The best microbead-free face exfoliators for any skin type
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The clean team: the best exfoliator for your skin type
The power of a good exfoliator can't be underestimated - it works to slough away dead skin cells to help your beauty products penetrate the skin more effectively.
However, in the past, many were packed with plastic microbeads, which wash into our waters and are eaten by marine life, even ending up in our seafood. A ban on product manufacture with microbeads came into force in January 2018, with an outright ban on sale of products containing them by July 2018.
Many beauty companies have already cleaned up their act and all of the products in our edit here are microbead-free.
Whether you have dry skin, combination skin, breakout-prone skin or oily skin, here are the best exfoliators we've tried.
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Sensitive skin: Pai Kukui and Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator, £29 for 75ml
If you have sensitive skin, we wouldn’t be surprised if the thought of exfoliators pretty much terrifies you. However worry not, as Pai’s organic products are the ones to beat for their gentle approach.
Its jojoba biodegradable beads aren’t harsh on the skin’s surface, giving a polishing rather than scrubbing effect to carefully lift dead skin away. As you massage it in, the formula develops into a silky, milk-like consistency, and it leaves complexions visibly brighter rather than red and distressed as other exfoliators tend to. It has a divine natural scent thanks to the oils too - a real treat and treatment in one.
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Sensitive to combination skin: REN Rosa Centifolia Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser, £19 for 100ml
If you have combination skin that tends to err time to time on the more sensitive side, this is a great option. Comprising of a clever 2 in 1 formula, the wax microbeads provide a deep and thorough cleanse, before melting into the skin to leave it hydrated. Don’t be put off by its slightly larger particles - our testing left us with zero irritation and our complexions feeling incredibly soft the following morning, not an angry red patch in sight.
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Dry to combination skin: Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator, £16.50 for 70ml
The perfect skin pick-me-up that works gently to smooth and brighten dryness-prone skin types in particular, this face scrub is brilliant at reinvigorating a lacklustre complexion. With a combination of jojoba beads, eucalyptus oil, cocoa butter and sweet almond oil to cleanse, polish and hydrate in one fell swoop, it leaves skin soft, supple and refreshed to provide the perfect foundation for the rest of your skincare regime.
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Combination skin: Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel, £32 for 50ml
A tropical dose of sunnier shores to perk up dull skin, this exfoliator containing natural fruit enzymes of papaya and pineapple provides the perfect way to brighten up stormy complexions. A cream textured wonder that helps moisturise, repair and protect as well as give pores a hard-working cleansing helping hand too, it also smells incredible to leave skin feeling wonderfully soft for days afterwards.
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Breakout-prone and oily skin: Vichy Normaderm 3-in-1 Cleanser, £12 for 125ml
A cleanser, scrub and mask in one, this product not only saves pocket money but also precious bathroom space too. Creamy and non-abrasive, it's soothing and softening, bringing down redness effectively and leaving skin feeling hydrated yet matte. It feels very gentle and is safe for regular use, which is refreshing for a product aimed at acne prone skins (some are eye-wateringly strong). As a mask it gets to work in just 5 minutes. Did we mention it's just £12? A very sound skincare investment if you ask us.
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Breakout-prone and oily skin: Skinceuticals Blemish + Age Cleanser Gel, £40 for 240ml
Containing both glycolic and salicylic acids, this potent cleanser acts as the ideal way to soup up the first step of your skincare regime. Effective in removing excess sebum as well as exfoliating and brightening, it helps give breakouts the boot.
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Breakout-prone and oily skin: Goldfaden MD Doctor's Scrub, £65 for 100ml
Expensive but worth the pricetag, this skin perfector uses ruby crystals to exfoliate skin without stripping away its valuable moisture. Leaving complexions clean but also soft, it’s best for those with very oily and problematic skin types in particular.
Activated when mixed with water, it definitely goes some way in keeping potential breakouts at bay to help make the investment all the more worthwhile.