Best Chemical Exfoliants in 2022

11 March, 2022 / words by Alicia Lartey

Image by @tatianaelizabethh

Exfoliation but let’s make it body! Everyone knows exfoliation is the key to baby soft skin and giving yourself an express skin treatment at home. Apart from glowing skin, exfoliation can help improve the appearance of strawberry legs, pigmentation, fine lines and ingrown hairs. Just like any other form of skincare, body exfoliants have to be suitable for your skin type. When trying to figure out your body’s skin type it’s important to remember it is not the same as the face. The best way to figure out what your skin type is, is to assess your skin after a lukewarm shower and after 8 hours. You can then categorise your body skin into normal, dry, acne prone and combination; with this information you can then go on to select an exfoliant suitable for your skin type.

Most people will be familiar with exfoliating body scrubs, and they were likely your first introduction to the realm of pampering body care, but there is a lot more to body exfoliation than you may assume. Firstly, there are two main categories for body exfoliators, chemical and physical.; an example of a body chemical exfoliant would be an exfoliating body wash or moisturiser, whilst a physical exfoliant is usually a scrub. Although there are two distinct categories of exfoliants, some of the most popular and effective body exfoliants make use of a blend. There is a vast array of exfoliants suitable for addressing any skin type and concern, so I would suggest also considering whether you prefer a leave on or wash off exfoliant.

Chemical exfoliants are made from a blend of exfoliating acids that help to boost your skin’s desquamation process (skin shedding), without getting too technical this process is all down to the lowering of pH. Alternatively, we have physical exfoliants such as sugars and salts which work by mechanically removing the outermost mature layers of the epidermis. In contrast to the face, the skin on your body can tolerate more exfoliation and abrasion so we can increase the concentration of acids used on the body as well as the size of scrubbing particles. Body exfoliation is one of my favourite steps and I really enjoy spending time refining my choice of body exfoliators.



Resurfacing Body Scrub

Shop the body scrub ↗

Beginning my list of body exfoliators is the most highly anticipated body scrub I have ever heard of, the ExfoliKate Resurfacing Body Scrub! The world of skincare is hugely over-saturated and finding an exfoliating body product that is more than a simple scrub, is truly a breath of fresh air. The Resurfacing Body Scrub makes use of both acids [lactic and salicylic acid] and physical exfoliants [pumice] to thoroughly buff away mature skin cells. As a bonus, this scrub features fruit enzymes which are known for their resulting glow factor. This scrub is ideal for use 2-3 times per week on most skin types (excluding sensitive), for an extra bit of exfoliation I would recommend leaving it on for two minutes as an express mask.


Sunday Riley

Charcoal Smoothie Jelly Body Scrub

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The OG body scrub that I initially fell in love with was the Sunday Riley Charcoal Smoothie Jelly Body Scrub which has an interesting gummy texture and is equally as great as the resurfacing body scrub but more appropriate for drier skin types.


Frank Body

Clearing Wash

Shop the clearing wash ↗

If you tend to favour including a loofah or body brush in your routine, the Frank Body Clearing Wash works perfectly to provide a hydrating yet smooth outcome. The Clearing Wash contains salicylic acid which is great at reducing the chance of ingrown hair formation, as well as smoothing out strawberry skin [keratosis pilaris] with its keratolytic properties. Salicylic acid (BHA) in a wash form is particularly great for heavy gym goers who deal with body breakouts.



Clarifying Body Spray

Shop the clearing spray ↗

A category of leave on chemical exfoliants that has been intriguing to me and a staple in my gym skincare routine is this exfoliating body mist. During the height of my body breakout season I opt for the Murad Clarifying Body Spray which contains BHAs and glycolic acid, paired with allantoin and blue lotus extract to calm and cool the skin. The Clarifying Body Spray features a 360-spray nozzle to evenly distribute the mist, even when the bottle is upside down. Although the Murad spray is heavy in exfoliants, it is gentle to use everyday until your breakouts clear up.


No matter which exfoliant you choose, the important thing to remember is not to overdo it- always put your skin barrier first! If you are new to exfoliation I would suggest exfoliating 3-4 times a week and filling the rest of your body routine with hydrating creams and sunscreen.


Alicia Lartey


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