And Now, 14 Exfoliators So Good Your Face Will Practically Sparkle This Season


(Image credit: @gigihadid)

The first time I ever used an exfoliator (it was probably Renée Rouleau's Triple Berry Smoothing TBH), my entire life flashed before my eyes. Or at least, my entire skin regimen. I've always been someone plagued with stubborn breakouts and congestion (what estheticians call small textural issues like whiteheads, etc.) in addition to having persnickety, dry, and sensitive skin. Basically, I had lots of factors working against me, and my pre–beauty editor uneducated self attacked my aggravated complexion with all the wrong strategies, from over-abusing too harsh face masks to drenching my skin in bucket buckets of zit cream.

It wasn't until I had my first-ever consultation with an actual esthetician (again, celeb skin expert Renée Rouleau) that I realized I was carrying on with a bass-ackward strategy. Yes, regular masking and exfoliants are key for a bright, clear, and bouncy skin texture, but these types of products are active and potent and therefore shouldn't be used over-excessively. Not to mention, it's imperative to prioritize high-quality formulas balanced with other hydrating ingredients to keep the skin's overall well-being balanced and in check. Thus, I've become an exfoliator connoisseur of sorts and now swear by the product category for keeping my skin clear, bright, and glowy. (True story—I never received compliments on my makeup-free skin until discovering the below all-star formulas and began using them as needed in my skincare routine.) 

Because this time of year, especially, can be hard on our complexions, I'm revealing the 14 best exfoliators (from cleansers to peel-pads to toners to masks) that play nicely with dry skin while gently and efficiently banishing debris and buildup. Keep scrolling! 

1. M-61 Powerglow Peel

2. True Botanicals Resurfacing Moisture Mask

3. Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel

4. May Lindstrom The Clean Dirt

5. Maya Chia Refresh Mint Mask

6. Goop Goopglow 15% Glycolic Overnight Glow Peel

7. Éminence Organic Skin Care Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant

8. Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment

9. Tata Harper Reenerating Exfoliating Cleanser

10. Goldfaden MD Doctor's Scrub-Ruby Crystal Microderm Exfoliator

11. Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser

12. Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator

13. Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask

14. Angela Caglia Dream Exfoliant Mask

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.