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Your Guide to Exfoliating Face Wash & Cleansers

Learn how to choose the perfect exfoliating face wash or cleanser for your skin type and achieve a smoother, brighter complexion with this helpful guide.
28 May 2023

Article Overview

  • Exfoliating facial cleansers are a skincare category that helps remove dead skin cells and promote a smoother, brighter complexion.
  • LHA Cleanser is a recommended exfoliating facial cleanser that contains a blend of exfoliating acids to unclog pores, remove impurities, and improve skin texture.
  • Micro-Exfoliating Scrub is another product that provides physical exfoliation with gentle microbeads. It helps to refine the skin's surface, leaving it smoother and more radiant.
  • Simply Clean is a versatile facial cleanser that can be used as a daily exfoliating cleanser. It contains botanical extracts and hydroxy acids to gently exfoliate and cleanse the skin.
  • Regular use of exfoliating facial cleansers can help improve skin tone, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and enhance the absorption of other skincare products.

The skin naturally sheds dead skin cells as they are replaced with new, fresh ones. This process is technically called desquamation, and it is the skin’s way of renewing the surface from the inside out. However, the skin’s natural cellular turnover rate can slow with age, and those with dry, oily, or acne-prone skin may need to take extra steps to prevent the buildup of dead cells.

When we give the skin a helping hand with products or tools that help sweep away dead cells, this is called exfoliation. There are many reasons to exfoliate the skin. First and foremost, it helps reveal fresh, radiant skin that may be obscured by a buildup of dead skin cells. Exfoliation can also help prevent pores from becoming clogged with dead cells, which can contribute to breakouts. Minimizing dead skin cells also helps smooth skin texture, improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce the appearance of discoloration, and help your skincare products absorb better.

Incorporating exfoliation into your skincare routine can be as easy as using a specially-formulated cleanser. An exfoliating face wash works double duty by removing dirt, makeup, and impurities like a cleanser while providing extra benefits such as skin-smoothing, pore-decongestion, and more. The dual action of exfoliating cleansers also makes them ideal for anyone who wants to streamline their skincare routine (including men and teenagers) as well as when you’re on the go or traveling (since exfoliating facial cleansers allow you to pack fewer products).

Some exfoliating cleansers are formulated with acids that help loosen the bonds that hold dead cells on the skin’s surface, while others use fine particles to physically whisk away dull, dead cells—and some exfoliating facial cleansers feature both. (Click here to learn more about the difference between chemical and physical exfoliating cleansers.) SkinCeuticals offers several exfoliating facial cleansers for virtually every skin type and concern.

Corrective moisturizers

Oily or Congested Skin

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Simply Clean

Simply Clean is another exfoliating cleanser for oily skin (as well as normal and combination skin types). Featuring a 6% concentration of sulfonic acid (HEPES), glycerin, chamomile and aloe extracts, orange oil, and citric acid, this formula thoroughly removes waterproof and long-wear makeup as it exfoliates dead cells.

Visible Signs of Aging and Blemish Control

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LHA Cleanser

Designed for aging skin that’s prone to breakouts, this daily exfoliating cleanser helps improve surface texture, smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles, refine the appearance of pores, and brighten the skin. Its 12% concentration of lipo-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, glycerin, and sorbitol effectively removes excess oil and makeup without over-drying the skin.

Normal, Dry, Oily, and Combination Skin

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Micro-Exfoliating Scrub

Suitable for daily use, this gentle exfoliating cleanser provides effective skin-smoothing along with hydration. Formulated with a 2% concentration of hydrated silica (a naturally-occurring mineral), vegetable-derived glycerin, and soothing aloe, it helps purify pores and promote a healthy skin barrier. This daily exfoliating cleanser can be used alone, or mixed into any other SkinCeuticals cleanser for an extra skin-refining boost.

A Note About Exfoliating Cleanser for Sensitive Skin

Even a gentle exfoliating cleanser can potentially cause irritation in sensitive skin. Fortunately, there are other SkinCeuticals products that help incorporate safe, effective exfoliation into any skincare routine for sensitive skin. When used after cleansing, Equalizing Toner balances skin pH and smoothes skin texture with gently exfoliating hydroxy acids and a blend of soothing botanicals like witch hazel, rosemary, aloe, and chamomile. Retexturing Activator is a serum-based exfoliating option that simultaneously refines the skin and replenishes hydration to enhance overall radiance.

And just a reminder… If you’re experiencing temporarily sensitized skin, such as after professional treatments such as chemical peels, lasers, or microneedling, it may be necessary to avoid using an exfoliating face wash and other exfoliating skincare products until the skin has healed. Be sure to ask your skincare professional about your post-treatment product routine.

To discover the ideal exfoliating face wash and other exfoliating products for your unique skin, use our online Regimen Finder, visit one of our SkinCeuticals SkinLab locations, or schedule an appointment with a SkinCeuticals Skincare Professional for a one-on-one consultation.

Next: What is the Best Face Wash for Your Skin Type?

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