While chemical exfoliation can be a lifesaver for skin, gentle physical exfoliation is a must-have addition to any skincare toolkit. Think of these micro-exfoliators as your secret weapon against the dry flakes that mess up your foundation, and they’re an effective way to instantly clean. Get smoother, brighter skin.
While chemical exfoliation uses skin-safe acids to resurface your skin, “manual exfoliation is the use of an exfoliant that gently sloughs off the top layer of skin.” ,” explains Dr. Tahh Humes, Founder and Medical Director of the Vitahl Institute of Medical Aesthetics Chicago. “These treatments gently ‘sand’ the skin and [can improve] appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as problems with skin texture and tone. ”
The best part? According to Dr. Humes, you can see results immediately upon completion.
It’s important to use an ultra-gentle polish that won’t hurt your skin by creating small tears or irritation. Look for formulas that contain exfoliants like finely ground powders and micro-beads, with soft edges that delicately remove dead skin cells. Many products are also formulated with additional ingredients that can help with other skin problems, including excess oil, dryness, or hyperpigmentation.
Do not know where to start? Scroll below to see seven of the best physical micro-exfoliators, sorted by skin type and starting at just $5.
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For all skin types
$5 for smoother skin? Yes, please. This affordable scrub from elf Cosmetics uses ultrafine walnut shell powder to remove dead skin cells without creating micro-tears, resulting in healthier-looking skin. It is also infused with purified water and vitamin E to further nourish your delicate skin.
For oily skin
Let celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas concoct one of the most elegant physical exfoliants available. It combines detoxifying, de-oiling kaolin clay with powdered volcanic rock to physically brighten skin, as well as plant-powered enzymes to gently resurface skin. The result is improved oil balance, cleaner skin and a brighter complexion glow.
For dry skin
To hydrate and moisturize at the same time, take a generous amount of this luxurious micro-exfoliator and massage into your skin. It contains a variety of natural oils – including sunflower seed, coconut, rose and jasmine – that act as moisturizing carriers for finely ground black rice flour and pearl powder. A mild exfoliator that helps remove dead skin cells to boost radiance while reducing inflammation and nourishing skin.
For sensitive skin
Indulge in this facial exfoliator from D’Isolana, a skincare brand that puts thermal water at the head and heart of its formulas. Red Fruit Exfoliator is an extremely gentle exfoliator that uses witch hazel powder to remove impurities. The formula also includes – as the name implies – red pomegranate fruit, raspberry and red grape extracts: These antioxidant-rich ingredients work together to calm inflammation in sensitive skin, while Aloe vera leaf juice and nutrient-rich thermal water soothe and hydrate.
Whether you have uneven skin tone from sun exposure or you’re dealing with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by acne, this micro-exfoliator will be a winner. . It uses some of the most delicate physical exfoliating ingredients available, including skin-soothing oatmeal, brown rice flour, and hibiscus flower powder – a natural source of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). Both brown rice flour and AHAs are known to help improve skin tone, with published studies reporting that brown rice flour is particularly beneficial in cases of hyperpigmentation.
For acne skin
The key to treating acne-prone skin is a gentle touch, which makes this gentle makeup remover a perfect choice for those with active acne. It takes finely ground walnut shells and combines them with skin-soothing aloe and chamomile juices. It also contains white willow bark, a natural astringent to help nourish clear skin, and a blend of AHAs to reduce inflammation, shrink and unclog pores, and brighten skin.
For mature skin
This refined exfoliator from dermatologist Dr. Barbara Sturm helps polish away dry, flaky skin through gentle microcrystalline cellulose and olive peel powder. It also contains vitamin A, nutrient-rich phalaenopsis extract, and horse chestnut that promote skin regeneration, strengthen connective tissues in blood vessels, and regulate keratinization. Over time, you’ll see improved wrinkles and smoother, younger-looking skin.