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 unreliable difference in keeping your skin smooth, radiant, and even better, reducing random breakouts. But it’s a process that often needs a little explanation—it’s not as simple as slathering on an emollient-rich cream and calling it a day.
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, but we gave you the best of both worlds by picking out a few of our favorites in both exfoliating categories. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown and shop these beauty buys.
VIDEO: 6 of the Best Drugstore Finds Under $15
1. KATE SOMERVILLE ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
Nicknamed the "Hollywood facial," this little tube is a Kate Somerville cult classic, containing natural AHAs to 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 softer complexion thanks to aloe and honey.
Kate Somerville | $24
2. Dr. Barbara Sturm Facial Scrub
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 chesnut to stimulate circulation and silk extract to provide the moisture your skin needs.
Dr. Barbara Sturm | $70
3. TATA HARPER Resurfacing Mask
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.
Tata Harper | $58
4. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel
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.
Dr. Dennis Gross | $16 for 5 Peels
5. BOSCIA Exfoliating Peel Gel
Not a cream or a pad but a gel, this chemical exfoliator is made with fruit AHAs to clear the surface of the skin, while pomegranate enzymes brighten and even out skin tone.
Boscia | $34
6. M-61 powerglow peel
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.
M-61 | $28 for 10 Treatments
7. ORIGINS GinZing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser
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.
Origins | $21
8. Bioré Charcoal Acne Scrub
A gritty 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.
Biore | $6