15 Gentle Exfoliators That Don't Feel Like Sandpaper
When your skin is dry, flaky, or peeling it may be tempting to reach for the toughest exfoliator, you can find, but alas, that may not be the right product pick. Instead of potentially wreaking havoc on your skin, you’ll be better off using a gentle exfoliator. We’re making this extremely easy for you (no need to thank us) and sharing what we think are 15 of the best gentle facial exfoliators from the L’Oréal portfolio of brands, ahead. We promise they’re nothing like sandpaper.
1. L’ORÉAL PARIS PURE-CLAY EXFOLIATE & REFINE CLEANSER
Surely, you’re aware that clay masks are all the rage, but what about a clay cleanser? Trust us, you want to get as much clay into your skin care routine as possible. The L'Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Exfoliate & Refine Cleanser packs a lot of punch by going beyond daily cleansing to exfoliate and unclog pores for skin that feels smoother. Once a day, you'll squeeze the product into your hands and add water to watch is transform from clay to a mousse texture. Then, gently massage the product onto your face using circular motions to exfoliate. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Not only will your skin be purified of dirt, oil, and pollution, but it'll feel smoother too.
2. LA ROCHE-POSAY ULTRA-FINE SCRUB
Sometimes it’s nice if a product tells you everything you need to know right in its name. No flipping the bottle back and forth trying to figure out if it might be what you’re looking for. That’s exactly why you’ll be a fan of the La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Scrub. You start to wonder if the texture will be rough and gritty, and then your question is answered before you even have the chance to ask. Of course it’s not, after all, it’s an ultra-fine scrub. Formulated with Thermal Spring Water, the scrub is even gentle enough for sensitive skin, helping to smooth and purify skin. To use, splash some water on your face, then apply the scrub to wet skin. Gently massage it in, before rinsing thoroughly with water.
La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Scrub, $17.99 MSRP
3. KIEHL’S PINEAPPLE PAPAYA FACIAL SCRUB
Wouldn’t it be nice if you were always completing your skin care routine while on a tropical vacation? Yeah, we agree. Unfortunately—and much to our disdain—that isn’t possible for most of us. The closest we can get is using skin care products that take us to tropical places is via their scent. The Kiehl’s Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub does precisely that. Formulated with real fruit extracts, the unique scrub and natural exfoliator is suitable for all skin types and utilizes finely ground scrub grains to help exfoliate ever so gently. When you’re ready to exfoliate, dab a small amount of the scrub onto clean, damp skin and gently massage in upward circular motions, concentrating on the T-zone area. Remove using a lukewarm facial cloth or sponge. Then it’s back to real life.
Kiehl’s Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub, $28 MSRP
4. L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Nourish & Soften Scrub
While cocoa is an indulgence we usually save for our favorite desserts, it can be a treat for your complexion as well. This scrub is infused with cocoa, coconut oil, and cocoa butter, providing your skin with an extremely gentle exfoliating experience. After scrubbing away the dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, a brighter, healthier-looking complexion is revealed.
L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Nourish & Soften Scrub, $12.99 MSRP
5. GARNIER SKINACTIVE CLEAN+ INVIGORATING DAILY SCRUB
Determining if a scrub is going to feel reminiscent of sandpaper can require a bit of detective work. There are clues to be sleuthed out. If the scrub has the word “daily” written on the pack, that can be a clue that it’s gentle enough to be used on the regular. The Garnier SkinActive Clean+ Invigorating Daily Scrub is a prime example. The gel scrub—formulated with jojoba beads and peppermint—deeply cleanses, while pampering skin with kindness—i.e. gently.
6. SKINCEUTICALS RETEXTURING ACTIVATOR
You didn't think the only way to exfoliate was with a face scrub, now did you? If the texture of your traditional exfoliator is a turn-off, go ahead and use a chemical exfoliator. Powered by AHAs, BHA, and enzymes to chemically break down surface buildup, chemical exfoliating can help slough away dead skin cells without that grainy feeling.
If you’re new to using anything but a physical exfoliator, give the SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator a try. The bi-functional serum promotes exfoliation and provides hydration to visibly diminish surface lines and transform skin into a smoother, softer, more radiant complexion. Twice a day, go ahead and apply 4-6 drops directly to your face, neck, and chest. Then follow with SPF to ensure sun safety, since sun sensitivity may be increased with the use of the product.
SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator, $80 MSRP
7. Garnier Glow Boost 2-in-1 Facial Mask and Scrub
This gentle face scrub is designed to give you the healthy, natural glow your skin’s been yearning for. Our favorite aspect of this scrub? It doubles up as a mask. To use as a mask, lather an even, thick layer of the formula on your skin and leave it on for about 3 to 5 minutes. If you opt to use it as a scrub, all you need to do is apply a small amount of product to your skin, add a bit of water and gently massage it in. Either way you use, you’ll be met with a healthier-looking complexion.
Garnier Glow Boost 2-in1 Facial Mask and Scrub, $8.99 MSRP
8. L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Smooth & Glow Grapeseed Scrub
We’re huge fans of scrubs that work to give you glowing skin and this pure-sugar scrub fits the bill. Comprised of three pure sugars, finely ground acai, and grapeseed and monoi oil, this exfoliating scrub will reveal a smoother, more vibrant complexion without being harsh on your skin.
9. Lancôme Exfoliating Rose Sugar Scrub
Looking to achieve skin that looks plump, radiant and has a rosy glow? We have the perfect gentle exfoliator for you. Lancôme’s Exfoliating Rose Sugar Scrub works wonders at sloughing away at dead skin cells while still being gentle enough for all skin types—including sensitive. As a bonus, this scrub is infused with rose water, so your skin will be smelling as lovely as it looks.
Lancôme Exfoliating Rose Sugar Scrub, $25 MSRP
10. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent
Exfoliators can come in all shapes, sizes, and forms—including liquid. Liquid exfoliators are ideal for sensitive skin types as they tend to be a bit gentler on your complexion. One of our favorite liquid exfoliators is the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent. This micro-exfoliating toner works to reduce the appearance of excess oil and large pores.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent, $23.99 MSRP
11. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser
If you’re on the hunt for a product that cleanses while exfoliating, Kiehl’s has the perfect product for you. Their Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser provides your skin with a gentle exfoliation while also working to purify skin of environmental pollutants for a noticeably clearer-looking complexion.
12. L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Purify & Unclog Kiwi Scrub
This ultra-soft scrub caught our eye because of its unique formula—it includes kiwi seeds. In addition, it’s formulated with three pure-sugars, peppermint, and lemongrass oils, and can purify and unclog skin. If you want to tackle the look of large pores with a gentle scrub, this may be your new go-to.
L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Purify & Unclog Kiwi Scrub, $12.99 MSRP
13. Biotherm Oil Therapy Scrub
Biotherm Oil Therapy - Scrub treats skin to a gentle exfoliation leaving your skin refined and regenerated. This scrub is especially effective for dry skin types.
Biotherm Oil Therapy-Scrub, $34 MSRP
14. Kiehl’s “Made for All” Gentle Body Cleanser
Searching for the right cleanser when you have sensitive skin can be a bit tricky. Finding a product that won’t irritate your skin as soon as you start exfoliating almost starts to take on a quest-like quality. Consider the search over with the Kiehl’s “Made for All” Gentle Body Cleanser. With a formula that’s 95% naturally-derived ingredients, this cleanser is so gentle that it not only can be used on other parts of your body aside from your face, but is appropriate for anyone ages 3 and up. It’s “made for all” in every sense of the phrase.
15. Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser
Gentle exfoliation is a breeze when you have the Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser in tow. Formulated with salicylic acid, this alcohol-free cleanser will provide your pores with a deep-clean that will have skin feeling clear all day long. It’s also oil-free, so there won’t be any greasy residue lingering on your skin.
Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser, $18 MSRP
Now that you have your exfoliator in tow, it's time to get down to business. We're sharing a step-by-step guide to facial exfoliation, here!