It's not exactly an industry secret that face scrubs can be straight-up, capital-P Problematic. Artificial microbeads are *not* your friend (nor the environment's) and in some cases, naturally derived exfoliants aren't necessarily a better alternative. (Looking at you, St. Ives Apricot Scrub...) However, we're happy to report that safe, effective face scrubs do exist — and when used properly — they can be a great way to exfoliate skin.
The problem with some physical exfoliators is that they contain overly coarse granules, such as nut shells or kernels that can tear the surface of the skin. "People sometimes think, 'It's natural, so it's good for my skin,'" says New York-based dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman. "People do like the way their skin feels [after using a scrub], and while they might want that 'squeaky-clean' feeling, that's not necessarily the healthiest thing for our skin."
Taking that into consideration, you might be lead to believe that face scrubs aren't safe for anyone, but that's not necessarily the case, either: "The great thing about scrubs is that there are plenty of different types for different skin types," explains dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. "Oatmeal is great for sensitive skin, whereas more gritty scrubs, such as Dr. Brandt's Microdermabrasion Age-Defying Exfoliator, are great for skin that isn't so sensitive." The bottom line? Everyone's skin is different, so when it comes time to road-test, ease into incorporating a scrub to your routine, and don't try use any form of exfoliation (including your Clarisonic or an enzyme-based peel) more than twice a week.
Click through the gallery below to find 13 editor-approved face scrubs that'll leave your face feeling soft and smooth (but not irritated).
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