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Want to Know the Secret to Smooth Skin? These 18 Face Scrubs

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Wayhome Studio/Adobe Stock Images

When it comes to achieving a glowy, smooth complexion, no skincare product does it better than the beloved facial scrub. They exfoliate the skin in seconds, leaving you with softer, more radiant skin that can’t be matched by cleansing alone. But not every face exfoliator works for everyone. Those with more sensitive skin shouldn’t use the same formula as those with acne-prone or dry skin, while some are fairly universal (when used correctly). That's why we decided to solve this guessing game for you and reveal the best face scrub for your skin concern. Read on to find the formula that's right for you, and enjoy your baby-soft skin.

1. The Classic Face Scrub:

ST. IVES Gentle Smoothing Rose Water and Aloe Vera Face Scrub

ST. IVES Gentle Smoothing Rose Water and Aloe Vera Face Scrub
Courtesy of ST. IVES

What’s old is new again, right? ST. IVES is practically synonymous with face scrubs, but they’ve expanded their range beyond the apricot formula from your middle school days. Formulated with soothing aloe, rose water, and walnut shell powder, this gentle scrub is an updated take on the iconic scrub, so it still smooths skin without being irritating.

2. Best Face Scrub for Acne-Prone Skin:

NEUTROGENA Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub

NEUTROGENA Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub
Courtesy of NEUTROGENA

Yes, you can still use an exfoliating scrub if you have acne—but it’s crucial to use the right one. If you choose something too harsh, it may exacerbate blemishes, not to mention feel painful. That said, exfoliation can be key to clearing acne, and a gentle scrub with acne-fighting ingredients may be just what your routine needs. This refreshing formula from NEUTROGENA contains 2% salicylic acid to help unclog pores, while vitamin C and exfoliators leave skin looking brighter. And that grapefruit scent? Iconic.

3. Best for Sensitive Skin:

CETAPHIL Extra Gentle Daily Scrub

CETAPHIL Extra Gentle Daily Scrub
Courtesy of CETAPHIL

Packed with hydrating glycerin as well as conditioning vitamin E and panthenol, this scrub is gentle enough to use every day. A word of caution: TikTokers have recently discovered this cult-fave brand for its minimalist formulas, so if you’re the least bit interested, scoop up this scrub before it sells out (again).

4. Best Morning Face Scrub:

ORIGINS GINZING™ Refreshing Scrub Cleanser

ORIGINS GINZING™ Refreshing Scrub Cleanser
Courtesy of ORIGINS

If you like to start your day with a shower, it’s always nice when your products have an invigorating quality. Not only is one from ORIGINS scented with grapefruit, lemon, and spearmint, but it also has brightening caffeine to perk you right up as jojoba and natural jojoba and carnauba wax deliver glowing skin. Oh, and as with all exfoliants, don’t forget to apply sunscreen after!

5. Best Nourishing Face Scrub:

FRESH Sugar Face Polish Exfoliator

FRESH Sugar Face Polish Exfoliator
Courtesy of FRESH

Brown sugar, strawberry seeds—at first glance, this face scrub’s ingredient list reads more like dessert than a skincare product. But those natural exfoliants gently slough away dead skin cells, while grapeseed and plum seed oil leave skin feeling soft and supple, never stripped. Pro tip: Leave it on for a few minutes like a mask before rinsing for an extra-special skincare treat.

6. Best Exfoliating Cleanser:

TARTE Knockout Daily Exfoliating Cleanser

TARTE Knockout Daily Exfoliating Cleanser
Courtesy of TARTE

Exfoliating cleansers combine two of our most-used skincare products into one super-product—and to be honest, we don’t understand why they aren’t more commonly used. More gentle than typical scrubs and more exfoliating than typical cleansers, they’re the Goldilocks of exfoliators—and perfect for daily use. This one from TARTE also contains chemical exfoliants to further refine skin, and the salicylic acid makes it great for acne-prone skin as well.

7. Best Deeply Exfoliating Face Scrub:

KATE SOMERVILLE Exfolikate® Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

KATE SOMERVILLE Exfolikate® Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
Courtesy of KATE SOMERVILLE

Few products that promise an “at-home facial” really deliver, but this exfoliating treatment is a rare exception. Thanks to AHAs, BHAs, and papaya, pumpkin, and pineapple enzymes, it sloughs off dead skin cells in two minutes, while aloe, honey, and vitamin E provide much-needed hydration. You don’t need to use it more than once or twice a week to reap the results, so the tube will last forever, too.

8. Best Face Scrub for All Skin Types:

TULA So Polished Exfoliating Sugar Scrub

TULA So Polished Exfoliating Sugar Scrub
Courtesy of TULA

This natural exfoliator is formulated with natural sugar particles to help buff away excess oil and dead skin cells without stripping or irritating your skin. Probiotics and superfoods (like sugar, pineapple, and papaya) work together to soften, brighten, and renew your complexion. Gently massage a dime-size amount into damp skin using small circular motions—no intense scrubbing necessary! To keep dead skin cells from building up (and keep blemishes at bay), use this exfoliator one to two times weekly to help keep your skin bright and clear. And it works on more than just your face, since it's also a great body scrub. "Shower essential! Say goodbye to those dead skin cells all over your body," shared Ipster @ljdeckman23.

9. Best Face Scrub for Refining Pores:

OLE HENRIKSEN Pore-Balance™ Facial Sauna Scrub

OLE HENRIKSEN Pore-Balance™ Facial Sauna Scrub
Courtesy of OLE HENRIKSEN

This scrub mimics the experience of being in a sauna—both for relaxation and unclogging pores. First it feels warm, while a blend of alpha-hydroxy acids gently loosen excess sebum and dead skin cells, and Icelandic volcanic sand buffs them away. Then, it turns cool, and a eucalyptus-peppermint fragrance leaves you feeling like you just left the spa. It’s unlike anything else you’ve tried, in a good way.

10. Best Clean Face Scrub:

UPCIRCLE Coffee Face Scrub

UPCIRCLE Coffee Face Scrub
Courtesy of UPCIRCLE

We love a product that’s both effective and earth-friendly, and this face scrub is the epitome of both. Made with repurposed coffee grounds from London cafes (as well as moisturizing shea butter and rosehip oil), it prevents waste from going into landfills—and happens to be a fantastic exfoliator to boot.

11. Best Extra Gentle Face Scrub:

THANN Oatmeal Face Scrub

THANN Oatmeal Face Scrub

For those with sensitive skin, finding a face scrub that won't cause irritation can be tricky, as anything exfoliating tends to be a bit too harsh on sensitive skin types. Enter THANN Oatmeal Face Scrub, which uses non-irritating oatmeal and apricot seeds to gently buff away dead skin cells and debris to clear out your pores. Apart from working as a facial scrub, it also works as a moisturizer to leave your skin soft and supple after each use. Ipster @angelz63 loved how well this worked on her dry skin: "It's rare for me to apply exfoliants on dry skin, but it works pretty well actually. Feels surprisingly gentle on the skin. I massaged my face with it for a few mins, left it there for 5 mins like it says and it feels nice. No irritating or burning feeling. The smell is lovely as well!"

12. Best Face Scrub for Oily Skin:

FORMULA 10.0.6 One Smooth Operator Pore Clearing Face Scrub

FORMULA 10.0.6 One Smooth Operator Pore Clearing Face Scrub

Oily skin can be a pain to keep up with. You tend to need far too many products to keep oil production at bay, but you also can't add too many to your complexion because that can make things worse. To minimize excess sebum, we recommend using this face scrub two to three times a week. "Very gentle and even exfoliant, not abrasive to my skin at all," said Ipster @etheeria09. Getting rid of dead skin cells, build-up, and debris has never been easier.

13. Best Anti-Aging Face Scrub:

CALLYSSEE Better Bean Clean Face Coffee Scrub

CALLYSSEE Better Bean Clean Face Coffee Scrub

Regular exfoliation helps boost cell turnover and collagen production, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines. And when you add in anti-aging ingredients on top of that? Chef’s kiss. This coffee cleanser facial scrub uses real organic coffee beans to exfoliate your skin, boost circulation, reduce inflammation, and deliver skin-renewing, anti-aging antioxidants in the places you need them most. It also contains finely ground apricot seeds to gently buff away blackheads and dullness while leaving your face smelling refreshingly floral. In fact, Ipster @lacyfears said, “Smells great and leaves face feeling moisturized.”

14. Best Dermatologist-Recommended Face Scrub:

GOLDFADEN MD Doctor's Scrub Ruby Crystal Microderm Exfoliator

GOLDFADEN MD Doctor's Scrub Ruby Crystal Microderm Exfoliator

When a renowned dermatologist launches their own skincare line, odds are it will be one you want to get behind. This face scrub is one of our favorite picks for sensitive skin and dry skin types because it contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate in addition to gentle ruby crystal exfoliants. “I absolutely loved this product!! It was a lot gentler than I thought it was going to be, but still very exfoliating. Definitely a new addition to my routine,” wrote Ipster @monstermagen. Even folks with oily skin or acne-prone skin can benefit from this antioxidant-packed scrub by using it daily instead of two to three times weekly.

15. Best Face Scrub for Dry Skin:

SKIN&CO ROMA Truffle Therapy Face Gommage

SKIN&CO ROMA Truffle Therapy Face Gommage

The word “gommage” comes from the French word for “erase,” which makes sense for this luxurious, exfoliating face wash. It practically erases dead skin cells, breakouts, and clogged pores in seconds. “Love this so much. It has been a lifesaver during this dry, winter season,” said Ipster @wallsmr25. Vegan and cruelty-free, this hydrating scrub is made with our favorite skincare saviors, like olive oil and almond oil. It's a great pick for those with dry skin thanks to antioxidant-rich black winter truffle, which keeps your skin barrier firm and protected from dryness.

16. Best Glow-Boosting Face Scrub:

GEORGETTE KLINGER Volcanic Mineral Scrub

GEORGETTE KLINGER Volcanic Mineral Scrub

This non-abrasive option smooths and softens without irritating your skin, making it a new mainstay for your skincare routine. Teeny-tiny bits of volcanic minerals help resurface your complexion by gently sloughing away dulling dead skin cells and pore-clogging buildup. Plus, anti-inflammatory green tea, vitamin E, aloe botanical extracts provide an instant soothing effect to nourish your skin and give you the glowing complexion you deserve. Not only that, it's fantastic at removing makeup. "This mineral scrub is a great addition to your evening deep cleaning routine. It has a very light earthy scent that you might expect from a volcanic scrub. The exfoliating texture is super fine, so it's really gentle. I love using this as part of my makeup removal routine to refresh and prep my face for hydrating serum and moisturizers," said Ipster @kaiofcanada.

17. Best Exfoliating Face Mask:

LAVIDO 2-in-1 Purifying Facial Mask and Exfoliator

LAVIDO 2-in-1 Purifying Facial Mask and Exfoliator

Exfoliators and masks go together like moisturizer and SPF. This LAVIDO exfoliator primes your skin with pomegranate peel extract and seeds to increase cell turnover and buff away dry skin flakes. Then detoxifying lemon oil zaps clogged pores and pimples, while moisturizing macadamia oil keeps your complexion plump, dewy, and hydrated. To use this mask as an exfoliating cleanser, massage a small amount into skin using circular motions, then rinse. To use it as a treatment mask, apply a thin layer to dry skin and leave it on for 15 minutes, then rinse. Ipster @jane_downing_berge shared some key tips for using this face mask effectively: "I have used this as a mask, as well as a face scrub several times. I really like the way my skin and pores look after! I am loving the ingredients in this and the brand too. Just a word of warning—you'll want to rinse out your sink really thoroughly after you wash the product off."

18. Best for Uneven Texture:

DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator

DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator

For the ultimate exfoliation experience, you'll want to reach for DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator—the next-best thing to a trip to the dermatologist. Ultra-fine aluminum oxide crystals and lactic acid buff away dead skin cells to leave your complexion ultra radiant and glowy. Best part? This baby works fast. Gently massage onto damp skin, leave it on for one to two minutes, then rinse. Use it two to three times a week to gradually boost brightness, fade persistent acne scars, smooth uneven skin texture, and combat breakouts before they begin. Ipster @kwarren21 raved about how well it worked for their skin: "One of my faves. Having large pores I use this stuff a lot! Always love the exfoliation it gives and I do not feel like it is ripping my face open."

Looking for more skincare products to take your routine to the next level? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with the IPSY Glam Bag. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
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Ashley Locke
Ashley is a Long Beach-based freelance writer who loves sharing beauty and skincare hacks with her fellow “lazy girls” out there. When she isn’t writing, you can find her crying while listening to The Maine or watching "The Office".
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Article Last Updated July 24, 2023 12:00 AM