In order to remain hydrated, healthy, and soft, our skin naturally produces a certain amount of oil. When your skin over produces this type of oil (also known as sebum), however, it can cause clogged pores, acne, and unwanted shine. Luckily, the best exfoliators for oily skin are here to help.
There are two primary types of exfoliators to choose from: physical and chemical. Traditional physical exfoliators, like La Roche-Posay’s Ultra-Fine Scrub Exfoliating Face Wash (which you'll find below), contain ingredients like sugar, rice enzymes, clay, and bamboo to break down excess oil on your face and slough away dead skin. These types of exfoliators are great for sensitive skin because there's less of a risk of over-exfoliation, which can lead to dryness. Once rinsed off, they leave your skin feeling soft and primed for moisturizers, serums, or makeup. On the other hand, chemical exfoliators, like NeoStrata’s Oily Skin Solution, are great because they target specific issues like acne, discoloration, blackheads, or surface shine with powerful ingredients like salicylic acid and glycolic acid. When used properly, chemical exfoliators (or acid toners, as they so often appear) can help you maintain a healthy complexion and prevent blemishes from forming.
All in all, you can’t stop your skin from producing excess oil — but you can keep your it clear and smooth with regular exfoliation. With help from oily skin-specific exfoliators, like the six listed below, you'll be on your way to a balanced and healthy complexion in no time.
1Best For Sensitive Skin: An Exfoliating Face Scrub From An Ultra- Popular French Pharmacy Brand
If you're new to the exfoliating game and have sensitive skin, try La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Exfoliating Face Wash. This gel-like scrub uses ultra-fine pumice particles to gently exfoliate, while the brand's signature antioxidant-rich thermal spring water helps keep the skin's pH levels balanced. The formula is also free of alcohol, soap, and parabens, so it should be suitable for complexions that are prone to irritation. Remember: This isn't a product you should be using everyday, as over-exfoliation can lead to dryness and breakouts, so stick to two or three times a week.
2Best For Combination Skin: An Enzyme-Infused Scrub That Sweeps Away Dead Skin Cells While Hydrating With Hyaluronic Acid
Peeling gels are a relatively new way to exfoliate, and they're great because they combine the benefits of both physical and chemical exfoliators. Peter Thomas Roth's Firmx Peeling Gel, for example, uses enzymes from pineapple, pomegranate, and keratinase to unclog pores and lift away dead skin cells — you'll literally see all the grime and gunk slough off as you scrub away. Great for combination skin, the gel is also infused with ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid, resulting in a baby-soft and luminous complexion. In case you need more convincing about the powers of this innovative product, just look to the hundreds of rave reviews and its near-perfect rating.
3Best For Mild Exfoliation: A Customizable Cleansing Powder From A Cult-Favorite Brand In A Top-Shelf Worthy Bottle
Powdered exfoliators like Rodin's Facial Cleansing Powder allow you to customize your cleansing routine because you can mix the the formula with things like oil, creams, water, or even honey. It's super gentle and you can use less or more product to achieve your preferred consistency (fine or grainy). The powder itself is a combination of rice bran extract, which is rich in vitamins B and E, moisturizing jojoba, and red algae extract. It's also free of parabens, phthalates, silicones, and sulfates, and is infused with the brand's signature scent of jasmine and neroli. Yum.
4Best For Redness Relief: An Exfoliating Acid Toner That Uses Salicylic Acid To Prevent Breakouts
To prevent and treat blackheads and blemishes, try Paula's Choice Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution. The formula contains two percent salicylic acid that works fast and effectively to unclog pores, reduce redness, and slough off dead skin cells. The best part about using salicylic acid as an exfoliator is that it's pretty gentle and non-irritating, so while it does boast powerful acne-fighting properties, it won't strip, dry out, or damage your skin when used correctly. Like pretty much all of Paula's Choice products, the formula is fragrance-free and non-irritating, so it should even work for those with more sensitive complexions.
5Best For Clogged Pores: A No-Nonsense Glycolic Acid Toner That Reduces Oil Buildup And Blemishes
Formulated with eight percent glycolic acid (a popular alpha hydroxy acid that works by loosening dead skin cells) NeoStrata's Oily Skin Solution is the perfect acne treatment for non-sensitive complexions because it penetrates the skin deeply to eliminate excess oil and dead skin cells. It also expertly unclogs congested pores and even helps to fade unwanted discoloration. When used regularly, this formula prevents and minimizes the appearance of blackheads and whiteheads while keeping the skin smooth and firm. It's important to note that you should always wear sunscreen when using any type of acid, as it can make your skin more sensitive to sun damage.
6Best All-Natural Option: An Exfoliating Face Wash In Bar Form That's Made With Bamboo Powder And Thermal Mud
The Juju Bar from cult-favorite brand Drunk Elephant is a unique exfoliating face wash that gently removes dead skin cells using thermal mud and bamboo powder. These all-natural ingredients clear away unwanted oil and pore-clogging debris while working to refine skin texture and improve clarity. Great for all types of complexions, the formula is free of soap and fragrances, and instead uses only clean ingredients to promote moisture retention and prevent over-drying. Plus, it's super convenient for travel.
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