Exfoliant Recommendations

Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a small commission for purchases made via affiliate links.

Welcome to my recommended exfoliant products list! You’ve probably arrived here via the The Essential Guide to Exfoliation (if you haven’t grabbed this yet, get it here, it’s FREE!).

I’ve marked my top picks with an asterisk (*) and included a quick summary of pros and cons for each product, but you may want to check out the full reviews for products that I’ve examined in detail.

Disclaimer: Some of these products were provided for editorial consideration, and some were purchased myself. This page does contain affiliate links – if you decide to click through and support Lab Muffin financially, thank you! You can read all about my affiliate links and product review policy here.

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Physical Exfoliants

Chemical Exfoliants


DIY Sugar Scrub*

  • Pros: Cheap, easy – just mix sugar into your regular cleanser, water, oil or moisturiser and rinse off
  • Cons: Can be messy

Skinfood Black Sugar Mask* (Amazon, iHerb, Ulta)

  • Pros: Comes in many delicious scents (strawberry is great!), moisturising
  • Cons: Particles are a bit rough if you don’t let it sit for a while before scrubbing

Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub (iHerb, Ulta, Amazon)

  • Pros: Biodegradable soy beads
  • Cons: Several similar products, some use plastic microbeads (check the ingredient list of yours before buying)

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Peeling Gels and Gommages

The Face Shop Smart Peeling White Jewel* (eBay, Amazon)

  • Pros: Dense peeling fibres means it can be used in the shower, gentle
  • Cons: None!

Skinfood Pineapple Peeling Gel*

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Face Cloths

Microfiber Cloths* (Amazon, eBay)

  • Pros: Gentle and thorough, cheap, reusable, dry quickly
  • Cons: Gather lint when washed in a washing machine

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Face Brushes

Clarisonic Mia Cleansing Brush (Amazon, Nordstrom)

  • Pros: Popular, reliable
  • Cons: Expensive, expensive replacement parts

PuraBeaute Sonic Facial Cleansing Brush* (PuraBeaute)

  • Pros: less expensive (~$100 AUD) version of the Clarisonic, fully enclosed body means no leakage, rechargeable
  • Cons: Brush is less soft than the Clarisonic, more expensive than battery-operated budget versions
  • Full review

Manicare Facial Cleansing Brush* (Priceline, Chemist Warehouse)

  • Pros: Budget friendly (~$12), soft bristles
  • Cons: Needs to be moved manually, bristles soak up water which could speed up bacterial buildup

Remington Revitalise/Reveal Facial Cleansing Brush (Amazon, Boots)

  • Pros: Three heads included, rechargable, waterproof
  • Cons: Spinning brush is harsher than vibrating
  • Full review

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Konjac Sponges

Ecotools Pure Complexion Facial Sponge* (Amazon, iHerb, Walgreens, Kohl’s, drugstore.com, Target)

  • Pros: Cheap
  • Cons: A little flimsier than more expensive sponges, though this doesn’t make a difference to exfoliating ability
  • Full review

Dirt Cheap Konjac Sponges from eBay* (eBay)

  • Pros: Super cheap, can replace very quickly to avoid bacterial buildup
  • Cons: Shipping time, unknown quality

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Hydroxy Acids

Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Gel* (Amazon, Paula’s Choice, Nordstrom, Dermstore)

  • Pros: Effective (8%, pH 3.5-3.9), contains other beneficial ingredients (green tea, chamomile)
  • Cons: None!

Neostrata Gel Plus Step Up Level 15 AHA (Amazon, Dermstore)

  • Pros: Strong, effective
  • Cons: For stronger exfoliation, not for use as first exfoliant

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid* (Amazon, Paula’s Choice, Nordstrom, QVC)

  • Pros: Effective (2%, pH 3.2-3.8), also comes in body spray form (Clear Acne Body Spray)
  • Cons: Liquid can be a little messy

Stridex Alcohol-Free 2% Salicylic Acid Pads* (AmazoniHerb, Walgreens, drugstore.com)

  • Pros: Cheap, handy pre-soaked pads
  • Cons: Drying

Elucent Anti-Ageing Serum* (Chemist Warehouse)

  • Pros: Mixture of glycolic and lactic acids for gentler exfoliation, high percentage (16%)
  • Cons: Weird texture, tricky packaging, may be too intense for beginners
  • Full review

Neostrata Exuviance Vespera Bionic Serum* (Amazon, Dermstore, Beauty.com)

  • Pros: Contains PHAs which are supposedly gentler and more effective than AHAs and BHA
  • Cons: Expensive

Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner (Amazon, Target, Walgreens, Priceline, Chemist Warehouse)

  • Pros: Budget-friendly, accessible, contains a mix of AHA (glycolic acid) and BHA (salicylic acid)
  • Cons: Low percentages, high alcohol content (but contains glycerin to counteract the dehydrating effects)
  • Full review

Alpha-H Liquid Gold (Amazon, Sephora, Adore Beauty, Skincare Store, Beauty Bay)

  • Pros: Cult favourite, contains hyperpigmentation-fighting licorice as well as AHA
  • Cons: Expensive for 5% glycolic at pH 3-4, high alcohol content
  • Full review

Alpha-H Instant Facial (Amazon, Adore Beauty, Skincare Store, Beauty Bay)

  • Pros: Handy spray format, strong (10%, pH 3), no alcohol
  • Cons: May be too strong for some people, expensive
  • Full review

Pixi Glow Tonic (Amazon, Target)

  • Pros: Gentle, ideal for people who can’t tolerate stronger exfoliants, hydrating
  • Cons: Low concentration (5%) and higher pH (4-5) makes it a bit too weak for most people
  • Full review

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Life Flo Health Retinol A 1%* (Amazon, iHerb)

  • Pros: Very cheap
  • Cons: Jar packaging does not exclude light and air when open

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment* (Amazon, Paula’s Choice, Nordstrom, Dermstore, QVC, Beauty.com)

  • Pros: Effective, inexpensive for well-formulated and packaged product
  • Cons: Cheaper products exist
  • Full review

Indeed Labs Retinol Reface (Amazon)

  • Pros: Gentle with multiple retinoids, good packaging
  • Cons: Expensive, lots of oily occlusive dimethicone which may hinder absorption of other products

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DIY Enzyme Mask*

  • Pros: Cheap and effective – just mash up appropriate fresh fruit (papaya, kiwi, pineapple, pumpkin), apply, then rinse after 10 minutes
  • Cons: Messy, relatively time-consuming

Ella Bache Revealing Fruit Enzyme Exfoliant* (Adore Beauty)

  • Pros: Powder form makes it last longer and customisable
  • Cons: Expensive

Jurlique Fruit Enzyme Exfoliator (Amazon)

  • Pros: Contains Lactobacillus/pumpkin fruit ferment filtrate
  • Cons: Goes off quickly, expensive

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