Smooth, soft skin is the epitome of skin care goals, especially in the summer when people tend to show off a lot more of it. Smooth, bump-free skin inspire you to pull on those short-shorts, or a cheekier-than-usual bikini, or just provide a boost of confidence. Even if you’re a long-sleeves-for-life kind of person, smooth skin is more comfortable than dry skin because skin that’s smooth is skin that’s well-exfoliated.
“The definition of exfoliation itself is to remove the surface of something,” shares board-certified dermatologist Kim Nichols. Nichols is Harvard-trained and practices cosmetic surgery along with dermatology out of her own private practice in Greenwich, Connecticut. “When it comes to skin care,” she says, “exfoliating removes dead skin cells, excess sebum, dirt, and bacteria from the surface of the skin. This then leaves skin feeling smoother, looking more even in tone, and brighter overall.”
There are a couple of ways to exfoliate: manual and chemical. Both methods have pros and cons. Manual exfoliation is done by physically breaking down dead skin and dirt on the surface of the skin with a scrub or tool. Nichols cautions against scrubbing too hard, as too much manual exfoliation can leave skin irritated and raw. Chemical exfoliants promote cell turnover to eliminate dead skin, and Nichols is a huge fan. “I recommend the addition of a chemical exfoliant to every patient I see at my practice,” she says. There are three main types of chemical exfoliants: alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, and poly hydroxy acids. This means you have a lot of options to choose from in terms of products.
The 11 tools, scrubs, and serums below feature a mix of chemical and physical exfoliators. Each boasts a super-high Amazon rating of at least 4.4 stars, will cost you $30 or less, and can bring you one step closer to the smooth skin of your dreams.
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