The Best Exfoliators for Your Face and Body

Out with the old; in with the new: It’s the perfect January skincare mantra. If extreme weather or too much holiday fun has left your complexion dull and dry, one of the fastest and most effective ways to make a change is to exfoliate — that is, to remove old skin cells, revealing newer skin underneath.

Exfoliating helps with cell turnover, the natural shedding of dead cells that slows down as we age. If these cells accumulate, skin can feel rough and look dull. Exfoliation helps remove some of that debris, so skin is smoother and reflects light more evenly.

There are two different ways to accomplish this instant New Year’s transformation: Mechanical exfoliators polish away dead cells using granules, such as sugar or salt crystals. Chemical exfoliators, which include glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid, dissolve the bond between old cells and the newer ones underneath.

So which exfoliation method is better? Rodan + Fields founders Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields recommend both. “We’re fans of both gentle chemical and mechanical exfoliation, with the key word being ‘gentle,” they explain in their book Write Your Skin a Prescription for Change. “In our experience, it takes the perfect combination of the two to dissolve the bonds between cells without irritating skin and to sweep away dead cells, leaving skin soft and smooth.”

The Doctors’ advice: “Don’t overdo it.” If you don’t exfoliate regularly and want to start, or if you’ve only used one kind of exfoliator and would like to add the chemical or mechanical product you’re missing, give your skin time to get used to it:

  1. Start slow, and don’t overscrub. If your skin looks red or feels raw, take a break and give it a chance to recover.
  2. Treat your face and body differently. The skin on elbows, knees and heels may respond well to daily exfoliation, while your face may prefer it every few days. And avoid the temptation to use a body scrub on your face; the exfoliating particles may be too aggressive. (If you’re looking for one scrub formulated for both face and body, try our ENHANCEMENTS Micro-Dermabrasion Paste.)
  3. For best results, moisturize after you exfoliate.

Looking for exfoliating products from Rodan + Fields?


REDEFINE Intensive Renewing Serum
REDEFINE Overnight Restorative Cream
REDEFINE Pore Minimizing Toner

REVERSE Deep Exfoliating Wash
REVERSE Dual Active Brightening Complex
REVERSE Intensive Brightening Toner
REVERSE Skin Lightening Toner
REVERSE Skin Lightening Treatment

UNBLEMISH Clarifying Toner

REDEFINE Brightening Hand Treatment


REDEFINE Daily Cleansing Mask

REVERSE Deep Exfoliating Wash

ESSENTIALS Instant Makeup Remover Wipes

Face and body
ENHANCEMENTS Micro-Dermabrasion Paste

What’s your favorite exfoliating product?

Please like & share:


  1. I like the chemical and mechanical exfoliators in REDEFINE Regimen. Love how the toner loosens dead skin cells after exfoliating with REDEFINE Daily Cleansing Wash. Perfect duo!

  2. Exfoliating has been a game changer in my skincare routine. It leaves my skin feeling soft and glowy while shedding those dead skin cells off. I love how I can even use it on my elbows, knees and heels. It’s so versatile.

  3. My favorite exfoliators are Reverse Deep Exfoliating Wash and Enhacements Micro-dermabrasion paste! Since I tried them, I don’t want to buy any other product to exfoliate my skin. The micro-dermabrasion paste is so gentle that I use it on my feet, elbows and hands. I love how smooth my skin feels after I exfoliate! Amazing products

  4. I love the Micro-dermabrasion paste! It makes my skin feel so smooth immediately after using it! The jar lasts at least 3 months also; it’s one of the best products for $80. I won’t go without it!

  5. My favorite exfoliator has always been the Microdermabrasion Paste! As they say, “Everything in moderation…” so I always get so excited to scrub away the old stuff every few days! My face feels baby-smooth immediately afterward and I LOVE how I ‘glow’

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