If you have acne-prone skin, you will know how important it is to exfoliate to keep those breakouts at bay. Acne and blemishes are often caused from a build up of dirt, sebum and dead skin on the face that clog the pores. This then leads to blackheads, whiteheads, you name it.
And not only that, but acne can leave ugly acne scars that are a long-lasting reminder of those original pimples. People with an oily complexion are often more likely to get acne and it is a total nightmare.
So how can an exfoliator help? Well, exfoliators are products that delve deep down into the pores to break up this build up, remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. This prevents breakouts from happening as well as clearing out blackheads and reducing the appearance of existing blemishes.
There are different types of exfoliators. Perhaps the most commonly-understood exfoliators are ones that use a type of physical, granular matter (a scrub or beads) to smooth the surface of the skin.
There are also chemical exfoliators like Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHA), which could be chemicals like Glycolic Acid or Salicylic Acid (SA), and these penetrate deep into pores and perform an exfoliating function.
So, if you are suffering from breakouts and acne, perhaps it’s time to rethink your skincare routine and invest in an exfoliator that’s truly serving you. We have reviewed 10 of the top exfoliators on the market that people absolutely love, and we are sure you will love them too. Take a look!
10 Best Exfoliators For Acne Prone Skin (2023 Update)
1. NeedCrystals Microdermabrasion Crystals Skin Care Booster DIY Scrub
A spa-quality product to bring out a healthy and vibrant complexion, this DIY scrub is an innovative way to gently exfoliate. It comes in a powder form which you measure out with the provided spoon.
The ratio you need is 2 spoons of powder to 1 spoon of your favourite cleanser, rub them together and create a creamy paste with your hands. Gently rub this into damp skin, you can do this around twice a week.
This exfoliator will help remove a layer of dead skin from your face and body, stimulate circulation and remove blemishes. It cleanses deep into pores without being too harsh on the skin. It helps improve the appearance of your skin and prevent acne while giving you a more youthful glow.
There are various different versions, but if you have acne-prone skin, choose the one with added SA. This is the star ingredient, which is a chemical exfoliant that helps break up dirt and build up in your pores. Finally this product minimizes your pores and leaves your skin looking healthy. It is great for any skin type.
- Alumina (Corundum)
- 2% SA
- Powerful but gentle exfoliation
- You can mix with your own cleanser
- Lasts up to 50 uses
- Some people found this a little more messy to use than a standard exfoliator
- Some people found the consistency a little harsh
2. DRMTLGY Microdermabrasion Facial Scrub and Face Exfoliator
Do you suffer with blackheads? Do you still have acne scars? The DRMTLGY facial scrub is specially designed to go in deep and target blackheads as well as improve the appearance of acne scars.
It gently works to exfoliate away dead skin cells and clear dirt and pores. As well as preventing more breakouts, this makes your pores look smaller too. And it is oil-free to help those with an oily complexion.
Oh, and it increases circulation while removing the top layer of the skin. This reduces the look of acne scars and gives you a radiant complexion. This scrub contains Glycolic Acid which is derived from the sugar cane.
This is an ingredient that gently loosens dirt while regenerating cell growth but is still natural. In fact this product uses all natural ingredients so the skin is not damaged with harsh chemicals. It also contains clarifying Green Tea Leaf Extract and Lemon and Apple Extracts. The product is free of parabens and sulphates too!
- Glycolic Acid
- Green Tea Leaf Extract
- Apple Fruit Extract
- Lemon Fruit Extract
- Natural ingredients and no harsh chemicals
- Reduces pore size
- Some people found it a little drying
- Some people felt it was a little bit small for the price
3. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Foaming Exfoliating Facial Scrub
This super-effective and super-affordable face scrub from Neutrogena offers the awesome deep-cleaning benefits of SA alongside the cleaning and purifying benefits of a physical scrub.
The foaming formula clears breakouts and the MicroClear Technology helps to deliver the Salicylic Acne Medicine deep into clogged pores and help get clearer skin from the root. The gentle exfoliators in the face wash work to gently sweep away dead skin cells and dirt, while the conditioning beads make sure it doesn’t overdry the skin.
Neutrogena is the #1 recommended brand by dermatologists and they have an excellent reputation in the skincare world for good reason. It is also an affordable option compared to many specialist acne products on the market. It is gentle enough that you can use this daily or as often as you need!
- Salicylic Acid
- Conditioning Beads
- Deep cleans and exfoliates
- Doesn’t overdry
- Micro-Clear Technology delivers SA Medicine to areas of problem skin
- Some people experienced mild irritation using the product
- Microbeads can be harmful for the environment
4. AcneFree Blackhead Removing Exfoliating Face Scrub with 2% Salicylic Acid,Charcoal and Jojoba
Simple and effective, the AcneFree Blackhead Removing Face Scrub focuses on the tried and tested ingredient of SA. They put a high concentration (2%) into the formula which helps to penetrate deep down into pores, bust out blackheads, diminish blemishes and clear the pores from oil and dirt.
It can see results after just one week of use! As well as this the product includes charcoal which is a wonderfully purifying ingredient that draws out impurities from the skin. It also contains Jojoba which regulates your oil production, leaving your face moisturized but not oily.
The AcneFree face wash is also a scrub, meaning it contains gently exfoliating natural exfoliators to give you an even deeper clean. A super grainy and thick scrub can be harsh on the skin, but this one is gentle.
Make sure to massage this product, or any scrub, into the skin lightly to avoid damage. This product is gentle enough for everyday use and is even fragrance-free to avoid irritating sensitive skin.
- Salicylic Acid (2%)
- 2% Salicylic Acid for effective breakout control
- Keeps your pores clear from blackheads
- Gentle enough for daily use
- Some people prefer using it just once or twice a week
- Some people found it a little drying on the skin
5. M3 Naturals Activated Charcoal Face and Body Scrub Infused with Collagen and Stem Cell
Do you get acne or problem skin on your body as well as your face? Want younger looking skin? Perhaps you need a product that works as both a body AND a face scrub and leaves you looking more radiant and youthful. We love the M3 Charcoal Scrub.
It contains Naturally Activated Charcoal to clear out your pores from dirt, dead skin cells and oil, and prevent absorption of chemicals into the body. It also uses Dead Sea Salts to thoroughly cleanse your skin and leave it looking brighter.
But the star ingredients are Collagen and Stem Cells. These provide a boost in your natural collagen, the substance that controls your skin elasticity, leaving your skin looking firmer and fuller. They revitalize your skin cells giving them longer longevity and bringing anti-aging properties.
This product is great for people who want to reduce the appearance of acne, blackheads, cellulite, stretch marks and scars. It is a natural, cruelty-free product and it is made in the USA. It polishes the skin and removes impurities, but also moisturizes and restores it with the use of Aloe Vera and Coconut Oil.
- Activated Charcoal
- Dead Sea Salt
- Fruit Stem Cell
- Coconut Oil
- Aloe Vera
- Jojoba Oil
- Spinacia Oleracea (Spinach)
- Rejuvenates skin, promoting collagen production and cell turnover
- Removes impurities and targets acne
- Can be used for the body and the face
- Some people found the black charcoal left a little residue
- Some people found the scrub a little rough
6. Era Organics Microdermabrasion Facial Scrub & Face Exfoliator with Manuka Honey & Walnut
A product that doubles as a mask and a scrub, and doesn’t overdry or damage sensitive skin. This is one of the best natural facial scrubs for breakout-prone skin and acne sufferers.
It gently loosens dirt, old skin cells and oil while replenishing the moisture with naturally hydrating ingredients. It includes Manuka Honey from New Zealand that hydrates, encourages cellular regeneration and is anti-bacterial.
It also includes antioxidant-packed walnut which helps to clean and scrub into pores. It also uses soothing Aloe Vera, anti-inflammatory Australian Flower Cehami and collagen-encouraging Orange Peel Oil.
It also is perfect for reducing the appearance of acne scars. It increases circulation while buffing away old dead skin cells from the top layer of your face, encouraging the growth of new, more balanced skin.
You can leave the product on to use as a mask to balance your skin tone and get anti-aging results. Alternatively, you can lightly massage into moist skin as a facial scrub. Be prepared to transform dull, aging and blemish-prone skin into a bright, revived and clear complexion.
- Aloe Vera
- Manuka Honey
- Orange Peel Oil
- Rapeseed Oil
- Can be used as a mask and a scrub
- Suitable for all skin types
- Rejuvenates and brightens
- Some people thought the formula felt a little greasy
- Some people suggest you should exfoliate with walnut shells no more than once a week
7. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control Power-Clear Face Scrub
Calling anyone with oily and acne-prone skin. This cooling and soothing Acne Stress Control scrub from Neutrogena boasts that it can treat acne even before it emerges. It uses SA Acne Medicine to stop acne at the root and stops 70% of acne from emerging.
It goes deep into the pores and fights the root cause of breakouts by targeting the build up of oil and dirt. A great thing about this product is that it is also super soothing unlike some harsher products. It uses a unique blend of Cucumber and Green Tea to calm and soothe the skin, as well as leave it moisturized and soft.
Apply it to a wet face and gently massage the scrub into your skin. It can be used daily to keep your pores clean and clear at all times!
Neutrogena is the #1 dermatologist recommended acne brand and so they have a proven reputation and tested formulas that really work when targeting acne! Also this formulation has been especially designed with non-plastic beads which is better for the environment.
- 2% Salicylic Acid
- Green Tea
- Can treat acne even before it emerges and stops 70% of acne emerging
- Soothing and softening ingredients
- Non-plastic beads in the scrub
- Some people felt it left a light residue
- Brand does not disclose if they use animal testing
8. ACURE Incredibly Clear Charcoal Lemonade Facial Scrub
A deep cleansing scrub for oily, normal and acne-prone skin. We love the awesome mix of Charcoal, Lemon Peel and Blueberry to truly detoxify your skin deep down.
The Charcoal works to remove impurities and protect the skin and the Lemon and Blueberry revive and brighten dull skin. There are also gentle, plant cellulose exfoliating crystals that work as a super-gentle and light exfoliator.
Apply a small amount to your fingers and massage in circular motions onto your wet face. It is completely vegan and cruelty-free as well as free of Mineral Oil, Petrolatum and Formaldehyde. It leaves your skin incredibly clear, soft and nourished.
- Lemon Peel
- Argan Oil
- Lilac Extract
- Salicylic Acid
- White Willow Bark
- Super detoxifying for the face
- 100% vegan and cruelty free
- Great for all skin types, especially oily and acne-prone skin
- Some people thought it was a little small for the price
- Some people felt the texture was too runny
9. Paula’s Choice–SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant
A super-targeted and effective chemical exfoliant that means you don’t risk aggravating or damaging the skin with an abrasive scrub. This liquid exfoliant from Paula’s Choice is a non-abrasive, leave-on exfoliator.
It uses 2% Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA) to unclog pores, exfoliate away dead skin, reduce appearance of pores and even out skin tone. It contains SA to target pores, build up and fine lines. And Green Tea to soothe, clarify and calm.
To apply simply use a cotton pad, or even your fingers, to apply over your face. Don’t rinse, just leave it on! Paula’s Choice is all about smart beauty and skincare choices. So they pledge to make products that are good for the skin, no exceptions! The products are also all cruelty-free and made in the USA.
- Salicylic Acid
- Green Tea
- Gentle, leave-on chemical exfoliator, no need to use an abrasive scrub
- Unclogs pores and evens skin tone
- Brand ethos promotes using ‘good’ skincare products
- More expensive than many other products
- Some people prefer a scrub
10. Beauty By Earth Natural and Organic Face Scrub
If you are looking for an all-natural face scrub and cleanser all in one, why not try the Beauty By Earth scrub that targets blemishes, hydrates and brightens? It helps to create a more even skin tone, visibly brightening and smoothing the skin over time.
It contains Chlorophyll and fruit extracts that contain antimicrobial properties. Stop blackheads, blemishes and breakouts, and say goodby to dull skin. It is recommended to use this product 2 to 3 times per week and it is amazing for both men and women.
The scrub is vegan and organic and doesn’t use synthetic scrubbing beads that won’t biodegrade. There are also no toxic ingredients or harsh chemicals so it is not irritating on skin and only brings your skin what it needs!
- Aloe Vera
- Bamboo Powder
- Blueberry Extract
- Pomegranate Extract
- Calendula Flower
- Matricaria Flower
- Japanese Green Tea
- Sweet Orange Essential Oil
- Natural and organic ingredients
- Brightens and evens out skin tone
- Targets blackheads and breakouts
- Not for daily use
- Some people with sensitive skin found mild irritation
Is it good to exfoliate acne prone skin?
Exfoliating refers to clearing out your pores by removing dead skin cells and build up. As spots and breakouts are caused by clogged pores, it is important to exfoliate to control breakouts and prevent new ones.
How do you exfoliate your face for acne prone skin?
If you have acne-prone skin you may prefer a milder exfoliating product which can keep your complexion clear without irritating and being harsh on the skin. Look out for daily exfoliators and chemical exfoliators. Also make sure you don’t scrub too hard when rubbing in physical exfoliators.
How often should someone with acne exfoliate?
If you have very oily skin you may need to exfoliate anywhere from every day to 3 times a week. As a rule of thumb, if you have very dry or sensitive skin you may want to exfoliate less frequently, such as once per week. Find what works best for your skin and avoid using a harsh exfoliator every day.
So there you have it, the best exfoliators for acne-prone skin. Remember that if you are prone to breakouts, it is super important to make sure you are exfoliating your skin to tackle that acne from the root and prevent getting more. So time to choose a product and get ready for clearer, brighter and softer skin.
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Categories: Acne, Exfoliators & Scrubs