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Want to step up your k-beauty skincare regimen? Start using one of the best Korean exfoliators you can get your hands on!
Exfoliating is the process of eliminating dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, but why is it important?
The epidermis, the outermost part of our skin, is constantly exposed to the elements. It is effective in protecting the deeper layers from a lot of things that can damage them.
As time passes, our skin goes through a process of renewing the skin cells via a process called turnover.
Older skin cells usually form the outer barrier of our skin and eventually die, while newer cells replace them and are formed in deeper layers of the skin.
Sometimes, our skin needs a little help to prevent this from happening. This is where exfoliation comes in. It removes our skin’s dead layers and reveals the newer ones underneath.
There are many different types of k-beauty exfoliators that can help your skin. Check out our list of the best Korean exfoliators available below.
- Gentle physical exfoliator
- Infused with shea butter and plant oils
- Moisturizing and nourishing
- Effective in lifting off dirt
- Perfect for all skin types
Table of Contents
Types of Exfoliators
It’s exciting to try out new products to add to your skincare routine. However, given the sheer number of choices, we understand if you’re overwhelmed.
Luckily, we’re here to help you find the right one!
If you’ve dabbled in skincare before, you may have heard about the two types of exfoliators: physical and chemical.
While they are both effective in getting rid of dead skin cells, the way they do this is entirely different. Given this, its effects on different skin types might not be the same.
These exfoliators are what most people are familiar with. The way these get rid of gunk and dirt is quite simple to understand.
Its physical ingredients lift off the layer of skin to reveal the new layer underneath (e.g. scrubs, clay and peel masks, cotton gauze)
As their name suggests, these use chemical agents (usually acids) to take away the layer of dirt and dead skin.
They greatly help in good cell turnover and are great in brightening and smoothing your skin’s texture (e.g. AHAs, BHAs, PHAs, and plant enzymes)
Benefits of Using a K-Beauty Exfoliator
- Prevents blemishes, flaky skin, rough skin patches, dark spots, and wrinkles from appearing
- Helps unclog pores and prevent acne breakouts from happening.
- Makes your skin feel smooth.
- Aids in ensuring your skin can reap the benefits of the other products in your skincare routine.
9 Best Korean Exfoliators Worth Buying
Now that you have an idea of what your skin type is and how you should properly use exfoliators, it’s now time to choose what products you should try.
Here are some of the best Korean exfoliators out in the market.
Korean Physical Exfoliators
We love this exfoliator because it’s a peeling gel that doesn’t leave your skin dry and dull.
Effective in lifting old skin cells off of the skin; hydrating and nourishing
- Uses plant cellulose to keep skin hydrated
- Has Vitamin C and Black Willow
- Hypoallergenic and free from irritants.
No matter what skin type you have, Dr. G’s Brightening Peel Gel has got your back!
This peeling gel is all the rage in South Korea, and with good reason.
When you use a peeling mask, it’s always satisfying to see dead skin cells and dirt roll off with the dried-out peel gel.
It’s also satisfying to feel how soft your face feels right after taking all that off.
Dr. G Brightening Peel Gel is a mild physical exfoliator that can do this. There are peel gels out on the market that leave your skin tight and dry, but not this one!
Using plant cellulose as part of its base keeps moisture in your skin while removing all the dirt and old skin accumulating in your pores.
It also has ingredients like honey and olive oil that keep your skin moisturized and nourished.
Apart from being an effective exfoliator, it also has Vitamin C and Black willow, helping with making sure your skin tone brightens and stays even.
We love this Korean facial scrub because it’s an effective wash-off mask that doesn’t dry out your skin!
Gentle physical exfoliation that doesn’t leave your skin dry.
- Uses sugar as a gentle physical exfoliator that melts as you use it
- Has shea butter and natural oils
- Added ingredients nourish and hydrate skin.
An effective wash-off scrub, treat your skin with SKINFOOD’s Black Sugar Mask.
People with dry typically veer away from wash-off scrubs because it sucks out moisture even more.
Luckily, SkinFood has developed one that keeps your skin moisturized instead of stripping away the moisture.
SkinFood’s Black Sugar scrub uses sugar as its physical exfoliant. It’s gentle as it eventually dissolves while you rub it across your face.
It’s also formulated with shea butter and natural oils, adding several layers of moisture and nourishment to your skin.
We love this Korean chemical exfoliator essence because it can deeply penetrate your skin to exfoliate while being gentle.
Gentle exfoliation that can easily reach deep layers of the skin.
- Uses two types of AHAs: Lactic acid and Glycolic Acid
- Suitable for all skin types
- Contains Centella Asiatica and hyaluronic acid that soothes and hydrates skin
Gentle yet effective; ISNTREE’s Clear Skin 8% AHA essence delivers on its promise to keep your skin in top condition.
People with sensitive skin types don’t have to fear chemical exfoliators. While the word “acid” might be intimidating, the ones ISNTREE uses in its essence are gentler than others.
Formulated with 8% AHAs, (4% Glycolic acid, 4% Lactic acid), this essence greatly helps lift and get rid of dead skin cells.
Thanks to the types of acid it uses, you don’t have to run the risk of having irritated skin.
On top of its exfoliant components, this Korean skin exfoliator also has added hyaluronic acid and Centella Asiatica as added ingredients.
These help in hydrating and soothing your skin, preventing possible irritation or breakouts.
We love this Korean exfoliator toner because it’s potent yet mild.
Gentle exfoliation to provide skin clarity and promote healthy skin turnover.
- High AHA/BHA concentration yet still quite mild
- Has added 10% willow bark water
- Has panthenol and allantoin for soothing and hydrating skin
Mild yet potent, this is one of the best Korean skincare exfoliators for beginners!
If you want an entry-level k-beauty chemical exfoliant, COSRX’s AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner might be the one for you.
The toner is enriched with willow bark, helping improve the clarity of your skin. It also has panthenol and allantoin, which help soothe and hydrate skin.
Overall, this beginner-friendly exfoliator promotes healthy skin turnover while helping you get a clear complexion and preventing the appearance of blemishes on the skin.
We love this popular exfoliator because it's a multi-tasker that helps you get blemish-free skin.
Help smoothens skin, lift off dead skin cells, and remove excess sebum
- A cocktail of AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs
- Has a high concentration of tea tree water extract
- Has niacinamide that helps reduce dark spots.
Promote healthy skin regeneration with Some By Mi’s 30 Days Miracle Toner!
Some by Mi’s exfoliator is the solution for those looking to achieve clear and healthy skin.
It features three types of chemical exfoliants – citric acid (AHA), salicylic acid (BHA, and lactobionic acid (PHA) – to get the layer of dirt and dead skin off.
Besides its exfoliant components, this solution also features tea tree extract, which helps improve irritated skin. It also has niacinamide for brightening your skin and reducing dark spots.
We love this exfoliating pad because it's an effective hybrid exfoliator perfect for acne-prone skin.
Helps clear dead skin cells and remove excess sebum.
- Cotton pad soaked with willow bark water (BHA)
- Has tea tree oil, an antimicrobial ingredient
- Has hydrating and moisturizing ingredients added
If you’re prone to acne breakouts, this exfoliating pad is the one you need!
You don’t have to be scared of chemical exfoliants, even if your skin tends to be prone to breakouts.
The COSRX One Step Original Clear Pads are cotton pads soaked in a solution with BHAs that help lift the layer of dead skin.
It also has added ingredients like tea tree oil, an antimicrobial ingredient that helps soothe his skin. Arginine, Panthenol, and Sodium Hyaluronate also help keep your skin hydrated.
This is the one to get if you’re looking for the best Korean exfoliator for acne-prone skin.
We love this exfoliator because it’s a physical and a chemical exfoliator in one.
2-in-1 exfoliation; gentle for all skin types.
- Gauze pad for physical exfoliation
- Pad infused with chemical exfoliants (Lactic acid/Glycolic acid and plant)
- Added ingredients nourish and hydrate skin.
When it comes to ease of use, Neogen’s Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Pads should be your go-to!
If you’re looking for a Korean skincare exfoliator that’s best for all skin types, choose among Neogen’s Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Pads product line.
The gauze pad provides physical skin exfoliation when you rub it gently across your face.
On top of that, these gauze pads are soaked and infused with chemical exfoliants, namely lactic acid, and glycolic acid.
Additionally, the peeling pads include ingredients that give your skin much-needed additional nourishment. One such ingredient is hyaluronic acid, providing hydration to your skin.
The formulation is gentle enough for people with dry and sensitive skin, but its physical exfoliation makes it great for those with normal, oily, and combination skin.
This exfoliator works wonders, and it’s definitely worth the buy!
We love this k-beauty toner because it’s the perfect aid against imperfections for oily and easily irritated skin.
Promotes skin regeneration; tones down inflammation, helps even out complexion
- Uses BHA to clear away dirt and dead skin layers
- Has high aloe content to moisturize skin
- Has salicylic acid to help tone down sebum production.
Minimize irritation and achieve healthy skin with Benton’s Aloe BHA Skin Toner!
Got oily, problem skin? Try using the Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner. This skincare product greatly helps strip away excess sebum and clear out the dead cells on your skin’s surface.
Apart from the BHA component, it also has a high amount of aloe, which provides intense moisture and soothes your skin. It also has Salicylic acid, which tones down the overproduction of sebum in your skin.
One of the most sought-out skin exfoliators, this toner is known to help promote fast skin regeneration, even out your skin tone, and reduce any inflammation or flaking on your skin.
We love this reliable toner because it leaves the skin feeling soft and moisturized!
A gentle peeling gel that works to deep clean the skin and yet leaves the skin feeling hydrated - products like these are hard to come by!
- Perfect for mild and smooth peeling
- Clinically tested for efficacy in removing dead skin cells
- Great for sensitive skin
The Pyunkang Yul Peeling Gel is always worth the try. It’s cruelty-free and free of parabens, fragrances, and colors.
Pyunkang Yul is an underrated Korean skincare brand, and frankly, it’s not getting the recognition it deserves. Everything Pyunkang Yul has launched works wonderfully.
This peeling gel is no different. It boasts of ingredients that are effective in exfoliating the skin while leaving it moisturized and calm.
Betaine Salicylate (BHA) works on reducing blackheads, declogging pores, and removing impurities in the skin that can cause acne. It also works to promote skin cell turnover.
Allantoin is responsible for keeping the skin soft, smooth, and hydrated after exfoliation.
The Pyunkang Peeling Gel comes in a gel-like texture but when applied to the skin, it becomes a milky foam.
Korean Exfoliators: Do’s and Don’ts
DO Cleanse Your Skin Before Exfoliation
This ensures that you can maximize the effects of your Korean face exfoliator. Using a gentle cleanser before exfoliating works best.
DON’T Be Too Harsh on Your Skin
If you’re using a physical exfoliator, don’t scrub your skin too hard. While this may seem like getting rid of more gunk, all you’re doing is increasing the risk of giving your skin microtears.
DO Invest in Exfoliation Aftercare
Aftercare is as important as exfoliation itself. After exfoliation, a new skin layer is exposed, which can be more sensitive than the older layer after you reveal it.
DON’T Exfoliate Frequently
While our skin layers often undergo a turnover, this doesn’t happen as fast as you might expect. Therefore, exfoliating too frequently might damage the layers of your skin instead of helping it.
Exfoliating once a week will suffice.
Exfoliation: The Key to Healthy Skin
Exfoliation is an essential step in skincare, no question. If you want to clear your skin and help your other skincare products to work like a charm, it’s a step you shouldn’t miss.
While it may sound intimidating, especially if you hear “physical exfoliation” and even more “chemical exfoliation,” it’s easy to incorporate into your routine when you learn more about it.
Knowing your skin type and what works best for you is a good starting point.
Hopefully, this list of k-beauty exfoliators can help find “the one” for you! Check out some of these products and see the benefits for yourself.