Exfoliation Products

Best Exfoliator for Dry Skin Face (Physical and Chemical)

Written by: Anastasija

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Exfoliation is an effective method for treating many different skincare concerns, and it can bring many benefits for your face and body. With different skin types, we must know how to take care of our own, and that we can personalise our routines. If you want to learn about the best exfoliator for dry skin, and how to use it, read on.

Do you need to exfoliate dry skin?

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Often, exfoliation is a treatment pushed for those who are struggling with acne or uneven skin texture, as well as oily skin, so do you still need to exfoliate dry skin? While the answer is specific to your skin in particular, the general rule nis that yes, those with dry skin can still benefit from exfoliation, however the process is slightly different than for those with oily skin.

Firstly, it’s true that dry skin tends to be more fragile and sensitive, being more vulnerable to damage as it doesn’t have a secure moisture barrier. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t exfoliate your skin if it’s dry, and you just need to take extra care, as we’ll see later.

Exfoliation TipsDescription
Choose Gentle ExfoliatorsOpt for mild exfoliators specifically formulated for dry skin
Limit FrequencyExfoliate no more than 2-3 times per week to avoid over-exfoliation
Moisturize After ExfoliationFollow up with a hydrating moisturizer to replenish the skin
Patch Test New ProductsTest new exfoliating products on a small area before applying to the entire face
Protect Your SkinApply sunscreen with SPF to protect your skin from sun damage
Table 1: Tips for Exfoliating Dry Skin

It’s worth knowing that exfoliation can still provide plenty of benefits for those with dry skin and may even aid with dryness.

Also read: Does Exfoliating Help with Acne? (Tips That Help)

How do you exfoliate dry skin?

Now that we’ve established that dry skin can be exfoliated, it’s time to take a look at how this can be done. As we’ve already mentioned, exfoliation isn’t the same for different skin types, so it’s important that you personalise your exfoliation routine to suit you in order to benefit your skin the most.

The first thing to keep in mind when exfoliating dry skin is the type of exfoliant you’re using – whether it’s chemical or physical. We’ll talk more about which type of exfoliant is best for your skin later.

When it comes to frequency, it’s key that you don’t over-exfoliate your skin, as this can cause damage to your moisture barrier, which is particularly problematic if your skin was already dry to begin with. For those with more dry or sensitive skin, once or twice a week should be plenty.

If you find that your skin is becoming sensitive as a result of exfoliation, it may be best to pause your exfoliating regimen, allow your skin to recover and continue with caution.

Exfoliation should take place after cleansing, and before the rest of your skincare routine. This ensures your skin is clean prior to the process and allows any products which follow to work even more effectively and penetrate deeper into the skin.

Generally, it’s more effective to exfoliate your skin at night, rather than in the morning, and there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, exfoliation makes your skin slightly more sensitive immediately afterwards, and this can make it more prone to sun damage if you exfoliate in the morning. In addition, you skin has a better opportunity to recover and fully benefits from the effects of the product at night, as your cells are restored.

Lastly, no matter whether your skin is dry or oily, it’s always important to wear a sunscreen daily, even in the winter. When you exfoliate your skin, this is even more important, as the fresh cells which are uncovered are particularly prone to sun damage, and improper protection could cause more harm than good.

Also read: Should You Exfoliate Every Day? (Based On Skin Type)

Best exfoliators for dry skin

Here are some of our favourite exfoliators to use on your dry skin.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Salicylic Acid Exfoliant

Paula's Choice-SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Gel Salicylic Acid Exfoliant, 3.3 Ounce Bottle
817 Reviews
Paula's Choice-SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Gel Salicylic Acid Exfoliant, 3.3 Ounce Bottle
  • GENTLE NON-ABRASIVE LEAVE-ON EXFOLIATOR: with 2% BHA (Beta hydroxy acid) to unclog & diminish enlarged pores, exfoliate dead skin cells, smooth wrinkles & brighten & even out skin tone. Combats redness, wrinkles, aging, enlarged pores, & blackheads.
  • Paula's Choice SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant can help minimize blackheads, acne, discolorations, and age spots and with consistent use can increase skin's firmness. Gel formula makes application a cinch. Use after cleanser and toner twice daily.

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Blackheads and clogged pores can be frustrating, and it can be difficult to find a product which effectively treats them without damaging your skin. When it comes to this liquid exfoliant from Paula’s Choice, however, you’ll be amazed by the results.

The product uses 2% salicylic acid (the highest recommended concentration for use in skincare) to gently exfoliate the face and produce impressive results over time, without stressing your skin out.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

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A cult favourite item that recently went viral is the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling solution from The Ordinary, which is an exfoliating face mask formulated to exfoliate the upper layer of skin (the epidermis) and reveal a fresher, healthier-looking complexion in under 10 minutes.

While this is a great product, it’s important that those with dry skin are careful when using it, to avoid chemical burns, and therefore it shouldn’t be used for more than 10 minutes at once and used once every week or even every other week.

Pixi Glow Tonic with Aloe Vera & Ginseng

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic 250ml, Balancing Face Toner, Glycolic Acid Toner for Radiant Skin, Daily Brightening Toner, 8.5 Fl Oz
1,329 Reviews
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic 250ml, Balancing Face Toner, Glycolic Acid Toner for Radiant Skin, Daily Brightening Toner, 8.5 Fl Oz
  • GENTLE EXFOLIATOR: Exfoliates and purifies the skin with Glycolic Acid
  • SKIN-LOVING INGREDIENTS: Ginseng improves circulation and energizes skin. Aloe Vera soothes and hydrates.

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The Pixi Glow Tonic has been another cult favourite for a while now, as it has a gentle yet effective formula which provides a host of benefits for your skin and can be used on a regular basis.

The most effective time to use it is before you go to sleep, so your skin can be rejuvenated overnight as it repairs itself, and you wake up with a bright, fresh complexion.

CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser

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CeraVe SA Cleanser | Salicylic Acid Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide & Ceramides| BHA Exfoliant for Face | Fragrance Free Non-Comedogenic | 8 Ounce
33,685 Reviews
CeraVe SA Cleanser | Salicylic Acid Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide & Ceramides| BHA Exfoliant for Face | Fragrance Free Non-Comedogenic | 8 Ounce
  • [ EXFOLIATING FACE WASH ] Salicylic acid (SA) is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), an effective exfoliator that removes dead skin cells and promotes radiance. Salicylic acid acts as a chemical exfoliant which feels less harsh than physical ones like face scrubs
  • [ FOAMING CLEANSER ] Dispenses as a clear gel and transforms into a foaming face wash as you lather. With hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin D, this facial cleanser cleanses, exfoliates, and hydrates skin without leaving a stripped & tight feeling

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Sometimes, daily exfoliation can be harsh, particularly for those with dry skin, but a gentler exfoliating cleanser, such as this one from CeraVe, allows you to reap the benefits of exfoliation on a daily basis, without your skin suffering from any damage.

This cleanser makes the most of star ingredient, salicylic acid, to unclog pores and fight acne, making it a great option for those with dry, acne-prone skin.

Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser - Hydration Exfoliating & Moisturizing Salicylic, Lactic and Glycolic Acid Face Wash - Creamy Skin Smoothing Treatment Backed by Science, 6.75 Oz
1,362 Reviews
Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser - Hydration Exfoliating & Moisturizing Salicylic, Lactic and Glycolic Acid Face Wash - Creamy Skin Smoothing Treatment Backed by Science, 6.75 Oz
  • TRIPLE ACTION CLEANSER: This AHA/BHA exfoliating cleanser delivers the benefits of a hydrating cleanse plus physical and chemical exfoliation in one effective skincare treatment.
  • SMOOTHS & POLISHES: Gently removing dull and dry skin, the skin smoothing polish reveals a more radiant and youthful complexion, and prepares skin for optimal results from serums & treatments.

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This cleanser fuses both physical and chemical exfoliation into one product, with a gentle formula designed for dry skin that effectively works to treat a variety of concerns. It uses a triple-action complex, implementing salicylic acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid all into one product, along with jojoba beads to buff away at the skin.

Once a week is probably enough for dry skin, and you’ll start to see improved texture and pigmentation, along with improved skin hydration.

La Roche-Posay Ultra Fine Scrub for Sensitive Skin

La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Scrub for Sensitive Skin, Gentle Exfoliating Face Wash with Ultra-Fine Pumice Particles to Remove Dead Skin
  • This gentle face scrub exfoliates and purifies skin. With ultra-fine pumice particles, it gently helps remove excess dead skin cells, while respecting the sensitivity of the skin.
  • Formulated with Perlite, a powder derived from volcanic rock. It is able to absorb water or oil and is known to provide a matte finish on skin and glycerin to help hydrate skin.

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While scrubs can sometimes be a little harsh for the face, this one from La Roche-Posay is formulated specifically for sensitive skin and uses ultra-fine particles to ensure effective exfoliation without any skin damage. While the product is marketed for everyday use, it may be better to use it once or twice a week, instead, too prevent damage and allow your skin to recover between use.

Should I use a physical or chemical exfoliant on dry skin?

Physical and chemical exfoliants are two types of exfoliants which works slightly differently to produce the same outcome: fresh, rejuvenated skin. We mentioned their use earlier, and how one type of exfoliation may be better for dry skin.

A chemical exfoliant utilises acids and other useful liquid ingredients to exfoliate the skin and lift dead cells from the surface. On the other hand, a physical exfoliant uses particles, such as sugar, to scrub at the skin and remove the cells manually.

Often, while you may still choose physical exfoliation, chemical products are better for those with dry skin, as they’re often gentler on the skin, and are less likely to cause damage. When using a physical scrub, it can be easy to over-exfoliate, which damages the skin’s moisture barrier and causes lots of irritation and sensitivity to the fresh skin cells.

For this reason, those with dry skin are often recommended to opt for a mild chemical exfoliant instead, as it can be less risky to use. However, it’s worth noting that physical exfoliation is still good for dry skin, but it requires more attention and care to prevent over-exfoliation.

Final thoughts

It’s easy to see that there are plenty of exfoliating products out there for dry skin, and it gives you a wide choice to decide between. Remember to be careful and pay attention to your skin when exfoliating – it should never be too painful – and always remember to use sunscreen during the day to prevent damage to your more vulnerable skin cells.

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

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