Once upon a time, not long ago, facial scrubs were associated with lobster-red skin and unsightly flaking and peeling — remember the episode of Sex and the City Where does Samantha get a chemical peel? But the truth is, facial peels are nothing to be afraid of. Yes, there are in-office options that can be quite intense, but there are also a whole host of at-home facial scrubs that can quickly and efficiently make your skin smoother, more even, and gorgeously glowing without the annoying irritation. The even better news: Today there are formulas that are tailored to each specific skin problem and skin type, even sensitive skin. The point is that pretty much anyone and everyone can reap the benefits of a facial scrub. Here, 11 of our favorites.
Renee Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Scrub
This aptly named choice is actually based on a combination of different berries, all of which are loaded with antioxidants that help brighten skin. The exfoliating portion contains both alpha and beta hydroxy acids and fruit enzymes that gently but effectively slough off dead skin cells that can leave your complexion dull and lackluster. The end result is a formula that unclogs pores, smooths uneven texture, fades dark spots and generally leaves your skin softer and more radiant, even after just one use. (And it’s safe for all skin types, too.) But the best part, in our opinion? It smells – and looks – just like raspberry jam, which makes it really easy to apply.
dr Dennis Gross Skincare Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Texture Renewal Peel
Both this formula and the delivery system — all you have to do is swipe one of the disposable exfoliating pads over your skin — are big winners. While the idea of a retinol-based scrub might sound like a recipe for irritation, even our sensitive skin can tolerate this formula. Credit to the fact that the retinol is paired with soothing bakuchiol and moisturizing squalane and hyaluronic acid; while the ferulic acid provides a boost of antioxidant protection. Used two to three times a week, this scrub is ideal for minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and bulging pores, as well as combating dark spots and rough or uneven skin texture.
Bliss Jelly Glow Peel
This easy-to-use formula touts pineapple and papaya enzymes for a gentle chemical peel that breaks down dead skin cells. It also contains cellulose fibers, which essentially act almost like a lint roller for your skin, clinging to those dead skin cells. Apply this scrub, then gently massage it into your skin in a circular motion and it will bunch up, taking all those dead skin cells with it. And the moisturizing, jelly-like base, packed with niacinamide and sodium hyaluronate, ensures it never gets too dry.
Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial
A mask-peel hybrid, there’s a good reason this product has a cult following. A combination of three different alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic, tartaric and lactic) brightens and smoothes skin, while salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid) helps dissolve pore-clogging oil. It sounds intense, but remember it’s specially formulated with a pH of 3.5 to minimize redness and sensitivity.
Versed The Shortcut Overnight Facial Scrub
Swap out your standard night cream for this scrub 1-3 times a week. Lactic and glycolic acids work synergistically to take on the exfoliating duties, while a laundry list of skin-soothing ingredients (allantoin, rosehip, and vitamin E) keeps unwanted irritation and redness at bay. Best of all, it absorbs into your skin like a lotion, so you don’t have to worry about it staining your pillowcase. Just wash it off in the morning and be amazed at how your skin looks and feels. Also, can we talk about the price?!
First Aid Beauty Radiation Pads for Face
This brand is known for making products that are safe and effective for even the most sensitive skin types, and these exfoliating pads are no exception. A perfect option for those with extremely sensitive skin and/or those looking for a gentler type of exfoliation, these can be used daily or even twice a day. Still, thanks to a blend of glycolic and lactic acids, they’re effective enough to brighten and smooth skin. Top tip: Try using them on your back and chest as well.
BeautyStat Cosmetics Universal Triple Action Daily Peel
When a cosmetic chemist creates a skincare line, you know it’s going to be full of good stuff. Case in point: this newbie. The one-step exfoliating pad is enriched with exfoliating alpha and beta hydroxy acids, as well as ingredients like glucosamine and niacinamide that help tighten skin and reduce wrinkles. If your skin is very sensitive, use this every other day at first and gradually work your way up to daily use as your skin gets used to the acclimatization. Also nice: the pads themselves are biodegradable.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% exfoliating solution
A wide range of acids – glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric and salicylic – make this scrub particularly effective in combating uneven textures, clogged pores and dullness. It’s admittedly intense, so be sure to follow the directions for use, which is to apply it to dry skin and leave it on for no more than 10 minutes before washing it off. However, if you’re looking for a hard-hitting treatment – at an incredibly affordable price – you can’t beat this.
Algenist Blue Algae Vitamin C peeling to correct dark spots
If dark spots and hyperpigmentation are your main complexion complaints, give this choice a try. Derived from blue-green algae, L-ascorbic acid (aka the purest and most potent version of vitamin C) works effectively to fade discolorations. A patented triple acid complex – a blend of alpha, beta and polyhydroxy acids – also helps to improve tone evening action, and there’s also plenty of antioxidants in the blend to help ward off future breakouts. The pretty blue color is just an added bonus.
Kiehl’s Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate
This boasts phytic acid and quinoa peel extract for a gentle yet effective combination of chemical and physical exfoliation; It is so gentle that it can be used at night regardless of your skin type. Layer under serum or moisturizer and allow to work to even out texture and tone with each subsequent application. We also appreciate that it’s paraben and fragrance free.
L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Peel Pads
Grab these peel pads at the nearest drugstore. The star of the show is glycolic acid, which as previously mentioned is an alpha hydroxy acid ideal for revealing smoother, more radiant skin. But the ingredient also does double duty, helping to stimulate collagen production to minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Multitask for victory. Not to mention these are gentle enough to use at night and super easy to incorporate into your routine post cleanse and pre wet.