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Despite their almost instantaneous ability to reveal a glowing complexion, face scrubs are often approached with trepidation. Between the perpetual fear of sandpapering our faces to a pulp (ouch) and the environmental contamination of microbead exfoliants, it’s become too easy to throw the product into skincare’s ‘too hard’ basket.
But not so fast. Not only have face scrubs evolved beyond using tiny pieces of plastic as abrasive agents, but the benefits of scrubs are impressively wide-ranging. By removing the dead cells our skin can’t clear out on its own, scrubs greatly increase cell regeneration and the efficacy and absorption of other skincare products. Whether you rely on heavy-duty anti-aging formulas, or simply relish a strong serum, exfoliation allows each subsequent product in your routine to perform at its full potential.
There is also a face scrub out there for every type, concern (blackheads, we're looking at you), and budget. Whether you want to scrub once a week or need to excavate clogged pores on the daily, there is a physical exfoliator for the job.
So go ahead and scrub away your skin’s sins with our picks of the best face scrubs, below.
Best Overall: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
This super exfoliator is a cult favorite for its ability to brighten the skin, decongest pores, and improve texture. Inside is a combo of licorice, grapefruit, and phytic acid from rice bran to exfoliate, along with papain enzymes and salicylic acid to shrink the look of pores, plus colloidal oatmeal to balance out any redness and boost hydration.
Worth noting: This is a powder exfoliant, so it's a bit gentler on the skin. It foams up into a creamy paste upon contact with water, making it easier to spread across every nook and cranny of the face.
Best Budget: Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub
If you were once a fan of the former microbead cleansers and exfoliators, this is a great (environmentally-friendly) replacement. It boasts silica particles that gently slough off dead skin, while rice powder soaks up any excess oil. We can't forget to mention the awesome price point, too.
Best Drugstore: St. Ives Energizing Scrub Coconut & Coffee
St. Ives is well-known for its range of scrubs, and this coffee and coconut face scrub is a fan favorite (literally, the combination was chosen by users). It's formulated with 100% natural exfoliants including walnut shell powder, as well as coconut fruit extract to smooth the skin. Use it a few times per week to treat your skin and your senses.
Best for Blackheads: Tula So Poreless Deep Exfoliating Blackhead Scrub
Physical exfoliants may suffice when all your skin needs is a quick pick-me-up, but if you really want to unclog those pores, reach for a formula that has chemical exfoliants too. The Tula Blackhead Scrub is the best of both worlds, with lactic acid and hibiscus flower acid along with granular ingredients like pink salt and volcanic sand to really give blackheads a gut punch.
Best Brightening: Acure Brightening Facial Scrub
For those hoping to shine from the inside out, find your light with this scrub. If you love the way you look after at the beach, you can imitate your skin’s after-sun glow with sea kelp which softens and detoxifies without any harsh stripping effect. Throw in a little lemon and French green clay to peel and address impurities and you’ve got a wonder product on your hands.
Best for Dry Skin: Dr. Barbara Sturm Facial Scrub
So you’re looking for a facial in a bottle? No such thing exists, but this facial scrub is about as close as you can get without stepping into a spa. This one is a true all-rounder, targeting breakouts, removing flakiness, and hydrating dry skin thanks to antioxidant-packed jojoba oil. Free from synthetic fragrances and finished with shea butter and silk extract to conquer any possible irritation, make dull, dry skin a thing of the past.
Best for Oily Skin: Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Face Exfoliant
Oily skin generally goes hand-in-hand with enlarged pores, and we don’t blame you for wanting a product that can tackle both. Reviewers claim this scrub not only perfectly preps your skin for makeup, but dramatically changes its appearance without it. Wave goodbye to grease and say hello to a new mattified visage.
Best for Sensitive Skin: SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub
If you’ve been on the lookout for an exfoliant gentle enough for everyday use, this is it. After buffing away dead skin, this product hyper-hydrates pores with silica and glycerin, deploying aloe vera as a final touch for an irritation-free complexion. If you want a scrub to double as a daily cleanser, give this a try—and prepare for refined, renewed skin.
Best for Combination Skin: L'Oreal Paris Pure Sugar Scrub Purify & Unclog
Polishing away dirt and dead skin has never been this easy with the drugstore classic that incorporates three different types of sugar as well as real kiwi seeds for baby-bottom softness. The product boasts the capacity to rebalance oil without over-drying within one week.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Oriflame Sweden Milk And Honey Gold Set Scrub
This Oriflame sugar scrub gently buffs away dead cells while dousing your skin in vitamins A and D, while lactic acid works to dislodge impurities. Honey is also chock-full of antioxidants, as well as an anti-inflammatory. This is a one-two punch to heal and prevent acne.
Best Splurge: Valmont Purity Face Exfoliant
If you’re willing to spend top dollar on your skin, you might as well invest in a premier scrub. This restorative product is a favorite among A-list estheticians, mostly because it’s micro quartz crystals (yes, crystals) work for all skin types. Its texture is also so luxuriously thick it could almost double as a face cream—that’s when you know you’ve hit a new level of indulgence.
Best Multitasker: The Body Shop Tea Tree 3-In-1 Wash Scrub Mask
Forever on-the-go and simply don’t have time to mess around with a dozen different products that each serve a different need? This mask-cleanser-scrub from The Body Shop might just be the skincare all-in-one of your dreams. With skin purifying tea tree oil, mattifying clay, and volcanic minerals to exfoliate, use this product any which way you like to reduce shine, tighten pores and banish blackheads for good.
Runner-Up, Best Multitasker: Fur Silk Scrub Gentle & Exfoliating
Buff your way to your silkiest body ever with a scrub that’s also gentle enough to use on your face. And if you often worry about using products near your bikini line, this one is not only dermatologically tested but given the thumbs up from gynecologists to use pre- and post-hair removal. Leave on as a mask for 10 minutes at a time for a deeper exfoliation experience.
Best Organic: Era Organics Revive Microdermabrasion Face Scrub
This cult classic from Era Organics uses all-natural ingredients to gently exfoliate without tearing at the skin’s surface. Walnut and manuka honey are said to work wonders on dark circles, acne scars, and general signs of wear and tear making for an uneven skin tone—yes, that includes stretch marks—while simultaneously purifying and nourishing your skin.