The first time I ever used an exfoliator (it was probably Renée Rouleau’s Triple Berry Smoothing TBH), my entire life flashed before my eyes. Or at least, my entire skin regimen. I’ve always been someone plagued with stubborn breakouts and congestion (what estheticians call small textural issues like whiteheads, etc.) in addition to having persnickety, dry, and sensitive skin. Basically, I had lots of factors working against me, and my pre–beauty editor uneducated self attacked my aggravated complexion with all the wrong strategies, from over-abusing too harsh face masks to drenching my skin in bucket buckets of zit cream.
It wasn’t until I had my first-ever consultation with an actual esthetician (again, celeb skin expert Renée Rouleau) that I realized I was carrying on with a bass-ackward strategy. Yes, regular masking and exfoliants are key for a bright, clear, and bouncy skin texture, but these types of products are active and potent and therefore shouldn’t be used over-excessively. Not to mention, it’s imperative to prioritize high-quality formulas balanced with other hydrating ingredients to keep the skin’s overall well-being balanced and in check. Thus, I’ve become an exfoliator connoisseur of sorts and now swear by the product category for keeping my skin clear, bright, and glowy. (True story—I never received compliments on my makeup-free skin until discovering the below all-star formulas and began using them as needed in my skincare routine.)
Because this time of year, especially, can be hard on our complexions, I’m revealing the 14 best exfoliators (from cleansers to peel-pads to toners to masks) that play nicely with dry skin while gently and efficiently banishing debris and buildup. Keep scrolling!
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