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Your guide to exfoliating face wash & cleansers

Your guide to exfoliating face wash & cleansers

21 Aug 2023

The skin naturally sheds dead skin cells as they are replaced with new, fresh ones. This process is technically called desquamation, and it is the skin’s way of renewing the surface from the inside out. However, the skin’s natural cellular turnover rate can slow with age, and those with dry, oily, or acne-prone skin may need to take extra steps to prevent the buildup of dead cells.

When we give the skin a helping hand with products or tools that help sweep away dead cells, this is called exfoliation. There are many reasons to exfoliate the skin. First and foremost, it helps reveal fresh, radiant skin that may be obscured by a buildup of dead skin cells. Exfoliation can also help prevent pores from becoming clogged with dead cells, which can contribute to breakouts. Minimizing dead skin cells also helps smooth skin texture, improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce the appearance of discoloration, and help your skincare products absorb better.

An exfoliating face wash works double duty by removing dirt, makeup, and impurities like a cleanser while providing extra benefits such as skin-smoothing, pore-decongestion, and more

Incorporating exfoliation into your skincare routine can be as easy as using a specially-formulated cleanser. An exfoliating face wash works double duty by removing dirt, makeup, and impurities like a cleanser while providing extra benefits such as skin-smoothing, pore-decongestion, and more. The dual action of exfoliating cleansers also makes them ideal for anyone who wants to streamline their skincare routine (including men and teenagers) as well as when you’re on the go or traveling (since exfoliating facial cleansers allow you to pack fewer products).

Some exfoliating cleansers are formulated with acids that help loosen the bonds that hold dead cells on the skin’s surface, while others use fine particles to physically whisk away dull, dead cells—and some exfoliating facial cleansers feature both. SkinCeuticals offers several exfoliating facial cleansers for virtually every skin type and concern.

Aging skin: Glycolic Renewal Cleanser

This exfoliating face wash features a free-acid value of 8% glycolic acid and 1% phytic acid to target rough skin texture, promote cellular turnover and brighten the skin. At the same time, this soft-foaming gel cleanser also removes oil, dirt, debris, and long-wear makeup while leaving skin feeling hydrated and refreshed.

Oily or congested skin: Clarifying Exfoliating Cleanser

Formulated with a blend of salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids for chemical exfoliation plus pumice beads for physical exfoliation, this effective daily exfoliating cleanser for oily skin helps clarify and purify the complexion. It removes dead skin cells to refine texture, brighten the skin, and help keep pores clear.

Simply Clean is another exfoliating cleanser for oily skin (as well as normal and combination skin types). Featuring a 6% concentration of sulfonic acid (HEPES), glycerin, chamomile and aloe extracts, orange oil, and citric acid, this formula thoroughly removes waterproof and long-wear makeup as it exfoliates dead cells.

Visible signs of aging and blemish control: LHA Cleanser

Designed for aging skin that’s prone to breakouts, this daily exfoliating cleanser helps improve surface texture, smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles, refine the appearance of pores, and brighten the skin. Its 12% concentration of lipo-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, glycerin, and sorbitol effectively removes excess oil and makeup without over-drying the skin.

Normal, dry, oily, and combination skin: Micro-Exfoliating Scrub

Suitable for daily use, this gentle exfoliating cleanser provides effective skin-smoothing along with hydration. Formulated with a 2% concentration of hydrated silica (a naturally-occurring mineral), vegetable-derived glycerin, and soothing aloe, it helps purify pores and promote a healthy skin barrier. This daily exfoliating cleanser can be used alone, or mixed into any other SkinCeuticals cleanser for an extra skin-refining boost.


Even a gentle exfoliating cleanser can potentially cause irritation in sensitive skin. Fortunately, there are other SkinCeuticals products that help incorporate safe, effective exfoliation into any skincare routine for sensitive skin. When used after cleansing, Equalizing Toner balances skin pH and smoothes skin texture with gently exfoliating hydroxy acids and a blend of soothing botanicals like witch hazel, rosemary, aloe, and chamomile. Retexturing Activator is a serum-based exfoliating option that simultaneously refines the skin and replenishes hydration to enhance overall radiance.

And just a reminder… If you’re experiencing temporarily sensitized skin, such as after professional treatments such as chemical peels, lasers, or microneedling, it may be necessary to avoid using an exfoliating face wash and other exfoliating skincare products until the skin has healed. Be sure to ask your skincare professional about your post-treatment product regimen.

To discover the ideal exfoliating face wash and other exfoliating products for your unique skin, use our online Regimen Finder, visit one of our SkinCeuticals SkinLab locations, or schedule an appointment with a SkinCeuticals Skincare Professional for a one-on-one consultation.

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