Exfoliation is an important part of your skin-care routine that removes dead skin cells to prevent clogged pores, breakouts, and dull skin. When it comes to selecting the best drugstore exfoliating face washes, you first need to consider the best type of exfoliation for your unique needs.
Chemical exfoliation: This type of exfoliation removes dead skin cells with acids, most commonly AHAs and BHAs. Both are effective exfoliating options; however, there are a couple of big differences between the two. AHAs like glycolic and lactic acids are water-soluble and work mainly on the surface, resulting in smooth skin and a glow. BHAs tend to go much deeper into the skin and can clean out excess sebum (a natural oil) from your pores, which helps to reduce overall oiliness. This is why if you have acne (especially blackheads), you might prefer an exfoliator that contains BHAs, namely, salicylic acid. Many exfoliating face washes contain both AHAs and BHAs, so they work on both levels.
Physical exfoliation: This type of exfoliator physically removes dead skin by scrubbing or rubbing with ingredients like sugar, beads, and other particles. Some say that their skin feels much cleaner after using a physical exfoliator, but it can cause redness, irritation, or — even worse — little tears in the skin. If you choose to use a physical exfoliator, look for products that contain small, gentle exfoliants which tend to be less irritating. Avoid microbeads (which are banned because they may pose a threat to aquatic life) and products that contain large or sharp exfoliants, including walnut face scrubs, which can be too harsh.