Many of us grew up with one type of exfoliation: those rough apricot scrubs and you’d rub your face raw… yikes! But good news: we’ve moved past this in our exfoliation journey and there’s plenty more options out there for your skin.

Exfoliation is a key part in your skincare routine. It removes dead skin cells from the surface of your skin which makes your skin dull and clogs your pores. By exfoliating a few times, a week, you remove these dead skin cells and reveal the fresh skin underneath.

As we age, this cell turnover slows down, so as the years pass, exfoliating becomes more important too.

Why exfoliate?

  • We lose about 500 million skin cells a day and exfoliating helps slough away these dead skin cells and dirt from the skin.
  • It improves the efficacy of your moisturiser and other products.
  • Helps even out your skin tone.
  • Your makeup will apply better.
  • Creates a natural glow.
  • Smooths your skin texture.

So, let’s dive into the different types of exfoliating and what might work for you.

Physical Exfoliation

Physical exfoliating is probably the type of scrub you’re most familiar with. They use a scrubbing agent like sugar to physically buff away the top layer of the skin.

However: many of these may be too harsh for certain skin types.

The plus: you often see (and feel) an instant difference after rinsing off, so great for a quick fix.

You may prefer physical exfoliants for the body as the skin tends to be tougher and less delicate – so can handle a little manual scrubbing. You’ll often find physical scrubs featuring things like sugar, salt, coffee or even ground up shells to act as the manual exfoliant.

Physical exfoliation also includes tools: think dermaplaning, a brush/scrubbing pad.

For the Face

Antonia Burrell Luminous Light Polishing Powder

Antonia Burrell Luminous Light Polishing Powder

This is a luxurious offering from Antonia Burrell Holistic skincare and is unique because it foams when mixed with water.

Mauli Radiance Multi-tasking Exfoliant and Mask

It’s a pleasure to indulge in the ritual of having this powder in your hands, adding liquid, mixing it and transforming it into either an exfoliant or a mask.

SEED TO SKIN The Radiance Microdermabrasion Glow Treatment

seed to skin

This gentle exfoliator ultilises superfine crystals to create a microdermabrasion effect to exfoliate your skin, revealing glowing skin below.

Vanderohe Exfoliating Powder


It leaves my skin super clean, super soft and super glowy…it feels alive after this process.

Jane Scrivner Whipped Butter Polish

butter polish

This is a lush, finely milled physical scrub, with a deliciously whipped texture. It feels as good as it looks – luxuriously creamy but light.

For the Body

Feather and Down Warming Body Scrub

As you massage this into your skin, it feels lovely and warming to relax sore muscles.

Ameliorate Exfoliating Body Mitt

This innovative fabric weave is gentler than a synthetic or natural loofah and is great to manually exfoliate the skin.

Malee Body Scrub

This unique scrub leaves your skin so silky, smooth and nourished ….and oh yes lets not forget the earthy fragrance which is a mix of patchouli, mint and citrus is not only grounding but also strangely addictive.

Upcircle Coffee Body Scrub with Lemongrass

Coffee lovers unite! This body scrub revitalises the skin, moisturizing as well as exfoliating to leave your skin feel amazing.

Chemical Exfoliation

It sounds scary, but it’s not! Chemical exfoliation tends to use Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), or fruit enzymes, and can penetrate deeper into the skin. AHA exfoliants (alpha hydroxy acids, i.e. glycolic and lactic acids) and BHA exfoliants (beta hydroxy/salicylic acid) both work to ‘unglue’ the bonds holding dead, dull skin cell to the surface of the skin. What you need to do is break these down so the skin naturally sheds these old cells.

Chemical exfoliants are generally gentler than physical exfoliants, meaning they can be used on more sensitive skin.

AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid.

AHA’s are water soluble and made from sugary fruits. They work on the skin’s surface to hydrate and smooth and are a slightly more aggressive type of exfoliant. They are proven to be effective in reducing visible signs of sun damage, including wrinkles and improving skin tone. They help regulate cell turnover for healthy, dewy skin. Some common AHA’s include Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid and Citric Acid.

BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid.

BHA exfoliants on the other hand, are oil soluble. They penetrate deeper into the pores to clean out dirt, oil and dead skin cells. They also work on the skin’s surface to calm and are often used for acne and sun damage.  Some common exfoliants include Salicylic Acid. They tend to be milder so more suitable for sensitive skin and have a soothing effect on irritated skin.

Make sure to use an SPF after using them as they can make you more sensitive to the sun.

Choosing the right scrub is really down to personal preference: so try out different things and see what works for you.

For the Face

Alpha H Liquid Gold

alpha h

It’s like an ‘overnight facial’ for your skin. It’ll slough away at dry skin on the surface as well as cleaning out any bacteria and oil from the pores.

Elemental Herbology Perfect Balance Multi-Acid Pads

ELEMENTAL HERBOLOGY Perfect Belance Multi-Acid Pads

These natural acid treatment pads contain a powerful blend of 5% glycolic acid and 5% fruit acids along with aloe Vera to help to keep pores clear, skin exfoliated and smooth!

Medik8 Press and Glow Tonic

This daily exfoliating toner is so easy to use…you literally just press your cotton wool pad into it. It feels really lovely on my skin and is gentle enough to use am & pm.

SKIN RG Glycolic Peel

This lovely quick treatment mask from SKIN RG is my go-to for glowing skin in 5 minutes! It utilizes a high level of Glycolic Acid, which does tingle upon application but doesn’t feel irritating or leave any redness… just gets the job done.

For the Body

Naturium The Perfector Salicylic Acid Body Wash

This gentle exfoliant uses Salicylic Acid  and is non-drying. Particularly great if you experience any acne on your body.

AMELIORATE Transforming Body Lotion

This light lotion is light enough to be used everyday to moisturise and smooth the skin. Great for those with Keratosis Pilaris too.

A combination of Chemical and Physical

Of course… many products out there are a combination of physical and chemical exfoliation… covering all bases and getting the best of both worlds. Here are some of our faves:

For the Face

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate® Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

This dual-action exfoliator features both physical and enzymatic exfoliants (including lactic acid and fruit enzymes) to get the best of both worlds! I love the vibrant green colour and has a slightly gritty texture thanks to the physical exfoliant so you really feel like it’s working.

Dermalogica daily superfoliant exfoliator


It is a powerhouse exfoliator (the brand call it a resurfacer) that really does leave you with super smooth skin and is particularly useful for those focused on positive ageing.

For the Body

79 Luxe Body Polish


This gorgeous scrub combines salt and sugar to make an indulgent treat for the body. The scent will also uplift your spirits.

Q+A AHA Exfoliator Body Scrub


This creamy exfoliant smells delicious, like vanilla and coconut and works to gently, yet effectively exfoliate the body with a blend of physical and chemical exfoliants.