The Top 8 Best Exfoliators of 2021

Published on April 22, 2021

Research skincare routines and you’ll be hard pressed to find a list without an exfoliator. The skincare essential is basically a skin scrub that brushes away dead cells to make way for fresh, clean skin. The problem with exfoliators is that there are far too many exfoliators. How does one choose among the countless options on the market? Check out our tip right list and hopefully it’ll help anyone pick the right exfoliator for their skincare needs. 


If you’re in a hurry, here are our top 3 quick picks for the Best Exfoliator of 2021


Criteria for Choosing the Best Exfoliator

Effectiveness: One issue with exfoliants is that they can be too harsh for some skin types. Is your skin more on the sensitive side or can it handle a deep scrub? A good Exfoliator will leave your skin feeling fresh and new, not on the verge of a breakout. 

Versatility: This criteria is simple. Can the scrub be used all over your body? Or just your face? 

Scent: One of the big reasons that the Tree Hut scrubs get such high marks is because of the company’s assortment of pleasant smelling scents. Do you want your exfoliator to smell like a tropical breeze or nothing at all? 

Environmentally-friendly? Is your exfoliator made with environmentally friendly ingredients for the scrub?


The 8 of Best Exfoliators of 2021

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Exfoliating Daily Facial Scrub

This facial scrub has over a whopping 30,000 reviews and counting. The Aveeno scrub is soap free, non-comodegenic (meaning it’s made with a formula that’s meant to not block pores), and hypoallergenic. Aveeno says that this scrub is gentle enough for sensitive skin, and is formulated with soy extract. 

PROS
  • Even with sales tax, this scrub is priced under ten dollars 
  • Has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating based on 30,109 global reviews 
  • One reviewer said using this scrub helped heal their hormonal acne 
  • Another reviewer said they were able to use it every day and never broke out 
CONS
  • This scrub does contain parable a
  • Another reviewer said their skin broke out horribly after using this scrub 
  • Several other reviewers said this product wasn’t good for sensitive skin 

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant, Gentle Facial Exfoliator for Blackheads

The Paula’s Choice liquid exfoliant has nearly as many reviews as the Aveeno exfoliant, but does Paula’s Choice even match up, or is it like comparing apples to oranges? For starters, the Paula’s Choice exfoliator is formulated with salicylic acid, an ingredient that is supposed to help with acne issues. This is a leave-on exfoliant that also does not require rinsing after applying it to the face and can be used once or twice daily. 

PROS
  • Being able to apply this exfoliant and not have to worry about rinsing it off is a nice bonus 
  • This exfoliant is formulated with green tea and salicylic acid 
  • No parabens
  • A lot of reviewers said it helped with their uneven or acne prone skin 
  • The price is under fifteen dollars 
CONS
  • This one is a bit more complicated: reviewers noted that you can’t forget to wear sunscreen while using this product. 
  • Some users might experience a skin purge due to this exfoliator’s ingredients, which is normal but a user needs to keep that in mind when they start taking it (Try not starting it before a wedding!) 

Tree Hut Tahitian Vanilla Bean Shea Sugar Scrub

If you have a TikTok account you’ve probably seen a video about the Tree Hut Shea sugar scrubs. Each scrub is formulated with a blend of six oils, including Avocado Oil, Macadamia Oil, Sweet Orange Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Safflower Oil. You can buy the Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrubs in a variety of scents, but the Tahitian Vanilla Bean is Tree Hut’s signature scent. These scrubs are vegan, sulfate-free, paraben free, alcohol free, and does not contain any formaldehyde ingredients. These scrubs are meant for the body and not the face. 

PROS
  • These products are great body exfoliators and perfect when you want to smell good 
  • Each scrub is made with real sugar and certified Shea butter 
  • One reviewer said this product was a staple in their shower regimen 
  • Has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating based off of 21,566 global ratings 
  • Reviewers said the scrub was non-abrasive and left their skin feeling moisturized.  
CONS
  • The sweet scents might turn some people away who want something unscented 
  • Not a facial scrub 
  • Some reviewers said the Tahitian Vanilla Bean sugar scrub didn’t smell like vanilla at all 

The Brooklyn Botany Brown Sugar Scrub

The Brooklyn Botany Brown Sugar Scrub is formulated for the face and body. The Brooklyn Botany company says on the product page that this scrub can help clear pimples, blackheads, and bumps. This scrub can also be used on the lips. The Brooklyn Botany brown sugar scrub is formulated without any parabens, sulfates, or alcohol. 

PROS
  • Has a 4.4 rating out of 5 based off of 5,353 ratings  
  • One reviewer said this product was the holy grail of face and body scrubs 
  • Other reviewers praised the sweet scent 
  • The price is under twenty dollars 
  • One reviewer said a lot of the top sugaring and waxing places in New York use this scrub 
CONS
  • Another reviewer said it felt too greasy on their skin 
  • This scrub isn’t pricey, but it’s over ten dollars 
  • Another reviewer said this wasn’t good for people with oily skin 

The DRMTLGY Microdermabrasion Scrub

The DRMTLGY Microdermabrasion Scrub bills itself as medical-grade skincare that is anti-aging and will buff away fine lines and wrinkles and is also anti-aging. This scrub is made from apple extract, sugarcane extract, lemon extract, and green tea extract and is also paraben-free. The DRMTLGY company says that their scrub is recommended by more than 2,000 dermatologists worldwide. 

PROS
  • Comes with a 60 day money back guarantee 
  • Gentle enough to be used up to three times a week 
  • Has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating based off of 5,107 reviews 
  • One reviewer said the scrub was the best find of 2018
  • Several reviewers said this product was great for their acne-prone skin 
  • The cost is under twenty dollars 
CONS
  • There is only 2 ounces in the jar
  • This product costs more than ten dollars 
  • Only for the face and not the body (although some reviewers said they used it on their body) 
  • Some reviewers said they received a jar that was half empty 

The Era Organics Manuka Honey Walnut Scrub & Mask

The packaging alone on this body scrub gets top marks, with the way it immediately draws you in with the bright colors and honeycomb design. The Era Organics Manuka Honey Walnut Scrub and Mask are made with aloe vera, Manuka honey, orange peel oil, walnut, and cehami extract. This product has a 4.4 out of 5 star rating based on 9,803 global reviews. The company says that this product works as an anti-aging mask, can reduce fine lines, will provide deep hydration that reduces wrinkles and much more. 

PROS
  • The price of the scrub is under twenty dollars 
  • Made with all natural ingredients 
  • This scrub has no parabens or alcohol, making it suitable for sensitive skin 
  • One reviewer said they were so impressed by the product that they just had to write a review about it even though they usually don’t 
  • Had reviews from men and women saying it worked well for their skin and helped with acne  
CONS
  • Although the price is under twenty dollars, it’s a bit pricey for a two ounce jar 
  • Several reviewers said the scrub was way too harsh for their skin 
  • Other reviewers said it dried their skin out rather than made it feel moisturized 
  • Some reviewers said it felt like the company changed their formula recently and that the new formula wasn’t as good as the old one 

The Palmer’s Coconut Oil Facial Scrub Exfoliator

The Palmer’s Coconut Oil Facial Scrub exfoliator is made with raw coconut sugar, certified organic extra virgin coconut oil, and is non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic. This scrub does not contain parabens, sulfates, gluten, mineral oil, phthalates, or GMOS. The scrub is ethically formulated with sustainably sourced ingredients for an environmentally friendly facial scrub that smells like a tropical vacation. 

PROS
  • A lot of reviewers said their skin felt refreshed after using this product 
  • Another reviewer said they felt like this scrub made them look more youthful 
  • The price is extremely reasonable and under ten dollars 
  • This product has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating based off of 13,915 reviews. 
  • Also contains Tahitian Monoi oil and sweet almond oil.  
CONS
  • One reviewer noted that this scrub actually is more on the abrasive side, so it might not be the best for all skin types 
  • One reviewer said it made their face break out even though they normally didn’t have sensitive skin 
  • Another reviewer said this product did technically exfoliate their skin, but every time they used it their skin burned 

The Handmade Heroes Ultra Sexy Lip Scrub

Rounding out the list is an all-natural and vegan lip scrub from Handmade Heroes. This lip scrub definitely wins in the shortest ingredient list category (which is a good thing when you’re looking for all-natural products.) This lip scrub is made with, “Sugar, Sweet Almond Oil, Coconut, Olive Oil Emulsifier, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Sunflower Lecithin, Glycerine, and Vitamin E.” This product can be used as an overnight lip mask, a lip scrub, a lip primer and so much more. This lip scrub has a 4.4 rating out of 5 stars based on 10,195 global reviews. 

PROS
  • This product is vegan and cruelty free 
  • Many reviewers said this was the only lip product that actually helped their chapped, dry lips 
  • Another reviewer said it was great and she could use it up to three times a week and even bought another jar as a gift for her friend 
  • Another reviewer said it worked well as a lipstick primer 
  • Reviewers said there was a pleasant scent from the scrub but not overpowering 
  • Works for men and women 
CONS
  • This scrub is supposed to be for the lips only 
  • One reviewer said it worked for about a week but then dried out her lips 
  • Another reviewer said it really didn’t work well as an exfoliator 
  • The price is less than fifteen dollars, but it is a bit pricey for a lip scrub 

In Conclusion 

Nobody likes having dry or tough skin. Finding a good exfoliator is a great way to combat dryness, aging, acne and more. The list mentioned above has some great versatile items, and just keep in mind to really research what your skin needs. Is it acne-prone and/or sensitive? Or do you just need something to scrub the day away? Do you want eco-friendly options or just a less expensive item that won’t break the bank and get the job done right? Exfoliators shouldn’t break the bank but they also shouldn’t break your skin. A good exfoliator scrubs dead skin cells away, ideally leaving your skin feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to go.


Other Products You May Need

We hope you enjoy these products! But keep in mind, Grit Daily might take a small commission on the items recommended here—but that doesn’t mean we don’t believe in them. We only recommend products that we would buy or use ourselves, so don’t be wary of our suggestions. 

Katherine Stinson is an award-winning journalist and Staff Reporter at Grit Daily News, where she covers Texas and Southern states' startup and entrepreneurship news. Based in San Antonio, Texas, she also contributes to ScreenRant, Outlander TV News, and San Antonio Magazine.

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