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What’s an easy way to prevent breakouts? Exfoliation. The best exfoliators for acne-prone skin prevent pores from clogging and fade acne scars. Exfoliating just once a week makes your face more radiant.
What’s the trick to exfoliating the right way? First, don’t irritate. Just buff away the dead skin with circular motions for 30 seconds. Be gentle; don’t scrub. Then apply moisturizer after you rinse and pat dry.
We hunted down and reviewed the best products on the market. Our hope is that this article will help you find the perfect product for your needs.
- Best Exfoliators for Acne-Prone Skin in 2020
- 1. AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser from Murad
- 2. Paula’s Choice–SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant
- 3. Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser by Body Merry
- 4. DRMTLGY Microdermabrasion Facial Scrub and Face Mask
- 5. La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Face Scrub for Sensitive Skin
- 6. Neutrogena Naturals Acne Foaming Facial Scrub
- 7. Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Facial Scrub with 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Medication
- 8. Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser
- 9. L’Oreal Paris Go 360 Clean, Anti-Breakout Facial Cleanser
- 10. Lavo Glycolic Acid Face Cleanser for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
- 11. Peter Thomas Roth 3% Glycolic Solutions Cleanser
- 12. Glycolix Elite 20% Glycolic Acid Facial Cream
- 13. Microdermabrasion Face Scrub & Facial Mask by Era Organics
- 14. Beauty by Earth Konjac Facial Sponge, 2 Pack Set
- 15. Clarisonic Mia Prima Sonic Cleansing Face Brush
- 16. L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Cleanser
- 17. ASDM Beverly Hills 90% Lactic Acid Medical Strength
- 18. Bliss That’s Incredi-peel Glycolic Resurfacing Pad
- 19. Replenix Acne Solutions Gly/Sal 5-2 Acne Cleanser
- 20. Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme
- How often should you exfoliate?
Best Exfoliators for Acne-Prone Skin in 2020
1. AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser from Murad
Murad’s alpha and beta hydroxy acid cleanser is mild enough to protect sensitive skin but powerful enough to resurface it. It contains three exfoliators: glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid. These three unclog pores and slough away dead skin. As a result, your face will look younger and feel softer. Also, acne scars and excess oil will diminish with regular use.
You may notice that the cleanser has a little texture. That’s due to the jojoba beads. They are similar to the skin’s natural oil. Plus, licorice extract calms irritation while other ingredients increase hydration.
2. Paula’s Choice–SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant
Paula’s Choice liquid exfoliant relies on salicylic acid. This single ingredient serves multiple purposes. Not only does it help shed dead skin faster, but it also unclogs and cleans pores.
Unlike a cleanser or scrub, this exfoliating liquid is made to stay on your skin like a serum or moisturizer. To this end, it lacks parabens and other harsh chemicals. But it hydrates parched skin and makes fine lines disappear.
3. Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser by Body Merry
Body Merry’s exfoliating cleanser deep cleans and revitalizes with a variety of natural ingredients. First, it has glycolic acid and willow bark plus jojoba beads to unclog pores and get rid of excess oil. Next, it contains Kojic acid, which is similar to hydroquinone. It brightens and lightens skin tone and reduces discoloration. Finally, tea tree, jojoba, rosehip, and olive oils purify and soften the skin without causing breakouts.
4. DRMTLGY Microdermabrasion Facial Scrub and Face Mask
DRMTLGY combines scrub and face mask into a single package. Not only does it get rid of blackheads, but it shrinks pores and fades acne scars. Use it up to three times a week for 60 days. If you’re not satisfied, they offer a full refund.
The main components that clarify the skin are glycolic acid derived from sugarcane, green tea, and fruit extracts. There are no parabens or sulfates. This cleanser is cruelty-free.
5. La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Face Scrub for Sensitive Skin
La Roche-Posay’s scrub is textured with ultra-fine pumice. It’s much gentler than the classic apricot scrub. It’s free from alcohols, parabens, and soap. Moreover, the watery gel protects sensitive faces with a pH that matches the skin.
6. Neutrogena Naturals Acne Foaming Facial Scrub
The foaming scrub from Neutrogena relies on 93% naturally-derived components. To illustrate, it has wintergreen leaf, a source of salicylic acid. The acid is a gentle exfoliator that helps clear up acne. Of course, there are no sulfates, parabens, artificial dyes, or petroleum derivatives.
7. Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Facial Scrub with 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Medication
Clean and Clear combines salicylic acid with micro-scrubbers in this cleanser. It eliminates blackheads because it releases trapped dirt and oil from pores. Additionally, it’s mild enough to use every day.
8. Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser
The Clarins one-step cleanser contains microbeads. The organic cellulose beads are safe for the environment and for your skin. But they are tough enough to exfoliate dead cells plus remove makeup and impurities.
9. L’Oreal Paris Go 360 Clean, Anti-Breakout Facial Cleanser
The L’Oreal anti-breakout cleanser depends on salicylic acid to treat acne. It comes with a silicone Scrublet brush to massage the formula into your face. In time, you’ll notice smaller pores, softer skin, and fewer pimples.
10. Lavo Glycolic Acid Face Cleanser for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
Lavo’s glycolic acid face wash smells minty fresh and leaves your skin soft. It doesn’t require scrubbing or rubbing to clean off makeup and purify your pores. It combines lactic, salicylic, and glycolic acids for maximum exfoliation without irritation. Meanwhile, the lavender, watercress, and vitamin B slow down oil production and destroy acne.
11. Peter Thomas Roth 3% Glycolic Solutions Cleanser
The glycolic acid cleansing gel from Peter Thomas Roth is mild for sensitive skin. It lathers nicely and only takes 60 seconds to do its job.
12. Glycolix Elite 20% Glycolic Acid Facial Cream
Up to this point, we’ve talked a lot about cleansers. But there are also face creams that exfoliate. Try the Glycolix Elite moisturizer at night. It increases cellular turnover, fades acne scars, and firms up the skin.
13. Microdermabrasion Face Scrub & Facial Mask by Era Organics
Try the microdermabrasion face scrub from Era Organics if you prefer natural products with a money-back guarantee. This product is free of parabens and alcohols and was never tested on animals. Furthermore, it contains delicious ingredients that rejuvenate your skin.
Instead of walnut shells which can cause damage, this scrub uses the meat of the walnut along with sugarcane. Also, it has honey and aloe to speed up healing and detoxify.
14. Beauty by Earth Konjac Facial Sponge, 2 Pack Set
These Konjac sponges are vegan and biodegradable. They aren’t treated with any chemicals. They come from a Japanese plant. The plant fiber has natural properties that nourish the skin. Case in point, the sponges provide both vitamins and minerals as you massage your face with them.
There are two types of sponges in the package. The black is best for oily skin as it has charcoal. Then, the white is gentle on sensitive, acne-prone skin.
As you prepare to exfoliate, soak the sponge in warm water for a minute until it feels soft. Next, squeeze out extra water and add a cleanser if you want. Then rub the sponge in an upward circular motion without using much force. Once you’re done, rinse the sponge well, squeeze out excess water, and let it dry.
15. Clarisonic Mia Prima Sonic Cleansing Face Brush
Clarisonic invented the sonic cleansing brush more than a decade ago. This tool is often recommended by dermatologists and spas. Instead of rotating, the Mia Prima brush moves back-and-forth to vacuum oil, makeup, dead skin, and dirt from your face. It’s gentle enough to use twice a day. And it’s waterproof so that you can use it in the shower.
16. L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Cleanser
L’Oreal’s Bright Reveal Cleanser is ideal for mature skin that’s still prone to breakouts. It shrinks pores and revitalizes dull skin with micro-pearls and glycolic acid. Not only does it clear up acne, but it also fades fine lines and discoloration. Although you can use it morning and night, be sure to wear a sunscreen for face acne during the day (because of the glycolic acid).
17. ASDM Beverly Hills 90% Lactic Acid Medical Strength
Instead of scrubbing, try peeling off dead cells. Interestingly, lactic acid peels like this one not only exfoliate, but they also speed up collagen production and moisturizes skin. Plus, lactic acid is milder than either salicylic or glycolic acid. It doesn’t disrupt the skin’s pH and it protects sensitive faces from irritation.
The peels made by ASDM Beverly Hills don’t have synthetic fragrances or parabens. But they are powerful. If you’re new to this type of treatment, skip the 90% strength and try the 25% concentration first.
18. Bliss That’s Incredi-peel Glycolic Resurfacing Pad
Skip the rinsing and the peeling with these glycolic acid pads from Bliss. They simplify exfoliation to make it as quick and easy as possible. Even better, you may see brighter, healthier skin after only one use.
The pads have other soothing and nourishing ingredients, too. One is witch hazel, a natural astringent. There is vitamin E to protect the skin, plus licorice root and calendula to calm it. But the liquid is free from phthalates, parabens, and sulfates.
19. Replenix Acne Solutions Gly/Sal 5-2 Acne Cleanser
If you’re in a hurry at bedtime, try the Replenix pads with cleanser. They have a combination of 10% glycolic and 2% salicylic acid along with witch hazel. They can exfoliate and remove makeup in one step.
20. Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme
The Nip + Fab Extreme pads do more than simply exfoliate. They resurface your face to diminish acne scars, discoloration from the sun, and fine lines. Plus, they moisturize and plump the skin with hyaluronic acid.
How often should you exfoliate?
There is no perfect answer to the question of how often you should exfoliate. Each person has different needs and a varying amount of tolerance. In general, the beauty experts agree that a minimum of once a week will make a noticeable difference.
You could use a mild exfoliating cleanser, not a scrub, twice a day. On the other hand, limit scrubs to no more than three times a week. Abrading your skin is not going to clear up the acne any faster. In fact, it could cause more pimples to form because of the irritation.
Even a clean washcloth can exfoliate dead skin. But for deep cleansing of pores, stick to products with alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids.
As you saw above, there are many ways to exfoliate. The best exfoliators for acne-prone skin range from mild scrubs and gentle cleansers to peels and creams. We hope that our reviews led you to exactly what you need to rejuvenate your face.