This article was published in partnership with Blu Atlas.
Exfoliation is often the brightest part of one’s skincare routine. Why? Because it helps to buff away dead cells that have accumulated on the skin from our body’s own natural exfoliation process (which just so happens to slow down as we age). The consequences of not regularly exfoliating that cell buildup away aren’t enormous. That is, of course, if you don’t consider dullness, clogged pores, dry patches, and flakiness huge skincare concerns.
While there are several exfoliation methods (some of them better than others), one that most people tend to gravitate to are face scrubs. Likely due to the satisfaction you get from being able to physically polish your skin and notice immediate brightness and softness after rinsing, face scrubs are one of the most popular skincare products for all ages, skin types, skin tones, and genders.
And though face scrubs are great, it’s largely because they’ve had a glow-up in recent years. The face scrubs of ten years ago are radically different from those we see today. The ones of yesteryear are noticeably harsher on the skin: using physical exfoliants that are too large and jagged, they end up causing micro-tears in the skin. And even though they’re “micro,” these tears are definitely something you want to avoid. Since they cause larger skin texture and health issues down the line.
That’s why the best scrubs of 2022 are gentle, utilizing physical exfoliants like jojoba oil beads or silica that buff away dullness and dead skin cells without causing micro-traumas on the skin. Below, we’ve rounded up 29 of the best face scrubs on the market, so you can enjoy the satisfaction of a good polish without the unnecessary skin damage.
Our #1 pick comes from natural skincare brand Blu Atlas. Reimagining the way men (and women) approach skincare, the brand formulated their Exfoliating Scrub so that all skin types and tones could reap its benefits. Instead of being abrasive and disruptive on the skin, this face scrub gently cleanses and exfoliates with powerhouse ingredients like hibiscus flower extract, bamboo stem extract, and jojoba oil.
So not only will your skin tone and texture be more even, but your skin will also enjoy a lovely dose of vitamins and antioxidants that prevent premature aging by defending against free radicals. The scrub also happens to be anti-inflammatory, so it will help calm acne, redness, and dark spots.
Like we said, face scrubs don’t have to be harsh on the skin to be effective. In fact, the best scrubs aren’t. Which is why we love The UnScrub from Paula’s Choice. To give skin a deep, thorough cleanse (that isn’t too drying or irritating), this face scrub uses natural, dissolvable jojoba beads to gently exfoliate the top layer of skin and whisk away dirt, oil, and dead skin cells.
The beads are round, environmentally friendly, and pressure-sensitive, so you won’t experience any micro-tears or microplastics in this wash. Suspended in a nourishing formula of glycerin, vitamin E, chamomile, and replenishing capric triglyceride, the milky texture of this formula softens skin and sends impurities on their way.
SkinCeuticals is known for their clinically proven, high-performing product formulas, so it’s no surprise that their exfoliator ranks high on our list. As one of the best face scrubs on the market, the brand’s Micro-Exfoliating Scrub provides skin with intense exfoliation without the adverse side effects of being too abrasive. Hydrated silica manually polishes by lifting and removing oil, debris, and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.
The formula contains glycerin, a humectant that draws water into the skin for long-lasting hydration, and aloe vera leaf extract that moisturizes, cools, and heals to keep skin healthy and hydrated.
Get the benefits of a professional microdermabrasion treatment right in the comfort of your own home with this exfoliating mask by Obagi Medical. This polishing face mask is designed to brighten, exfoliate, smooth, and minimize the appearance of fine lines, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation, all within ten to fifteen minutes.
A 30-percent concentration of pure vitamin C immediately boosts skin’s glow factor and protects skin from environmental damage long after you’ve rinsed it off. Because this exfoliating mask contains such a high percentage of vitamin C, we recommend it to users who don’t struggle with sensitivity and have built up a tolerance to strong skincare ingredients like l-ascorbic acid.
If you’re ready to say goodbye to dullness and hello to bright, radiant skin, this is one exfoliating polish you won’t want to overlook. Enter Murad’s Vita-C Triple Exfoliating Facial. In this clinically proven face scrub, you get the texture improving trifecta of physical, chemical, and enzymatic exfoliants that work harmoniously to smooth skin, improve tone, and buff away dryness.
This facial in a bottle brightens skin tone with a gold-stabilized version of vitamin C, which has 55-percent more antioxidant strength than traditional vitamin C. The formula is gentle yet oh-so effective, making it ideal for normal, dry, combination, and oily skin types.
We know what you’re thinking—strawberry and rhubarb? That sounds delicious. And it is, for your skin, we mean. In this natural face scrub, the sweet blend of strawberries (a natural source of salicylic acid), lactic acid, and rice powder gently exfoliate the skin to reveal a healthier, more radiant complexion. The formula also contains vitamin-rich rhubarb and a curated blend of antioxidants to boost the skin’s defense against premature aging.
This skin-friendly scrub also features natural cleansing agents like chickpea flour (to tighten pores and absorb oil), heilmoor clay (to soften and supply skin with beneficial minerals), and oat flour (to smooth and cleanse) that give skin a poreless finish.
Nourish skin with this gentle exfoliating enzyme powder by Tatcha. Thanks to its Japanese-inspired approach to ingredients, this beloved product is considered one of the best face scrub. Skin softening Japanese rice bran is the product’s primary physical exfoliant which (in addition to polishing the skin) provides a healthy dose of proteins, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Hydrolyzed silk smooths the skin, helps moisturize, and promotes youthful elasticity, while papaya enzymes gently exfoliate the top layer of skin to uncover a brighter complexion. This gentle exfoliating powder is best for combination to dry skin types.
Grown Alchemist’s Polishing Facial Exfoliant is a powerhouse of plant-based goodness that just so happens to make skin instantly feel smoother and more refreshed. This face scrub is gentle enough for daily use with ingredients like polylactic acid from corn starch that gently dissolves dry, dead skin cells and glucomannan extract that absorbs excess oils and impurities lingering on the skin’s surface.
The scrub is also rich in antioxidants from plants like pink grapefruit and peppermint leaf, that supply skin with a potent supply of free radical fighters.
As one of the best-selling face scrubs on our list, Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Treatment is known as a facial in a bottle. This pore-perfecting powerhouse combines four treatments (cleanser, scrub, peel, and mask) into one product. Natural silica acts as the scrub’s gentle physical exfoliant, while chemical exfoliants lactic and salicylic acid ensure all dead skin cells are removed from the skin’s surface.
Exfoliating fruit enzymes from papaya, pumpkin, and pineapple also enhance the exfoliation experience while remaining super gentle on the skin. Aloe vera, honey, and vitamin E soften, smooth, and moisturize so your skin truly feels like it does after a facial.
Powder exfoliants make some of the best products because they are gentle enough for daily use but are also super effective at buffing away dead skin cells, oil, and impurities. In Dermalogica’s Daily Superfoliant, this cult-favorite exfoliant uses activated binchotan charcoal to remove impurities from the skin and defend against environmental pollution.
Other pollution-fighting ingredients like niacinamide, red algae, and tara fruit extract protect skin with mighty antioxidants. Additional exfoliating enzymes and AHAs like lactic acid activate when the powder is mixed with water, giving skin all the necessary nutrients for a healthy glow.
Inspired by Scandinavian spas, OLEHENRIKSEN’s Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub calms your mind with revitalizing peppermint and eucalyptus oils and purifies pores with volcanic sand, neem seed oil, and a powerful blend of alpha hydroxy acids. Volcanic sand functions as this scrub’s primary exfoliant because it detoxes skin and encourages healthy cell renewal.
A proprietary blend of green botanicals—such as green tea, eucalyptus, and algae extracts—provides skin with a potent dose of antioxidants. At the same time, Ayurvedic neem seed oil moisturizes and soothes inflammation. The scrub also includes glycolic and lactic acids, which are fantastic for smoothing skin texture and tone.
Pharrell William’s skincare brand Humanrace is all about products that are purposeful and effective for all who use them. So it’s no wonder the brand’s Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator is one of the best face scrubs of 2022. The innovative formula combines glycolic acid, enzymatic exfoliants, and rice particles to target dead skin cells from multiple angles, so skin looks more even and clear in just a matter of minutes.
This scrub uses a potent eight-percent concentration of glycolic acid to clear away skin buildup and smooth skin texture. Rice particles act as the physical exfoliant. And because the rice is so finely powdered, you never have to worry about any rough edges causing micro-tears or skin barrier damage.
There’s nothing better than a face scrub that seems to wash away the day (along with dirt, oil, and dead skin cells). Aveda’s Radiant Skin Refiner balances and purifies skin with its creamy base of kaolin and bentonite clays, all while bamboo stem powder buffs away dead skin cells and packs skin with a potent punch of vitamin C.
The scrub also includes ground-up tourmaline, an energizing crystal that, in addition to protecting against bad vibes, boosts circulation to the skin and assists in healing. This skin refiner is dermatologist-tested and non-acnegenic, so it’s safe for those with breakout-prone skin.
Effective face scrubs balance exfoliating extracts and actives with nourishing plant-based oils. Cue our next pick. Typology’s Radiance Face Scrub with Rosehip Oil is 100-percent naturally derived, benefiting the skin with ingredients like apricot kernel powder and carrot oil. To assist in the skin’s natural exfoliation journey, finely ground apricot kernel powder gently sloughs away dead skin cells.
Organic petitgrain essential oil calms and soothes inflammation, so skin looks radiant and free of redness. The scrub also supplies skin with a healthy dose of antioxidant vitamin A from rosehip and macerated carrot oil, which fends off early signs of aging and gives skin a natural glow.
Target pesky blackheads with this exfoliating face scrub by TULA. Willow bark, a natural form of salicylic acid, goes deep into pores to dissolve congestion, while astringent witch hazel tones and absorbs excess oil. Volcanic sand and pink salt physically exfoliate the skin to remove dullness, and AHAs lactic acid and hibiscus flower acid provide a gentle form of chemical exfoliation.
This blackhead-busting scrub also contains probiotics and plant extracts like pomegranate and peach fruit that balance skin, calm irritation, and provide some anti-aging benefits.
Exfoliants don’t get much more luxurious than this. Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Facial Scrub gives you a quick refresh with cherished skincare actives like vitamin A, renowned for its anti-aging prowess and ability to stimulate skin cell renewal.
Sweet almond shell powder and lactic acid gently exfoliate skin, and horse chestnut strengthens blood vessels for increased circulation. To make the experience ultra-nourishing, this scrub contains jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, shea butter, and hydrolyzed silk, which moisture and condition skin with agents like nourishing fatty acids and strengthening proteins.
Smoother skin is one scrub away with Murad’s Skin Smoothing Polish. Best for combination and oily skin, this face scrub uses gentle physical exfoliants like biodegradable jojoba beads and silica to buff the top layers of skin and minimize the appearance of clogged pores. Oily skin types will love the scrub’s witch hazel and cinnamon extract, which work harmoniously to control oil, reduce shine, and tighten pores.
This skin polish is also packed with conditioning ingredients like star flower extract (to keep skin soft and supple), borage seed oil (to lock in moisture and reduce inflammation), and sodium hyaluronate (to firm and hydrate) that support a soft, youthful complexion.
From Fresh’s coveted Umbrian Clay line comes their Pore Purifying Face Exfoliant. Fit for all skin types (minus those with sensitive skin), this non-comedogenic scrub showcases the skin benefits of the brand’s proprietary Umbrian clay, known for absorbing excess oil, refining the appearance of pores, and contributing to an overall balanced complexion.
Natural exfoliants from bamboo stem and olive seed powders gently remove dullness. This scrub is incredible for those with combination or oily skin types who want to minimize shine, thanks to ingredients like meadowsweet extract and kaolin clay.
Like a sun-filled vacation for your skin, REN’s Micro Polish Cleanser packs a punch with radiance-boosting vitamin C and gentle exfoliation methods that free skin of dead cells, wash away impurities, and increase blood circulation for a healthy glow.
Noteworthy ingredients include amber microbeads, which give light physical exfoliation for softer skin, and papain (a natural enzyme from papayas) that removes dead skin cells and soothes inflammation. Glycolic acid (a cult-favorite AHA) cleans up the show to ensure no dead skin cells are left behind. Use this as your face wash two to three times a week to get a regular dose of exfoliation.
Put dead skin cells in their place with their polishing face scrub by Origins. Mineral silica and bamboo are the exfoliating powerhouses in this wash, effectively (yet gently) whisking away impurities and cell buildup that cause dullness and clogged pores.
Mint essential oil gives this face scrub an energizing scent that awakens skin and senses, while tourmaline crystal purifies pores. Checks and Balances also features hydrating ingredients like glycerin and sodium hyaluronate, so skin looks fresh and has that sought-after hydrated bounce.
As one of Goop Beauty’s best sellers, Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator does exactly what it says, giving skin a fresh, luminous glow in less than a minute. The exfoliating scrub uses a microdermabrasion approach, balancing physical and chemical exfoliants to smooth uneven texture and kiss dullness goodbye.
Natural minerals like quartz, garnet, alumina, and silica are the physical exfoliants that give this scrub its satisfying texture, while glycolic acid dissolves dead cells to reveal healthier-looking skin. In addition, this brightening scrub boasts natural fruits like jujube extract and orange peel oil that give skin a potent dose of vitamin C.
What’s better than a fresh glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day? Try radiant skin. As the only sugar-based scrub on our list, this best-selling exfoliator uses ultra-fine sugar crystals to physically polish and hydrate the skin.
Lemon peel powder also gives a gentle exfoliation treatment, while a ten-percent blend of glycolic and lactic acids buff away rough texture. To keep skin calm after that powerful dose of AHAs, the scrub includes plant extracts like holy basil and chamomile that calm and soothe.
Clinique knows how to create skincare that works even as your skin ages and changes, which is why we think it’s always a good idea to have this Exfoliating Face Scrub on hand. The water-based formula is ideal for combination and oily skin types who want to keep skin clean and polished to prevent clogged pores and blemishes.
Noteworthy ingredients include silica (to gently exfoliate), shea butter (to moisturize), salicylic acid (to unclog pores), and perilla seed oil (to soothe inflammation and treat acne).
Give skin a skin resurfacing facial with Exuviance’s Triple Microdermabrasion Treatment. In this beloved face scrub, you get the exfoliating trio of chemical AHAs, enzymes, and physical exfoliants to remove roughness and get skin prepped to glow.
Specifically, 10-percent glycolic acid combined with skin-softening papaya enzyme and professional grade crystals are what exfoliate the top layers of skin, revealing a brighter, more even complexion. The luxury scrub also contains one of our favorite skincare ingredients: glycerin, to keep skin well-nourished even after all that exfoliation.
Even sensitive skin types need an exfoliator. So reach for one like La-Roche Posay’s Ultra-Fine Scrub. Combining the effects of physical exfoliants like pumice and gentle chemical exfoliants such as sulfonic acid, this face scrub rejuvenates dry, dull skin by clearing away buildup and uneven texture.
To keep it hydrating and safe for sensitive skin, the formula contains the brand’s prebiotic thermal water and glycerin, which keep the skin plump and well-balanced.
Squalane is one of the most beloved skincare ingredients of 2022 because it mimics our skin’s natural oils, making it the perfect moisturizer. Typology makes use of olive-derived squalane in their Regenerating Face Scrub to treat dryness and moisture barrier damage.
To lightly exfoliate the skin, there’s apricot seed powder that’s fine texture effortlessly buffs away dead skin cells. Rose geranium essential oil balances oil production, brightens, and improves skin’s ability to renew. As you work this hydrating scrub into your skin, it transforms into a nourishing oil consistency that washes away dirt, oil, and other impurities.
The next best face scrub on our list was created by celebrity esthetician and skincare expert Renée Rouleau. Mint Buffing Beads uses gentle jojoba esters to wipe away dullness and peppermint oil to increase circulation and bring fresh nutrients to the skin, both of which support a more youthful appearance.
This exfoliating face scrub also includes vitamins E, C, and A for their skin-benefiting antioxidants and healing properties. The scrub’s minty, fresh scent is a satisfying bonus.
Who said you couldn’t achieve smoother, more radiant skin on a budget? Cetaphil’s Extra Gentle Daily Scrub is ideal for combination, oily, and sensitive skin types who want to experience the satisfaction of a deep clean and exfoliation, without all the irritation that other products unfortunately provide.
To exfoliate without over drying, the formula includes skin-nourishing ingredients glycerin, vitamin E, and vitamin B5 to pack skin with hydration and a strengthened moisture barrier. Bamboo extract and its finely grained silica gently buff away dead skin cells to reveal a softer, smoother complexion.
All skin types, including sensitive skin, can enjoy Avene’s Gentle Exfoliating Gel. The cooling gel formula cleanses and hydrates skin while cellulose and jojoba wax beads physically remove dead cells from the skin’s surface.
The brand’s iconic thermal spring water is the first ingredient, so skin will feel its hydrating, soothing properties upon first splash. Other skincare ingredients like niacinamide, sodium salicylate, and zinc gluconate support the skin with their exfoliating and soothing properties.
For most skin types, exfoliating two to three times a week is the golden number for getting that great glow. While exfoliating more than three times can work for some skin types, it increases your chances of irritation and skin barrier damage, so it’s best to start slow and build up your skin’s tolerance over time. Those with sensitive skin should definitely stick with exfoliating once a week with a gentle exfoliant to avoid upsetting the skin.
The biggest things to avoid in a face scrub—besides any ingredients your skin doesn’t get along with—are harsh exfoliating beads, seeds, or grains. Any physical scrub with grains that are coarse, rough, or have jagged edges (such as walnut shell fragments) can cause micro-tears in the skin, which create tiny wounds that leave skin more vulnerable to dryness, redness, and sensitivity.
A face scrub’s main priority is brightening and exfoliating the skin, not treating acne. However, scrubs with acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, tea tree oil, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), or oil-absorbing clays can absolutely be a helpful addition to your skincare routine. Face scrubs also help speed up skin cell turnover and remove dullness, which is beneficial for treating those stubborn post-acne marks.
In the best modern face scrubs, you’ll often see physical exfoliants combined with chemical exfoliants like glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acids. Chemical exfoliants break up dead skin cells by dissolving the glue that holds them together. Combining this exfoliation method with physical exfoliants means that as the chemical exfoliants loosen cell buildup, physical exfoliants can whisk them away. Chemical exfoliants are also fantastic for brightening skin, evening texture, and encouraging healthy skin cell turnover.
Fruit enzymes are another natural exfoliant you’ll see alongside physical exfoliants in your face scrub. The enzymes are typically derived from fruits such as pineapple and papaya and help dissolve the glue that keeps dead skin cells together. They’re a great exfoliating option for sensitive skin since they’re considered the most gentle and soothing.
Antioxidants are crucial for skin health and longevity since they protect from the free radical damage that speeds up the skin aging process. Packing your skincare routine with a variety of antioxidants will help nourish and protect skin from premature aging, as well as calm inflammation. Look for antioxidants like niacinamide, vitamins A, E, C, and coenzyme Q10 in your face scrub.
Exfoliating the skin too often or with powerful chemical exfoliants can cause dryness and irritation. Especially if you have dry skin, make sure the face scrub you choose has hydrating ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid that will support your skin’s natural moisture barrier.
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