Are you stressed about having lackluster and dull skin? Do you still have hyperpigmentation and breakouts surrounding your face? Do you keep on having flaky and dry skin? What about the greasiness that is sitting on your nose and forehead? Do you know that all of these concerns can be solved with the use of exfoliators?
You should include some of the best Korean exfoliator in your skincare routine. To help you find the most suitable product for you, we are happy to provide this fundamental guide and some details related to this topic.
Important Factors to Consider
How Korean Exfoliator Works?
Exfoliators are essential to have a brighter and more radiant skin. They work by removing the dead skin cells along with dirt and other impurities on top of your skin. But what makes Korean exfoliators different from Western brands? In K-beauty world, they consciously formulate their exfoliators with organic and potent ingredients and without any synthetic and harsh components.
Using the best Korean exfoliators can further help your skin rejuvenation process such as improving the skin texture, making it feel smoother and appear brighter than ever before. Also, this helps your makeup look better and it can last longer. So, this is a crucial step that you can incorporate into your skincare regimen once or twice a week.
Different Types of Korean Exfoliators
There are many types of Korean exfoliators. In this section, we will discuss this topic in detail.
The products under this category are something that you use to rub on the face to take off the dead skin cells. Actually, these exfoliators are the basic ones that you can mostly find in the markets. Scrubs, wash-off masks, peeling gels or peeling creams, and peeling pads are some examples of physical exfoliators out there.
- Scrub/Wash-off Masks – these are products with granules or powder that you put on your face, wait for a minute, and then wash off using a rubbing motion.
- Peeling Gels or Peeling Creams – these products use fruit enzymes that dissolves dead skin cells and unclogs pores which you can notice when you massage it onto your skin. They revitalize and refresh the skin.
- Exfoliating Masks – these masks help absorb excess oil, dirt, and many other impurities with the help of clay, charcoal, and many other clarifying ingredients.
- Peeling Pads – these products can actually be both physical and chemical exfoliators because the single pads are soaked in essence filled with chemical exfoliants like AHA, BHA, and PHA, as well as other hydrating ingredients. These are the current trends nowadays because of their easy and convenient to use.
These are exfoliators filled with AHAs, BHAs, PHAs, and LHAs. These different kinds of active ingredients are beneficial in removing the dead skin cells on top of your skin. Mostly, they are formulated in serums, essences, masks, and creams.
- AHA or Glycolic Acid – derived from fruit, milk, and sugar cane, these water-soluble acids act on the surface by removing dead surface cells and increasing collagen production. It enables your skin to improve its appearance, as they reduce fine lines and wrinkles and get rid of your hyperpigmentation and dark spots in the process. Best for dry and mature skin to all skin types.
- BHA or Salicylic Acid – commonly found in tree barks, these fat-soluble acids fight acne-causing bacteria and they usually deep cleanse your pores inside your skin. They penetrate deeply inside your skin to unclog your pores and dissolve the mix of sebum and dead skin that leads to acne. They clear up whiteheads, blackheads, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Best for oily and acne-prone skin.
- PHA or Gluconolactone – it appears to have a similar function of AHA and its gentler version. Having much larger molecules than AHA, they work exclusively in the skin without disturbing the delicate layers. That’s why this type of acid is best for sensitive skin.
- LHA or Salicylic Acid Derivative – this type of acid is similar with BHA but it appears to be the gentler version. Its slow penetration results in an individual cell-by-cell exfoliation that is associated with excellent tolerability based on National Institute of Health. Thus, this is safe and best for sensitive skin.
Our Top Picks for the Best Korean Exfoliators
With the great amount of Korean exfoliators around the stores and markets, we curated the top-rated Korean exfoliators in this part. So, just relax and check out the products below:
#1 NEOGEN DERMALOGY Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Lemon
Do you want a multitasking exfoliator that can brighten and smoothen your complexion without any irritation? A famous Korean brand, Neogen designed this one gentle yet hardworking product that has dual benefits of physical and chemical exfoliation. With this combination, this product is effective in removing dead skin cells, excess sebum, skin impurities, while purifying the skin.
This product has 30 single-use exfoliating pads with a unique 3 layer pad technology that helps gently remove dirt, impurities, and dead skin cells without irritation, prevents any uncomfortable skin stimulation, and thoroughly delivers essential ingredients inside the skin. As an easy-to-use peeling pads, you can use the gauze side to gently exfoliate while the embossed side to refine the texture of your skin.
Enriched with lemon, orange, and papaya fruit extracts, sodium hyaluronate, lactic acid, and glycolic acid, these exfoliating pads are capable of clearing clogged pores while simultaneously diminishing acne scars. If you have concerns in hyperpigmentation, dullness, and acne scars, this product impressively works to solve these problems and reveal a glowing and radiant skin.
#2 Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask
Do you have a combination, oily, acne-prone and sensitive skin that gets clogged pores and pimples easily? Innisfree created this 10-in-1 clay mask that has Jeju Volcanic Cluster Sphere which features twice more powerful adherence to sebum for intensive pore care. When applied on your skin, this clay mask has a comfortable cooling sensation, great for tightening pores and cooling inflamed skin.
If you keep on having greasiness and redness on your skin, this product definitely reduces the overproduction of sebum while soothing your skin. So, this is great to use for hot and humid days of summer season. You will notice that your large pores shrink, pimples gone and your skin becomes smooth. Also, after working outside, you can use this clay mask for skin detox after being exposed to environmental aggressors such as dirt, pollution, and other impurities.
What makes this different from other kinds of clay masks in the market? It has Jeju volcanic scoria, walnut shell powder, and AHA which are potent ingredients in deep cleansing and exfoliating your skin. Using this 1-2 times a week helps to soften your skin especially makes it become fairer and healthier. After a busy and tiring day from work, you can use this for relaxation as well.
#3 Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash Off Exfoliator
What about for those who have dry and flaky skin? This product from Skinfood is one of the best-selling Korean exfoliators in the market. It is useful in sloughing away dead skin cells, dirt, and any impurities. Also, it is not just great for exfoliation but it nourishes your skin after.
Mostly made up of black sugar granules, it loads up the skin with important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to help further develop skin cells while exfoliating. Being rich in vitamin B, it can significantly support the regeneration of the skin and protecting it from skin problems like aging and from UV sunlight. Black sugar also has glycolic acid which keeps your skin bright and healthy.
Other than black sugar, this mask also has macadamia seed oil, shea butter, and meadowfoam seed oil which are rich in antioxidants and hydrates your skin as well. So, it is not just a gentle scrub for your face but you can use this as a 10-min wash-off mask to smoothen, nourish your dry skin and avoid flaky skin.
#4 Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Mask
For those who want to have some fun while doing skincare, this carbonated bubble mask helps to exfoliate and smoothen your skin as you will see a silly face of yourself in the mirror. This product has deep cleansing ingredients such as two types of clay: kaolin and bentonite, collagen, and charcoal powder. If you have oily and combination skin, this mask works well for you.
Kaolin is a white clay that is effective in exfoliating dead skin cells and absorbs excess oil. Bentonite is a powerful detoxifying agent for skin as it deeply cleanses the pores and removes unwanted dirt and impurities. Collagen is an important ingredient for skin renewal process that our skin also has. Charcoal powder draws bacteria, toxins, dirt, and oil away from the skin, best component to avoid acne and blemishes.
But what is the effect of carbonation to your skin? When this mask is applied on the skin, the carbonation causes the product to froth up and oxidizes with the air and then the bubbles help exfoliate dead skin cells and unclog pesky pores while providing nutrients inside the skin.
#5 COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad
Do you have oily and acne-prone skin? As one of the top rated South Korean skincare brands, COSRX designed this product to exfoliate and tone your skin instantly. If you are a busy person or just want to have a lazy morning, this clear pads are easy and practical to use. Just several sweeps on your face, you will notice a brighter and smoother complexion!
What are the main ingredients of this wonderful product? It contains 85.9 % willow bark water and 1% BHA which are essential components to exfoliate your skin deep down the pores, soothe your irritated skin and helps in the skin’s fast recovery. These 2-in-1 exfoliating toner medicated pads are excellent in gently wiping out excess oil and makes your skin clear and well-balanced.
Try and use this convenient product every day to prevent breakouts and makes your skin extra clean. Say goodbye to those irritating and stressful pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads and embrace your healthy skin filled with nourishment!
#6 SECRET KEY Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel
This is another exfoliating and brightening product that has lemon extracts.The great thing about this product is that it is cheap yet very effective in removing dead skin cells. For those who have oily, blemish prone, aging with fine lines/wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation, this Korean exfoliator is great for you to use.
This is formulated with 90ppm lemon fruit water extracted using steam distillation, 10ppm lemon fruit extract, 47ppm carbonated water, papaya extracts, witch hazel, aloe vera, sodium hyaluronate, centella asiatica, chamomile, and rice bran water. So, it is rich in Vitamin C from lemons that makes the skin brighter. It also removes impurities in your pores, and improves skin elasticity.
Additionally, it keeps the skin hydrated and filled it with antioxidants through the exfoliation process. It speeds up healing, refreshes, cools, and protects your skin. Unlike other conventional exfoliators in the market, this peeling gel is not abrasive or irritating. Also, it is not one of the fake peeling gels that tend to produce clumps that came from acrylates, carbomer or cellulose. This is one of the best peeling gels so hurry and try this now!
#7 Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum
Looking for a gentle but potent exfoliating serum to be added into your skincare routine? Mizon offers this product that has outstanding effect in treating hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and acne scars. Using this serum few times a week at night can help your skin boosts radiance.
This serum features glycolic acid or AHA that helps to resurface the skin and fade dark spots. It also has papaya fruit extract and yarrow extracts which are used in retexturizing and brightening the skin. Other than this, it is also composed of moisturizing and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as aloe vera, panthenol, and Portulaca Oleracea extract.
Thus, using this chemical exfoliant transforms your dull and hyperpigmented skin into brighter and youthful skin. In just a short amount of time, you can see some noticeable changes such as decrease in breakouts and smoother texture of the skin.
#8 SRB Stabilized Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Face Wash
“Rice washing” is a method that was first seen in 1392 by the Korean palace women. They would consistently wash their faces with rice water in order to keep their skin healthy and radiant. This concept is used in this cleansing and exfoliating product from SRB. Featuring rice bran extract, it creates a soothing and brightening effect on the skin.
Moreover, the product contains at least 50 different kinds of nutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants derived from rice bran and rice germ. It has more than 10X the amount of rice extract found in traditional rice water and is also infused with Grape Seed and pollen extract to provide large doses of factors such as GABA, Lycopene, Carotenoids, folic acid, phytic acid, B vitamins, and Co-Q10 among others.
It works thoroughly in gently exfoliating the skin while reducing the appearance of pores and tightens the skin, promotes cell growth, stimulate blood flow, and maintains the glow of your skin. If you have chapped and damaged skin, this rice bran powder face wash is ideal for you to use.
#9 BY WISHTREND Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water
Hate the bumpy skin you have due to pimples, whiteheads, and clogged pores? Are you tired of the pigmentation staying on your face for a couple of years? We are happy to show you this very gentle exfoliating and hydrating product from Wishtrend that can be used daily to improve your skin condition.
It has mandelic acid that works to accelerate cell turnover by helping to remove dead skin cells without any irritation even on sensitive skin. As a mild exfoliator, it dissolves skin cells to treat irregular skin pigmentation, acne, fine lines or wrinkles. It enhances your skin tone and texture while boosting the effectiveness of other products.
This product also has nourishing ingredients such as licorice root extract, sweet almond fruit extract, panthenol, beta-glucan, centella asiatica, and sodium hyaluronate that all help to unclog your skin, and get rid of the extra layer of build up and bacteria. So, this exfoliating treatment is a real gamechanger to your skincare routine!
#10 COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Do you continue having some countless breakouts, blackheads, and cystic acne on your face? Don’t worry because we got you covered with this top-rated product from COSRX. Many customers loved this item for its superb efficacy that will surely helps your skin get back its glow and healthy state.
As a BHA exfoliant, it works so well against acne as it penetrates deeply through sebum. This gives your skin a deep clean by exfoliating the pore lining and loosening clogged sebum. Also, BHA has antibacterial effect so it can help in clearing up pimples and different types of comedones.
Using this power liquid constantly can also help reduce oil production, brightens your complexion with niacinamide, treats fine lines/wrinkles, and fades pigmentation. Unlike other chemical exfoliant that tends to be overdrying, this product includes hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to lightly hydrate your skin as well. You just need to be patient to see the full effect of this product.
How to Choose the Best Korean Exfoliator?
After knowing the best Korean exfoliator, the next thing to do is to be knowledgeable about choosing the right exfoliator for your skin type. To help you evaluate and make the right decision, below are some important reminders that you need to consider before you buy:
- Ingredients: Search for potential aggressors that might potentially trigger some allergic reactions, irritation, redness, and inflammation to your skin. Avoid harsh ingredients and synthetic ones made for exfoliating but has possible side effects. Search for pure, organic, and safe botanical ingredients as much as possible.
- Skin Type and Forms: Analyze what type of skin you have before you buy an exfoliator. Not all exfoliators are suitable for every skin types. If you have dry and flaky skin, look for gentle exfoliators that can slough away dead skin cells without stripping your skin barrier. If you have oily, combination, and sensitive skin, it is best for you to use chemical exfoliants in liquid form or peeling pads. If you have sensitive skin, avoid using physical exfoliators and go on gentle chemical exfoliators. If you have mature and aging skin, you can use antioxidant rich chemical exfoliants. For normal and combination skin, you can use gentle physical exfoliators and exfoliating masks.
- Reviews: Still have no clue on what’s best to buy? Search and read authentic reviews. Learn from the experiences of several reliable YouTube skincare and beauty experts and enthusiasts about the products.
In this section, here are the most common questions that people have about Korean exfoliators. So we will give you some simple answers about them.
Do you use toner before or after exfoliating?
If you prefer to use a scrub in the morning, you can use it instead of your cleanser. After cleansing, apply your toner. Next, apply your leave-on AHA or BHA exfoliant. After cleansing, toning, and exfoliating, apply the rest of your skincare products in order of their texture.
Do I exfoliate or cleanse first?
When you cleanse your face first, you help remove the dirt, sweat and make up off the skin’s surface. You are then working with a clean base to then exfoliate away dead skin cells that can pile up on the skin’s surface. Your skin will be prepped for moisturizer, oil or serum after this.
Should I moisturize after exfoliating?
Exfoliating alone won’t keep your skin looking lovely and healthy. Rather, after each exfoliation you should apply an ultra-hydrating products such as hydrating toners, essences, serums or ampoules, moisturizers and protective sunscreen to ensure that skin is hydrated and protected from environmental damage.
Therefore, exfoliators are essential products in your skincare routine. These products can be used several times a week to improve your skin texture and helps fade pigmentation, dark spots, acne scars, and blemishes. Also, using the best Korean exfoliators effectively helps your other skincare products to enter deep inside the pores, delivering the necessary nutrients in your skin. In turn, you will notice a brighter, youthful looking skin!