Exfoliation is essential in any skincare routine because it helps remove dead skin cells from the skin's surface. This can improve the texture and appearance of your skin, help unclog pores, and prevent breakouts.
There are two main types of exfoliators: physical and chemical.
Physical exfoliators are skincare products that use abrasive particles, such as seeds, beads, or grains, to slough off dead skin cells from the skin's surface. They are typically used by applying the product to the skin and rubbing it in circular motions to help loosen and remove the dead skin cells.
They help to improve the texture and appearance of the skin, unclog pores, and prevent breakouts. However, it's essential to use them gently and not scrub too hard, as this can cause irritation and microtears in the skin.
Chemical exfoliators use ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells, allowing them to be easily sloughed off the surface of the skin. They work by breaking down the cells chemically.
This exfoliator is better suited for sensitive skin, as it's more effective at penetrating the pores and exfoliating the skin at a deeper level.
There are different chemical exfoliators:
- AHAs, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, are water-soluble and can exfoliate the skin's surface, making them suitable for dry or mature skin.
- BHAs, such as salicylic acid, are oil-soluble and can penetrate deeper into the pores, making them suitable for people with oily or acne-prone skin.
Here are some tips for selecting an exfoliator:
Consider your skin type.
If you have sensitive skin, use a gentle exfoliator with a lower concentration of AHAs or BHAs, such as CURE Natural Aqua Gel. This J-beauty exfoliator is gentle on the skin, preventing dryness and irritation.
For oily or acne-prone skin, you may benefit from a chemical exfoliator with a higher concentration of BHAs. This exfoliator is oil-soluble and can penetrate deeper into the pores. You can try JUMISO Pore-Rest AHA, BHA, PHA Blackhead Wipe.
For dry or mature skin, look for a physical exfoliator with larger, softer particles. Another excellent option is a chemical exfoliator with a lower AHA concentration.
Pay attention to the ingredients.
Look for exfoliators that contain ingredients that are beneficial for your skin.
For example, prefer an exfoliator with hydrating ingredients like glycerin or aloe vera if you have dry skin. We recommend BE THE SKIN Heartleaf 02 Bubble Wash Off Mask Pack as it's nourished with high-quality ingredients to prevent dryness.
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, look for an exfoliator that contains salicylic acid or tea tree oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
If you are new to exfoliation or have sensitive skin, it's best to start with a gentle exfoliator and use it once or twice a week. You can gradually increase the frequency as your skin becomes accustomed to it.
Best Korean Exfoliators
SECRET KEY Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel (120ML) $20
This Korean exfoliator from SECRET KEY is suitable for all skin types. You can use it as a cleanser and peeling gel. The formula contains lemon extracts, sparkling water, hyaluronic acid, Centella Asiatica, witch hazel, and Portulaca oleracea extracts.
Its potent and natural ingredients leave the skin brighter and more radiant as it reduces the size of the pores.
SKINFOOD Black Sugar Mask Wash Off (100G) $15
The Black Sugar Mask Wash Off from SKINFOOD is a physical exfoliator that uses sugar to gently remove dead skin cells. This K-beauty formula contains shea butter and natural oils to provide hydration and nourishment to your skin.
Everyone can use the Black Sugar Mask Wash Off, even those with dry or sensitive skin. NEOGEN Dermalogy Real Ferment Micro Toner (150ML) $33
A chemical exfoliator that works exceptionally well on oily skin, but all skin types can use it. It contains AHA, BHA, PHA, and LHA to remove dead skin cells, makeup residue, and pore dirt.
The Dermalogy Real Ferment Micro Toner provides calming effects as it's formulated with triple Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin, and Panthenol.
COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad (70PCS) $28
If you have acne-prone skin, COSRX One Step Original Clear Pads are an excellent option. These skincare pads control excess sebum production and remove dead skin cells as they contain a natural exfoliating BHA ingredient.
The Korean pads from COSRX are the best solution if you want quick exfoliation, as they're ideal for the on-the-go.