Hall of Fame: Exfoliators


I’m an exfoliation warrior and have experimented with a wide range of exfoliators.  I combine both physical and acid exfoliators into my routine on a regular basis.  I don’t prefer one over the other but like them both for different reasons.  Both types slough off dead skin allowing the active ingredients in the products that you use after (serum, retinols, vitamin c, etc.) penetrate deeper into the skin.  The physical scrubs I use as part of my cleansing step and the acid exfoliators, I use after cleansing.  I do double up on occasion because my skin can take it depending on the combination that I choose but if your skin is sensitive, you’ll have to find a combination that works for you.

These are my Holy Grail exfoliators!

Physical Scrubs:

OSKIA Micro Exfoliating Balm – Possibly my all time favorite exfoliating cleansing balm.  It’s chocked full of luscious oils and very fine exfoliating particles.  It smells amazing and leaves my skin feeling clean and hydrated.  Available online

Dr. Lancer The Method: Polish – A seriously gritty exfoliator that isn’t for everyone but used gently, I love the clean, sand-blasted result.  Available online

NeoStrata Skin Resurfacing Duo – You begin with the scrub and a gentle touch because it is very, very rough.  Then, you add the activator which begins to dissolve the scrub and once combined, work to slough off the dead skin.  I found this in Canada and love it.  It also lasts a very long time.  Available in Canadian drugstores or online.

Exfolikate by Kate Sommerville – It’s green and smells medicinal.  I’m not put off by it but it’s something to consider.  It combines lactic acid with exfoliating beads and I consider it more of a mild-medium exfoliator that polishes the skin.  Available at Sephora and online. 

Darphin Age-Defying Dermabrasion – Similar to OSKIA, these mild exfoliating beads (Silica, Pearl, Lava) are very fine and leave your skin clean and radiant.  Available at Darphin counters

Acid Exfoliators/Toners:

In the old days (70’s, 80′, 90’s :)), toners were part of a 3 step cleansing routine and used after cleansing to remove any cleanser/make-up reside and “restore your PH balance” whatever that meant.  That is an out-dated mindset and skincare routines have advanced as new ingredients and technologies along with more knowledge have come to market.  Today, the toning step is considered a treatment step to treat whichever skin problem you want to address whether it be fine lines, wrinkles, acne, pigmentation, dullness, etc.  Therefore, there are hundreds if not thousands of toner formulations for you to consider including into your routine(s).

I’m talking about exfoliating toners here.  There are too many ingredients that have exfoliating properties to list but most exfoliating toners on the market today have one or combination of the following:

Glycolic Acid (AHA – Alpha Hydroxy Acid) removes the outermost layer of dead cells, revealing brighter, fresher skin.  Use to combat dull skin, pigmentation, and signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles.  It regenerates collagen, thickens the epidermis and dermis, and evens skin tone.

Salicylic Acid (BHA – Beta Hydroxy Acid) busts acne and works best on blackheads and whiteheads by loosening the glue that holds cells together, penetrating and unclogging pores for deep cleaning. 

Lactic Acid (AHA – Alpha Hydroxy Acid) – produced naturally in the body, lactic acid is the most mild of the three exfoliating acids listed here.  Helpful in preventing acne, improves skin texture. 

My faves..

P50 1970 by BIOLOGIQUE RECHERCHE – A legit cult product.  This French toner has been on the market for over 40 years.  There are many formulations of P50.  I use the 1970 version which contains phenol and smells like Chloraseptic.  It will also leave your tongue numb if you get it in your mouth.  P50 1970 is the strongest formulation and they have many others that are more mild and perfect for sensitive skin.  Some include ingredients such as onion, horseradish, and wasabi.  1970 contains Niacinamide (Vitamin B3 for acne, pigmentation and brightness), Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Sulfur (antibacterial properties).  Your skin will be red right after use but then my skin calms down and I love the result.  If you have sensitive skin, definitely buy P50W and not 1970.  This is a French brand that can be difficult to locate in the US.  I buy it from an authorized retailer here

Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads – These peel pads pack a punch, 20% combined Glycolic, Salicylic, Lactic Acids.  These are a great all-rounder exfoliating pad.  Just sweep both sides over your face, neck and décolletage and your skin is prepped for serum, etc.  Available here

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel Pads – These are pricey pads that also deliver a potent combination of Glycolic, Salicylic, and Lactic Acids.  They come in treatment packs which is great for traveling.  Peter Thomas Roth is much less expensive but if you’re up for a splurge, you’ll become a fan of these pads.  At Sephora

Pixi Glow Tonic – 5% Glyclolic.  This is a mild toner that I like to keep on hand when I’m giving my skin a break from harsher treatments.  Good for sensitive skin.  Available at Target. 

Liquid Gold by Alpha H – From what I can gather online, this too is a 5% Glycolic toner but it is definitely stronger, more potent than Pixi Glow Tonic.  It’s another go-to toner that I like to keep in my rotation and will continue to buy over and over. Available online

Beautiful 1925 French Art Encyclopedia

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