The Best Under-$20 Face Exfoliators for Faking an Expensive Chemical Peel

If you’re new to this, there are a couple of ways to go about helping your body slough away dead skin cells so new, fresh ones can settle in faster. If you wouldn’t categorize yourself as a sensitive skin type and the idea of chemical exfoliation is something you’d rather ease into, physical exfoliants are an ideal option to start with. This includes anything made with grains or sugars or using a cleansing brush, though you should always steer clear of using this too frequently or you’ll risk irritation.

On the other hand, skin care experts frequently recommend incorporating a chemical exfoliant into your routine, whether it’s in a cleanser, serum, toner or mask. This makes exfoliation routine maintenance instead of a once-in-awhile thing you do whenever a pimple pops up. The most popular ones are split into two categories — AHAs for exfoliating top layers and BHAs for tackling deeper ones — as well as enzymes that provide a gentler cleanse. Not sure which method to go with? Start by investing in any of these exfoliators. All of them are top-rated and an affordable price, so you can get a glow-up that’ll have friends asking who your facialist is.

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Originally posted on StyleCaster.


C&C by Clean & Clear Black Out Blackhead Clearing Coffee Scrub

Oil-free and scented with coffee, this chemical exfoliant is made with salicylic acid — a BHA for combatting breakouts — to gently clear dirt and buildup without drying out the skin.

C&C by Clean & Clear Black Out Blackhead Clearing Coffee Scrub, $12 at Ulta

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, Travel-Size

No need to worry about irritation since this physical exfoliant is made with barely-there rice enzymes and papain that activate once combined with water to smooth the skin and encourage faster cell renewal. It also includes salicylic acid for preventing future breakouts and treating current ones.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant (travel-size), $15 at Ulta

Garnier SkinActive 3-in-1 Charcoal Cleanser, Scrub & Mask

This one literally does it all. Formulated with the oily skin-fighting combo of charcoal and clay, it reduces oil as well as addressing breakouts and smoothing out rough texture.

Garnier SkinActive 3-in-1 charcoal cleanser, scrub and mask, $7.99 at CVS

The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Microdermabrasion

This physical exfoliant, thanks to ultra-fine garnet particles, is also made with Amazonian camu camu berry, a fruit rich in vitamin C, which helps brighten the skin’s complexion over time.

The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Microdermabrasion, $17.25 at Ulta

Bliss Micro Magic Skin-Renewing Microdermabrasion Scrub

Bring the spa home with this tiny tube of microdermabrasion ingredients, including volcanic pumice, which acts as a gentle exfoliant, and kaolin clay, which draws out excess oil.

Micro Magic Skin-Renewing Microdermabrasion Scrub, $15 at Bliss

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Nightly Brightening Pads, Travel-Size

A gang of fruit acids, vitamin B3 and hyaluronic acid works overnight to gradually diminish dark spots and promote an overall brighter complexion.

Green Apple Peel Nightly Brightening Pads (travel-size), $12 at Juice Beauty

Mario Badescu Keratoplast Cream Soap

If you’re looking for a gentle option that will still exfoliate, this one’s for you. It’s made with isodecyl salicylate, a little-known beta-hydroxy acid that’ll attack breakouts head-on, as well as keratoplast, which tackles redness.

Mario Badescu Keratoplast Cream Soap, $12 at Ulta

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

Dermatologically tested, fragrance-free and noncomedogenic, this salicylic acid-infused cleanser removes dirt and oil without the help of harsh physical exfoliants like grains and beads.

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser, $13.99 at Ulta

Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub

A hypoallergenic option also infused with extra skin conditioners to address uneven texture and breakouts without irritating the skin.

Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub, $7.94 at Walmart

Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Cleanser

With both AHAs and BHAs in one formula, you’ve got all bases covered when it comes to addressing deep-rooted breakouts and top layers of dead skin cells at the same time.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Cleanser, $6.99 at Target

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel

The lesser-known astringent in this cleanser, zinc pidolate, works to slough away dead skin cells as well as suck dirt and grime out of the skin.

Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel, $14.99 at La Roche-Posay

Freeman Cleansing Clay Mask + Scrub

Formulated with apple cider vinegar for your most clarifying rinse yet, leaving skin squeaky clean without overdrying it.

Freeman Cleansing Clay Mask + Scrub, $5.80 at Amazon

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that exfoliates the top layer of skin, making this a must-have addition to your cleansing routine.

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, $8.70 at The Ordinary

L’Oréal Pure-Sugar Scrub/Exfoliant

If you prefer the physical scrub feel of an exfoliant, this scrub — made with three pure sugars and ultra-nourishing cocoa — will leave you feeling brand new.

L’Oréal Pure-Sugar Scrub/Exfoliant, $9.28 at Amazon

Acure Brilliantly Brightening Facial Scrub

All the exfoliants in this treatment come straight from and around the sea: sea kelp for softening, French green clay for cleansing, Madonna lily for brightening.

Acure Brilliantly Brightening Facial Scrub, $7.22 at Amazon

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub

Both a physical and chemical exfoliant, this sensitive skin-friendly cleanser includes vitamins B5 and vitamin E for lifting dead skin cells and moisture as well as rice for gentle exfoliation.

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub, $7.99 at CVS


E.l.f. Gentle Peeling Exfoliant

With the exfoliating powers of tangerine, papaya and licorice, your skin is getting the fruit acid boost it needs to shed dead cells and get a fresh start.

E.l.f. Gentle Peeling Exfoliant, $10 at Ulta

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, Travel-Size

This cult fave includes a healthy dose of the famous BHA salicylic acid to shed the lower layers dead skin and address breakouts.

2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant (travel-size), $10 at Paula’s Choice

Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic

This drugstore formula includes 5 percent glycolic acid for gentle exfoliation and aloe to soothe the top layers simultaneously.

Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic, $15 at Target

MD Complete Clarifying Gel Mask

This once-a-month treatment is a powerhouse of AHAs and BHAs, all of which exfoliate the skin from its outer to inner layers for a brighter, clearer and smoother complexion.

Clarifying Gel Mask, $19.99 at MD Complete

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