Does Kylie Jenner know what’s best for your skin? Maybe not.
This summer, the Kardashian-adjacent offspring launched Kylie Skin to complement her growing Kylie Cosmetics beauty empire (you know, the one that made her a “self-made” billionaire). One product in particular made waves when it launched: a walnut face scrub that immediately drew comparisons to OG drugstore exfoliator, St. Ives Apricot Scrub.
There’s an extremely high chance this is all new information to you, which is fine, and honestly, I’m jealous of the space that must exist in a life unsullied by Kardashian/Jenner-related trivia. Do you paint watercolors? Have you taken up parkour?
But here’s the thing: A good face exfoliant can and should be a regular part of your skincare routine, guys!
However, as anyone emotionally and like, physically scarred from rubbing off half their faces with St Ives in high school can attest, face scrubs can be really hard on your skin. That’s why the best face exfoliants should be gentle at best, and if you really (as in, really really) want to expose new layers of your skin safely, you’re going to need to call in something stronger.
Bottom line: Kylie Jenner’s face scrub? Not worth the waitlist. Skip the harsh treatments in favor of these face scrubs and exfoliants:
People who talk about beauty and grooming for a living love dermatologist office waiting room favorite Dermalogica. Take Max Berlinger, a freelance writer whose work has appeared in GQ, The New York Times, Business of Fashion and more.
He says, “I’m obsessed with exfoliating my face—what could be better than scrubbing away all that filth that accumulates on your skin? However, popular opinion holds that exfoliating should be done weekly, or biweekly, not daily. So Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant is the best thing for an exfoliant addict like myself.”
The product comes out of the gender-netural, medical grade-looking packaging as a powder. As you mix it with water and rub it onto your skin, it becomes thick and paste-like, making for a weirdly satisfying skincare experience.
The ingredient list reads like an oatmeal cookie recipe, with natural sugar scrubbing away sebum, dead cells, and general grime (all without tearing the skin), while colloidal oat calms the skin and softens the complexion.
Oh, and it smells like lemon, which might seem a little odd at first for a product you put on your face and not your kitchen floor, but after awhile the Pavlovian response to “lemon = clean” kicks in and I promise you’ll really like it.
It’s a little annoying scooping the stuff out of the jar it comes in, but BEAUTY IS PAIN (i.e. slight inconvenience), GUYS.
Use Acure’s sea kelp-infused face scrub up to three times a week for fresher-looking skin. French green clay helps cleanse the skin without stripping away natural moisture. (Their coconut-scented cleansing towelettes are great for on-the-go refreshing on sweaty days , too).
Rachel Liverman, co-founder of NYC’s Glowbar, likes the instant gratification that physical exfoliation from face scrubs can provide. “You clear skin of cellular debris, and the massage you generally do with it is great for circulation.” She cautions not to use too much pressure, though, and let the exfoliant do the work.
As for when to use a face scrub or exfoliant? Slot this step into your nighttime routine so as not to expose freshly-scrubbed skin to the elements. In the morning, use a more gentle cleanser before applying moisturizer (with SPF, remember?!).
If you deal with skin sensitivity from an adolescence spent on Accutane, you might want to consider shelling out for this medical spa-grade splurge.
Swapping chemicals for plant-based ingredients including seaweed and red tea extract—oh, and these and weird ruby crystals (yes, really)—the product works wonders on smoothing out your skin without Brillo Pad scouring of acne-scarred skin.
I’m not always a fan of “make it even easier!” products. I don’t want to cook a potato in the microwave in 30 seconds, and I think body wash that’s also shampoo is a scam invented by the water heater industrial complex.
But! I do like a face wash in stick form. This one from the “Yes To” brand umbrella (you may know their “Yes to Cucumbers” work?) lets you exfoliate your face in a handy on-the-go container that looks a bit like a deodorant stick. Perfect for your gym bag, or even if you just want to scrub up in the bathroom at work before a date.
The formula, a mix of charcoal powder and tomato extract that removes impurities and reveals clearer skin, melts into a milky consistency once you put it on a damp face.
While a physical exfoliator (meaning, face scrubs with bits and chunks of stuff that rub at your skin) can be an affordable and effective way to slough off dead skin and daily grime, acids are your friend when it’s time to go deep.
There’s no one I trust more on matters of the face than Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. As she puts it, “I am a huge fan of exfoliation; however, I tend to prefer chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid over physical exfoliants which can be quite harsh and tear the skin.”
This one from Glossier contains a 10% blend of Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), and Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) can be used daily.
David Yi of men’s grooming site Very Good Light swears by the glycolic acid in this (admittedly pricey!) two-step formula from Dr. Dennis Gross. The pads are conveniently packaged separately, so you can easily throw them in your gym bag, or travel with them without worrying your skincare investment will be confiscated at TSA.