The 4 Best Daily Exfoliators

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At this point, most people are familiar with the benefits of exfoliating your skin. The process of removing dead skin cells helps with everything from clogged pores and acne to uneven tone and texture, resulting in a clearer, brighter, and overall healthier-looking complexion. With exfoliating being more popular than ever, there are tons of great products to choose from — but if you're looking for one of the best daily exfoliators, specifically, you've got to be a bit careful.

Chemical Versus Physical Exfoliators:

There are two types of exfoliators out there: chemical and physical. Chemical exfoliators use acids (typically BHAs and AHAs) to exfoliate, and despite their name, they're usually the better choice for sensitive skin. Physical exfoliators work to physically exfoliate skin through the process of scrubbing or rubbing, and often use grittier ingredients like sugar, beads, and crystals. Tools, like loofahs, pumice stones, dry brushes, konjac sponges, and Clarisonics, all fall under the physical exfoliator umbrella. Then, there are peels and pads, which often combine both physical and chemical exfoliation through ingredients and texture. The act of scrubbing sensitive skin can sometimes result in redness and irritation, which is why chemical exfoliators are typically the safer choice.

How Often Should You Really Exfoliate Your Skin?

Before you decide on exfoliating every day, make sure your skin actually needs it. Over-exfoliating can cause irritation and inflammation, and if you have particularly sensitive skin, you should probably only exfoliate a few times a week. Dermatologists offer mixed opinions on how often you should exfoliate your face. Some say only a few times a week, while others say every day is fine — as long as you're using a gentle exfoliator.

I have sensitive-ish skin, and I use a chemical exfoliator every day — though granted, I've been building up my skin's tolerance for years. If you plan on going the scrub route, stick to a few times a week — but these days, there are tons of exfoliating face washes that are gentle enough to be used everyday.

Below, find a handful of the best facial exfoliators that are gentle enough for daily use.

1. Best Chemical Exfoliator For Daily Use

If you're looking for a way to incorporate an exfoliator into your daily routine, chemical exfoliators are the way to go. Though Paula's Choice makes too many incredible exfoliators to count (see her cult-favorite Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant), the Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant is the safest choice for everyday use. That's because it contains a fairly mild concentration of glycolic acid, one of the gentler forms of acids. This exfoliant boasts an ideal pH range of 3.5 to 3.9, and its weightless, fragrance-free formula makes it perfect for using daily, post-cleansing.

In addition to helping keep skin clear and healthy, this is also a particularly great product for promoting more even skin tone and texture. With daily use, expect less of a risk of post-breakout scarring and an overall smoother complexion.

2. Best Drugstore Face Wash With Chemical & Physical Exfoliators

If you want a scrub that leaves your face feeling squeaky clean, Neutrogena Naturals Acne Foaming Facial Scrub is a great choice. Ideal for use on oily and/or acne-prone skin, the formula contains a naturally-derived form of salicylic acid to unclog pores and shed dead skin. For manual exfoliation, it contains beads made from jojoba esters (instead of ocean-harming plastic microbeads, which are now banned).

You probably used one of Neutrogena's classic face scrubs when you were a teenager, but I love that they formulated a naturals line now that society is becoming more cautious about the ingredients they put on their bodies and faces. This formula contains no sulfates, parabens, petrolatum, dye, or phthalates, and it's hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and made of 93-percent naturally-derived ingredients.

3. Best High-End Face Wash With Physical & Chemical Exfoliators

For a more sophisticated exfoliating face wash, this cleanser from derm-favorite brand SkinMedica contains both AHAs and BHAs to exfoliate skin. The AHAs are lactic, glycolic, citric, and malic acids, while the BHA is offered in the form of salicylic acid. It also contains jojoba spheres to provide a gentle form of manual exfoliation. Since this is quite a powerful exfoliator, you'll want to start by using it only a few times a week. See how your skin tolerates it before increasing to everyday use.

Like the Neutrogena option, SkinMedica's AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is made of mostly naturally-derived ingredients (and doesn't contain any drying sulfates or other questionable chemicals). But unlike the Neutrogena option, it doesn't contain fragrance or butylene glycol, which can irritate sensitive skin types. If you can afford to splurge on a skin-safe cleanser that you can feel good about using everyday, this is a great choice.

4. Best Exfoliating Pads

For a unique peel that combines both manual and chemical exfoliation, the Neogen Dermalogy Bio-Peel Gauze Wine pads are one of the best choices you can buy. Most peel pads are super strong, so they're better suited for once- or twice-weekly use — but these are gentle enough to be used everyday. The red wine formula uses lactic acid (an AHA) and resveratrol (an antioxdiant that contains natural AHAs) to chemically exfoliate — but the pads are also textured, which, when rubbed into skin, provides that extra physical exfoliation. The pads also have a handy pocket, which makes it easy to slip your fingers into, as well as dual-textured sides.

These K-beauty pads are one of those products that you actually hear people raving about in terms of promoting a visible, radiant glow. And though the red wine option is perhaps the most popular, the equally-as-good lemon version is worth checking out, too.

Bonus: A Daily Exfoliating Lotion For Your Body

Just like with your face, the key to smoother, softer skin on your body all has to do with exfoliating. Swap your classic body cream out for this lightweight lotion, which contains salicylic and lactic acids to unclog pores and slough away dead skin cells. To counteract any dryness from the acids, the formula contains hyaluronic acid, vitamin D, and ceramides to keep skin moisturized and soft. If you're dealing with body acne or keratosis pilaris (chicken skin), this stuff is a must-have. I also love that it's fragrance-free and comes with a convenient pump-top bottle.

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