Feeling like you’re missing
glowy, light-reflecting skin? Wanting to get that social media-loved “glass skin” effect? Try exfoliating your face! Your skin naturally exfoliates itself, but “exfoliants step in when this regenerative process is slowed down and dead skin cells accumulate,” says Good Housekeeping Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann. This can create a thick, rough layer of skin that causes it to appear dull and dry. “The over-accumulation of dead skin can also lead to acne, clogged pores and premature signs of aging,” she adds.
Wondering what to exfoliate your face with? There are two types of exfoliants: physical and chemical, so you’ll want to choose between those two. Chemical exfoliators, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) and enzymes, “work by breaking down the bonds between skin cells to increase cell turnover,” says Carmen Castilla, M.D., a dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai in New York City. Physical exfoliators are products like face scrubs and polishes that mechanically “lift and remove dirt, pollution particles and cells simply by friction,” explains Wizemann.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab has tested face peels and scrubs, both of which can exfoliate your face. In these two tests, our scientists evaluated a combined total of nearly 3,000 data points to find the best on the market. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the 22 best face exfoliators for every skin type from oily to dry and mature to sensitive, including top performers from those tests, dermatologist-recommended products and editor-loved picks.
Our top picks:
Best Overall Face Exfoliator
Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel
Best Value Face Exfoliator
Acure Brightening Facial Scrub
Best Drugstore Face Exfoliator
St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub
Best Face Exfoliator for Sensitive Skin
Zo Skin Health Exfoliating Polish
Best Face Exfoliator for Mature Skin
Philosophy Microdelivery Triple-Acid Brightening Peel
You can read more about how we evaluate face exfoliators in our Lab and consumer tests — plus everything you need to know to shop for the best one for you — at the end of this guide. Looking for more ways to get bright, radiant skin? Check out our guides to the best natural, homemade face scrubs and the best vitamin C serums for your money.