If you are someone who has been suffering from acne-prone skin and wants to bring it under control, the best exfoliators for acne could be your best bet. Your skin care routine is not complete unless you use a good-quality exfoliator. Dr Priya Gill, a leading Malaysian dermatologist, says, “Exfoliation is a procedure to remove the dead skin cells from the surface. In addition to clearing away dry and dead skin, exfoliation aids in enhancing the skin’s radiance, clarity, and youthfulness.” Exfoliators help remove dead skin cells, clear your pores, and prevent severe breakouts. Check out this article to find out our curated list of the best acne exfoliators. Scroll down!
In This Article
What Does Exfoliation Do To Your Skin?
Exfoliation is a significant part of every skin care routine. It helps slough off the dirt and impurities from your skin pores, remove dead skin cells, and improve the skin texture. Exfoliation also reduces the appearance of blemishes, blackheads, and scars. Check out our list of the best exfoliators for acne-prone skin below.
15 Best Exfoliators For Acne To Buy Online In 2023
Best Anti-Aging:Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
The Paula’s 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is a gentle leave-on exfoliant that gets absorbed quickly into the skin. It contains 2% salicylic acid (maximum strength) to promote the skin’s natural exfoliation process by unclogging pores and minimizing their appearance. It reduces the appearance of wrinkles and evens out skin tone and texture. Supported by clinical data, it is a multi-tasking powerhouse product that reduces blackheads, fades acne scars, and brightens the complexion. The clinically-proven product is safe for daily use and is perfect for all skin types. Check out this tester’s experience of using the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant in this video.
Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid
- Clinical-proven results
Best Fragrance-Free:Toyo Cure Natural Aqua Gel
This is a gentle exfoliator that does not contain any harsh chemicals. The Toyo Cure Natural Aqua Gel gently removes dead skin cells from your skin, and can also be used on hands, necks, elbows, and heels. The formula is enriched with 90% activated hydrogen water and is free of fragrance, color, and preservatives. It also contains natural ingredients like aloe leaf, gingko biloba, and rosemary extracts. The antibacterial properties of the formula prevent breakouts and reduce inflammation. These ingredients help in reducing the appearance of pores and blackheads, and getting a bright complexion. Take a look at this reviewer’s experience in this video to know more about the Toyo Cure Natural Aqua Gel.
Key Ingredients: Activated hydrogen water, Aloe leaf extract, Gingko biloba leaf extract, and Rosemary extract
Best Moisturizing:E.ra Organics Revive+ Microdermabrasion Manuka Honey Walnut Scrub & Mask
The E.ra Organics Face Exfoliator promises radiant and youthful skin. It helps in removing stubborn blackheads, and cleansing and minimizing pores. The scrub is enriched with aloe vera, manuka honey, walnut, and vitamin C that boost your skin’s moisture levels. These sensitive skin-friendly ingredients protect your skin from free radical damage and premature aging. Regular use of this scrub will help reduce acne and fade the acne scars. The exfoliator can also be used as a face mask to even skin tone and enhance radiance. We recommend performing a patch test before using the product if you have sensitive and acne-prone skin. Watch this video of the E.ra Organics Revive+ Microdermabrasion Manuka Honey Walnut Scrub & Mask to better understand the product.
Key Ingredients: Manuka honey, Walnut, and Aloe vera
- Greasy texture
Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Toyo Cure Natural Aqua Gel
E.ra Organics Revive+ Microdermabrasion Manuka Honey Walnut Scrub & Mask
|Skin Type||Oily, Combination, Dry, Normal||All, Acne Prone, Sensitive||oily, sensitive, dry, damaged, combination, aging|
|Dimensions||2.52 x 0.75 x 0.75 inches||7 x 3 x 3 inches||2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches|
|Weight||1.06 Ounces||9.88 Ounces||3 Ounces|
Best For Unclogging Pores:Needcrystals Microdermabrasion Crystals Skin Care Booster
The Microdermabrasion Crystals Skin Care Booster by Needcrystals is a powerful exfoliant that provides anti-aging benefits to your skin. It removes the thick layer of dead skin cells to reveal a healthy and vibrant complexion. The exfoliator stimulates blood circulation, fades blemishes and acne, and unclogs pores. The crystals are made of aluminum oxide and can be used with any microdermabrasion equipment. The scrub is also great for minimizing age spots, wrinkles, and stretch marks. It delivers a cooling sensation to the skin, while its pore-refining properties work to reveal a smoother texture.
Key Ingredients: Alumina
100% natural crystals
- May leave residue
Best Non-Comedogenic:St. Ives Radiant Skin Scrub
The St.Ives exfoliating scrub contains pink lemon and mandarin peel that polish away imperfections from your skin to reveal a healthy glow. The scrub provides moderate exfoliation, helps to even out your skin tone, and makes your skin smoother and softer. It is enriched with botanical extracts that are carefully selected to nourish and revitalize the skin. The dermatologist-tested exfoliant also contains 2% salicylic acid to help reduce acne scars and blemishes. The formula is non-comedogenic.
Key Ingredients: Pink lemon, Mandarin orange, 2% salicylic acid
- No animal testing
Best Cruelty-Free:DRMTLGY Microdermabrasion Scrub
The DRMTLGY Face Exfoliator has a gentle formula that exfoliates dead cells and debris from your skin’s surface. It is enriched with sugar cane, lemon, apple, and green tea extracts. The glycolic acid present in sugar cane removes dead skin cells, dirt, and oil from your pores. The exfoliator is gentle on the skin and helps in sebum control. The lemon extract clarifies the skin and softens it, while the vitamin C derived from apple provides antioxidants to your skin to minimize environmental damage. The antioxidants present in green tea provide anti-aging benefits to keep the skin youthful. The scrub also helps in reducing acne, acne scarring. Perform a patch test to determine if it is suitable for your skin type.
Key Ingredients: Sugar cane, Lemon, Apple, and Green tea extracts
- Easy to use
- May cause allergic reaction
Best Oil-Free:Clean & Clear Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub
The Clean & Clear scrub deeply cleans out pores and exfoliates the skin to remove dirt, oil, and makeup. It has a non-comedogenic and oil-free formula, which is gentle on the skin. The exfoliator can be used every day to reduce blemishes and acne. It has a purifying effect on the pores and helps improve skin texture.
Key Ingredients: Glycerin
- Suitable for everyday use
- Oil-free formula
- Contains SLS
- Contains artificial fragrance
Best Paraben-Free:Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
The Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant comes in powder form and gets activated when it comes in contact with water. The powder then releases enzymes that accelerate cell renewal to make your skin smooth and bright. The microfoliant is enriched with papain, salicylic acid, and rice enzymes that polish your skin. It also contains rice bran, white tea, and licorice extracts to balance out uneven skin tone and a blend of colloidal oatmeal and allantoin to calm the skin. The product minimizes acne breakouts and has a gentle formula that is safe for daily use.
Key Ingredients: Papain, Salicylic acid, Rice enzymes, Licorice, and Grapefruit extracts
- Artificial fragrance and color-free
Best Alcohol-Free:Humane Clarifying Toner
The Humane Clarifying Toner is a 2-in-1 product that helps in reducing acne and acne scars. The dermatologist-tested toner exfoliator is enriched with 2% salicylic acid and green tea extract that prevent acne breakouts and has a skin-smoothing effect. It removes excess oil and dead skin cells from your pores. Green tea has moisturizing properties and reduces redness and inflammation, and provides your skin with a dose of antioxidants. It also protects your skin from environmental stress and balances your skin’s pH levels. The gentle and clinically backed formula is safe for everyday use.
Key Ingredients: 2% Salicylic acid and Green tea
- Mineral oil-free
- Synthetic fragrance and color-free
- Not tested on animals
- DEA and GMO-free
- Dermatologically tested
- Might cause allergic reactions
- Sticky texture
Best Hydrating:Touch Microdermabrasion
The Touch Microdermabrasion exfoliator contains micro-crystals that polish your skin. It gives a youthful and glowing complexion by fading fine lines and wrinkles. The a
Key Ingredients: Alumna crystals, Allantonin, Chamomile, Green tea, Aloe vera
Best For Cellulite:OLIVIA Aurora Buttocks & Breasts Exfoliating Scrub
The OLIVIA Aurora Buttocks & Breasts Exfoliating Scrub is specifically designed to exfoliate the delicate skin of the breast and buttock areas. It contains nourishing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, rose petals, and poppy seeds extract that help hydrate and tighten the skin, reducing acne, cellulite, and keratosis pilaris. It removes dead skin cells and helps eliminate blackheads and razor bumps as well, giving smoother, brighter, and rejuvenated skin.
- Premium natural ingredients
- Suitable for all skin types
- Not fragrance-free
Best For Uneven Skin Tone:Acne Free Blackhead Removing Face Scrub
This Acne Free Blackhead Removing Face Scrub contains maximum strength salicylic acid to minimize acne breakouts and remove blackheads. The jojoba oil and charcoal in the formula clarifies your skin and improves skin tone. The scrub also contains m
Key Ingredients: Charcoal, Jojoba oil, 2% Salicylic acid, Ceramides, and 2.5% Benzoyl peroxide
- Easy to use
- May cause allergic reaction
Best Natural Formula:LilyAna Naturals Charcoal Face Scrub
The LilyAna Charcoal Face Scrub helps clean away dead skin cells and gives your skin a radiant glow. ontains all-natural and vegan ingredients and is free of any artificial fragrances.
Key Ingredients: Charcoal, Lavender oil, Tea tree oil, Aloe vera, Sunflower oil
Best Mineral Oil-Free:Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner
The Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore cleaning toner contains 2% salicylic acid and papaya enzymes that minimize the look of pores to reveal a healthy-looking complexion. Moringa and papaya extracts in the formula draw out excess oil from the pores without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. It also contains antioxidant-rich cholrella extract that gently nourishes and soothes damaged skin.
Key Ingredients: Moringa, Chlorella, Papaya, 2% BHA
- Synthetic fragrance-free
- Mineral oil-free
- Not pH balanced
Best For Skin Brightening:Differin Daily Brightening Exfoliator
The Differin Daily Brightening Exfoliator can be a great addition to your skincare routine to get brighter, smoother, and radiant skin. It is infused with water-soluble jojoba seeds that gently exfoliate the skin, unclog pores, and minimize their appearance. The dermatologist-tested scrub also contains soothing ingredients like white tea and aloe vera, which nourish the skin. This dual-action facial scrub is perfect for exfoliating the skin and reducing the appearance of dark spots, and improving skin tone and texture.
- Suitable for all skin types, even for those with active breakouts
The best exfoliators for acne help eliminate excess sebum and dead skin cells. They also unclog pores and treat the root cause of acne while increasing cell turnover. But how to choose the best exfoliator for acne that works? Here are a few important things to consider before buying the best exfoliators for acne to get clear, radiant, and youthful skin.
Things to Consider Before Buying Best Exfoliators for Acne
- Chemical Free
Avoid using skin exfoliators that contain harmful chemicals. These chemicals, like SLS, paraben, phthalate, and sulfate, are hard on the skin cells. They cause dryness and breakouts and take away your skin’s natural moisture. Also, avoid exfoliators that contain artificial fragrances, alcohol, and mineral oil.
Comedogenic cosmetic products clog skin pores and decrease their breathability. This gives rise to issues like acne. Go for the exfoliators that are non-comedogenic and do not clog facial pores. These exfoliators are lightweight and penetrate quickly into the skin, allowing it to breathe freely.
The best exfoliator for acne should have the right ingredients that actually work and improve skin health. Look for salicylic acid, green tea extract, rosemary extract, and vitamin C to eliminate acne. Chamomile, grapefruit extract, and aloe vera should also be used to soothe inflammation.
- Other Features
Make sure that your exfoliator is dermatologically tested. It must be gentle and non-drying that suits various skin types without causing any allergy or irritation. The exfoliator should have a mild or no fragrance.
No matter which exfoliator you are using, these are a few safety tips that you should keep in mind.
Exfoliation Tips To Keep In Mind
- Avoid using an exfoliator every day. Over-exfoliation can cause redness, irritation and further worsen the acne condition. Always use an exfoliator not more than twice a week.
- When using a physical exfoliator, do not use too much force as it may cause scratches, redness, bruises, and may irritate any active breakout.
- Avoid exfoliation after bleaching your skin or after laser treatments.
- Exfoliation makes your skin sun-sensitive. Always use sunscreen to avoid sunburns and other signs of photodamage.
Your skin attracts lots of dirt, impurities, and pollution resulting in acne and a dull look. Sometimes excessive production of sebum might also trigger acne. So your skin needs well-formulated exfoliators to control the excessive sebum and eliminate accumulated dirt and impurities. In addition, some exfoliators remove clogged pores, while some eliminate premature aging. And some exfoliators brighten the skin. The Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant addresses multiple skin concerns, including blackheads and acne, while the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant rejuvenates and brightens the skin with its gentle formula. If you have oily skin, try the Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner to remove excess oil in the skin while maintaining its natural moisture balance. Exfoliators that are paraben-free, fragrance-free, and preservative-free are the gentlest on your skin. Stay away from the exfoliators that cause an allergic reaction.
Why Trust StyleCraze?
The author, Oyendrila Kanjilal, is a certified skin care coach who recommends regular exfoliation for oily and acne-prone skin to help control acne. The products mentioned in this list have been carefully researched and selected after sifting a host of reliable user reviews online. These best exfoliators for acne help clear pores, remove dead skin cells, and provide a healthy glow to your oily skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between physical and chemical exfoliators?
Physical exfoliators are scrubs that have a grainy consistency and remove dead skin cells. On the other hand, chemical exfoliators are facial acids or peels that promote skin cell turnover.
Is exfoliating good for acne?
Yes. There are several exfoliators including products containing salicylic acid that can reduce the appearance of acne and help in fading acne scars. However, you may want to steer clear of physical exfoliants like textured cloths or scrubs that can cause bleeding or irritate the skin.
Does exfoliating worsen acne?
No, exfoliation helps in removing dirt, impurities, and dead skin cells that give rise to acne. However, choose exfoliators that are gentle on the skin and would not aggravate cystic acne.
How often should I exfoliate if I have acne?
While it depends on your skin’s tolerance, a general estimate for exfoliation on acne-prone skin is two to three times a week.
Why do I get more acne when I exfoliate?
Exfoliation decreases dead skin cells buildup but the friction may inflame your skin leading to redness and breakouts. People with acne-prone skin should opt for chemical exfoliants since they do not require scrubbing.
Do dermatologists recommend exfoliating for acne?
For acne-prone skin, dermatologists usually recommend exfoliating with a mild and gentle chemical exfoliator.
How do I know if I am over-exfoliating?
You will know if you are over-exfoliating when your skin feels irritated and you get a burning sensation. Your skin may also become red with the appearance of tiny pimples.
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