Arcona Cranberry Gomage ($44)
Normal to oily skins will respond best to this creamy scrub, which uses cranberry and raspberry enzymes to polish lackluster skin and smells like candied fruit. It’s considered spa-grade because it also has salicylic acid to fight any pimples that are about to flare up. Use just a dime-sized amount.
Body Shop Seaweed Pore Cleansing Facial Exfoliator ($15)
The soap-free treatment uses olive seed powder instead of micro-beads. I’ll say sensitive skins will like this because it also has jojoba oil to help soften the grit factor. The beach-scented treatment feels more like a 2-in-1 face gel than an exfoliator. It rinses clean and the added oil prevents the skin from drying out.
Chantecaille Bamboo and Hibiscus Exfoliating Cream ($85)
I was sold at the sweet and fresh scent, but this cream is worth it’s price tag because it’s the gentlest of them all. Plus, if you are under dermatologist’s orders, this plant-derived botanical formula should work right into your pre-existing prescription regimen. The teensy bamboo spheres lack any harsh edges and smooth out uneven patches of skin gently without leaving your skin feel like it got scraped.
Nude Miracle Mask ($48)
This mask uses miniscule rice beads (so small you barely feel them) and glycolic acid to brighten naturally. Massage it into skin for about 3-5 minutes and rinse off in the shower. The glycolic won’t burn your skin, but works deep enough to purge impurities.
AMOREPACIFIC Luminous Effect Brightening Masque ($120)
This set of 6 micro-fiber masks is essentially a highly concentrated whitening treatment that’s equal to a whole bottle of serum. You peel off a film and let Asian botanicals (like milk thistle and gingko leaf) work their magic on those pesky age spots. It’s a no-hassle, bead- and acid-free solution. Leave it on for 10 minutes then rub in the rest of the serum. Creepy? Maybe. But, there’s no dripping, rubbing, or rinsing needed.
Tatcha Polished: Classic Rice Enzyme Powder ($65)
While I’m not a total DIY girl, I do love this particular product because it allows you to mix up the right amount of the ultrafine powder (made with algae extracts) for an emulsified, water-activated exfoliation. Make it as thick or as thin as you like given your skins needs—a few drops of water makes the difference.
Perricone MD Blue Plasma Orbital ($65)
Dermatologist Nicolas Perricone has developed this nonabrasive exfoliator, which is perfect if you get little tiny bumps called milia, as I do from testing too-heavy eye creams. The gel’s salmon egg enzymes helped flatten my milia out without leaving my skin begging for moisture; a retinoid cream usually does.
Ilia Lip Exfoliator Balmy Nights ($24)
You could use a toothbrush to exfoliate your pucker, but lip scrubs are way more fun. This 100% organic, oil-based stick deflakes lips with volcanic stone powder. The result: you won’t see every little line when you wear a highly reflective gloss.
Your New Year’s promises may include some form of inner detoxing from overindulging your sweet tooth or even your taxed liver. Me? I’m resolving to add a skin brightening exfoliator to my beauty routine to help my skin recover the glow it lost from a holiday season’s worth of primer, foundation, loose powder, blush, and highlighter.
Exfoliating has been around since ancient Egypt, when the resplendent Cleopatra routinely dipped herself in sour donkey milk to reap the gentle sloughing of lactic acid for fresher complexion. Beauty nerd or not, you should know that every skin type—even gentle, sensitive ones—benefits from some exfoliating, which smooths and hydrates skin while cleaning out debris-clogged pores. Regular scrubbing (or even peeling) makes your skin more receptive to serums and creams, getting you the results you want faster.
The trick is making sure you are shedding your old skin cells and not the top, sensitive layer of your skin. To that end, forget those old school drugstore scrubs made with finely pulverized apricot and walnut shells, which leave you with some micro-tears in your skin.
Today’s best exfoliators are made with gentler yet effective ingredients and come in a variety of textures. If you’re afraid of getting that reddened flare-up after using a sandpapery type of treatment or don’t think you have the time to do this weekly, fret not. I tested a variety of treatments for their smoothness. Click through the slideshow to see my favorite creamy scrubs, gentle peels, and even one treatment made just for your delicate eye area—all of which should take you anywhere from 3-10 minutes to resurface the skin.
A native Angeleno, Navdeep Mundi is a Leo, hates cilantro, and has studied beauty products for more than 18 years. She spends her days directing media and strategy and her nights sniffing out slightly quirky yet impeccably pretty things along with her German Shepherd, Le Tigre.