My sisters and I were recently chatting about our teenage skincare rituals. Well, to be honest, 'rituals' is stretching it - in the 1980s and 1990s, YouTube beauty tutorials and mind-boggling 10-step Korean beauty regimes were decades away. Our skincare arsenal didn't stretch much beyond a slick of humble E45 cream and a weekly facial exfoliator scrub so abrasive we may as well have taken wire wool to our visages.
Thankfully, exfoliators have since taken a quantum leap in both technology and ingredients. We can now choose from exfoliating liquids and lotions, powders and pads, old-school scrubs and sprays, loofahs and brushes. We can choose exfoliators with fruit enzymes, AHAs and BHAs (acids) to nibble away at dead skin to give our faces an added glow and clarity, as well as the more traditional, old-school 'physical' scrubs.
Happily, there's one ingredient that has been eliminated from all our exfoliators - microbeads. These tiny plastic particles were used in some facial scrubs to act as the abrasive ingredient. They slipped through our traditional filtration systems and have ended up in massive quantities in our oceans and waterways. Legislation was passed to ditch these pollutants and now all abrasive ingredients in exfoliators must come from natural sources, such as salt, sugar and nut shells.
I've curated a list of some brilliant exfoliators that should suit every need - so let's get glowing!
Dermalogica Daily Resurfacing Exfoliating Pads
These pre-soaked pads are drenched in alpha and beta hydroxy acids and enzymes; €78.50 from skin clinics nationwide and dermalogica.ie
No 7 Serum Activating 10pc Glycolic Glow Complex Pads
These pads are soaked in a generous 10pc of glycolic acid; €31 from Boots stores nationwide.
This exfoliating toner uses AHAs (alpha hydroxy acid) to target dark spots, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. Just apply with a cotton wool pad on clean skin, before your moisturiser. This is a pretty potent exfoliator, so using a sunscreen is non-negotiable. Ole Henriksen Glow20H Dark Spot Toner, €29, from Boots nationwide and lookfantastic.com
This is another great dry-exfoliant option. This cult classic bestseller has been reformulated with cleaner ingredients, with no fragrance, colourants, parabens or the like, and no harsh abrasives. This facial powder exfoliator is packed with enzymatic exfoliating ingredients that work to remove dead skin cells, deeply clean and unclog pores - all very gently. Indeed Labs Exfoliator Powder, €10.50, from Boots mnationwide.
If you don't fancy using any exfoliating products but still want glowing healthy skin why not try dry body brushing? This is also known as garshana and is an Ayurvedic technique that goes back centuries. It's a wonderful trick to slough off the dry, patchy skin but it also helps with lymph drainage. Use the brush in upward strokes towards the heart for a few minutes on dry skin before your shower or bath and moisturise your body well when dry. The Body Shop Body Brush, €10.70.
If you’re after a zesty, citrussy body scrub that will get you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning, try this beauty. I’ve been road-testing it and love it. Made with sugar and meadowfoam seed oil, a little goes a long way. Riviera Postcard Body Scrub, €12, at & Other Stories stories.com
This leave-on exfoliator uses salicylic acid and witch hazel to remove dead skin cells and pollutants, degunk pores and restore clarity. It’s applied at night and works while you snooze. This natural product can be used daily, and is especially good for oily skin, but again, sunscreen must be applied daily. This Works Evening Detox Spray-On Exfoliator, €30.60, from pharmacies and department stores nationwide.
If you’re not into physical scrubs, why not try a liquid version? These options use liquid acids and fruit enzymes to nibble away at dry and dying skin. This option uses tangerine, papaya, and licorice extracts. To use, just dampen hands and skin and apply a small amount of product onto your face. Gently massage in and rinse with water. Elf Gentle Peeling Exfoliant, €12, from Penneys and pharmacies nationwide.