Exfoliating regularly is a must for unclogging pores and keeping your skin radiant. Unfortunately, however, using exfoliants can be a bit intimidating—chemical ones, especially—if you're a skincare newbie. This makes you prone to overexfoliation (or stripping the skin of its natural oils), a common problem thanks to the trendiness of abrasive scrubs and pore-sucking masks. On the bright side, there are gentle, user-friendly, and effective exfoliators that are perfect for beginners. Keep reading to see a list of our best picks!
1. Isntree Real Mugwort Clay Mask
Best for: Excess oil
This clay mask has not one but six different clays that'll give your skin a gentle yet thorough detox. But its true superstar ingredient is mugwort extract, which calms and relieves inflammation to ensure the mask won't dry you out.
How to use: Once a week, leave the mask on for 15 minutes after cleansing your face at night.
Real Mugwort Clay Mask, P1000, ISNTREE, gobloomandglow.com
2. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque
Best for: Acne/Breakouts
Using a BHA like salicylic acid may be intimidating at first, but dermatologists say that using a wash-off treatment like this one from The Ordinary can dissolve dead skin cells without overly stripping your skin.
How to use: To achieve that deep cleanse without compromising your skin barrier, use this mask on your congested areas once a week and don't leave it on for longer than 10 minutes.
Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, P880, THE ORDINARY, Beautymnl
3. Purito Centella Green Level All in One Mild Pad
Best for: Irritated, sensitive skin
This product contains 10% centella asiatica to boost wound healing and strengthen your skin barrier. At the same time, it also contains betaine salicylate, tea tree oil, and licorice root extract to clarify pores and reduce additional sebum.
How to use: After cleansing, wipe the embossed side of the pad all over your face, then follow with the smooth side.
Centella Green Level All in One Mild Pad, P1290, PURITO, ph.althea.kr
4. Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Best for: Congested and dehydrated skin
This toner contains 0.5% salicylic acid, a good starting concentration for first-time chemical exfoliator users. Additionally, it contains aloe water and snail mucin to hydrate your skin and boost collagen production.
How to use: Apply the product with a cotton pad to both your face and neck daily or every other day, depending on your skin tolerance.
Aloe BHA Skin Toner, P809, BENTON, Lazada
5. By Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water
Best for: Dark spots
If you're not sure about using potent AHAs like glycolic acid, mandelic acid is considered to be among the gentler forms of AHA. Regardless, it’s still an effective ingredient for reducing redness, lightening dark spots, and controlling clogged pores.
How to use: You can use this toner up to three times a week. Make sure to apply a sunscreen if you're using it regularly!
Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water, P1063, BY WISHTREND, Beautymnl
6. Dear Klairs Daily Skin Softening Water
Best for: Daily light exfoliation
This lightweight toner will help refresh your congested skin with cucumber water, sugarcane extract, and mild AHA. Through these powerhouse ingredients, it can provide both exfoliating and hydrating benefits to your skin.
How to use: Using your fingertips, pat this product into your face while it's still damp from cleansing.
Daily Skin Softening Water, P1460, DEAR KLAIRS, Shopee
7. The Inkey List Lactic Acid
Best for: Dullness
Like mandelic acid, lactic acid is a gentle form of AHA that can help prevent dull and clogged skin. In fact, this exfoliator is recommended for those with sensitive or dry skin because its 1% hyaluronic acid can refresh and rehydrate in a flash.
How to use: Apply before your nighttime moisturizer to ensure that added boost of hydration.
Lactic Acid, P925, THE INKEY LIST, Lazada
8. CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Best for: Sensitive, acne-prone skin
If you're looking for a non-irritating leave-on product containing BHA, this product is perfect for you. This lightweight exfoliator contains willow bark water and betaine salicylate to gently break down oil buildup and brighten your overall complexion.
How to use: Massage an ample amount of product into your skin after cleansing, making sure to avoid the eyes. Start by using it once a week then work your way up to thrice weekly!
BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, P990, COSRX, Watsons
9. Rovectin LHA Blemish Ampoule
Best for: Breakouts
This product exfoliates your skin with LHA, a low pH salicylic acid derivative that's gentler than BHA and AHA. The 85% neroli flower water in this ampoule can also soothe inflamed areas and prevent acne in the long-run.
How to use: At night, apply the ampoule as a spot treatment for problem areas.
LHA Blemish Ampoule, P770, ROVECTIN, Beautymnl
10. Some By Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Cream
Best for: Dry skin
Who says a product can’t exfoliate and moisturize your skin at the same time? This cream contains centella asiatica to repair your skin barrier and boost skin cell turnover, as well as AHA, BHA, and PHA to control excess sebum and gently brighten the skin.
How to use: Use this product as the moisturizer in your nighttime skincare routine.
AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Cream, P679, SOME BY MI, Shopee