Top 5 Exfoliators for Silky Smooth Skin: A Comprehensive Guide

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Skincare is a choice, one that you make every single day. Now it all comes down to your priorities and goals; whether you want it glowy, soft, velvety or zit-free, there is one thing that it requires consistently: effort. So do yourself a favor and commit to sticking to your skincare regimen (it does take time but oh-so-worth-it) for miraculous results. 

If, like us, you also dream of having baby-soft skin; you shouldn’t miss out on the exfoliation step ever. Exfoliation comes mainly in two forms, chemical and physical. The purpose of both is to aid in the removal of dead skin cells and debris sitting on the topmost layer of your skin. While your skin does it on its own every 30 days or so, there are times when it doesn’t happen completely, resulting in dry, flaky, dull skin and clogged pores. The age factor also comes into play as, with time, the cell turnover dramatically slows down, leaving you looking for ways that maintain youthful, radiant skin.  

It’s a crucial step in skincare and an impressive solution for your rough, bumpy skin. But like too much of everything can cause more harm than good, the same goes for it, as a little goes a long way. 

So to help you out in this journey, we vetted the market for the top exfoliators that do the process effortlessly. Keep reading on to know more about them. 

Comparing the Most Popular Exfoliators 

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant — Best Overall

Some products are hit for a certain time (having their viral moment), and then there are picks like Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant that are timeless. This gentle, leave-on exfoliator contains salicylic acid, a known BHA, that is popular for keeping whiteheads and blackheads at bay. It also decongests the pores as it dissolves all the oil, gunk and grime accumulated on the top layer of skin, thus paving the way for fresh, clear skin. All you have to do is swipe it across your face after the cleanser for it to work its magic. It earns the award of being our best overall, thanks to its impressive formulation, high-quality ingredients and affordable price point. 


  • Lightweight
  • Great for oily skin 
  • Soothes inflammation 


  • Might be a little drying 

SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser — Best Brightening

This SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is a crowd favorite for all the right reasons. Dermatologists raved about this product, and some even swore, which tempted us to check it out. And oh boy, we’re glad we did it as it is formulated with alpha and beta hydroxy acids along with jojoba beads that up your skincare game to the next level. This ultra-gentle pick thoroughly cleanses your skin as it removes all the gunk and pollution sitting at the top of your face. It also helps smooth the rough, uneven texture and reduces the appearance of your pores. While it may sound pricey, this pick is worth the money as it’s incredibly gentle and will last you for a long time.  


  • Great value 
  • Subtle, warm scent 
  • Suitable for all skin types 


  • Has a slight tightening effect

Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel — Best Pads

Ingredients? Check. Travel-friendly? Check. Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel has a cult following, thanks to its ability to deliver instant results. Don’t worry about the scary name, as the pick is a miracle – soaked in a two-step system that contains a blend of five acids (salicylic, malic, lactic and glycolic acids primarily), followed by potent antioxidants such as retinol and resveratrol, this product fights the signs of aging like a pro. The addition of hyaluronic acid and green hydrates and calms the skin for youthful-looking, healthy skin. So when time is short and skin needs some desperate TLC, try these pads for a mini, effective, at-home or in-travel chemical peel. 


  • Fast-acting formula 
  • Paraben-free
  • Reduces the look of dark spots 


  • Not suitable for sensitive skin 

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment — Best Splurge 

Chock full of powerful ingredients that give skin all the necessary boost that it requires to look glowy and soft, Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment is worth the hype. It’s a perfect duo of physical and chemical exfoliation, thanks to AHAs, BHAs, silica beads and fruit enzymes such as papaya, pumpkin and pineapple extracts that work together harmoniously for brighter, clear, radiant skin. It’s gentle and non-irritating, thus safe and effective for all skin types. So get your hands on this power-packed punch and get ready for healthier, dewy skin.  


  • Cruelty-free
  • Sturdy packaging 
  • Calms the skin 


  • Expensive 

Youth to the People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant — Best Vegan

Want a first-class ticket to youthful skin? If yes, give this Youth to the People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant a try. Infused with AHA, BHA and PHA, this skin-enthusiasts favorite pick expertly lifts surface skin cells and boosts cell turnover for brighter, radiant, glowy skin. The inclusion of superfood antioxidants like green tea, kale and licorice root also helps to calm the skin from any redness or inflammation. Its water-like texture sinks into the skin completely without leaving any residue behind. The best part? It’s free from all kinds of toxicity, such as sulfates, phthalates, parabens, and animal testing and is vegan, which makes it all the more close to our hearts. 


  • Fresh scent 
  • Smooths the texture
  • Suitable for oily or combination skin 


  • On the pricier side 

Buying Guide: Exfoliator 

Whether you’re a minimalist or maximalist when it comes to skincare, there are a few things you should never compromise. Cleansers, exfoliators and moisturizers are an integral part of any skin regimen as one cleanses, other buffs away dead skin cells, whereas the latter hydrates, keeping skin soft and supple. However, too much of anything is not right, and the same goes for dead skin cell lifters as well. The cosmetic industry is brimming with exfoliators, and choosing one that is right for your skin type spectrum can be overwhelming. Fret not. We curated this buying guide to give you a heads-up on all the important concerns you should keep in mind when choosing your next exfoliator.  

Things to Look for 


Chemical exfoliators involve acids that are great for oily, acne-prone and sensitive skin types. On the other hand, physical exfoliators involve particles or beads buffing away dead skin cells. People with normal to dry skin types can benefit from it.  


If using chemical exfoliators, look for ingredients like AHA (which works on the top skin layer) and BHAs (that penetrate deeper into sebaceous glands and clear out impurities. AHA – Alpha Hydroxy acids like glycolic (fights anti-aging signs and boost collagen production ), mandelic (smooths uneven tone) or lactic acid (for hyperpigmentation purposes) are great at exfoliating the top layers of your skin. They also hydrate and help to keep your skin retain moisture, keeping it radiant and smooth. On the other hand, BHA (Beta-hydroxyl acids), such as salicylic acid, is oily skin’s best friend and is excellent at keeping your pores clear. 

As far as physical exfoliators are concerned, they involve beads or granules that work by physically scrubbing or buffing dead cells. However, they are a little harsh, so it’s better to look for gentle alternatives that are evenly shaped, such as jojoba beads, bamboo powder and many others. 

Benefits of Exfoliation

  • Helps to unclog the pores 
  • Helps to draw out impurities 
  • Smooths texture 
  • Helps to even the skin tone 
  • Help other products penetrate deeper into the skin 
  • Helps to prevent breakouts 
  • Minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles 
  • Helps in achieving a brighter, healthier complexion
  • Improves skin cell turnover
  • Stimulates collagen production 
  • Preps the skin for makeup

Frequently Asked Questions 

How often should I exfoliate?

Start using a gentle exfoliator once or twice weekly and gradually increase the frequency or strength.

When should I not exfoliate?

If your skin is flaring up, it’s best not to exfoliate till it settles down.  

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