In our Rehab Your Skin series, we’re taking things back to basics to help you reset your skincare regimen and reclaim positive skincare habits.
Summer is the perfect time to engage in a resurfacing routine. It’s the ideal weather in which to reveal if you’re on the oily side, you’re likely very, very oily at this time of year. Enter: power exfoliators and retexturizers, which help unclog pores, make pores less visible, reduce redness and tame acne and blackheads. Best of all, they smooth the skin, and help reveal that coveted fresh-faced glow. Here are five chemical exfoliating products that are miles ahead of physical exfoliators in renewing and retexturizing the delicate skin on your face:
In the under-$100 price range, no serum is better than SkinCeuticals’ Retexturing Activator ($80) to reveal polished, baby-soft skin with zero irritation. Skin drinks up the lightly scented serum in a jiffy, and while the 20% glycolic acid treatment is much more potent than other exfoliating acid treatments, kombucha extract and oodles of hyaluronic acid pamper and deeply nourish the fresh layer of skin the minute its overlying layer is sloughed off. No burns, and no wash-off in the aftermath either.
If you’re in the mood for something just a little more… experiential, Neogen’s Lemon Peeling Pads ($27) are likely a better fit for you. These double-sided pads are drenched in exfoliating acids and vitamin C, which make them good for both exfoliating and brightening, but if we’re being honest, the best thing about this product is how it combines physical massage with powerful chemical ingredients to increase circulation while exfoliating. The result is clearer, smoother skin, yes, but also just healthier skin which weathers better as the weather gets finicky.
For those of us looking for one-stop treatments instead of products to use consistently, few masks are as genuinely rejuvenating as Origins’ Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay ($34). This mask is ideal before an evening out, and though its jojoba beads can be a little scratchy for first timers, the combination of the beads and the detoxifying Mediterranean rose clay leads to drastically cleaner and less visible pores. Though this is the scrubbiest of the products on this list, it also contains silk and chestnut extracts to soothe and condition the skin when it’s freshly resurfaced and tender.
If the triple-digit price tag is within your budget, it cannot be denied that Sunday Riley’s Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment ($200) is a contemporary legend in the resurfacing game. Purified lactic acid takes no prisoners while deeply exfoliating clogged pores from within, and a combination of licorice and orchid extracts and aloe water counteract inflammation by soothing and plumping your freshly unclogged pores. The result? Brighter, smoother skin that seems to be aging in the Benjamin Button fashion.
Finally, if you’d rather just have an everyday dose of exfoliation than targeted treatments like masks and serums — which, we’ll admit, can be a little intimidating — an exfoliating toner is likely the best bet for you. Longtime readers will know that Pixi’s Glow Tonic ($38) is a failsafe when it comes to daily-but-non-inflammatory exfoliation, but innovation is the name of the game, and those of us with oilier skin will find a much more potent resurfacer in Glossier’s Solution ($29). The reason is simple: while many of us may be familiar with acids like AHAs and BHAs that we see in other exfoliating toners, Solution also includes PHAs (or polyhydroxy acids), which are able to condition while they exfoliate because they attract water molecules and are rich in antioxidants as well.