s routine, but exfoliating can make an unbelievable difference in keeping your skin smooth, radiant, and even better, reducing random breakouts. But, it’s a process that often needs a little explanation. 

There are different types of exfoliators—physical and chemical—and they slough off dead skin cells in their very own way. What you choose depends greatly on your skin type and how you react to specific ingredients. Do you want a face scrub? A peel pad? An exfoliating gel?

We gave you the best of both worlds by picking out a few of our favorites in both phyiscal and chemical exfoliating categories. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown and shop these beauty buys. 

Photo: Wire SHK/

Best Exfoliator for Smoother Skin: Kate Somerville ExfoliKate

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Nicknamed the "Hollywood facial," this little tube is a Kate Somerville cult classic, containing natural AHAs and fruit enzymes to get rid of dead skin cells on the surface that could potentially lead to clogged pores. In addition to smoother skin, you get a softening bonus thanks to aloe and honey.

Related: Are the Health Claims About Manuka Honey As Amazing As They Seem?

Buy it, $24

Photo: Kate Somerville

Best Exfoliator for Dry Skin: Dr. Barbara Sturm Facial Scrub

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Like every other product in the Dr. Barbara Sturm skincare line, her physical facial scrub contains purslane, a superfood ingredient that's rich in antioxidants and is considered antibacterial and an anti-inflammatory. But unlike other scrubs, Dr. Sturm upped the ante by adding in horse chestnut to stimulate circulation and silk extract to provide the moisture your skin needs. (Even Victoria's Secret models use Sturm's products.)

Buy it, $70

Photo: Nordstrom

Best Clean Beauty Exfoliator: Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

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You can also get your exfoliating in by indulging in a face mask while you sit back and binge on Netflix—just keep track of the time. Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask contains natural BHAs, fruit enzymes, and even clay to exfoliate skin cells but also reduce the size of your pores all in 15 to 30 minutes.

Buy it, $58

Photo: Sephora

Best Anti-Aging Exfoliator: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Peel

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As far as exfoliating treatments go, Dr. Dennis Gross take on the treatment is a cult-classic. A chemical exfoliator, these little pads are soaked in seven different acids, or AHAs, to smooth your skin and create a more radiant canvas, but there's a second step to the process. The second pad neutralizes the acids at work, and even delivers anti-aging ingredients into the equation.

Buy it, $16

Photo: Amazon

Best Gel Exfoliator: Boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel

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Not a cream or a pad but a gel, this chemical and physical exfoliator is made to gently exfoliate the surface of the skin for a smoother-feeling face. In addition, pomegranate enzymes brighten and even out skin tone. (If you're into gel, also try these gel moisturizers for every skin type.)

Buy it, $34

Photo: Sephora

Best 60-Second Exfoliator: M-61 Powerglow Peel

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A Bluemercury best-seller, this product gives you no excuse for not exfoliating. All it takes is one minute to work its magic, and it's infused with both BHAs and AHAs in the forms of glycolic and salicylic acids to promote smoother, younger-looking, and clearer skin.

Buy it, $28

Photo: Amazon

Best Exfoliator for Brightening: Origins GinZing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser

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If you need an AM exfoliating treatment, Origins has you covered. This orange tube, a physical exfoliator, is made with jojoba and carnauba wax to kick dead skin cells to the curb, while caffeine (told you it was good for the AM) and ginseng promote a brighter, glowier complexion.

Buy it, $21

Photo: Origins

Best Drugstore Exfoliator: Bioré Charcoal Acne Scrub

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A gritty yet gentle, physical scrub, this drugstore staple contains salicylic acid to clear out your pores and charcoal to provide your skin with a deep cleanse from dirt, oil, and other debris.

Buy it, $6

Photo: Ulta Beauty

Best Exfoliator for Acne: Glossier Solution

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Glossier's Solution is newer to the market, but it's already considered a fan-favorite for helping to reduce breakouts. The AHA and BHA chemical exfoliator helps to smooth the surface of the skin, and takes a deep dive to unclog pores and regulate sebum production. The result? Clearer, less oily skin that's less prone to acne flare-ups.

Buy it, $24

Photo: Glossier

Best Exfoliator for Sensitive Skin: Avéne Gentle Exfoliating Gel

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If you have sensitive skin, all things Avéne belong in your medicine cabinet, particularly this exfoliator. With jojoba beads and salicylic acid, it exfoliates on both a physical and chemical level, while Avéne signature thermal spring water calms and soothes irritation and redness.

This story was originally published on by Victoria Moorhouse.

Buy it, $20

Photo: Walgreens


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