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What’s the best face exfoliator for me?

What’s the best face exfoliator for me?
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When it comes to choosing the best face exfoliator for you, there are countless different options on the market. From physical to chemical, and everything in between depending on your skin type and concern, the world of exfoliants and acids can be daunting. We have broken it down into a key edit of the best face exfoliators, so you can get a glowing and brightened complexion without causing redness or irritation.

Physical exfoliators

What is physical exfoliation?

The most widely recognised exfoliator, physical exfoliators are actual scrubs that buff away dead skin cells, impurities and excess oil. They work by using ingredients like walnut shell, salt or sugar to take away dying skin cells and reveal a fresh and luminous complexion.

Anything I need to worry about?

Physcial exfoliators are not as gentle as their chemical counterparts, meaning if you have sensitive skin, they may not be for you. If you want to go ahead, then make sure you look for natural-based ingredients; we have put our favourite suggestion below.

Are there other forms of physical exfoliation than scrubs?

Techincally, there's microdermabrasion. It is however fairly expensive, and shouldn't be done more than once a month ideally. We need to be exfoliating our skin around once to twice a week, so you need to be incorporating additional exfoliation into your routine even if you choose to get microdermabrasion.

  • For dry skin: Pai's Kukui and Jojoba Skin Brightening Exfoliator feels super hydrating even as it's buffing and polishing. It contains omega fatty acids to seal in moisture and keep the skin glowing.
  • For sensitive skin: You can't beat the ELEMIS Gentle Rose Exfoliator. It has natural jojoba beads which feel gentle considering it's a physcial exfoliant, and leaves the skin glowing.
  • For oily/combination skin:Dermalogica's Skin Prep Scrub is a cult classic and one which we always come back to. It contains natural corn cob meal which polishes the skin, and is great for skin with excess oil production thanks to its pore declogging abilities.
  • Pai Skincare Kukui and Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator 75ml

    Pai Skincare Kukui and Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator 75ml

    5 Stars 1 Reviews
  • Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator 50ml

    Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator 50ml

    4.69 Stars 35 Reviews

Chemical exfoliators

What is chemical exfoliation?

Don't be put off by the term "chemical"; it's just the process of removing dead skin cells, dirt and impurities withount physically sloughing them away. It relies on using acids, such as AHA's and BHA's to give you a radiant glow and brighten the skin by aiding cellular turnover.

What are AHA & BHA's?

  • AHA refers to the term "alpha-hydroxy acid" and they're derived from natural sources. Think glycolic and lactic acid, derived from sugar and milk. You can also get fruit acids here too. They work by melting the cellular "glue" which holds the skin cells together, to help the skin naturally exfoliate away any dulling debris. They tend to be more gentle and work better for people with any skin sensitivity.
  • BHA's on the contrary are for people who mean business when it comes to exfoliation. Beta-hydroxy acids love oil, so are best for complexions which are combination or blemish-prone. They work by unclogging the oil that blocks your pores and normalising its lining; helping to reduce the chances of further breakouts or acne. One of the most well known BHA's is salicylic acid, and is great for spots.

Which is the best skincare acid for me?

  • For hyperpigmentation: We love the new REN Ready Glow AHA Tonic. It contains lactic acid to gently exfoliate and minimise the appearance of large pores. while willow bark extract (a natural BHA) prevents further pigmentation and blemishes.
  • For sensitivity: The Pixi Glow Tonic is perhaps the best face exfoliator for sensitive skin. Formulated with a 5% glycolic acid base, it also contains naturally hydrating and soothing aloe vera and ginseng to cushion and nurture the skin as it exfoliates.
  • For blemish-prone skin: You can't beat Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. It's won countless awards and is a cult item for many. Packed with salicylic acid, it sloughs away dead skin cells and debris, all while reducing redness and inflammation.
  • REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic 250ml

    REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic 250ml

    4.48 Stars 90 Reviews
  • PIXI Glow Tonic 250ml (Worth £25.00)

    PIXI Glow Tonic 250ml (Worth £25.00)

    4.66 Stars 357 Reviews
  • Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant (118ml)

    Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant (118ml)

    4.76 Stars 85 Reviews
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Our team of beauty experts cover everything from makeup to skincare, picking out the most effective products from the best brands and latest trends. Stay up to date on everything beauty with the LOOKFANTASTIC blog, and find all your essentials in one place.