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BEAUTY NEWS

THE 15 BEST FACE EXFOLIATORS FOR A GLOWING COMPLEXION

model putting a skin care product on her cheeks with some blemishes

The unsung heroes of the {skin care} world, {exfoliators} are miracle workers when it comes to banishing {breakouts}, fading {pigmentation}, reducing signs of {ageing} and bestowing that glow that you so deserve! No matter your skin concern, chances are, exfoliation is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Whether you’re on the hunt for your very first exfoliator (welcome, we’ve been expecting you!), making the leap from your trusty face scrub to a chemical alternative, or searching for a new hero product to add to your already-extensive {skin care} collection, Cult Concierge gurus {Syhem} and {Connor} are on hand with their pick of the very best face exfoliators out there in 2023.

TYPES OF EXFOLIATORS

There are two different types of exfoliators: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliators contain abrasive particles that rub against your skin to physically scrub off dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliators, on the other hand, are formulated with acids, such as alpha-hydroxy acids ({AHAs}), beta-hydroxy acids ({BHAs}), and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) that work to dissolve dead skin cells.

Chemical exfoliants are generally safer and gentler than the more abrasive physical exfoliants, but if you’re a fan of scrubbing, then take care to choose a micro-exfoliant containing small, non-coarse particles.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU EXFOLIATE?

It can take a little while for your skin to get used to exfoliating, so it’s a good idea to start with once a week, then work your way up to twice or three times a week. If your skin doesn’t seem happy – look for signs like excess oil, breakouts, dryness, redness and irritation – then stick to just once each week.

WHEN SHOULD YOU EXFOLIATE?

The best time to exfoliate your face is at night, as part of your evening skin care routine. This is because the acids make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you don’t want to go out and expose yourself to the sun’s harsh rays immediately after exfoliating. On that note, when you exfoliate, it’s more important than ever that you wear an {SPF} in the daytime.

Apply your exfoliator after cleansing your skin, and follow with your serums and moisturiser. You’ll wake up with smoother skin, a more glowing complexion, and a new layer of fresh skin cells that’ll absorb your skin care products more effectively.

THE BEST FACE EXFOLIATORS FOR EVERY SKIN TYPE

We’ve rounded up the best exfoliants for every skin care concern and every preference. Check them out!

BEST FACE EXFOLIATOR OVERALL:

14 reviews

105.00€

Achieve a professional quality treatment in the comfort of your own home with this daily peel from {Dr Dennis Gross Skincare}. Combining not only five alpha and beta hydroxy acids, but retinol, ubiquinone, resveratrol AND a whole host of antioxidants, vitamins and soothing botanicals too, this exfoliator helps to dramatically improve the appearance of blemishes, dark spots, enlarged pores, redness and signs of ageing. See why it’s our number one?!

BEST EXFOLIATOR FOR DRY SKIN:

3 reviews

70.00€

Infused with super-hydrating hyaluronic acid, the 100% natural {Odacit Bioactive Rose Gommage} exfoliator from {Odacité} is a blessing for dry skin. The hardworking 10-minute treatment is also jam-packed with exfoliating pineapple and papaya enzymes, konjac root and rose water, working together to retexturise, hydrate, purify and soothe skin for a wonderful finish, free from unwanted texture! It’s heavenly scented and can be used as a gentle gommage (French for erase) or a mask.

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR FOR OILY SKIN:

Oily skinned beauties, prepare to meet your new hero product. This 10% alpha and beta hydroxy acid serum in the form of the {T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum} from {Drunk Elephant} works wonders for diminishing oiliness. The magic combo of glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric and salicylic acids works to penetrate pores and to remove impurities while gently exfoliating dead, dulling cells. Meanwhile, the blend of raspberry extract, horse chestnut and white tea soothes and helps to prevent harsh side effects like dryness and sensitisation. Wake up to a smoother and more radiant complexion morning after morning – beauty sleep takes on a whole new meaning!

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN:

A match made in heaven for blemish-prone skin, the {Deep Sweep 2% BHA Cleaning Toner}  from {Farmacy} provides impressive exfoliation and banishes blemishes from surfacing by drawing out excess oil. The water-light toning formula calls on 2% salicylic acid to purify your pores and refine skin texture, nutrient-rich moringa seed extract and water to counteract pollution-induced impurities, papaya enzymes to gently exfoliate to reveal a radiant, consolidated complexion and antioxidant-rich chlorella lends its soothing qualities to the toner. Here we glow!

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR FOR COMBINATION SKIN:

8 reviews

92.66€

When dullness and oiliness grieve you in equal measures, look no further than the {Lactic Acid Exfoliating Serum} from {Shani Darden Skin Care}. This supercharged serum is powered by a blend of AHAs and PHAs, with lactic acid working slough away dead skin cells to reveal smoother and brighter skin, and gluconolactone doing its bit to boost the overall clarity of blemish-prone skin. On top of that there’s hyaluronic acid, green tea and aloe, helping to replenish moisture and calm inflammation while you slumber.

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR FOR SENSITIVE SKIN:

36 reviews

40.00€

The use of intelligent PHAs (which penetrate the skin less deeply than AHAs and BHAs) is what makes {Medik8}’s {Press & Glow} the perfect pick for sensitive skin. The toner-with-a-twist gently exfoliates the skin’s surface (sans irritation) while working as a mighty moisture magnet, with aloe vera to reduce irritation and prickly pear extract to encourage cell renewal and bestow you with the ultimate glow,

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR FOR PIGMENTED SKIN:

3 reviews

46.00€

Forecasting brighter skin days ahead and a farewell to dark spots, {PSA}’s {Light Up Vitamin C & E Flash Brightening Mask} restores your skin to its former glowing status in no time at all. Made with a blend of hydrating hyaluronic acid, skin-brightening vitamin C, collagen-boosting vitamin E and moisture-locking grapeseed oil, this nourishing mask banishes dullness and dark spots and unveils youthful looking radiance and an undeniable glow!

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR FOR MATURE SKIN:

35 reviews

113.00€

Undo the damage caused by years of sunlight, acne, pollution and less-than-healthy lifestyle choices (guilty!) with the {Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment} multi-purpose exfoliator from {Sunday Riley}. Featuring a potent blend of glycolic acid and lactic acid, the treatment plumps, smooths, refines, clarifies and brightens, for skin that looks smoother, younger and more vibrant. Think of it as your very own elixir of youth!

 

BEST BUDGET EXFOLIATOR:

{THE INKEY LIST} has done it again, giving the gift of high-quality skin care at ‘give-it-a-go’ prices. Their must-have {Apple Cider Vinegar Peel} unites 2% apple cider vinegar, 10% glycolic acid and a 5% multi-fruit blend, acting fast to grant visibly brighter, clearer and smoother skin that's also protected and healthy.

 

BEST VEGAN EXFOLIATOR:

1 reviews

47.40€

Proof that an apple a day keeps the dullness away, the vegan {Daily Apple Toner, Malic Acid and Prebiotic} exfoliator from {Votary} is just what the skin-doctor ordered. Powered by a brightening blend of AHAs, milk thistle, glycerin, licorice root and apple extracts, this skin-smoothing concoction gently buffs away unwanted texture, leaving skin looking and feeling as supple and glowing as ever!

 

BEST EXFOLIATING FACE SCRUB:

Not ready to make the full leap to chemical exfoliation? This dual-action exfoliator features both  physical and chemical exfoliants to remove dead skin cells and uncover unrivalled radiance. Known as ‘The Hollywood 2-minute facial’, {ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment} by {Kate Somerville} delivers incredible,  ‘fresh from the skin clinic’ results in as little as one use.

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR MASK:

78 reviews

85.00€

The multi-award-winning {Renaissance Mask} from {Oskia} is a luxurious, buttery balm designed to increase cell turnover, boost radiance and gradually reduce the appearance of fine lines and imperfections. Suitable for all, this buttery-soft, pretty-in-pink mask (with a heavenly rose chamomile fragrance) reveals noticeably smoother, more luminous skin in mere moments.

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR WITH SALICYLIC ACID:

690 reviews

39.00€

If you’re looking for an exfoliant powered by blemish-busting salicylic acid, then you’ve struck gold with the {Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant} from {Paula’s Choice}. A leave-on exfoliant for congested, oily and combination skin, this gentle, non-abrasive formula helps reduce breakouts and blackheads, with antioxidant-rich green tea extract on hand to soothe and protect. Clearer complexion, here we come…

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR WITH GLYCOLIC ACID:

Starring 5% nature-derived glycolic acid, the multiple-award-winning {Liquid Gold Exfoliating Treatment} serum from Alpha-H swiftly revitalises dulled, ageing skin that's lost its lustre, while gradually reducing the visibility of fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores, blackheads, blemishes, pigmentation, scarring and redness. In fact, there's virtually nothing this skin care miracle can't accomplish!

 

BEST EXFOLIATOR WITH LACTIC ACID:

23 reviews

54.20€

Starring 10% vegan lactic acid to accelerate cell turnover, plus thirst-quenching squalene to heal and replenish, the dual-action {Squalane and Lactic Acid Resurfacing Serum} treatment from {Biossance} is gentle but effective. Apply this phenomenal serum before you drift off and you’ll wake to brightened, bouncier skin from first application!

 

SHOP FACE EXFOLIANTS >>

Cult Beauty
Cult Beauty Writer and expert

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