Exfoliating is an essential step in any skincare routine. It sloughs off dead skin cells and unclogs pores while leaving your skin fresh and glowy. You could be using the nicest skincare products in the world, but if you’re not exfoliating on the regular, those fancy serums and creams might not be living up to their potential because you’ve got a lot of dead skin cell buildup.
Not to mention, starting your exfoliating routine early will have your future self thanking you. “Exfoliating young skin serves mostly to keep skin glowing and blemish-free,” says Suneel Chilukuri, MD, of Refresh Dermatology. “As a teenager and young adult, your body naturally has more cellular turnover and often greater sebum production. Natural cell turnover slows with age, which results in pigmentary changes (sunspots), fine lines, and dryness. Some would say exfoliating becomes even more important at this stage to keep stimulate new cell growth and healthier skin.”
Chilukuri recommends weekly at-home enzyme masks, and this one from Elemis is great for gentle exfoliating.
A two-in-one product, this is both a foaming cleanser and a gentle enzymatic peel. It’s recommended to use it two to three times per week, or if you have oily skin, you can use it daily.
These face pads contain mandelic acid (from bitter almond) to exfoliate and willow bark extract to reduce inflammation. It’s ideal for all skin types. All you have to do is apply to clean, dry skin in circular motions—no rinsing required.
With a cocktail of exfoliating ingredients, this liquid exfoliator gently sloughs away lacklustre skin cells to reveal a brighter complexion. We love this efficient yet non-irritating formula. Just apply on to a reusable cotton round and swipe over the skin before applying serums or moisturisers.
This exfoliator from Paula’s Choice is a leave-on product, meaning you don’t have to rinse it off and it will work throughout the day. Made with beta hydroxy acid, it unclogs pores, exfoliates dead skin cells, smooths wrinkles, and evens out your skin tone.
This peel contains fruit ingredients like açaí berry, noni fruit, grapefruit, and sweet pea to destroy free radicals, reduce inflammation, tone and tighten skin, and improve firmness and elasticity. The glycolic acid and lactic acid in the formula exfoliate and hydrate. You don’t have to rinse after using—just apply to the face and neck with cotton or reusable rounds.
This enzyme powder works to clear pores and even out the skin tone. Just put half a teaspoon in wet hands, rub together to create a paste, massage over skin for a minute, and rinse. Ingredients include salicylic acid, colloidal oatmeal, and ginkgo. Plus, it works on pretty much all skin types.
Drunk Elephant’s popular Babyfacial is like getting an in-spa treatment. It always leaves my skin feeling so tingly (in a good way) and refreshed. In addition to AHAs (which exfoliate the skin), the product also contains chickpea flour and pumpkin ferment extract to balance the complexion and gently exfoliate.
You’ve no doubt seen this red exfoliating liquid doing the rounds on social media. It contains a high concentration of exfoliating AHAs and BHAs to unveil a brighter and more even-toned complexion. The formula is quite strong, so use occasionally and leave it on for no longer than 10 minutes.
Good for pretty much all skin types, this face mask contains sweet cherry purée, which is supposed to reduce the signs of ageing. Additionally, lactic acids and a complex of alpha-hydroxy fruit acids will smooth and refresh.
If you’re short on time, this mask from The Body Shop gets to work as your shower with pumpkin enzymes that gently nibble away at dead skin to bring lacklustre skin back to life.
With four treatments in one—cleanser, scrub, peel, and mask—this product gets the job done. Natural AHAs, lactic acid, and fruit enzymes work to exfoliate without leaving your skin dry.
NeoStrata’s glycolic peel system is unique in the way that you pour the entire bottle of solution onto the pads before using any of them. It’s an easy way to just pick one up for use later to quickly exfoliate after cleansing.
Next up, 11 beauty products I wish I’d used in my 20s now that I’m 35.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.