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Any skin-health expert will tell you that chemical exfoliation is a key part of an effective skincare routine. According to Byrdie's trusted esthetician, Renée Rouleau, applying an alpha- and/or beta-hydroxy acid (like glycolic and lactic acid or salicylic acid, respectively) several evenings a week can offer a mile-long list of benefits, including an overnight improvement in skin texture, reduction in clogged pores and breakouts, increased collagen production, and a more even skin tone, to name a few. As long as you don't overdo it, there is almost no downside to chemical exfoliation.
Still, for some, adding that extra step in the form of a cleanser or serum can be cumbersome. But what about a wipe? Exfoliating pads do the work of a serum, depositing active ingredients onto your skin, but in a convenient disposable form.
Looking to add exfoliating pads to your skincare routine? Keep scrolling for the best exfoliating pads.
Best Overall: HydroPeptide 5X Power Peel
Provide your skin with three times the action with these potent wipes, which contain glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid to seriously brighten the skin, shrink pore size, and combat breakouts.
Best Budget: Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads
Brighten your complexion on the cheap with these drugstore exfoliating pads. For the cost of lunch, you get 60 doses of glycolic and hyaluronic acid.
Best Drugstore: Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic To-Go
If you're a fan of Pixi's Glow Tonic, try it in pad form with these on-the-go wipes. A 20% glycolic acid formula is made gentle with the help of aloe and vitamin E.
Best Gentle: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
When Byrdie's news writer exfoliates, it's always with these trusty glycolic and lactic acid-containing pads, which are gentle enough to use every day.
Best BHA: Trish McEvoy Even Skin Beta Hydroxy Pads
Do beta hydroxy acids agree better with your skin type? Consider these gentle daily wipes, which have a high-quality formula that contains salicylic acid as well as inflammation-fighting willow bark extract, chamomile flower oil, and lavender, plus antioxidant-rich camellia leaf extract.
Best K-Beauty: Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling in Lemon
What makes these pads unique is that they combine physical exfoliation, thanks to the triple-layer gauze, and chemical exfoliation, thanks to the lactic acid they deposit.
Best Natural: Go-To Skincare Exfoliating Swipeys
Adorable packaging? Check. All-natural formula? Check. These gently exfoliating puppies feature a delightfully short ingredient list, including naturally derived lactic acid, nourishing aloe vera, and New Zealand rainwater (because American rainwater just wouldn't cut it).
Best Extra Strength: BeautyRx Tetrafoliant 10% Peel Pads
Few brands take chemical exfoliation as seriously as BeautyRx, a dermatologist-founded line based almost entirely on glycolic acid. These wipes contain a healthy 10% concentration of buffered and pH-adjusted glycolic for a serious dose of glow.