Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp. Image of Sanctuary Spa Classic body scrub. Philip Kingsley exfoliating scalp mask and The Ordinary Glycolic acid 7% toning solution against a white background

Ready to get your scrub on?  To buff like nobody has buffed before? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

If you’re not yet fully aware of the benefits of exfoliating, the different types of exfoliator or the right way to exfoliate, you’d definitely benefit from reading: For the scrub of it: why should you exfoliate and how to do it right!

I’ve been exfoliating for years – tried countless products and here are my recommended favourites…

[*Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp contains affiliate links.  Find out more here.]

Facial exfoliators 

Tropic Face Smooth Brightening Polish

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp. Image of Tropic Face Smooth Brightening Polish
Credit: Tropic

I can’t claim credit for this discovery, it was actually a birthday present from a friend who loved it so much she had to buy one for me too! And I can see why.  From the first use, I noticed beautifully soft and brightened skin without having to rub excessively.

It can be concerning when using a physical exfoliant on your face that the exfoliating particles will be too rough and sensitise the skin (which is why I generally opt for chemical exfoliators), but not with this polish.

Made naturally with açai berry extract, macademia oil and bamboo silica it’s very gentle but effective on the skin.  If you do opt for the traditional face scrub when exfoliating, this is the one I highly recommend.

Use 2-3 times per week allowing skin recovery time between applications.  Follow with your regular serums and moisturisers.

For more information click here.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution*

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp. Image of The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

My favourite alternative to traditional face scrubs, this chemical exfoliator works to gently but effectively lift away dead skin cells and provides multiple additional skin benefits.

At 7% glycolic acid The Ordinary’s toning solution actually contains a higher AHA (alpha hydroxyl acid) concentration than cult favourite Pixi Glow Tonic (at 5%) and for a much cheaper price (although you might want to start at a lower percentage if you’re new to AHA’s).  The ingredient list also features ginseng root and aloe vera to help soothe the skin and increase its radiance.

It couldn’t be more simple to use – saturate a cotton pad and sweep over your face and neck post-cleansing, avoiding the eye contour area.  It can be used daily but I find it sufficient to switch my regular toner for this solution 2-3 times per week.

Good to know:  For anyone with sensitive skin I would definitely recommend a patch test before applying. I haven’t got sensitive skin, but on application, my skin does tingle for a few minutes.  If you require a gentler AHA – The Ordinary mandelic acid* is often reviewed as being gentle enough for the most sensitive of skins.

Top tip:  Apply in the evening as use of chemical exfoliants can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.  Be sure to wear a broad spectrum suncream during the day.

Find out more here*

– Peel pads –

I am the biggest fan of peel pads!  The results have been amazing.  I break peel pads out when I feel like my skin needs some deeper exfoliation.  They really are a 30-second facial.  Just wipe the pre-saturated pads over your face and neck after cleansing and voila you’re done! Since using the pads I’ve also noticed a big reduction in break-outs.

There are two peel pad products I recommend.  Honestly, there isn’t much between them in results so I’ll point out some other differences to help you identify the product you feel is best for you.  Let’s start with…

Skyn Iceland Nordic Skin Peel.* 

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp. Image of Skyn Iceland Nordic Skin Peel

Skyn Iceland’s Nordic Skin Peel contains Lactic acid which may benefit you if you’re looking for an alternative to glycolic acid.  Also containing papaya fruit extract to brighten and white willow bark to soothe.

Unlike the other peel pads I’m recommending, these can be used daily, although people with sensitive skin are advised to use only 3 to 5 times per week.  I’ve found once a week (or when I particularly felt I needed it) was more than enough and with 60 pads – one pot can go a long way!

Paraben-free, suitable for vegans, plus Skyn Iceland is a PETA certified cruelty-free brand.

To find out more click here.*

Philosophy the microdelivery triple acid peel pads.*

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp. Image of Philosophy the micro delivery triple-acid brightening peel pad on a white background.

The first time I ever ran one of these pads over my face it resulted in the in-voluntary expelling of the word ‘WOW’.  I was shocked how effective just one pad so quickly applied could be.  Containing glycolic acid, mandelic acid and wonder ingredient niacinamide (a water soluble form of vitamin B3) these pads not only exfoliate but also work to improve your skin’s barrier function – helping to keep the bad stuff out and the good stuff in.

Unlike the Skyn Iceland pads, these are designed for weekly use.  But if you regularly exfoliate and maintain a good skincare routine once a month would be fine (be warned though they can become quite addictive!)

Find out more here.*

Afterspa Facial Micro Scrubber

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp.  Image of afterspa facial scrubber

This is a good tool to use if you want to exfoliate without purchasing any scrubs or chemical exfoliators.  It also allows you to exfoliate without adding an additional step to your skincare routine as it’s done in conjunction with your cleansing.

Just wet your face, apply your regular cleanser and then with a damp Afterspa facial micro scrubber, very lightly work over your skin in small circular motions before rinsing.

I’m not an advocate of exfoliating and cleansing at the same time as I believe to get the most out of your exfoliation you should exfoliate on already cleansed skin.  However, I have tried this product.  It did do very well at helping to remove my makeup and my skin did feel nicely smooth and not overly tingly after using – which is why I’m recommending it here as an alternative.   Just remember to not press too hard against your skin when using.

Find out more here.

NIP+FAB Exfoliate Glycolic Extreme Bubble Mask*

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp.  Image of NIP+FAB exfoliate glycolic fix bubble mask extreme on white background

A fun and simple way to dip your toe in the chemical exfoliation waters.  NIP+FAB’s Exfoliate face mask contains 2% glycolic acid and is applied by placing the mask sheet onto your face for around 10 minutes before removing to reveal brightened and pepped-up skin.  The bubbles are quite fun too!

“Lovely bubbly mask which exfoliated and cleaned.  Left my skin feeling refined and soft.  This mask worked like a dream”

Jane  – 30’s, new to bubble masks 😉

Perhaps not a long-term exfoliating solution or for those used to higher concentrations of glycolic acid, but perfect if you’re an AHA newbie or want a pre-night-out skin boost! Find out more here*

Body exfoliators

Sanctuary Spa Classic Body Scrub

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp. Image of Sanctuary Spa classic body scrub

Salt scrubs, sugar scrubs, coffee scrubs (oh the mess!) you name it, I’ve probably tried it.  And yet whilst the results have been nice, I’ve always come back to this body scrub.  Completely simple to use – it does the job, with minimal fuss and mess.

I apply 2-3 times per week in conjunction with a shower puff such as Boots Essentials Body Polisher.

Top tip: Apply directly to hard skin areas such as elbows, knees and feet with your hands and massage in for extra exfoliation.

Cruelty, paraben and microbead free, if you want a body scrub that leaves your skin feeling soft and non-irritated, whilst helping to reduce spots and prevent ingrown hairs this is the only scrub you really need.

For more information click here.

Hydréa London Bamboo Carbonised Exfoliating Shower Gloves icon*

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp.  Image of Hydrea London Bamboo Carbonised shower gloves

If you don’t want to use an exfoliating scrub, shower gloves are a good alternative as they can be used in conjunction with your regular shower gel.  There are plenty of exfoliating gloves available, but I personally recommend these.  Less abrasive, the natural antibacterial properties of bamboo also help them to remain free of mildew and without odour.

I find they are particularly good for when you need a deeper exfoliation such as when you’re preparing your skin for self-tan application.

 To find out more click here* icon

Foot exfoliators

The Body Shop® File A Foot – Foot File*

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp.  Image of The Body Shop's File a Foot foot file over a white background
Credit: The Body Shop®

Over a decade ago I nonchalantly placed this foot file into my shopping basket when I needed to hit a certain spend total to qualify for an offer and oh what a happy-chance discovery it has been!  Ever since the very first one needed replacing, I’ve headed straight back to The Body Shop® because this foot file works exceptionally well.

It’s dual sided so you can choose a gentler or harder exfoliation.  The handle helpfully stops you from having to hunch over your feet.  I use immediately after a bath or shower for best results.  Doing this a few times a week has left my feet sandal ready regardless of the time of year.

If you don’t want to exfoliate post-shower then you could use a pumice – such as The Body Shop’s® No More Rough Stuff Smoother* (which can also be used on elbows and knees) – whilst in the shower.

For more information click here*

Scalp exfoliators

Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask*

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp.  Image of Philip Kingsley's exfoliating scalp mask over a white background

This is a great mask to use especially if you suffer from a dry, itchy and/or flaky scalp. Philip Kingsley’s Exfoliating Scalp Mask contains organic aloe vera and a combination of powerful exfoliants to help minimise flaking, whilst soothing your scalp.  You start with a weekly application and then reduce to as and when required.

You do need to set aside around 20-30 minutes to complete the treatment but it’s worth the time investment to create a healthier scalp environment (and to keep that darn itching at bay).

Top tip: If you’re a fan of the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer*, you can use this at the same time, ensuring your hair is being taken care of from root to tip.  How’s that for some hair multi-tasking?

Find out more here*

For more about exfoliation plus top tips and advice read: For the scrub of it: why should you exfoliate and how to do it right! 

Ready to discover other great beauty finds?  Read:

Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp. Looking for some great exfoliation products? I've tried countless different brands and types of exfoliators and here are my absolute favourite, recommended exfoliators for your face, body and scalp. Featuring The Ordinary, Philip Kingsley, Sanctuary Spa, The Body Shop, Tropic Skincare, Hydrea, Nip+Fab and more
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Have you used any of these products before? Are there any that you’re currently using which you love? If you have any questions or comments about anything I’ve mentioned, get in touch by leaving a comment in the box below.  I’m happy to help and I always love to hear from you!

[*Recommended exfoliators for face, body & scalp contains affiliate links.  Find out more here. Please note links without a * are not affiliate]

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