Face scrubs and exfoliators are an important part of every skincare routine. These products remove dead skin build-up from the surface, and allow healthy skin to truly shine. Most face scrubs are simply cleansers with an abrasive powder component, but these days cosmetics companies are branching out and making some truly unique scrubs.
In this article, I’ll clue you into all of the best face scrubs on the market (that are also not bad for the environment!). In addition, I’ll make sure you know exactly how to choose the right facial scrub for your specific type and need to help in the selection process.
Our Picks for the Best Face Scrubs
Also known as face polishes, these are the best face scrubs available on the market for everyone out there!
1. Fresh Sugar Face Exfoliator
This sugary sweet exfoliator is one of the best face scrubs for those with dry skin that feels textured and thick. Brown sugar works to dislodge dead skin, while botanical oils and strawberry extract load it up with much needed moisture, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. It doubles as a skin-softening face mask. You can pick up a jar of this scrub at Sephora.
2. Mario Badescu Almond & Honey Face Scrub
This gentle and soothing face scrub is a fabulous choice for most skin types. Ground almonds gently exfoliate the skin, while honey acts as a fantastic humectant to hydrate. There is also a touch of kaolin clay to deep clean the pores, so you can use it as a face mask! This scrub comes in a plastic jar at Nordstrom.
3. Origins GinZing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser
This energizing facial scrub is a perfect choice for normal and combination skin types to use in the morning. It includes refreshing ginseng and caffeine, and a gorgeous citrus scent. The formula itself is of a gentle cleanser with added exfoliating jojoba beads. It is available at Sephora.
4. Dermalogica Skin Prep Scrub
This is one of the best face scrubs for those with sensitive skin – a truly remarkable thing. The skin is exfoliated with a finely milled powder made of corncob, while extracts of mallow, ivy, and aloe vera keep the skin healthy, hydrated and soothed. As a bonus, it comes in a sanitary and easy-to-carry squeeze tube. It is available for sale at Nordstrom.
5. Philosophy The Microdelivery Exfoliating Facial Wash
With a combination of clays and gentle surfactants, this is a super gentle cleanser and scrub that can work even on sensitive skin. It’s an ideal choice for oily and combination skin types that are concerned about over-exfoliating their skin. It comes in a bottle at Sephora.
6. SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub
If you have oily skin and find that products with too many ingredients make you break out, then this is one of the best face scrubs for you. It’s a simple formula with gentle microbeads made of diatomaceous earth, sitting in a few surfactants. There is a touch of SLES in here, so it is not a great choice for anyone with dry skin. It leaves the skin gently exfoliated and squeaky clean. You can find it online at Dermstore.
7. Clinique Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser
This super gentle cleanser is a great choice for those who like to scrub their skin regularly. It’s best for those with combination skin, since it does contain some sulfates (off-set by ultra-hydrating glycerin). There is also salicylic acid in the blend, to keep breakouts at bay. It is available for purchase at Sephora.
8. Eminence Organic Skin Care Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant
This natural face scrub can work for any skin type. It combines chemical exfoliants with a ton of skin-healing natural extracts, and uses gentle oatmeal and chickpea powders to exfoliate. The best way to use it is to let it sit on the skin for a couple of minutes before rinsing, to get the full effect. You can pick this exfoliant up from Dermstore.
9. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
I love it when a scrub exfoliates on multiple levels. This is one of the best face scrubs for dry and mature skin, since it contains a nourishing touch of soybean oil along with chemically exfoliating lactic acid and physically exfoliating silica beads. It leaves the skin totally smooth and supple. You can purchase a tube of it from Sephora.
10. Frank Body Creamy Face Scrub
This Australian brand made a splash on the market with a delicious body scrub, but its offerings for the face are just as amazing. It’s a skin-softening option loaded with non-comedogenic oils as well as skin-purifying clay, which makes it one of the best face scrubs for combination skin that needs a bit of moisture. Ground-up coffee beans do the work to remove dead skin. You can buy this fabulous product at Bloomingdale’s.
11. TONYMOLY Latte Art Strawberry Cream-in-Scrub
If you’re a sucker for cute packaging, then this scrub is definitely worth a purchase. It provides a very light exfoliation that can work for those with very sensitive skin, for whom most face scrubs are too abrasive. This nourishing formula also cleanses the skin, and leaves it feeling somewhat hydrated but not greasy. It is available for sale at Ulta.
12. Bobbi Brown Buffing Grains For Face
Buffing grains give us a totally different take on face scrubs. This little glass bottle contains a dry scrub made of adzuki beans, which can gently dislodge dead skin cells. You can play around with them by mixing them with just water, your cleanser, oil, or even honey, to create a unique scrub that will work perfectly for your skin. If you’d like to give it a try, you can find it at Sephora.
13. Olehenriksen Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub
This is a stimulating facial scrub that warms up a little when it comes in contact with the skin. It includes both skin-exfoliating acids and clay-based beads to remove dead skin in multiple ways. It’s one of the best scrubs for those dealing with oily skin and blackheads. It is available for sale online through Sephora.
14. Luzern Laboratories Micro-Exfoliant Deep Hydrating Scrub
This simple, natural scrub hydrates the skin while exfoliating it. It contains a hefty dose of humectant glycerin along with jojoba oil and jojoba beads. It leaves the skin soft, smooth, and totally free of dead skin build-up. It is a great scrubbing choice for dry and dehydrated skin types. It is sold online at Dermstore.
15. Port Products Skin Renewing Face Scrub
If you’re hoping for soft, refined skin, then this is one of the best face scrubs around. It is made of a natural formula with finely milled walnut shell powder to remove dead skin, and glycolic acid to give a deeper resurfacing. It’s a great choice for all skin types. If you’d like to give it a try, you can find it at Nordstrom.
16. Nia 24 Physical Cleansing Scrub
This is a fabulous face scrub choice for those trying to improve texture in their skin. It contains gentle jojoba beads for exfoliation, and pro-niacin for a skin-brightening and smoothing effect. It’s an anti-aging facial scrub that can work for any skin type. Buy it online through Dermstore.
17. Caudalie Deep Cleansing Exfoliator
This is a stronger face scrub that works beautifully for all skin types. It removes dead skin with natural corn beads and keeps it hydrated and strong with grape pulp. The formula leaves the skin feeling super clean but also soft and nourishing. It is available for sale at Sephora.
18. Bioré Pore Unclogging Scrub
This powerful exfoliator is one of the best face scrubs for keeping acne from popping up. It gives a deep cleansing and exfoliation, and helps prevent breakouts with 2% salicylic acid. For the best effect, let it sit on the skin for 2-3 minutes before rinsing away. You can pick it up from Ulta.
19. Tarte FRXXXTION Stick Exfoliating Cleanser
If you’re looking for a unique exfoliation experience, then definitely give this face scrub a try. It comes in the form of a stick that you rub into the skin, and exfoliates with diatomaceous earth. It leaves the skin feeling smooth and soft, and never overly dry. It works well with all skin types You can find it online at Sephora.
How to Choose the Best Facial Scrub for Your Skin Type?
So if you already know your skin type, here is how you should choose the right facial scrub for you!
Best Face Scrubs for Normal and Combination Skin
If your skin doesn’t produce too much or too little oil throughout the day, and if you have either medium-sized pores or both large and small pores in different parts of your face, then you want to choose faces scrubs that will work for either normal or combination skin.
With your skin types you want to choose face scrubs that will be gentle, will not strip your skin of oils, but will also not load your skin up with too much oil. Look for gentle, sulfate-free formulas with a lot of moisture-binding ingredients like glycerin.
Skin-nourishing extracts and vitamins will also have a nice effect on the skin. You can choose face scrubs that are formulated like a gentle cleanser with abrasive elements, or you can opt for two-in-one abrasive face masks.
Best Face Scrubs for Dry Skin
If you have smaller pores, and your skin produces little to no oil throughout the day, then you have dry skin, and you should choose face scrubs that will help your skin. For the most part face scrubs that are formulated like cleansers with abrasive pieces in them are not the best choice for you, since they can strip the skin of too much oil.
Instead, you’re better off using face scrubs with nourishing formulas that will hydrate the skin or oil-based face scrubs. Look for skin-repairing botanical extracts as well as humectants, like aloe vera, honey, or glycerin.
Best Face Scrubs for Oily Skin
If your skin produces a lot of oil throughout the day, or if you have larger pores, then this is what you need to know about face exfoliators. The best face exfoliators for oily skin are made up of ingredients that will be gentle, but will also help remove excess oils from the skin.
These can be face scrubs with cleanser formulas, where gentle abrasive pieces sit in a blend of gentle surfactants like coco-betaine or decyl glucoside. Another option is to find face scrubs that are also reinforced with a deep cleansing element like kaolin clay or charcoal.
Try to avoid oil-based face exfoliators, as those can make the skin feel greasy. Also make sure to avoid face scrubs made with harsh sulfates, like sodium lauryl or sodium laureth sulfates, as these will totally strip your skin of oil and throw it off balance.
Best Face Scrubs for Acne-Prone Skin
If you regularly suffer from acne flare-ups, then the truth is that face scrubs are simply not for you. Even the gentlest of face scrubs work to dislodge dead skin through friction or abrasion.
Unfortunately, this same action can also end up damaging skin that is broken out, irritating active pimples, popping them, and spreading bacteria around the skin. This is especially important if you break out with pimples at the surface of the skin.
If your skin only breaks out occasionally, physical scrubs are totally fine at times when your skin is clear or when breakouts are living deep under the surface of the skin. In those times you want to use a scrub that is gentle and based on either a cleanser formula with surfactants like coco-betaine or decyl glucoside, or you want to use an exfoliator reinforced with clay for deep cleansing.
Best Face Scrubs for Sensitive Skin
If your skin turns red, hot, or irritated very easily after you’ve used new skincare products or ate something spicy, then that’s a sign that you have sensitive skin. Those with sensitive skin are usually better off avoid physical face scrubs, and instead use a gentle chemical exfoliant like lactic acid or salicylic acid.
If your sensitive skin doesn’t react well to chemical exfoliants, you want to make sure that the physical scrub you choose is very gentle. Search for scrubs that exfoliate the skin with the gentles abrasives: oatmeal powder, corncob beads, or rice powder all come to mind as great gentle exfoliants.
Look for them in formulas that contain skin-soothing and anti-inflammatory natural extracts, and definitely avoid most scrubs with cleanser-based formulas or that profess to provide a “deep exfoliation”.
Photos via Sephora, Ulta