You know that gritty-*ss exfoliator you’ve been using since high school? The one you scrub all over your face until it feels tingly and, okay, slightly raw? Yeah, there’s a really good chance it’s destroying your skin. Truth: even though exfoliators are a 100 percent necessary, the wrong ones can do more damage than good. Harsh kinds can create micro-tears in your skin, weakening its protective barrier and rolling out a red carpet for bacteria, causing breakouts.
So, permission to trash your old go-to granted. The exfoliator you should be using is made with chemicals—but not scary ones! We’re talking about gentle acids that dissolve the sticky substance that binds pore-clogging dead skin cells together, leaving you with Zendaya-like glowy skin. Basically, goals on goals on goals.
A little more about these chemicals tho!
There are two main types of skin-smoothing acids: alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). It’s pretty easy to figure out which is right for your skin. AHAs (like mandelic, glycolic, tartaric, and lactic acids) exfoliate while also hydrating, making them ideal for sensitive, dry, or redness-prone skin. BHAs (the most popular one is salicylic acid) dissolve dead skin cells on the surface of your face and also deep-cleanse your pores, breaking down any oil lodged inside. (Translation: they’re great for preventing zits and treating blackheads and whiteheads.) But keep in mind that even gentle chemical exfoliants can irritate or dry out your skin if they’re used too often or in too-high concentrations. So always start out slow and low (use one percent salicylic acid for one month to make sure your skin can handle it before upgrading to two percent, for example).
The Absolute Best Exfoliator For...
Formulated with five percent glycolic acid, this one’s alcohol-free and suitable for all skin types. The aloe vera, ginseng, and botanical extracts combo works well to hydrate, improve blood circulation, and brighten your skin. Use it to get that glow, girl!
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic with Aloe Vera and Ginseng, ₹2,400
Two percent salicylic acid cuts through oil and dead skin cells, leaving behind a clear, dewy complexion with noticeably smaller pores. This one’s a Cosmo Beauty Team favourite (and we try everything, so you know it’s legit).
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, amazon.in, ₹5,900 approx.
You need a triple threat: glycolic acid + salicylic acid + apple-cider vinegar. The formula targets dead skin cells, acne, blackheads, and dark marks from old breakouts every time you use it. Honestly, just put a ring on this thing.
Boscia Resurfacing Treatment Toner, ₹1,900
Hydrating aloe vera and glycolic acid is your go-to exfoliating combo. It does its job without leaving your face feeling stripped or irritated. Bonus: these easy-to-use peel pads are super convenient for travelling.
Sephora Collection Glow Peel Pads, ₹1,000