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Regular exfoliation is key for maintaining smooth skin texture and an even complexion. If you’re looking to add an effective exfoliant to your skincare routine, here are our recommendations for the best exfoliating products.
1. AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner
Mizon Product for Gentle Exfoliation
Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner
This toner is an excellent product if you’re looking for gentle daily exfoliation. It contains AHAs, BHAs, and papaya enzymes that exfoliate to unclog pores and smooth tone and texture.
Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Gentle Exfoliation
Tested on animals:
How to use: After cleansing, soak a cotton pad with the toner, and then swipe all over the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
This exfoliating toner contains glycolic acid and lactic acid, which are alpha hydroxy acids. These AHAs work on the surface of the skin to improve tone and texture and minimize signs of aging. It also contains salicylic acid, a BHA that works deep in the pores to unclog and prevent acne.
In addition to the AHAs and BHAs, this toner contains glycerin, which hydrates, and papaya fruit extract, which further exfoliates.
These pads are soaked with a 2% concentration of salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (or BHA). Salicylic acid is an incredibly effective chemical exfoliator that unclogs pores to help treat current breakouts and prevent new acne from forming.
These alcohol-free pads are textured, which increases the product’s ability to sweep away debris and exfoliate the skin.
This super powerful mask has a 25% concentration of an AHA blend (glycolic acid, tartaric acid, lactic acid, and citric acid), as well as a 2% concentration of BHA (salicylic acid). These chemical exfoliators fight signs of aging, smooth the skin, brighten, and unclog pores. It also contains chickpea flour, which brightens the skin.
Vegan and cruelty-free
May irritate sensitive skin
Since this mask has such powerful active ingredients, it is best to avoid applying serums or treatments with other strong actives (like AHAs, BHAs, and retinol) after use.
All skin types need regular exfoliation in order to maintain smooth and clear skin. However, some may need a gentler exfoliation to minimize irritation. This option contains lactic acid, a mild alpha-hydroxy acid that gently exfoliates the skin to minimize hyperpigmentation, improve texture, and promote a clear complexion.
Vegan and cruelty-free
May irritate sensitive skin (although milder than many other AHAs)
In addition to lactic acid, this product contains sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid), which increases moisture levels in the skin. It also contains Tasmanian pepperberry, which soothes the skin.
AHAs like glycolic acid are commonly used to reduce the signs of aging, including wrinkles. This gel exfoliant contains an effective 8% concentration of glycolic acid, along with other soothing ingredients.
May irritate more sensitive skin
In addition to the glycolic acid, this exfoliator contains soothing and hydrating ingredients, including chamomile, aloe, and green tea.
This largely depends on the strength of the product that you are using, as well as how your skin responds to exfoliation. There are some gentler products with lower concentrations of chemical exfoliants (like the Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner) that could be used on a daily basis, if your skin reacts positively to daily use. However, many products contain higher concentrations, and shouldn’t be used on a daily basis, as this can cause irritation and dryness, and also damage the skin’s barrier. If you’re using an exfoliant for the first time, even if it has a lower concentration of chemical exfoliants, it’s best to start slowly and only use it a couple times a week. Note how your skin reacts, and then after a few weeks, you can consider using it more frequently. Of course, always refer to the product’s instructions, as there are some stronger products (like the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel) that should be used no more than once per week.
What do you do after applying an exfoliant?
You’ll want to apply your exfoliant to clean, dry skin, and then wait a few minutes to allow the product to begin working. After a few minutes, you’ll want to apply a moisturizer. This is a crucial step, as a moisturizer will help counteract the potentially drying effects of the exfoliant. If you’d like, you can apply a gentle hydrating or calming serum after applying your exfoliant and before applying a moisturizer, but you should avoid applying any other serums or products with strong active ingredients that may increase your risk of irritation (like products with retinol, vitamin C, or additional chemical exfoliants).
What happens if you never exfoliate?
While your skin does naturally shed some dead skin cells and debris on its own, regularly exfoliating ensures that all unnecessary debris is removed from the skin so that it is healthy and radiant. The skin’s natural exfoliation process slows down as we age, so it becomes even more important as we get older. If you avoid exfoliating, you are more likely to experience breakouts, as pores will easily become clogged with sebum, dirt, and excess debris. The skin’s texture and tone will also be rougher and duller.
The Bottom Line
Exfoliation is a key part of maintaining a healthy and glowing complexion, so it’s important to find an exfoliant that works well for you. Consider adding one of these effective exfoliants to your skincare routine to smooth texture and promote a more even skin tone.
About the author
Kyra is a content writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She works in the health and wellness sphere, and covers everything from beauty to skincare to fitness. She has been passionate about skincare since she was a teenager, and loves uncovering the absolute best routines and products available to help people reach their skin goals.