Skincare Exfoliators I Love • Kath Eats

Discover the ‘why’ behind exfoliation. Explore my easy guide on the benefits of exfoliating, and unveil the secret to smoother, brighter, and healthier skin. Plus, I’m sharing the skincare exfoliators I love best. Get 20% off your first Beautycounter order with the code CLEANFORALL20. If you’d like recommendations from me, fill out this form

Raise your hand if you used the iconic apricot scrub back in the 90s… you know that super gritty one that felt like thick wet sand!? Hopefully this post, all about exfoliation, will convince you that said rough drugstore exfoliator is likely not the best way to exfoliate your skin.

But there are those of us who love that freshly scrubbed feeling or the burn of those acidic pads from our teen years, so I have some better options for you ranging from a powder you add to your cleanser to a toner that burns just a TINY bit! 

Let’s dive in. Think of this post as Skincare Exfoliation 101. 

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of the skin, revealing smoother, more even and radiant skin.

Why Everyone Should Exfoliate

As we age, our skin’s natural ability to exfoliate, or shed dead skin cells, begins to decline. Exfoliating is important for many reasons:

  • Helps your other products work better
  • Smooths uneven skin texture
  • Prevents clogged pores
  • Minimizes fine lines

Two Types of Exfoliation

There are two ways to help your skin remove dead cells: chemically and physically.

Chemical Exfoliants

Chemical exfoliants, like Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), are considered gentler than physical exfoliants (scrubs). The acids in chemical exfoliants penetrate deeper in the skin, making them more effective! AHAs and BHAs loosen the bonds between dead skin cells so that they can be shed more easily.

Physical Exfoliants

Physical exfoliants can range from jojoba beads and bamboo particles to the rough apricot scrub mentioned earlier. These all physically loosen and remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.

Fun fact: The AHA Mask is both a chemical AND physical exfoliator! Read my review here


Regular exfoliation may leave your skin feeling tingly (like the Resurfacing Peel!), but these side effects shouldn’t last long. If you feel lingering irritation minutes after using chemical exfoliants, you’re likely over-exfoliating and damaging your skin barrier.

Signs of over-exfoliation:

  • lingering redness
  • dryness
  • inflammation
  • irritation
  • breakouts

This type of damage can be caused by mechanically exfoliating daily instead of weekly, scrubbing too hard, or using acids that are too strong for your skin type.

Get 20% off your first order with the code CLEANFORALL20. If you’d like recommendations from me, fill out this form! Sign up for beauty news by email here!

Overnight Resurfacing Peelchemical exfoliant

Featuring a proprietary multi-acid complex, this leave-on AHA/BHA peel improves skin texture and boosts clarity without irritation or over-drying. With glycolic, malic, and botanically derived lactic acids, the formula clears away dull surface cells.

Reflect Effect Overnight Resurfacing Body Peelchemical exfoliant

Made with a blend of AHAs (glycolic acid and lactic acid) to exfoliate dead skin and stimulate cell turnover. Mandelic acid increases exfoliation without over-drying to renew skin appearance.

  • Tip: Get these two products in a mini size (great for trying them out or using for travel) in this limited-edition Goodnight & Glow Duo.

AHA Reflect Effect Smoothing Facial Maskchemical AND physical exfoliant

This 10-minute facial mask is supercharged with a blend of chemical and physical exfoliants, like AHA glycolic acid and bamboo particles.

Sugarbuff Body Polish in Lemongrassphysical exfoliant

With a revitalizing lemongrass scent, this new and improved formula features organic, finely milled sugar to exfoliate, and sweet almond oil to hydrate and soften skin.

Bamboobuff Exfoliating Polishphysical exfoliant

Formulated with just alumina and bamboo powder, this two-ingredient polish can be combined with most facial cleansers to help buff away dead skin cells. I add it to my cream cleanser in the shower a few times a week. 

All Bright Triple Acid AHA Tonerchemical exfoliant

Made with a powerful blend of AHAs, beta hydroxy acid, kombucha, and niacinamide, this hardworking toner exfoliates and reveals a glowing complexion. It’s pore-refining, too, helping to improve and minimize the appearance of pores after just one use.

  • Tip: Get a mini AHA Toner and mini All Bright C Serum in this limited-edition Brighter Days Set.

How I Use My Exfoliators 

I use them all, but definitely not at once! Here’s how I use them:

Overnight Resurfacing Peel – I use this every 2-3 days as part of my nighttime routine. It’s both exfoliating and nourishing, so consider it gentle enough for regular use.

Reflect Effect Overnight Resurfacing Body Peel – Use on targeted areas like body scars or rough patches, elbows, and uneven skin areas. 

AHA Reflect Effect Smoothing Facial Mask – I use this a few times per month, especially before a special event when I’ll be wearing a full face of makeup.

Sugarbuff Body Polish in Lemongrass – I use it weekly in the shower. Smells SO good! There is often a seasonal scent around the holidays – this year’s is rosewater! 

Bamboobuff Exfoliating Polish – I use this on my face on a weekly basis, or on days when I’m extra grimy like after a full day of soccer or extra sunscreen. 

All Bright Triple Acid AHA Toner – I use this a few mornings a week after my Countertime Essence. I like it to mix up my toner ingredients, but it’s a bit too strong for me for every day because I have very dry skin.

Beautycounter Skincare Exfoliators

New to Beautycounter?

Select Katherine Younger as your Brand Advocate at checkout and use code CLEANFORALL20 for 20% off your first purchase.  If you’d like recommendations from me, fill out this form

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