Blog /Beauty/ 15 Best Exfoliating Face Washes in U.S. [December, 2023]
15 Best Exfoliating Face Washes in U.S. [December, 2023]
By Aravind Pai -
Exfoliating your face is an essential step in any skincare routine. Using a face wash that contains exfoliating ingredients helps remove dead skin cells, dirt, oil and other impurities that can clog pores and cause breakouts. An exfoliating cleanser revitalizes dull skin by revealing newer, fresher skin underneath for a bright, glowing complexion.
When shopping for the best exfoliating facial cleanser, look for one that contains gentle, non-abrasive exfoliants like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, fruit enzymes, jojoba beads or microdermabrasion crystals. Avoid scrubs with harsh ingredients like walnut shells or apricot kernels that can cause microtears.
To find the top exfoliating cleansers available in the U.S., we tested and reviewed 15 popular products. Here are the best exfoliating face washes for all skin types and concerns:
Contains gentle polyhydroxy acid that exfoliates and smoothes skin
Helps reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation
Hypoallergenic, non-irritating formula ideal for sensitive skin
Dermatologist tested to be non-comedogenic and fragrance free
Our Expert Review
Cetaphil’s Healthy Radiance Exfoliating Cleanser is a top pick for those with sensitive skin. It gently sloughs off dead cells and evens out skin tone with minimal irritation. The polyhydroxy acid exfoliant is more gentle than AHAs like glycolic acid. It leaves skin looking brighter and more even-toned after just a week of use. The creamy, non-foaming texture rinses clean without drying out the skin. It’s hypoallergenic and won’t clog pores, making it ideal for acne-prone complexions too. Overall, it’s a great daily exfoliating wash for all skin types.
2. Cetaphil Exfoliating Face Wash, Extra Gentle Daily Face Scrub, Gently Exfoliates & Cleanses, For All Skin Types, Non-Irritating & Hypoallergenic, Suitable For Sensitive Skin, 6 Fl Oz (Pack of 2)
Ultra-gentle exfoliating facial cleanser for daily use
Contains cellulose beads to gently buff away dead skin cells
Non-irritating, hypoallergenic and soap-free
Suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin types
Dermatologist tested to be non-comedogenic
Our Expert Review
The Cetaphil Daily Exfoliating Cleanser is an extremely gentle face scrub that can be used every day. It contains tiny cellulose beads that lightly buff away dull surface cells, instead of harsh particles that can damage skin. The creamy formula rinses clean without stripping moisture, leaving skin feeling soft and smooth. It’s non-irritating and won’t clog pores, making it great for breakout-prone complexions. With its hypoallergenic formula, it’s even suitable for those with sensitive skin. For a daily scrub that delivers radiant results without redness or irritation, this Cetaphil exfoliator is a top choice.
3. Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Foaming Facial Scrub with Glycerin, Cooling & Exfoliating Gel Face Wash to Remove Dirt, Oil & Makeup, 4.2 fl. oz
Contains gentle exfoliants to lift away impurities
Glycerin binds moisture to the skin
Foams away dirt, oil and makeup residue
Non-comedogenic and oil-free
Our Expert Review
Neutrogena’s Deep Clean Exfoliating Scrub is a foaming gel formula that feels cool and refreshing on skin. It uses gentle exfoliants to lift away dead cells, dirt and oil without irritation. The glycerin helps bind moisture to prevent dryness. While foaming scrubs can sometimes be harsh, this one contains cushioning cleansers that ensure it doesn’t over-strip skin. It rinses clean without leaving behind any greasy residue. The oil-free formula is great for acne-prone skin and won’t clog pores. For an invigorating daily cleanse that reveals smoother, softer skin, Neutrogena’s Deep Clean scrub is a solid choice.
Aveeno’s Positively Radiant Scrub is a soy-infused exfoliator that hydrates while buffing away dullness. The soy extract helps nourish dry skin and enhance radiance. The formula also contains gentle exfoliants that smooth rough patches and even out tone. It’s gentle enough for daily use without causing irritation. The creamy scrub rinses clean without leaving behind a greasy film. It’s oil-free and non-comedogenic, making it a good choice for breakout-prone skin too. For a brightening scrub that delivers smooth, glowing results, Aveeno’s soy-enriched exfoliating cleanser fits the bill.
5. Clean & Clear Oil-Free Deep Action Exfoliating Facial Scrub, Cooling Face Wash for Deep Pore Cleansing, 7 oz
Clean & Clear’s Oil-Free Exfoliating Scrub is a top choice for acne-prone complexions. It contains salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid that penetrates deep into pores helping prevent breakouts by keeping them clear of dead skin and debris. The cooling formula leaves skin feeling refreshed. It uses gentle exfoliants to whisk away pore-clogging impurities without irritation. While many scrubs can be too harsh for breakout-prone skin, this one contains cushioning cleansers that ensure the exfoliants don’t over-strip the skin. For a deep cleanse that banishes existing blemishes and helps prevent new ones, this Clean & Clear scrub delivers.
6. RUGGED & DAPPER – Premium Face Wash -2-in-1 Exfoliating Facial Wash and Foaming Face Cleanser for Men with Oily, Sensitive or Combination skin made with Natural and Organic Ingredients
2-in-1 exfoliating and cleansing face wash for men
Contains willow bark extract to gently exfoliate
Jojoba beads buff away dead skin cells
Tea tree oil helps purify and balance oily areas
Natural formula with organic ingredients
Our Expert Review
Rugged & Dapper’s face wash is an exfoliating cleanser specially formulated for men’s skin. It contains willow bark extract, a natural source of salicylic acid, to help clear pores and prevent ingrown hairs from shaving. The jojoba beads provide gentle exfoliation to smooth rough skin. Tea tree oil helps balance excess oil production while aloe vera soothes and hydrates. The foaming gel formula removes dirt, oil and impurities without stripping away natural moisture. It leaves skin feeling clean and refreshed, not tight or dry. It’s great for men with oily, sensitive or combination skin types. The natural ingredients make it ideal for guys looking to avoid harsh chemicals in their grooming routine.
7. ELEMIS Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash | Daily Refining Enzyme Gel Cleanser Gently Exfoliates, Purifies, Renews, and Revitalizes the Skin | 6.7 Fl Oz
Gel cleanser contains papaya enzymes to exfoliate dead skin cells
Helps resurface and renew skin for a youthful complexion
Purifies skin and minimizes the look of pores
Leaves skin feeling smooth and revitalized
Free of parabens and mineral oil
Our Expert Review
Elemis’s Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash deeply cleanses while gently removing dead skin with fruit enzymes. Papaya enzymes provide natural exfoliation to smooth the skin’s texture. The gel formula turns into a luxurious lather that lifts away impurities. Skin feels completely purified but not stripped. Elemis’s proprietary extracts help retexturize and renew the skin for a more youthful, radiant complexion over time. The soothing aromas of eucalyptus, spearmint and lavender leave skin feeling fresh and revitalized. It’s ideal for those looking to resurface dull, tired skin without redness or irritation.
8. VASANTI Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator Exfoliating Face Wash Enriched with Papaya, Microcrystals, Aloe Vera – Get Healthy Glowing Skin – Original Size (120g)
Exfoliating cleanser with papaya enzymes and microcrystals
Gently removes dead skin cells and impurities
Contains antioxidant-rich aloe vera
Restores pH balance and promotes healthy skin
Leaves skin smooth, soft and glowing
Our Expert Review
Vasanti’s Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator uses papaya enzymes and microcrystals to deliver both chemical and physical exfoliation. The papaya enzymes dissolve dead skin cells gently without irritation. The microcrystals provide light mechanical exfoliation to smooth rough patches. Aloe vera conditions and soothes skin while wheat amino acids help maintain the skin’s pH balance. Regular use reveals brighter, younger-looking skin by removing dull surface cells. It leaves skin feeling super soft and radiant. The gel-cream formula rinses clean without stripping natural oils. It’s great for revitalizing tired, lackluster complexions.
9. TATCHA The Deep Cleanse | Deep, Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser, Lifts Dirt, Minimizes Excess Oil & Unclogs & Tightens Pores
Okinawan clay deeply cleanses and exfoliates pores
Contains Japanese luffa fruit to gently buff away dead skin
Rinses away dirt, oil and impurities without stripping skin
Tightens pores and minimizes excess oil
Soothes and conditions skin
Our Expert Review
Tatcha’s Deep Cleanse exfoliator uses natural ingredients like Okinawan clay and Japanese luffa fruit to purify skin. The clay acts as a gentle chemical exfoliant while the luffa fruit provides gentle mechanical exfoliation. This combination deeply cleanses pores while sloughing off dull surface cells. It whisks away impurities without disrupting the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Skin feels completely clean and supple, not dry or stripped. Over time, it helps tighten pores and regulate excess oil production for clearer, more balanced skin. The soothing formula leaves skin looking refined, smooth and healthy.
10. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gentle Exfoliating Daily Facial Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid, Clinically Proven to Increase Skin’s Hydration Level, Non-Comedogenic Oil-, Soap- & Paraben-Free, 3 x 5 Oz
Daily exfoliating cleanser infused with hydrating hyaluronic acid
Smooths and softens skin with gentle exfoliants
Oil-free, soap-free, paraben-free and non-comedogenic
Dermatologist tested for sensitive skin
Clinically shown to increase skin’s hydration level
Our Expert Review
Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Exfoliator combines gentle exfoliation with serious hydration. It smooths and softens skin using cellulose beads and polyhydroxy acid. The formula is infused with hyaluronic acid, which binds moisture to the skin and increases its hydration level. It rinses clean without that ‘squeaky’ tight feeling. The oil-free, non-comedogenic formula is ideal for breakout-prone skin and won’t clog pores. It’s gentle enough for daily use without causing dryness or irritation. For a smooth, hydrated complexion, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost scrub delivers noticeably soft, refreshed skin.
11. No7 Total Renewal Microdermabrasion Scrub – Hypo Allergenic Facial Exfoliator – Microdermabrasion Crystals to Reduce Fine Lines and Wrinkles – Acne Face Wash for Dark Spots, Uneven Skin Tone (2.5 oz)
Contains micodermabrasion crystals to smooth skin’s texture
Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Helps minimize dark spots and uneven tone
Suitable for acne-prone skin
Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free
Our Expert Review
No7’s Microdermabrasion Scrub polishes away dullness with the same crystals used in microdermabrasion treatments. The ultra-fine crystals buff away dead cells to reveal fresher skin and a radiant complexion. Regular use helps minimize the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and uneven tone. The gentle scrub is suitable for acne-prone skin and won’t cause further breakouts. It rinses cleanly without leaving any oily residue. The hypoallergenic, fragrance-free formula is non-irritating for those with sensitive skin. For glowing, retexturized skin, No7’s microdermabrasion scrub is a great at-home resurfacing treatment.
12. Neutrogena Bright Boost Resurfacing Facial Exfoliator with Glycolic and Mandelic AHAs Gentle Skin Resurfacing Face Cleanser for Bright Smooth Skin, Micro Polish, 2.6 Fl Oz
Contains glycolic & mandelic AHAs to exfoliate and smooth skin
Gently resurfaces to reveal brighter, more even skin tone
Micro polish complex buffs away dead skin cells
Oil-free and non-comedogenic
Dermatologist recommended exfoliating cleanser
Our Expert Review
Neutrogena’s Bright Boost Exfoliator uses a combo of chemical and physical exfoliants to reveal remarkably smooth, bright skin. Glycolic and mandelic acids (AHAs) work to loosen the bonds between dead skin cells. The micro polish complex provides light mechanical exfoliation to whisk them away. This resurfacing cleanser renews dull skin by removing the top layer of dead cells. It helps even out skin tone and diminish the look of dark spots. The oil-free formula is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores or cause new breakouts. For an effective exfoliating treatment that delivers professional results, Bright Boost leaves skin looking remarkably smooth, soft and radiant.
13. SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser – Gently Scrub Away Dead Skin with Exfoliating Fash Wash Cleanser, Improving the Appearance of Skin Tone and Texture, 6 Fl Oz
SkinMedica’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is a powerful resurfacing treatment that polishes away dullness. It contains a combo of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells and exfoliate. This chemical exfoliation smoothes uneven texture for remarkably smooth skin. It also helps correct discoloration and improves overall skin tone. The creamy formula turns into a foam and lifts away debris and impurities as it cleanses. With regular use, it brightens dull skin and minimizes the appearance of fine lines. It’s ideal for those dealing with lackluster, aging skin who want a deeper exfoliating treatment.
14. JUNO & Co. Exfoliating Face Wash, 10 Ingredients Facial Clarifying Cleansing Powder with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra Hydration 50g / 1.76oz
Juno & Co’s Exfoliating Face Wash is an innovative powder-to-foam cleanser that clarifies while gently exfoliating. The powder transforms into a luxurious foam when activated with water. Bamboo powder and pearl powder provide gentle physical exfoliation to reveal smooth, glowing skin. It also contains hyaluronic acid to balance the exfoliating effects and prevent dryness. Papaya enzymes provide chemical exfoliation as well. This clarifying cleanser removes impurities from congested pores while sloughing off dull surface cells. It leaves skin feeling super soft and hydrated. The foaming powder is ideal for normal, oily and combination skin types looking for a deep but gentle daily cleanse.
ZO Skin Health’s Exfoliating Cleanser uses a powerful blend of exfoliants to smooth and renew skin. This medical-grade formula contains glycolic, lactic and salicylic acid to provide both AHA and BHA chemical exfoliation. It dissolves dead skin cells to reveal remarkably smooth, vibrant skin. The exfoliants decongest clogged pores and prevent new breakouts. Micro-spherical beads provide additional physical exfoliation to buff away dullness. The rich lather lifts away debris, oil and impurities. It’s an intensive treatment that resurfaces lackluster complexions and corrects texture irregularities. With continued use, it improves tone, minimizing discoloration and brightening dull skin. For those seeking serious exfoliation without irritation, this medical-grade cleanser delivers professional results.
Comparison for Best Exfoliating Face Wash
Cetaphil Face Wash, Healthy Radiance
Cetaphil Exfoliating Face Wash
Neutrogena Deep Clean
Salicylic acid crystals
Aveeno Positively Radiant
Clean & Clear Oil-Free
Rugged & Dapper Face Wash
Willow bark extract
Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing
Vasanti Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
Papaya enzymes & microcrystals
Tatcha The Deep Cleanse
Oily, Enlarged pores
Neutrogena Hydro Boost
No7 Total Renewal
Neutrogena Bright Boost
AHAs & micro beads
AHAs & BHAs
JUNO & Co. Exfoliating Face Wash
Bamboo powder, pearl powder
ZO SKIN HEALTH Exfoliating Cleanser
Glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, beads
How to Choose the Best Exfoliating Face Wash
Look for gentle exfoliants like glycolic acid, fruit enzymes, jojoba beads, etc. Avoid scrubs with harsh ingredients like walnut shell powder or ground apricot kernels.
Opt for chemical exfoliation (AHAs & BHAs) rather than physical scrubs with beads or granules if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin. Chemical exfoliants are gentler and less likely to cause irritation.
Seek out hydrating ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid or plant oils if you have dry skin. The exfoliation can be drying, so it’s important to use a wash that won’t strip away natural moisture.
If you have oily, congested skin, look for exfoliators with salicylic acid (BHA) which can penetrate pores to remove excess sebum and prevent clogged pores.
Choose oil-free, non-comedogenic formulas if you are acne-prone. Avoid creamy scrubs that can leave behind residue and clog pores.
For sensitive skin, opt for fragrance-free formulas to avoid irritation and allergic reactions. Also ensure the scrub does not contain alcohol which can be drying and sensitizing.
Start by exfoliating 1-2 times a week and increase frequency gradually as your skin becomes tolerant. Over-exfoliating can damage the skin barrier and cause inflammation.
Types of Exfoliating Face Washes
Chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) dissolve the glue-like bonds that hold dead skin cells to the surface. This helps exfoliate and resurface the skin for improved tone and texture. AHAs include glycolic acid and lactic acid while salicylic acid is a commonly used BHA.
Physical exfoliants use beads, grains or other granules to mechanically buff away dead skin. Common scrubbing agents include sugar, salt, coffee, oatmeal, jojoba beads, etc. While effective, the particles can potentially cause microtears if too abrasive.
Many exfoliating cleansers combine chemical exfoliants like AHAs with gentler physical scrubbing agents like jojoba beads or cellulose crystals. This allows the product to deliver the benefits of both chemical and physical exfoliation.
Enzymatic exfoliators like papain from papaya, bromelain from pineapple and lactobacillus from yogurt contain natural enzymes that digest dead skin cells and debris. They provide very gentle exfoliation great for sensitive skin.
Microdermabrasion scrubs contain ultra-fine magnesium oxide crystals that help polish away dull surface skin for improved radiance and a smoother texture.
How to Use an Exfoliating Face Wash
Always start with clean, dry skin. Do not use on skin that is damp or sweaty.
Wet your face with lukewarm water then dispense a dime-sized amount of scrub into your palm.
Gently massage the exfoliator over your face in light circular motions, avoiding the eye area.
Rub very lightly for 30-60 seconds, adding a bit of water if needed. Rinse well with lukewarm water.
Pat dry your face and follow with toner, serum and moisturizer.
Limit exfoliating washes to 2-3 times per week max. Over-exfoliation can damage skin.
Use sun protection during the day when exfoliating at night, as your skin will be more sensitive to sunlight.
Reduce usage if you experience any stinging, redness or irritation. Discontinue use if it persists.
Always do a patch test before trying a new exfoliating facial scrub, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Caring for Skin After Exfoliating
Always moisturize after using an exfoliating scrub. Look for hydrating, repairing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides and shea butter.
Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen during the day, minimum SPF 30. Newly exfoliated skin is more prone to UV damage.
Consider using a more gentle, hydrating cleanser on the days between exfoliating washes to avoid over-drying the skin.
Reduce exfoliation frequency if your skin feels tight, dry or sensitive after scrubbing. 1-2 times a week is often sufficient.
Avoid harsh ingredients like retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, Vitamin C or harsh soaps immediately after exfoliating, as they can irritate vulnerable skin.
Drink plenty of water and eat healthy fats like avocado and olive oil to help replenish moisture in the skin after exfoliation.
Treat your skin gently, avoiding scrub brushes, abrasive cloths or skin picking which can cause irritation.
Get adequate sleep, as your skin repairs itself at night. Quality rest helps soothe sensitive skin.
FAQs about Best Exfoliating Face Wash
Q. What is the best exfoliating face wash?
A. There are many excellent exfoliating face washes, but some top options include Cetaphil Daily Exfoliating Cleanser for a gentle everyday scrub, Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Scrub for an refreshing, deep cleanse, and SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser for a powerful resurfacing treatment. The “best” exfoliator depends on your skin type and concerns. Look for gentle exfoliants without harsh, abrasive beads and avoid over-exfoliating more than 2-3 times per week.
Q. What is the best exfoliating face wash for mature skin?
A. For mature skin, the best exfoliating face washes contain gentle chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid that can smooth fine lines and improve tone and texture. Top options include No7 Total Renewal Microdermabrasion Scrub, Neutrogena Bright Boost Exfoliator, SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, and ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Cleanser. These provide resurfacing benefits without irritating aging skin. Always moisturize well after using.
Q. What is the best exfoliating face wash for anti-aging?
A. The best exfoliating face washes for anti-aging contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid that enhance cell turnover and stimulate collagen. Look for washes like SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, No7 Total Renewal Microdermabrasion Scrub, and Neutrogena Bright Boost Exfoliator. Using an AHA exfoliator 2-3 times a week will help reduce fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and improve skin’s firmness.
Q. How often should you exfoliate your face if you have mature skin?
A. For mature skin, it’s best to limit exfoliation to 1-2 times per week maximum. The skin thins and dries out as we age, so exfoliating less frequently helps prevent irritation, redness and discomfort. Focus on very gentle exfoliants and always moisturize thoroughly after use. Discontinue use if any stinging or burning occurs.
Q. Should you use a face scrub or chemical exfoliator for anti-aging?
A. Chemical exfoliators are gentler and better for anti-aging compared to physical scrubs. AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid enhance cell turnover to reduce fine lines and improve tone. BHAs like salicylic acid keep pores clear. Avoid harsh beads that can damage thinning mature skin. Chemical exfoliants also penetrate deeper to boost collagen and fight aging.
Q. What’s the difference between AHAs and BHAs for exfoliating?
A. Alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs (glycolic, lactic, mandelic acid) exfoliate the surface of skin to reduce fine lines, smooth texture, improve tone. Beta hydroxy acids or BHAs (salicylic acid) penetrate into pores to dissolve oil and debris that can lead to breakouts. AHAs are better for anti-aging, BHAs for acne-prone skin. Many washes contain a blend.
Q. How often should I use an exfoliating face wash?
A. For most skin types, limiting exfoliating face washes to 2-3 times per week is recommended. People with dry or sensitive skin may only tolerate exfoliating 1-2 times weekly. Listen to your skin and reduce frequency if you experience tightness, stinging or sensitivity after exfoliating.
Q. Should I exfoliate my face daily?
A. No, you should not exfoliate your face daily as this can cause irritation and damage the skin moisture barrier. Excess exfoliation can make skin dry, red and sensitive. Reserve exfoliating cleansers for 2-3 times a week max, and use a gentle, non-exfoliating cleanser on other days.
Q. What happens if I exfoliate too much?
A. Excess exfoliation can make skin feel tight, dry and sensitive. It may become red, inflamed and irritated. You may notice increased oiliness as the skin tries to overcompensate for lost moisture. Prolonged over-exfoliation can disrupt the skin barrier and leave you more prone to environmental damage. Reduce exfoliation frequency if your skin feels irritated.
Q. Can I use an exfoliating cleanser if I have acne?
A. Yes, you can use an exfoliator if you have acne-prone skin. Just avoid harsh physical scrubs with beads, shells or nuts which can further irritate breakouts. Look for chemical exfoliator ingredients like salicylic acid or gentle enzyme exfoliators. Always rinse thoroughly and avoid heavy creams after exfoliating to prevent clogged pores.
Q. Can I use an exfoliating wash if I have rosacea?
A. Maybe. Very mild exfoliation may help, but you need to choose gentle options like enzymes instead of scrubs. Avoid physical scrubs and beware chemical exfoliants that could further irritate and inflame your skin. Always do a patch test before trying a new exfoliating product if you have rosacea.
Q. Is a store-bought face scrub as good as a facial?
A. No, at-home scrubs cannot provide the same intensive exfoliation and extraction that a professional facial can. However, they can help maintain smoother skin between facials. Look to facials for a deeper, more thorough exfoliating experience performed by a licensed esthetician.
Q. Can I use my regular face wash after exfoliating?
A. Yes, you can use your regular, non-exfoliating cleanser after removing an exfoliating scrub. Just be sure to moisturize well afterwards, as exfoliated skin needs plenty of hydration. You may also opt to use a super gentle cleanser in the days following exfoliation to avoid over-drying.
Aravind Pai is a passionate blogger and content creator who has been writing extensively on technology topics since 2020, with a focus on Online shopping deals and product reviews. He graduated as a B.Tech 4 years ago and enjoys road trips and exploring latest gadgets.
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