I’m sure you hear it all the time: exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Although it is important to buff away dead skin on the surface of your complexion, it can be tough to narrow down which is right for you—a chemical or physical exfoliant. And don’t forget the matter of what kind of exfoliant. Exfoliants range from toners and face washes to masks. To help you narrow down which will work best for you, Tiffany Libby, a board-certified dermatologist, is here to assist. “It’s helpful to take time to assess your skin type so that you can appropriately select products that will be beneficial for your skin,” she says. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you’ll probably want to use a gentle exfoliant like lactic acid in a low concentration and only one to two times a week.
Personally, I like using both physical and chemical exfoliants. As long as a scrub doesn’t irritate my skin and isn’t super abrasive, I’ll use it. Libby, however, prefers chemical exfoliants. “I am not typically a fan of physical exfoliants, as I find chemical exfoliants do a better job of dissolving away the top layer of dead skin cells and have a whole host of additional skin benefits from brightening skin to unclogging pores and improving skin texture,” she shares. “If you are going to use a physical exfoliant, opt for one that is designed for sensitive skin, like Cetaphil’s Extra Gentle Daily Scrub which has micro-fine bamboo granules that buff away dead skin cells. I would recommend those with sensitive and/or dry skin types to avoid physical exfoliants because they can cause irritation.”
With that in mind, keep reading below for Libby’s recommendations for exfoliating face masks and a few of my own favorites.