Exfoliation 101: Everything You Need To Know To Accomplish Soft & Dewy Skin

There are many steps to skincare, we’re clear about that, but do you really know them well? You probably already cleanse, tone, hydrate, and sun-protect your skin — please, oh, please tell me you do — as those are the four main steps to a healthy complexion, but what about the rest? You see, people tend to wonder, “What do I do to get rid of acne/sebum/blackheads/blemishes/dull skin?” Well… the answer is not a simple product, but an action: exfoliating.

If the first thing that comes to mind when I say “exfoliation” is an apricot colored scrub formulated with sand grains — no shade here, but maybe a little — then I’m glad you’re reading this because there’s so much more to this skincare concept.

But let’s start with the basics: in order to keep our pores from getting clogged — which will ultimately cause blackheads, blemishes, opaque skin, and much, much more — we need to properly exfoliate. Now, there are two types of exfoliators out there: chemical and physical. While some may get scared with the term chemical, that is actually the safest way to keep your skin exfoliated, especially if you have sensitive skin. In a nutshell, physical exfoliators work by manually removing dead cells, dirt, and toxins from the surface of the skin, and they come in the form of scrubs, pads, and/or peelings, while chemical ones travel deep into our pores to help dissolve the connections between skin cells and everything that’s trapped inside them. You’ll usually see them as acids in liquid form.

Do we all need to exfoliate? Yes, no exceptions! But not all of us can and must use the same exfoliators. For that reason, we’ve listed some of our favorite ones to get you started so you can finally say buh-bye to a dull complexion.

Neogen – Dermalogy Bio Peel Gauze Peeling Pads

The great thing about these? They’re 2-in-1, as they perform both chemical and physical exfoliation by using natural ingredients and an innovative triple-pad technology to promote visibly clearer, smoother, and brighter skin. You just swipe the pad all over your face, first with the gauze side and then with the cotton side, and voila! Clearer skin and unclogged pores.

COSRX – AHA7 Whitehead Power Liquid

When choosing chemical exfoliators, there’s no way to go wrong with COSRX. This one is formulated with natural AHA from 75 percent apple fruit water and 7 percent glycolic acid, which together leave skin deeply cleansed, removing dead skin cells and clearing whiteheads from pores.

SKINFOOD – Black Sugar Mask Wash Off

Formulated with super fine black sugar grains, this physical exfoliator slowly dissolves dead skin cells and dirt as you massage it on your face with warm water. Plus, it’s very hydrating, as it contains shea butter and lanolin!

Some by Mi – 30 Days Miracle Toner

This is the best selling toner in Asia for a reason. This exfoliating toner contains all three types of chemical exfoliators: AHA, BHA, and PHA, which together help tighten pores, remove blackheads, whiteheads, and dead skin cells while moisturizing and hydrating your skin. Yep, ALL at the same time.

COSRX – BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

Another godsend for sure. This chemical exfoliator helps get rid of blackheads and excess sebum all while keeping skin hydrated. Formulated with salicylic acid, it fights acne-causing bacteria and prevents pore blockages. If you deal with visible pores, oily skin and/or acne, this one is a pot of gold for you!

Benton – Aloe BHA Skin Toner

Also kind of like a 2-in-1, this hydrating and soothing toner combines the nourishing ingredient aloe vera with the powerful exfoliant salicylic acid in order to prep your skin for the absorption of all the skincare products you use in your routine. For those trying exfoliation for the first time, this one is a great option to get you started, as it’s very gentle and ideal for sensitive skin types.

Huxley – Sweet Therapy Scrub Mask

This gentle exfoliating scrub and mask helps remove dead skin cells and impurities from our skin’s surface. It’s formulated with sucrose and walnut shell powder to exfoliate and polish our complexion and cactus extract combined with prickly pear seed oil to replenish moisture and essential nutrients. Fun fact: when you massage the scrub into your skin it naturally gets warm, helping reduce swelling on your face!

Klairs – Youthful Glow Sugar Mask

Consider this one a multi-functional sugar mask that’s not only gonna exfoliate but also cleanse your skin. Fortified with antioxidants from grapefruit and raspberry, this soft sugar-based physical exfoliator is capable of cleansing makeup and providing mild exfoliation, so fear not if you’re on the sensitive-skin side.

Do you exfoliate, Soompiers? If so, what’s your favorite exfoliator out there? 

Caromalis is a K-pop and K-beauty obsessed vlogger and writer. You can find her interviewing some of yours (and her) favorite groups when they visit NYC, trying the latest K-beauty trends or testing idols’ skincare routines. Say hi to Caro on Instagram and Twitter!

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