The best exfoliating ingredients for brighter and clearer skin, according to dermatologists


Lactic acid is the best exfoliating ingredient for dry, sensitive skin.
Salicyclic acid is the best exfoliating ingredient for oily, acne-prone skin.

These ingredients are examples of alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids, which are considered the best chemical exfoliants, and are preferred over physical exfoliants.

This article was medically reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with a private practice in New York City.
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Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells to reveal newer, healthier cells beneath. There are many benefits to regularly exfoliating your skin, from brightening your skin tone to reducing acne.

If done safely, exfoliation can be incorporated into anyone’s skincare routine, regardless of their skin type. Here are the best ingredients to look for when purchasing an exfoliating product.

When choosing an exfoliating product, you must first decide between the two main types of exfoliants: physical and chemical. These two types use different methods to remove dead skin cells and which you choose could impact your skin’s appearance.