9 Best Exfoliators for Acne that Dermatologists Love for Glowing Skin!

I once advised you that I might suffered a tough time coping with blemishes in my article Best Primer for Acne Prone Skin, remember?

Our Best Picks:

1. Best Exfoliator for Sensitive Skin: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

2. Best Exfoliating Face Wash: Proactiv Acne Renewing Cleanser

3. Best Pore Tightening Exfoliator: Proactiv+ Skin Smooth Exfoliator

4. Best DIY Face Scrub: NeedCrystals Microdermabrasion Crystals with Salicylic Acid

5. Best Exfoliator for Oily Skin: The Body Shop Tea Tree Squeaky-Clean Exfoliating Face Scrub

6. Best Drugstore Exfoliator for Acne: CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

7. Best Natural Exfoliator for Acne: CURE Natural Aqua Gel Exfoliator

8. Best Exfoliator for Dry Acne: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash

9. Best Oil-free Dermatologist-tested Exfoliator: St. Ives Acne Control Face Scrub Apricot

Nicely, treating acne is an extended recreation. And thankfully, you might be empowered with a tool to win that recreation – exfoliator. Drawing upon my very own expertise, I’ll share about 9 best exfoliators for acne which can be game-changing.

best exfoliators for acne

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1. How do you Fight Stubborn Acne?

When you started doing makeup but didn’t use correct makeup removal products, only washed the face with gentle cleanser, then breakouts will happen.

Gradually, the pores were clogged, and pimples bursted outgrowing. And, we searched for a lot of acne-prone skincare items. Face washes, toners, serums, moisturizers, acne spot BB lotions. Something with labels “acne-prone”, “blemish skin”, “pimples”, etc.

However my skin soon couldn’t be helped.

Then I calmed down and took a time break. After researching, I stopped my makeup and built up my own routine. At first, my skincare was so simple as possible. Here is it:

Morning: cleanser – toner – moisturizer – sunscreen.
Evening: makeup remover – cleanser – toner – moisturizer.

After two weeks, my acne condition was neither worse nor higher. Therefore, I started studying about components that fight acne. I obtained to know about Salicylic Acid (or Beta Hydroxy Acid – BHA), Benzoyl Peroxide, Sulfur, etc.

So far as I discovered at that moment, an exfoliator containing active acne-fighting components like BHA, Benzoyl Peroxide or tea tree oil helps quite a bit.

They kill acne-causing micro organism, clears the clogged pores, and in addition removes the layer of dead skin to promote the penetration degree of vitamins.

After understanding the mechanism, I started to exfoliate my face as soon as per week along with my routine above. After all, it took time to get rid of acne completely, however seeing progressive outcomes like that, you ladies can not think about how a lot I was glad. One and a half years of struggling finally got here to an end!

Now, I’ve nonetheless been utilizing exfoliators to stop future breakouts and revitalize my look. The skin’s tolerance for exfoliation is larger, so I do it twice per week. It helps my complexion be brighter and also reduces tiny wrinkles.

2. List of Best Exfoliators for Acne -prone Skin

2.1 Best Exfoliator for Sensitive Skin: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

  • Achieve Brighter, Smoother Skin daily with Papaya Enzyme and Salicylic Acid

If there is any exfoliator that everyone should strive at the least once of their life, it’s Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant exhibits itself uniquely in rice-based powder which is best exfoliators for acne. When contacting with water, it turns into creamy-paste type and prompts its components to polish skin. This baby has rice enzyme and papain enzyme, which gently take away dead cells without weakening the skin in any respect.

Salicylic Acid can be geared up – an ingredient so acquainted to those that have acne issues – to assist unclog pores. Plus, this product options unique Brightening Complex technology from a fancy of components: Green Tea, Ginkgo Biloba leaf extract, and Colloidal Oatmeal. Thus, I noticed my skin gradually brighter, more even skin tone.

You’ll not consider this, however simply after 2 months of utilizing, my acne was nearly gone, pores have been minimized, and my skin much less produced oil.

No product else may do this. That’s the reason I called it “the Holy Savior.” If attainable, I even score this baby over 5, maybe 10, 20, or much more. There isn’t a phrase I can specific concerning the excellent effectiveness of it.

Furthermore, although you could have been suggested that it’s better to use an exfoliator at evening to avoid skin sensitivity upon exposure to the sun, this Holy savior can carry out the opposite!

You need to use it in your morning routine, and worry-free about it may be susceptible to your skin. It even supplies a clean canvas for making use of makeup layers.


  • Exfoliator that can be used daily without over-exfoliating.
  • Gluten-free, paraben-free, vegan, cruelty-free.
  • Good for all skin types.
  • Distinctive method with rice and papaya enzyme.
  • Unbelievable effectiveness in reducing acne.


  • The high-end merchandise for those who have a hefty budget.

Best for:

It’s appropriate for everybody, particularly those that have sensitive acne-prone skin.

2.2. Best Exfoliating Face Wash: Proactiv Acne Renewing Cleanser

Proactiv Acne Renewing Cleanser

Proactiv Acne Renewing Cleanser

  • Daily Facial Cleanser And Hyularonic Acid Moisturizer With Exfoliating Beads

If somebody asks me which brand I feel has the no. 1 acne therapy regimen, I can say it’s Proactiv with out hesitation.

Sure, Proactiv certainly is the no.1 acne-related skincare brand and is best exfoliators for acne. Launching in 1995, Proactiv was not a one-hit-wonder, however a hero got here from zero. It began a revolution in blemish therapy and prevention at home .

All its products are particularly designed for acne-prone skin with their unique Mixture Remedy®: cleanser – toner – therapy.

This three-step remedy was, for the primary time in the world, deeply focused on corrupting the acne cycle on the entire face as a substitute of “spot therapy.”

The Proactiv Acne Renewing Cleanser is step one within the Remedy. The celebrity in its method is 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide. This energetic ingredient is proven to successfully kill the P.acnes (a causing-acne micro organism) and forestall flare-ups.

With no soap contained however tiny beads, Renewing Cleanser gently exfoliates dead cells with out drying your skin.


  • Cleansing and exfoliating in a single step.
  • It may be used daily without over-exfoliating.
  • Non-irritation.
  • Unbelievable effectiveness in reducing acne.


  • It’s fairly costly, but the worth of one thing usually equals its quality.

Best for:

It’s appropriate for everybody to use every day.

2.3. Best Pore Tightening Exfoliator: Proactiv+ Skin Smooth Exfoliator

Proactiv+ Skin Smooth Exfoliator

Proactiv+ Skin Smooth Exfoliator

  • This facial cleanser reduces the appearance of pores to give you healthier, smoother looking skin.

That is one other product from Proactiv that I discovered can be the best exfoliators for acne.

Additionally full of Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% and tiny beads, this exfoliator does its job as effectively because the Skin Renewing Cleanser above. Nevertheless, the “plus” in its identify signifies that there are upgrades in its method in contrast with its brother.

In addition to the core Mixture Remedy, the producer put the Smart Target technology into follow on this Skin Smooth Exfoliator. The Benzoyl Peroxide molecules are damaged down into micro-crystal sort, which penetrates the skin quicker and assaults P.acnes extra shortly.

In line with Proactiv, you’ll be able to see the results of acne decrease solely after 01 week utilizing Proactiv+ Acne System. For me, it took me Three weeks to see the result since I solely used this eExfoliator. However that was nonetheless so quick.

Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, and Glycolic Acid are additionally added to smoothen the skin surface and decrease the pores’ look.

Thus, I observed that my pores did shrink down a little bit bit, and my tiny wrinkles in the midst of two eyebrows have been ironed. The product reduces blemish and in addition improves the complexion. In only one step! How great it’s!


  • Cleansing and exfoliating in a single step.
  • Daily use without over-exfoliating.
  • Non-irritation.
  • Sulfate-free, Paraben-free.
  • Decrease acne so shortly.


  • It’s a bit pricey however worth every penny.

Best for:

Every skin sort that suffers mild-to-moderate acne is really helpful to try this exfoliator.

2.4. Best DIY Face Scrub: NeedCrystals Microdermabrasion Crystals with Salicylic Acid

NeedCrystals Microdermabrasion Crystals with Salicylic Acid

NeedCrystals Microdermabrasion Crystals

  • Natural Facial Exfoliator Improves Scars, Blackheads, Pore Size, Blemishes & Skin Texture.

You might have heard about microdermabrasion before and assume that it is only carried out at a professional spa? At present you’ll be taught that you are able to do it at your comfortable home with NeedCrystals Microdermabrasion Crystals with Salicylic Acid.

This is best exfoliators for acne which activates by combining with your face wash. Combine your facial cream with NeedCrystals (the ratio 2:1) till it turns into a creamy paste, then gently scrub on your face for two minutes. And voilà! You aren’t disappointed with the out-performed consequence!

That is the perfect exfoliating scrub for acne. Compared with the sophisticated microdermabrasion system within the spa, I choose this one.

The two% Salicylic Acid contained within the method helps quite a bit with blind pimples and whiteheads. In the meantime, the Corundum works effectively to clean away blackheads.

All dead cells situated above the epidermis, known as the stratum corneum (in different phrases, it’s the outer layer of lifeless cells) shall be gently eradicated).

And by that, it stimulates all of the underlying cells to regenerate directly. Acne scars, wrinkles, and fine lines usually are not your worry anymore. Earning a vibrant, youthful skin has never been that simple!


  • Cruelty-free, 100% vegan, GMO-free, paraben-free, fragrance-free, dye-free, and gluten-free.
  • An easy way to decrease acne, acne scars, wrinkles, age spots.
  • You possibly can combine along with your shower cream to exfoliate your body skin.


  • 2% Salicylic Acid might trigger your skin to be sensitive to the sun

Best for:

I don’t suggest this product to sensitive skin due to the excessive content of Salicylic Acid. Don’t use daily (2 occasions per week is sufficient) and all the time use a moisturizer to keep away from dehydration.

2.5. Best Exfoliator for Oily Skin: The Body Shop Tea Tree Squeaky-Clean Exfoliating Face Scrub

The Body Shop Tea Tree Squeaky-Clean Exfoliating Face Scrub

The Body Shop Tea Tree Squeaky-Clean Exfoliating Face Scrub

  • Enriched with Community Trade Tea Tree Oil, the scrub gently buffs the skin’s surface to remove impurities and dead skin cells.

This is one of the best exfoliators for acne I have tried until now. The fresh sensation and soft skin it brings is simply so arduous to resist. The Body Shop is so well-known for its blemish-suitable Tea Tree product line. This scrub shouldn’t be distinctive.

Tea Tree oil kills micro organism that may cause acne and prevent impurified skin. It makes my complexion glow. Even my husband loves it. He has used the entire The Body Shop Tea Tree line, and typically, I used to be so jealous of his no-acne, no-clogged-pores skin.

Another factor, the tea tree oil comes from the natural tea tree crops in Kenyan forest. The tea tree leaves are hand-harvested from the perfect crops and distilled to the oil in 12 hours by the Kenyan farmers.

The Body Shop has cooperated with Kenyan Organic Oil Farmers Affiliation since 2007 to purchase probably the most certified natural tea tree oil (you’ll be able to learn extra on Reuters).

In return, the Kenyan farmers’ year-round revenue is assured and by that, they don’t over-exploit the forest – the supply of the natural components. Subsequently, the standard is ensured in addition to the surroundings shouldn’t be destroyed.

The Body Shop additionally makes use of recycled plastic for its product’s packaging to guard the Earth. Its dedication “Enrich our planet” is so honorable.


  • Cruelty-free, 100% vegan.
  • Keep skin clearer-looking with a refreshing sensation.
  • Affordable worth with high quality of stopping breakouts and giving you a radiant skin.


  • If you’re searching for a feeling of beads scrubbing on your face, it might disappoint you. The beads are so tiny that you can not feel it. The 2% Salicylic Acid might trigger your skin to be sensitive to the sun

Best for:

I feel that is most suitable for oily acne-prone skin. The menthol in its formula may trigger sensitive skin irritation.

2.6. Best Drugstore Exfoliator for Acne: CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

  • It  is an effective exfoliator that removes dead skin cells and promotes radiance.

CeraVe is the first beauty model on the planet to add ceramide, cholesterol esters, and fat to skin products. This breakthrough in beautifying technology makes skin more healthy and extra radiant. This best exfoliators for acne can be permitted and patented by the Eczema Affiliation within the US. CeraVe cosmetics is among the benign beauty manufacturers that many individuals consider in.

The CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser is a product line for oily acne-prone skin ladies! It’s favorably regarded by the beauticians for its gentleness and splendid cleaning impact.

Although it has Salicylic Acid in the formula, the sensitive skin may devour it every day without issues as a consequence of Ceramide, Niacinamide and Hyaluronic included.

That’s why whenever you wash your face with this product, the skin is gently exfoliated, eradicating grime, extra oil, and remnants of the makeup without damaging the moist barrier.


  • Developed by dermatologists.
  • Non-comedogenic and Fragrance-free.
  • Affordable worth by way of effective impact.


  • If you have a dry sensitive skin, this product might additional dry your skin out (the Hyaluronic Acid content material is probably not sufficient for dry skin).

Best for:

Oily sensitive acne-prone skin will thank this product. Not really helpful for dry skin.

2.7. Best Natural Exfoliator for Acne: CURE Natural Aqua Gel Exfoliator

CURE Natural Aqua Gel Exfoliator

  • This face cleaner gently catches dead skin on the surface of the skin and removes it with a unique activated hydrogen water formula.

You might not know this but in 2009, Cure Natural Aqua Gel was chosen as a guest reward at the 81st Academy Awards. Cure Natural Aqua Gel is among the best selling exfoliation merchandise in Japan. So far as I do know, one bottle is being offered each 20 seconds. Is it persuasive sufficient to you?

Natural Aqua Gel has the nicest method I’ve ever seen with 91% pure water and natural botanical extracts of aloe, ginkgo biloba and rosemary. It additionally comprises no alcohol, synthetic flavors, colorants or preservatives, making it extraordinarily safe for the skin, even for those with sensitive skin.

This best exfoliators for acne reacts with the dead cell and removes it by massage. This mechanism is completely different from the acid exfoliation or small-bead scrubs, which simply irritate or scratch the skin.


  • Non-comedogenic, Fragrance-free, alcohol-free, preservations-free.
  • Non-irritating.
  • Soothe the redness and assist flatten pustules shortly.


  • Packed in a 250ml bottle with the utilization validity of 6 months after opening, we can not use up all in time. My advice is using it for the body too.

Best for:

All skin types would adore it. Nevertheless, it may not be satisfying enough for oily, large pores skin.

2.8. Best Exfoliator for Dry Acne: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Face Cleanser

  • Oil-free salicylic acid cleanser targets acne-fighting power deep down into pore to remove oil, leaving skin feeling fresh

This face wash has a thick texture, an excellent foaming potential that helps cleanse the skin extra successfully. Microbeads work gently to cut back oil, remove dirt and impurities that construct up in pores with out drying or causing skin allergic reactions. Your skin shall be clear and clean after the first week of use.

It’s formulated with MicroClear®, a robust medical technology that helps energetic components go deep into pores to deal with acne effectively.

The combination of Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid not solely refines pores, but in addition makes the surface of your skin satiny. this face wash is the best exfoliators for acne for teenagers who have acne as a consequence of the way it worked on me.


  • Dermatologist-tested.
  • Dissolve oil, dirt, and impurities.
  • Well-reduce adolescent blemish.


  • Perhaps a little bit harsh for mature skin.
  • The fragrance is strong.
  • Feel greasy on the skin after rinsing off with water.

Best For:

It is a good drugstore scrub for teenagers who have dry acne-prone skin. Although it’s labeled “every day scrub”, please solely use it 2-Three occasions per week to keep away from over-exfoliating.

2.9 Best Oil-free Dermatologist-Tested Exfoliator: St. Ives Acne Control Face Scrub Apricot

St. Ives Acne Control Face Scrub Apricot

  • This Acne Control Apricot scrub contains salicylic acid to help prevent new blackheads & blemishes from forming.

This exfoliator has natural components that are dermatologist-tested comprise apricot extract, and walnut shell powder effectively take away dead cells without damaging your skin. The method is well-done with the energetic ingredient 2% Salicylic Acid for the therapy of acne.

I think St.Ives scrub plays an element in helping them get rid of the blemish. For me, I’ve used chemical peel quite often, so my skin is simply too sensitive with a large-bead exfoliator. Nevertheless, I exploit it for my shoulder and again – the place typically whiteheads seem – and it really works!


  • Dermatologist-tested, paraben-free, oil-freeDermatologist-tested.
  • Include Salicylic Acid to treat acne and prevent future breakouts.
  • Can be utilized for the entire body.


  • Perhaps a little bit harsh for sensitive skin.
  • You probably have extreme acne-prone skin, it’s not for you.

Best for:

Normal and oily skin type with mild-to-moderate acne.

3. Why do you have to use an Exfoliator when treating Acne?

  • Fighting acne and stopping Breakouts:

As I discussed earlier, an exfoliator is a weapon to defeat acne. Many individuals ignore exfoliating after they have acne as a result of they assume that exfoliating makes acne worse.

In truth, acne’s root comes from overactivation of the sebaceous glands beneath the skin. Such operation causes sebum overproduction. When the sebum combines with dirt and dead cells, clogged pores, whiteheads, and blackheads are fashioned.

That is a perfect surroundings for acne-causing micro organism to carry out extra severe inflammatory acne such as pustules.

Subsequently, along with washing your face each day, you must periodically exfoliate your skin each week to avoid the dead cells to cause prone skin.

  • Diminish the signs of Aging:

In my acknowledgement, the self-removal process of dead cells on the skin takes place strongly earlier than the age of 30. However from 30 years previous, the skin regeneration cycle is slower and slower.

Subsequently, it’s harder for dead skin cells to peel off over time. Such dead cells deposit a thick layer on the skin surface, limiting new cells’ copy, resulting in untimely aging signs.

Common exfoliation will velocity up the regeneration of the skin, remove dirt and sebum deep within the pores, thereby helping you look more youthful and vibrant.

  • Boost the nutrient absorption of the skin:

Whenever you discover your skincare products appear to not be highly effective, your situations don’t enhance a lot, then presumably your outer layer of dead cells is obstructing vitamins penetration. It’s best to do exfoliation right away.

After exfoliation, the skin is clear-up and well-prepared. That is the perfect time to use lotion products, treatment agents, in addition to different cosmetics. The stratum corneum was thinned off, so the epidermis simply absorbs the vitamins within the cream/serum and escalates its use.

4. Guidelines to use an Exfoliator

It’s best to perceive your skin is beneath which type and condition. You can’t use an exfoliator for oily skin to your dry skin or vice versa.

If you have mild acne-prone skin, it’s not a problem utilizing a large-particle exfoliator. Nevertheless, moderate-to-severe blemish skin should keep away from these scrubs. Sharp beads will scratch pustules spots and escalate the spreading to throughout your face.

  • Cleanse your face:

Earlier than beginning to apply an exfoliator, take away your makeup and wash your skin with a cleanser.

Notice: Hot water should not be used as a result of it dries out the skin. You need to use warm water to cleanse your face and let it dry naturally; it will assist restore the necessary moisture in your skin.

Additionally, you’d higher choose a fitting cleanser for your skin. We already had our feedback on some best BHA face washes; hope you discover one which fits you the most.

  • Applying an exfoliator:

Use warm water to wet the skin (Warm water will open the pores for deep cleansing and not dry out your skin).

Then dispense a small quantity of exfoliating product and gently massage your face for one minute. Don’t rub the skin brutally to avoid redness and damages. Additionally, be cautious about not exfoliating the skin around your eyes.

End by rinsing off your face effectively with warm water and dry skin with a clear towel.

Notice: Massaging your face longer than 60 seconds might cause discomfort or irritation.

After washing your face, damp a cotton pad along with your chemical exfoliator and tenderly wipe all of your face (besides eye skin). Watch for 20-30 minutes, then continue to use serum and moisturizer (don’t rinse).

5. Skin care after Exfoliation

The friction of utilizing a physical exfoliator can dry out your face and cause redness. It’s best to use a Hyaluronic Acid ampoule or serum to assuage and hydrate the skin.

Subsequently, take moisturizing steps to nourish skin glowing and shiny.

  • Frequency of using an exfoliator:

Only use an exfoliator a few times per week. It would be best to really feel the soft and refreshed skin each morning. Nevertheless, utilizing an exfoliator too typically can strip away delicate skin cells, leaving redness and pain.

It’s best to use an exfoliating product as soon as per week whenever you initially put it to use. You possibly can enhance to twice per week in the event you really feel your skin can bear it. Moderation is the important thing to efficient exfoliation. In any other case, your skin shall be over-exfoliated.

Supplied that you simply over-exfoliate your skin perchance, relating to our method out under.

6. Solutions in case you are Over-exfoliated

Watch out whenever you see your skin displaying redness and a barely sore, itchy sensation indicators, as they signify the primary signs of skin being broken by extreme exfoliation. Particularly whenever you scrub your face harshly or overdose acid for chemical exfoliation than the skin can tolerate, you’ll really feel your skin burning.

Keep in mind that the outer layers of dead cells are solely about 2/100 millimeters thick, so it is simple to remove, and your skin can develop new cells by itself. So, exfoliating an excessive amount of will hurt your healthy skin cells that are being regenerated.

While you discover your skin getting over-exfoliation, following the under directions:

  • The very first thing to do whenever you exfoliate excessively is cease using the exfoliator for about 2-3 weeks (possibly longer relying in your situation). Your skin wants time to recover.
  • Then cease utilizing deep cleaning face washes and intention for these with pH lower than 7. The cleansers for sensitive skin are probably the most applicable on this state of affairs.
  • Keep away from acid toner, acid serum in addition to retinoid products. Swap to Hyaluronic Acid toner, ampoule, or serum to ease your redness. Strive these which can be additionally full of Ceramide or Peptide to get well the cells.
  • Use a primary moisturizer with good hydrating potential and should comprise some components to assist soothe skin irritation such as niacinamide, green tea extract, licorice extract, and many others.

7. Frequently Asked Questions

Is the exfoliation necessary for blemish skin?

Sure. You possibly can learn my answer in the part “Why do you have to use an exfoliator when treating acne?” above.

Only aging skin should exfoliate?

No. Young or old, the skin continues to be aging slowly but surely. Above 30, the cell’s altering cycle is slower, so the maturing course of happens extra rapidly. The remaining dead cells will make the skin dull and flaky.

Exfoliation slows down the aging signs, rejuvenate your face, so there isn’t any must delay till the aging stage. Do it as quickly as possible.

Exfoliation of the eye area, should or should not?

No, you shouldn’t. When exfoliating the face, completely avoid the skin around the eyes as a result of it’s the most delicate, sensitive, and vulnerable area.

Skin blemishes or large pores should be aggressively scrubbed or rubbed for deep cleaning?

Absolutely not. When you do this, bacteria will penetrate simpler, stimulating pores enlarged and spreading pustules increasingly more. Moreover, scrubbing too hard can harm the skin and loosen the muscles.

After exfoliation, is the skin susceptible to sun exposure?

Sure, if you exfoliate through the day. You should exfoliate at night. The reason is that after exfoliating, our skin is soothing and vulnerable, so it takes an evening’s sleep to revive before continuing to fight with dust and daylight. All the time keep in mind to put on sunscreen earlier than you leave home.

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9 best exfoliators for acne


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Written by Harry Smith

She is a professional beauty writer & blogger. Self confessed handbag addict, enjoys Netflix and online shopping :) in her free time.

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