Five Types of Facial Exfoliators and Who They’re For

Five Types of Facial Exfoliators and Who They're For Photo by Gustavo Fring

When it comes to achieving radiant and youthful-looking skin, exfoliation is a skincare step you shouldn’t skip. Exfoliating regularly helps remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and promote cell turnover, leaving your complexion fresh and rejuvenated. However, not all exfoliators are created equal, and choosing the right one for your skin type and concerns is essential. To mark the beginning of a special offer of 20% off of exfoliating products, explore five types of facial exfoliators and who they’re best suited for:

Physical Exfoliators

Physical exfoliators, also known as mechanical exfoliators, use abrasive particles or tools to physically slough away dead skin cells. Common ingredients include sugar, salt, ground nuts, or even skincare brushes. While they can be effective, caution is required when using physical exfoliants to avoid over-scrubbing, which can damage the skin. There are, however, physical exfoliators which are incredibly finely milled and polish the skin while supporting the moisture barrier for healthier-looking skin
Best for: Physical exfoliators are suitable for those with normal to oily skin and a strong epidermal barrier. Avoid them if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, as they can exacerbate irritation.

Product Recommendation: Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant

Chemical Exfoliators

Chemical exfoliators use acids like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to dissolve dead skin cells. AHAs are water-soluble and work on the skin’s surface, while BHAs are oil-soluble and penetrate deeper into pores. They are milder than physical exfoliants and provide more even and controlled exfoliation.
Best for: Chemical exfoliants are versatile and can benefit most skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin. Choose the type of acid and concentration based on your specific needs.

Product recommendation: Murad Vita-C Triple Exfoliating Facial

Enzyme Exfoliators

Enzyme exfoliators contain natural fruit enzymes (such as papain from papaya or bromelain from pineapple) that gently digest and dissolve dead skin cells. They are typically less abrasive than physical exfoliants and work by breaking down the proteins that hold skin cells together.
Best for: Enzyme exfoliators are excellent for sensitive or dry skin types, as they provide a gentle exfoliation without causing irritation.

Product recommendation: Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel 

Exfoliating Scrubs

Exfoliating scrubs combine physical and chemical exfoliation. These products often contain abrasive particles along with chemical exfoliants to provide a more thorough and controlled exfoliation. They can help with improving skin texture and promoting a healthy glow.
Best for: Those with normal to combination skin can benefit from exfoliating scrubs. However, be cautious if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, and use them sparingly to avoid irritation.

Product recommendation: Medik8 Pore Refining Scrub 

Exfoliating Masks

Exfoliating masks are concentrated treatments that provide a deeper exfoliation. They may contain various exfoliating agents, such as clay, AHAs, or enzymes, and are left on the skin for a specified time before rinsing off. These masks can offer both immediate and long-term benefits for your skin.
Best for: Exfoliating masks are suitable for most skin types but are especially beneficial for those looking to address specific concerns, such as dullness or uneven skin tone. Use them as a weekly treatment to maintain healthy skin.

Product recommendation: REN Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

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