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Step 1 in your skincare should be: EXFOLIATING


Exfoliating is one of the best ways to get brighter, pearlier skin. It helps our skincare products to sink in, buffs the skin to reveal a shiny new layer, and can even boost collagen production. Our daily lives are full of makeup, sweat, car fumes and general dirt from busy living...and it does get deep into the skin. If we don’t properly cleanse and exfoliate the skin deeply, we risk clogged pores and dull, rough-textured skin. 

Never fear! Exfoliation is the answer. 
Read on to find out the difference between physical and chemical exfoliating, and our pick of the best exfoliators out there today. 

Why is exfoliating so important?

Removes the dead stuff: exfoliating gently nudges the dead skin away from the face to make way for fresh, clear skin beneath. Dry skin makes the overall appearance of the skin duller and more textured. As we get older, our skin slows down in terms of regenerating new skin cells. Exfoliating gives our skin a helping hand by removing the older skin to reveal newer, clearer skin. 
Makes the most of product: by clearing away dead, dull skin you are welcoming fresh, new, receptive skin to the fore. This means that when you apply lotions and products, they are being absorbed straight into fresh, lively skin without having to get through a barrier of dead skin. Make the most of your vitamin-rich oils and creams by regularly exfoliating. 
Increases collagen production: after an extended period, exfoliating encourages the skin to keep producing collagen regularly, which declines as we age. Collagen is what keeps our skin elastic, plump and youthful! 
Awakens the skin: the circular, massaging motion of applying an exfoliant, plus the gentle abrasiveness of a physical exfoliator draws fresh, oxygenated blood to the skin. This gives the skin a plumper, more youthful appearance. 

Kiian Oksana/ Shutterstock

Physical exfoliating...what is it?

Physical exfoliating is when you use a gently abrasive product or surface to physically nudge the dry skin away. Physical exfoliating products use little beads or hard particles which gently buff dry skin away as you rub the product over the face. You can also use a face cloth or flannel in small, circular motions to physically exfoliate the face without the use of any products, which is great for sensitive skin. Groundnut shells, powders, dried fruit particles, and wax beads are all common physical exfoliators. 

Chemical exfoliating...what is it?

Chemical exfoliating is when the dead skin is broken down, lifted and removed by way of a chemical agent in the exfoliating product. Chemicals such as alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids (i.e. salicylic acid) actually break down the bonds which stick dead skin to fresh skin. Chemical exfoliating treatments come in the form of masks, peels, toners and even moisturizers with gentle exfoliating ingredients. It is considered that chemical exfoliants are actually more gentle for the skin than physical exfoliators as they don’t pose the risk of scratching the skin. Chemical exfoliators get deep into the pores and clear out all the “mess” to reveal fresh, glowing, young skin. 

Sounds good, right?! Well, let’s find the best exfoliators for you to try. 
Our picks for the best exfoliators for clear, glowy skin 

Pixi - Glow Tonic 

Chemical exfoliator 
Cult classic 
Contains AHA (glycolic acid)
Soothes with Aloe 
Increases blood flow with horse chestnut
Firms the skin with witch hazel 
Easy to use
Creates glowy, fresh, sparkling skin 

Courtesy of

Kate Somerville - ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment 

Chemical exfoliator 
Super luxe 
AHA’s (lactic acid)
Fruit enzymes (papaya, pineapple, pumpkin)
Honey for antibacterial treatment
Aloe to soothe the skin
Helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles
Creates incredibly glowy skin 

Courtesy of

Caudalie - Deep Cleansing Exfoliator 

Physical exfoliator
97% natural ingredients (i.e. grapefruit, orange, mint)
Contains oils for softening the skin (sunflower seed oil)


DCL - G20 Radiance Peel Pads 

Chemical exfoliating pads (with a little bit of physical exfoliation from the pad itself)
Easy to use (just swipe over the face and discard)
High-strength glycolic acid
Cleans and unclogs
Brightens skin 
Encourages skin renewal
Removes texture for smooth skin 

Courtesy of

Alpha-H - Micro Cleanse Super Scrub 

Chemical and physical exfoliator
Wax beads to physically slough away dead skin
Glycolic acid works as a chemical peel
Jojoba oil (inside the beads) to nourish the skin
Cucumber and peppermint to cool and awaken the skin
Brightening, anti-aging and hydrating 

Courtesy of

Drunk Elephant - Juju Bar 

Physical exfoliator
Extremely gentle
Free of nasty ingredients such as fragrances and silicones 
Cleanses deeply with thermal mud 
Balances pH 
Cleanses without drying at all
Virgin marula oil for hydrating the skin 
Acai and goji berry for anti-aging action 
Soap-bar formula 

Courtesy of

The Ordinary - AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution 

Chemical exfoliator
Super affordable 
Breaks down the top layer of dull skin to reveal fresh, bright skin
Convenient dropper bottle 

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Aesop - Tea Tree Leaf Facial Exfoliant 

Physical exfoliator
Unique powder formula
Easy to use - add to your usual cleanser 
Smells delicious
Crushed nut shells and clay physically exfoliate dead skin away
Tea tree helps to fight acne and bacteria 

Courtesy of

Kiehl’s - Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub 

Physical and chemical exfoliator 
Fruit enzymes (from papaya and pineapple) break down dead skin bonds 
Fruit pieces provide a gentle physical exfoliating action 
Contains vitamin oils for nourishment and moisture 
Easy to use 

Courtesy of

Ren - Glycol-Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask 

Chemical exfoliator
Mask formula 
Free of parabens, alcohol, gluten and sulphates
Smells yummy
Contains oils for moisture and nourishment
Fruit enzymes and lactic acid for dissolving and lifting dead skin
Promotes anti-aging 

Courtesy of


Get yourself an exfoliator ASAP and add it to your weekly routine. Most exfoliators are to be used once or twice a week, but check the directions to be sure. Make sure to hydrate and moisturize the skin properly after your exfoliating routine, and you’ll be amazed at how smooth and glowing you’ll be. Fresh, clean, young and bright skin awaits you! 

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