Expert Advice

What are Exfoliators?

Woman applying a body scrub to her legs.

Whether you’re a tan fanatic or just craving that fresh, pampered feeling, we believe exfoliators are the fast track to smoother, more radiant skin.

From physical exfoliators like salt scrubs, to chemical exfoliators like AHAs, you might be wondering what exfoliators are and how to choose the right one. Discover the benefits of each so you can decide which one is best for you.

The Benefits of Exfoliating the Skin

Exfoliation is a crucial step in any skincare routine and here’s why:

Improved Skin Texture: Exfoliating can help to smooth out uneven texture, leaving your skin feeling softer and more even.

Management of Breakouts: As these products work to remove the build-up of dead skin cells and other impurities, such as dirt and makeup, you could help to keep those breakouts at bay.

What are the Different Types of Exfoliators?

From chemical to physical, there are so many exfoliators in the beauty aisle that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here’s your cheat sheet to find your perfect match!

What are Chemical Exfoliators?

Chemical exfoliants are skincare products that use acids or enzymes to remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, promoting cell turnover and revealing smoother, brighter skin underneath.

They are available in different forms such as toners, serums, and masks, and are suitable for various skin types including sensitive skin when used correctly.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

These water-soluble acids (think glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acid) work by loosening the bonds between dead skin cells – the result? Fresh, renewed skin that’s ready to shine.

Effective at exfoliating the skin’s surface, they are also believed to help improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs):

These oil-soluble acids (hello, salicylic acid!) work to dive deep into your pores to unclog them, making them an ideal choice for oily skin.

But that’s not all – they may even help to regulate sebum production, which could be a game-changer for those looking to manage breakouts.

What are Physical Scrubs?

For frequent fake-tanners (guilty!) or those who just love a good scrub – physical exfoliators should be your go-to.

Often using grains of sugar, salt, or coffee, they work to buff away dead skin cells to reveal smoother skin.

If you want to see results quickly, this might be the best option for you.

However, we would advise those with dry or sensitive skin to use a liquid formula, as grain exfoliators may be too harsh and abrasive.

Sugar Scrubs

Sugar scrubs are physical exfoliants made of sugar granules that help to slough off dead skin cells when massaged onto the skin. They are often favoured for use on more delicate areas like the lips, due to the smaller-grained formula.

Coffee Scrubs

Coffee scrubs are physical exfoliants that typically combine coffee grounds with other ingredients like oils and sugars to create a scrub that helps exfoliate the skin.

Due to the rough texture of the grounds, we believe they are the most effective option for more thorough scrubs on areas like the elbows, knees, feet or for those wanting to remove stubborn fake tan.


We can’t deny a good exfoliator is the not-so-secret weapon you need in your beauty regime, but choosing the right one for your skin type could be essential for achieving the best results.

Whether you opt to use a chemical exfoliant or a physical scrub, always apply with caution and build up use as your skin tolerates it.

Want to learn more about exfoliation? Check out our Q&A with our resident therapist, Natasha Swindell, for more insider tips and tricks.



Writer and expert

Life motto: 'There's no such thing as too many beauty products'

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