Exfoliating is key to getting soft, radiant skin. But that doesn’t give you license to scratch and scrub your face until it feels tighter than a drum. See, not all exfoliators work in the same way. One that zaps flakes from a dry complexion can prompt redness from sensitive skin. So before you shop, stop and scrub, check out the dermatologist-approved picks below designed to produce a glow from every skin type.
1. For acne-plagued skin
Try to avoid harsh physical scrubs, as those tend to be too rough on skin and can spread bacteria causing active breakouts to burst, says Solana Beach, CA dermatologist Dr. Melanie Palm. Instead, look for products with beta hydroxy acid, namely salicylic acid, like Paula’s Choice CLEAR Regular Strength Acne Exfoliant. Together the acids help "regulate skin shedding and oil production, while treating active acne and fading scars,” But be wary: Frequently exfoliating skin with breakouts can have an adverse effect leading to more irritation. Aim to exfoliate no more than once a week to keep breakouts at bay and skin smooth.
Paula’s Choice | $27
2. For combination skin
Have an oily t-zone, but a dry forehead and cheeks? Then you require dual-action exfoliation. For a product that treats both dry and oily areas on the face, opt for a peel pad with glycolic and salicylic acids like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel. “ The alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid component helps to gently eliminate unwanted dry skin while treating oily skin in the T-zone,” informs Dr. Palm.
Dr. Dennis Gross | $16 for 5 Treatments
3. For dry skin
Drier skin types tend to have trouble absorbing ingredients that keep skin quenched. To combat, Dr. Palm suggests using an exfoliating product that hydrates and removes dead skin cells at the same time. Try Peter Thomas Roth's Anti-Aging Buffing Beads. “It contains both alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid and has jojoba beads to soothe dry skin as it is exfoliated,” says Dr. Palm. Don’t forget to follow your exfoliation treatment with a product that contains highly moisturizing ingredients, like free fatty acids or hyaluronic acid, to help seal in hydration.
Peter Thomas Roth | $38
4. For mature skin
If you’re seeing more dullness as you age, it’s in part due to the fact that your own body’s skin-cell-turnover rate slows with the passing years. Focus on finding a product that will help increase skin-firming collagen and reduce pigmentation, like a glycolic-acid fueled exfoliator, suggests Dr. Palm. Check out Cane + Austin Face & Body Retexture Scrub, which contains 10 percent glycolic acid to slough off dead cells without stripping skin of moisture.
Cane + Austin | $42
5. For sensitive skin
Steer clear of products with aggressive ingredients synthetic acids and physical scrubs. Instead, Dr. Palm suggests sticking to a fruit enzyme peel, like Eminence Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel. The pumpkin enzymes and lactic acid in the formula gently exfoliate so you won’t be left with an inflamed face.
Eminence | $46
6. For well-balanced skin
Those lucky enough to have a relatively fuss-free skin type can experiment with a variety of exfoliators. Dr. Palm suggests using a sonic-powered brush like the Clarisonic Smart Profile on a normal setting with a chemical exfoliator, as the tool allows the formula to penetrate more deeply, resulting in a more efficient exfoliation.
Clarisonic | $299