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I have to say, 'exfoliating cleansers' is a category I've overlooked for far too long! As someone who is pretty committed to the AM Vitamin C, PM retinoid life, it's a great way of getting sone mild exfoliation into my routine 3-4 times a week without overloading my skin. These are 3 new formulas (a recommendation for each broad skin type) I've tried this year that really converted me to this product category...
The first product I'll talk about is really for skin that's breaking out - I personally use it kind of as a preemptive thing for hormonal breakouts: when I've finished a pill pack, I switch to using something like this as my second cleanse in the evening for that week. The Kate Somerville EradiKate Clarifying Blemish Gel Cleanser* | £38 | isn't necessarily something I'd have picked up myself, given I don't gravitate towards gel cleansers, but I received it to try so thought I'd give it a go. This lathers but isn't super-foamy and it's surprisingly non-stripping. As someone with dry skin: would I use this every single day? No, I don't feel the need to use a clarifying salicylic acid based cleanser unless I need it (or know I'm going to need it). But I think if you're very oily and acne-prone, this could be used once-daily if your skin is happy with that. The pore-penetrating BHA chemical exfoliant helps to prevent blemishes, move existing ones along faster and diminish blemish scarring. There's also niacinamide in here - it's a wash-off product so I wouldn't put too much stock in its power within this particular formula, but generally this ingredient can help with excess oil production, reduce hyperpigmentation and support the skin barrier. We also have a prebiotic, which can help support the skin barrier too, and just take some of the edge off a strong active like salicylic acid. This is great for congestion, hormonal breakouts or if your skin is more generally acne-prone.
For normal or combination skin, I recommend the Trinny London Better Off AHA / PHA Gel Cleanser* | £28 | brand review. This is a gel cleanser, but again: it's more lathering than foamy and doesn't strip my skin. It's something I'd incorporate into your routine as a second cleanse up to every other evening if you have generally normal or combination skin and you just want to maintain that overall smoothness and glow. This is formulated with lactic acid, a gentler AHA than glycolic (with some added hydrating benefits), and it's supported by malic acid. There's also a PHA in the mix; this is another more hydrating option when it comes to chemical exfoliants, and its larger molecular size means it penetrates more slowly into the skin than a lot of other options out there and therefor can feel much gentler. It's still great for surface softness and glow, however. Again, this formula features a prebiotic for some added barrier support. The result is soft, smooth skin that doesn't feel at all dried out.
If your skin is dry, the Skingredients AHA Cleanse* | £28 | is for you! This is a really unique formula because when do you ever really see a true creamy, moisturising, non-foaming exfoliating cleanser? This PHA and lactic acid formula is in a nourishing base with ingredients like squalane, fatty alcohol and glycerin so you're getting hydration and moisture alongside the mild exfoliating action. My skin feels soft, smooth and even moisturised after use, plus has a healthy, radiant glow with no irritation whatsoever. This is the product I like the most for my normal-to-dry skin as a cleanser; this is pretty much my ideal fluffy cream cleanser with that added boost of gentle, actually quite hydrating exfoliation.
When it comes to exfoliating cleansers: I recommend steering clear of the eye area, because that can burn! And an added little hack is to try leaving the product on your skin for an extra boost. Go and brush your teeth and rinse it off after a couple of minutes to get a cleanse and an express exfoliating mask in one.
Do you use exfoliating cleansers?