Person exfoliating their face

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“The cells on the outer layer of your skin are dying. They can build up on the surface of your skin, causing problems such as clogged pores and blemish. Don’t worry, there’s a fix.”

Exfoliating helps remove dead cells from the surface of your skin, keeping your skin looking healthy and youthful. It does this by stimulating circulation, helping synthesize collagen, and promoting cell turnover. It also helps prevent breakouts, reduces pore size, and improves overall skin tone — a win-win.

Some of our top picks for all skin types are listed here.

Few of the facial exfoliators are one-size-fits-all, and there are a lot of them. We wanted to present a range of quality facial exfoliators at various price points, including choices for all needs and skin types.

The products that made it onto this list are skin-friendly and have a green conscience. They all have high ratings in online reviews.

Pricing guide

The price of facial exfoliators varies. The cost depends on the brand, type, and ingredients. High-end products can cost as much as $100, while low-end products can be found for as little as $10.

Our choices use a pricing guide.

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = $25–$50
  • $$$ = over $50

There are both chemical and physical exfoliators on this list.

Chemical exfoliators

Chemical exfoliators use acids and enzymes to loosen and remove dead skin cells without any scrubbing. They penetrate deeply into the skin and often include active ingredients like alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA).

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), gentle chemical exfoliators are a better choice for people with sensitive, dry, or acne-prone skin. They’re also a good choice for people with darker skin tones, since harsher exfoliants may cause hyperpigmentation.

Physical exfoliators

The other way to remove dead skin cells is to use small particles such as grains, seeds, or ground nut shells.

Those with oily skin may be able to use stronger chemical exfoliators. If you are not sure how your skin will react, it is best to start with a lighter colored item.

Best all-around chemical exfoliator

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

  • Price: $$
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: salicylic acid
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: fragrance-free; non-abrasive; may help reduce the look of pores
  • Cons: may not suitable for daily use; may cause irritation in some skin types

“Thousands of reviews of this product are positive. Many customers claim they can’t live without this exfoliant. It is a cult favorite according to the brand.”

Suitable for all skin types, it’s a gentle chemical exfoliator that contains 2 percent BHA, more commonly known as salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is recommended by the AAD for the treatment of mild acne.

The product is meant to be left on the skin and can be applied up to twice daily, but some reviewers say it causes redness, peeling, and dry skin when used too frequently.

“Paula’s Choice Skincare is a company that is upfront about the ingredients in their products, and their entire line is fragrance- and cruelty-free.”

How to use:

“The brand recommends applying the product twice a day after using a cleanser and a toner. Don’t rinse the product off if you use a cotton pad.”

Best 2-in-1 product

OLEHENRIKSEN Transforming Walnut Scrub

  • Price: $$
  • Type: physical
  • Key ingredients: walnut powder, ginseng, and chamomile extracts
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: vegan formula; may help smooth out skin texture; light pleasant scent
  • Cons: may not be a good choice for sensitive skin; contains benzyl alcohol; pricey

This vegan 2-in-1 exfoliator and cleanser uses walnut shells to slough off dead skin. With ginseng and chamomile extracts, reviewers say it has a light scent that’s not overpowering.

This scrub is paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free. However, it also contains benzyl alcohol, an ingredient that can irritate the skin, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit advocacy group that analyzes ingredients in skin care products.

“This product may not be the best choice for sensitive skin. It should be fine with other skin types. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure to rub it in.”

A word of caution: Walnut-based scrubs have sparked controversy in the past. St. Ives Apricot Scrub, which contains crushed walnut shell powder, was the subject of a 2017 lawsuit in which the plaintiffs claimed that it creates microscopic tears and clogs pores. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed over a lack of evidence.

How to use:

Use this product one or twice a week to remove dead skin and smooth out your skin’s texture. Apply the scrub and gently massage it into the skin, then rinse it off. Because it’s a cleanser and exfoliator, there’s no need to cleanse before applying.

Best value

ACURE Brightening Facial Scrub

  • Price: $
  • Type: physical
  • Key ingredients: ground walnut shell, sea kelp, green clay, sage, and lemon peel
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: designed to deeply cleanse the skin; may The skin is bright.; should be gentle enough for sensitive skin
  • Cons: hard to rinse out of the sink; not everyone loves the strong scent

Another ground walnut shell scrub, this physical exfoliator also contains sea kelp, French green clay, sage, and lemon peel for a mask-like feel. Many reviewers, including several with sensitive skin, claim it’s gentler than similar products on the market but still gives the impression of a deep clean.

They mention the thick texture and dark color, which may cause you to rinse your sink or shower out. The manufacturer suggests using it three times a week.

ACURE’s products are vegan and cruelty-free. The brand is transparent about their ingredients, and they don’t use parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, or formaldehydes.

How to use:

This scrub can be used up to three times a week. Apply the product to the face and scrub it into the skin. When you are done, rinse the product.

Best nighttime formula

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: salicylic acid, and glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: may help with uneven skin tone and texture; pro-aging support; may help with acne
  • Cons: expensive; not ideal for sensitive skin

This powerful chemical exfoliant contains a blend of AHAs, including glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids. It also contains 1 percent salicylic acid (BHA).

The vegan-friendly overnight formula is designed to help support skin as you age. It’s meant to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, even skin tone, and reduce the appearance of spots that may appear as part of the natural aging process.

It may also help reduce the appearance of pores and blackheads. It’s meant to be used alongside an oil, such as Drunk Elephant’s marula blend, for best results.

It takes part of its funky name from raspberry extracts, which may help protect skin cells from free radicals. It also contains horse chestnut extract, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound known to improve the appearance of capillaries.

It is a bit of a splurge if you plan on using it every day. Some customers would love to use it all the time, but they are torn by the price.

How to use:

The brand recommends applying the product in the evening. Leave the serum on for a while while you sleep.

You can mix it with your favorite face oil to use as a spot treatment.

Best for oily skin

Clinique Exfoliating Scrub

  • Price: $
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: salicylic acid
  • Best for: oily and combination skin
  • Pros: may offer a refreshing feel; vegan formula; fragrance-free
  • Cons: not suitable for dry skin; a handful of reviewers found it didn’t exfoliate as well as they’d hoped

98% of reviewers say they would recommend this product, and it has a 4.5 out of 5 rating from customers at the store. It is designed to leave your skin feeling refreshed.

The price of this exfoliant is comparable to similar products on the market. You might not know that Clinique uses all vegan ingredients, but they are a well-established and trusted name. This formula is free of many potential allergens and irritants.

How to use:

The product can be applied in the morning or night. Rub the scrub into the skin. You can use it up to four times a week.

Best for men’s skin

Clinique Exfoliating Tonic

  • Price: $
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: salicylic acid and witch hazel
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: helps prep skin for shaving; may help control oil production; may reduce the look of pores
  • Cons: contains alcohol; may irritate sensitive skin

This daily exfoliant is designed to remove dead skin and smooth out skin for men. It may help to prevent them from getting stuck in the future. You can apply it before shaving.

Reviewers say the tonic helps remove dirt and prevents ingrown hairs from shaving. One person says that it may not be a good choice for sensitive skin since it contains potential irritants.

It is a poor choice for people with dry skin since it contains alcohol.

How to use:

After cleansing, apply this product to the skin.

Best for dry skin

SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub

  • Price: $$
  • Type: physical
  • Key ingredients: diatomaceous earth, aloe vera
  • Best for: all skin types (except sensitive skin)
  • Pros: may clean pores; may improve skin’s texture; designed to leave behind soft skin
  • Cons: contains parabens; not suitable for sensitive skin

The scrub is made from a soft rock called diatomaceous earth and is meant to cleanse and smooth the skin. It is not suitable for people with sensitive skin.

It also includes aloe vera, which adds moisture to the skin and is known to help with skin issues such as eczema and acne. It has a very mild, almost unnoticeable scent.

One of the cons is that this formula contains ethylparaben, butylparaben, isobutyl paraben, and propylparaben. Parabens are easily absorbed through the skin and can interfere with hormone-driven functions in the body, such as menstruation and reproduction.

How to use:

Apply to the face and neck with a circular motion. Warm water is a good way to rinse off the product. Use in the morning or night.

Best for morning

Origins GinZing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • Type: physical
  • Key ingredients: panax ginseng and coffee beans
  • Best for: oily, combination, or normal skin
  • Pros: vegan; should offer a refreshing feel; has a scent many users like
  • Cons: drying formula; not suitable for dry skin

The microbead gel is recommended to be used in the morning to help wake your skin up. Customers say it is gentle enough to use as part of their daily skincare routine, making it more of a cleanser than a hardcore exfoliant.

Mint, citrus, and grapefruit extracts give it a punchy, invigorating scent. Skin-friendly ingredients include ginseng, an antioxidant that may help with conditions such as eczema, and caffeine from coffee beans, an ingredient that has been shown to have numerous benefits for skin.

The products of Origins are vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. They are known for their commitment to safe and natural ingredients.

How to use:

After massaging the product into the skin, rinse it off with warm water.

The product should be used daily.

Best pro-aging formula

DRMTLGY Microdermabrasion Scrub

  • Price: $
  • Type: physical and chemical
  • Key ingredients: pumice particles, glycolic acid, green tea leaf extracts
  • Best for: every skin type
  • Pros: may help with blemishes; may improve skin texture and tone
  • Cons: some say it leaves behind a residue

The facial scrub uses a stone called pumice to remove dead skin cells and to improve tone and texture.

Reviewers say it is very gentle since the particles are very fine. Improvements in the appearance of blemish are mentioned.

Other potent ingredients (and chemical exfoliators) include glycolic acid from sugarcane extracts and apple fruit extract, which contains AHAs. Green tea leaf extracts provide antioxidant action.

It is meant to be suitable for all skin types. It is easy to apply. The company suggests using it a lot.

How to use:

Slowly massage the scrub into the skin, keeping it away from the eyes and lips. Warm water is the best way to rinse the product off. Use up to four times a week.

Best enzyme-based formula

Savor Beauty Pumpkin Enzyme Peel

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: pumpkin enzyme, lactic acid, gluconic acid, beta carotene
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: may help The skin is bright.; may help reduce the look of blemishes and fine lines
  • Cons: not suitable for pregnant people; scent might not be for everyone

This product harvests the power of pumpkins, along with lactic and gluconic acid, to gently exfoliate the skin. It also contains beta carotene, an antioxidant that promotes skin health and may reduce sun sensitivity.

It is between a gel and a mask with a goopy texture. The company recommends applying it with a brush and leaving it on the skin for a few minutes before rinsing.

It is appropriate for all skin types, but the company warns against using it while pregnant. Reviewers say it looks and smells like a pumpkin spice latte, making it a tempting way to indulge in a bit of self-care.

How to use:

This peel can be used twice a week. To cleanse skin, apply a thin layer. Leave it on for a few minutes and then rinse it off.

Best wipes

Bluemercury M-61 PowerGlow Peel

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: glycolic acid, salicylic acid
  • Best for: all skin types (especially dry)
  • Pros: may even out skin tone and texture; may reduce the look of pores; gentle scent
  • Cons: expensive; doesn’t work for everyone

A popular peel on both Bluemercury and third-party sites, this one-minute peel is applied to the face using a presoaked towelette. After waiting a minute, follow up with a moisturizers.

Though this is called a “peel,” it doesn’t actually make your skin peel. The active ingredients are glycolic acid (AHA) and salicylic acid (BHA). Both ingredients can help even out skin tone and texture, and may also help to reduce the appearance of pore size. Extracts such as bilberry provide antioxidant action, while the chamomile and lavender extracts give it a pleasant scent.

“It is vegan and cruelty-free. It doesn’t contain any of the chemicals that are found in synthetic dyes. It is cheaper than most tube and bottle formulas, but it is convenient for traveling and skin care on the go.”

How to use:

After cleansing, wipe the towelette on your face and neck to dry it out. There is no need to rinse the product. If your skin can tolerate daily use, apply three times a week.

Best facial-style exfoliator

Kate Sommerville ExfoliKate Intensive Pore Exfoliating Treatment

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: physical and chemical
  • Key ingredients: salicylic acid, lactic acid, silica, aloe vera, vitamins E, C, A
  • Best for: all skin types (except sensitive)
  • Pros: may even out skin tone and texture; may The skin is bright.; only need a small amount
  • Cons: expensive; not suitable for sensitive skin

This is a favorite among celebrities and beauty writers. Kate Somerville is a Los Angeles aesthetician who created the Hollywood 2-minute facial.

What makes this product unique is that it uses both physical and chemical exfoliants — including salicylic acid, lactic acid, silica, and plant enzymes — to do the job. It also contains a collection of skin-friendly antioxidants, including aloe vera, honey, and vitamins A, C, and E.

“It is more affordable than a facial at a salon. Users say it has an amazing smell and leaves their skin feeling clean and cool. Others warn that this isn’t a product for sensitive skin.”

How to use:

The brand recommends applying the product once or twice a week. Apply a small amount and massage it into the skin. Leave on for a while and rinse off.

Best drugstore

Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub

  • Price: $
  • Type: physical
  • Key ingredients: micro-fine granules, vitamins C, B5 and E
  • Best for: all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin
  • Pros: dermatologist-tested; shouldn’t clog pores; designed to be non-irritating
  • Cons: contains some iffy ingredients; medicinal scent

This sensitive-skin formula is designed for everyday use. It aims to both cleanse and exfoliate, using micro-fine granules to buff the skin. It also contains skin-nourishing compounds like vitamin B5 and vitamin E.

“This brand has been supported by the dermatologists in the US. It doesn’t test on animals and has a reputation for gentle skin care products.”

However, this and other Cetaphil products contain a few ingredients that have been flagged as potentially risky by the EWG. These include sodium hydroxide, sodium benzoate, and phenoxyethanol. The scent is somewhat medicinal.

How to use:

You can use this product daily to cleanse, purify, and replenish the skin.

Best for sensitive skin

Glossier Exfoliating Skin Perfector

  • Price: $
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: dermatologist-tested; vegan; may help clear skin; may smooth skin texture
  • Cons: sticky texture

The chemical exfoliant from Glossier uses a potent combination of acids to help clear skin of blemish, tone, and texture.

It is gentle enough to use daily, and it may help with skin problems.

Some say it has a sticky texture, which can be hard to get used to. If texture is a dealbreaker, you might want to look for an exfoliant.

Even though this product is gentle, it is a good idea to do a patch test before trying any skincare product.

How to use:

If you want to use it more often, you should use it once every 3 days.

After cleansing, apply the product to a cotton pad. Wait until the product gets absorbed into the skin before you wipe the pad over your face and neck.

Best for combination skin

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: salicylic acid, phytic acid, colloidal oatmeal
  • Best for: normal, combination, and oily skin
  • Pros: vegan formula; may help improve skin texture; may help unclogs pores
  • Cons: pricey; some find the scent unpleasant

This cleanser and exfoliant is a good option for people with combination skin who have a lot of skin issues. Salicylic acid helps clear up the blocked pores.

phytic acid is meant to help lighten the skin and get rid of dead skin cells that can cause rough, even texture. It is possible that oatmeal can help calm the skin.

“Many combination skin reviewers say the product helps clear up the signs ofAcne and smooths out the skin, but some don’t like the scent. Some customers don’t like the consistency of the powder.”

How to use:

Wet your face and hands. If you want the powder to stay in your hand, add some water and it will foamy. After about 1 minute, rinse the product with warm water.

Best for brightening

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: salicylic, glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: may The skin is bright.; may smooth out roughness; should leave skin feeling fresh
  • Cons: expensive; some say it made them breakout

Drunk Elephant is on our list again. People love this brand.

The chemical exfoliant is similar to a facial. It is designed to be used once a week and is intended to help remove dead skin cells and build up, in order to help the skin look better.

It may help reduce the appearance of fine lines that come naturally with age.

It is also free of iffy ingredients like alcohols, silicones, and added fragrance.

The formula also contains chickpea flour to help prevent dullness and plant extracts like apple and milk thistle. The plant extracts have anti-oxidants properties that should help promote skin health.

Reviewers agree that it helps clear up skin and leaves behind an illuminated appearance. Some people say it caused them to get breakouts.

How to use:

The brand recommends applying the serum once a week. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then increase it to 20 minutes over time.

Best exfoliating toner

The Inkey List PHA Toner

  • Price: $
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: PHA, niacinamide, aloe leaf juice,
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: may help with dull and uneven skin tone; suitable for use morning or night; pregnancy and breastfeeding safe
  • Cons: can flare acne-prone skin

This PHA toner is gentle enough for sensitive skin and designed to help even out skin tone. The toner contains ingredients that help with skin care, including aamide, and a remedy for skin irritation.

Reviewers say it is a great choice for dry and sensitive skin. People with active breakouts may find the product sting.

How to use:

It is a good idea to use this in the morning or night after cleansing. Use a cotton pad to apply it all over the face and neck. No rinsing is required.

Best mask

Caudalie Vinoperfect Glycolic Peel Mask

  • Price: $$
  • Type: chemical
  • Key ingredients: patented viniferine, glycolic acid, AHAs
  • Best for: all skin types
  • Pros: may The skin is bright.; designed to be gentle; may improve skin tone
  • Cons: some agree it’s gentle but say it’s not as effective as other options

If you prefer an at- home spa, you might like the idea of a mask exfoliant. The peel mask from Caudalie is formulated to leave behind a brighter, smoother skin.

“It contains a patented wine-sourced ingredient that may help even out skin tone, and it also contains a patented wine-sourced ingredient that may help improve the skin’s texture. It seems gentle for sensitive skin and is more affordable than other exfoliants.”

Several people say it leaves their skin feeling clean and fresh, and that it helps with the problem ofAcne.

How to use:

You can apply it twice a week. Leave the mask on for 10 minutes. After that, rinse it off with water.

Best for acne-prone skin

Differin Gel Daily Brightening Exfoliator

  • Price: $
  • Type: physical and chemical
  • Key ingredients: jojoba beads, white tea, aloe, coconut oil extract
  • Best for: acne-prone skin
  • Pros: suitable for acne-prone skin; may smooth out skin; may unclog pores
  • Cons: strong scent; reviewers say it doesn’t clear up all acne

This gel exfoliant is used for skin that is prone to inflammation. The brand claims that it can be used during active breakouts.

The product is designed to cleanse and help with skin care. White tea and coconut oil extract help keep the skin hydrated.

“It is oil-free, dermatologist-tested, and shouldn’t cause any problems.”

“Reviewers say it works well to keep the skin clear and helps prevent excess dryness that is common with other products. Some people think the scent isn’t great.”

How to use:

To use this product, massage it into damp skin and rinse it off. It is gentle enough for daily use.


Identifying which skin issues you want to improve by using exfoliants is the first step. Do you want to control the appearance of your skin? Improve your skin tone? Decrease the appearance of the skin? Support your skin as it ages? Some products target some issues. Choose products that are in line with your needs.

Skin type

You can narrow down products by determining if they are recommended for your skin type. It is possible to get reviews or recommendations from customers who have the same skin type as you.

If you are new to exfoliators, it is best to start with a mild chemical. You can see how your skin reacts before you try something more potent. If you want to use a physical exfoliator, use gentle pressure.

It is not possible to know what will work best on your skin until you try it.

Ingredients and values

If possible, check the product’s ingredients before you buy. It’s best to avoid products that contain potentially harmful or irritating ingredients like alcohol, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and formaldehydes. The EWG provides a comprehensive list of ingredients to avoid.

There are also claims that a product is all-natural. These claims are often not true.

Keep in mind your budget and values. Is it important to you that the product is vegan or cruelty-free?

You should have a list of at least a few products that fit your needs, skin type, budget, and values.

Finding the best product is a matter of trial and error. You should only try one product at a time.

If you already use over-the-counter or skin care medications, such as retinol or benzoyl peroxide, consider talking to a dermatologist before adding an exfoliator to your skincare routine. These products can make your skin especially sensitive.

“If you want to know if a new exfoliator will work on your face, you should test it on a patch of skin on your body. If you experience redness or irritation, wait 24 hours. You are likely good to go if you don’t experience a reaction.”

The instructions on the product label are for the best results. Chemical exfoliators can be applied with a cotton pad or cloth. You can apply physical exfoliators to your hands. Rub them into your skin with a circular motion.

Some products are meant to stay on your face, while others should be washed off. If you use a wash-off product, rinse your face with warm water and apply a moisturizer to protect your skin.

Why bother exfoliating your face? Isn’t cleansing enough? This skincare step may help:

  • The skin is bright.
  • Product absorption can be improved.
  • Keep your skin clean.
  • prevent the spread of diseases
  • Increase production of collagen.

How often you should exfoliate depends on the product and your skin type. Some products are harsher and it’s enough to use them once or twice a week. Gentler products can be used on a daily basis.

According to the AAD, people with dry skin may need to exfoliate less frequently, and people with oily skin may need to exfoliate more frequently.

If you notice redness or irritation, you may be over-exfoliating. Stop using the product and talk to your doctor about how often to use it.

“If you are experiencing any kind of skin condition that is affecting your self-esteem, it is a good idea to see a dermatologist. It doesn’t matter how minor it is, you should get advice from a professional.”

“If you have a condition like rosacea, or have sensitive skin, it’s helpful to talk with a skincare expert before you start scrubbing.”

What do dermatologists recommend exfoliating?

It is not just your face that could benefit from a good scrub. The rest of the skin on your body can be removed.

How often should you actually exfoliate your face?

It is a good idea to have two or three times a week.

Is it bad to exfoliate your face every day?

Not necessarily. If you notice redness or excess dry skin, it might be time to cut back on how often you scrub.

Which is better: face scrub or exfoliant?

This depends on your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, scrubbing with a scrub may be more harmful than good.

How can I exfoliate my face at home?

You can try using any of the products listed above.

Exfoliating on a regular basis should help to keep your skin looking healthy by removing dead skin cells that can cause problems in the future.

There are many quality products. It can take a bit of time to find the right product for your skin type and budget.