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Exfoliators & Peels

While cleansing with a face wash and moisturizing with lotion are the most well-known steps of a skincare routine, exfoliation with an exfoliator or peeling gel is an equally essential step for a healthy complexion. Exfoliation is the process of removing the dead layer of skin cells containing oil, dirt and other buildup that accumulates on the surface of our skin. In removing this buildup, exfoliation also prepares our skin to more easily absorb serums and other skincare topicals we apply. Ideally, you should exfoliate your face two to three times a week, depending on your skin concerns and skin type. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you should only exfoliate once per week with a gentle exfoliant to avoid causing further irritation. Oily, acne-prone, combination and mature skin types can handle exfoliating more frequently as these skin types are less delicate. 

Exfoliators also come in products for the body. Body exfoliators tend to come in stronger formulas with larger microbeads to physically slough off the outer dead layer of the skin. It’s important to exfoliate your body at least once a week as this helps keep your skin smooth and allows your body lotions to penetrate more easily. It’s also important to exfoliate your body to prevent ingrown hairs as these can happen when the hair follicles get clogged with dead skin which traps the hair shaft underneath the skin. At Editor’s Pick, we offer exfoliators for your face and body. You will find exfoliators for the face from Alba Botanica, gentle exfoliators from Bioderma, the best exfoliator for sensitive skin from Caudalie, face peeling gel from Murad, body exfoliators from Exuviance, exfoliators for dry skin from Clarins, body exfoliators from Philosophy, exfoliators for the body from Strivectin, gentle exfoliators from Obagi, the best exfoliators for dry skin from Derma E, liquid exfoliators from Peter Thomas Roth, hand exfoliators Clinique and facial peeling gels from Dermalogica. 


FAQs on Exfoliators and Peels


What is the difference between exfoliators and peels? 


There are two types of exfoliators: chemical exfoliators and physical exfoliators. Peels refer to a chemical exfoliant that is left on the face for a short amount of time, like a face mask. Chemical exfoliants contain ingredients such as acids and enzymes that work by penetrating the skin to increase cell turnover. This sloughs off the outer dead layer of skin cells on the surface. 


How do I figure out which exfoliators to use for my skin type? 


When choosing a peeling gel or exfoliator it’s important to choose one that's suited for your skin type. If you have sensitive skin prone to inflammation and redness, you can use an exfoliator for sensitive skin that is formulated to be gentle. If you have oily skin or acne-prone skin, you can use a peeling gel as these tend to be stronger and can cut through the oil and clogged pores that contribute to acne. If you don’t like to use physical exfoliators to shed the skin, choose a liquid exfoliator that contains chemical exfoliants. These exfoliate by penetrating the skin to initiate cell turnover and shed dead skin. 


How much exfoliator should I use?


When you exfoliate your face, use roughly a quarter-sized amount, or enough exfoliator to thoroughly apply to your entire face. While you are exfoliating, you want to make sure to rub your face exfoliator over all areas of the face, avoiding the eye and mouth area. Be sure to use your face exfoliator on the jawline and hairline as these areas are often overlooked — yet just as prone to skin concerns.