Best Korean Exfoliator 2020

Exfoliating is an important part of your skincare routine. Check out these best Korean exfoliator that is gentle on your skin yet effective – that do the job without harming your skin.

Even the best face wash cannot do for your skin what an amazing exfoliator can do. Now, if the term “exfoliator” reminds you of that rough, abrasive sandpaper-like thing rubbing on your face then you should try some of the Korean ones.

Before we delve into the best Korean exfoliators, let us first understand the two different types of exfoliators. 

Types Of Exfoliator

Physical exfoliators are the minute grainy particles that work physically to scrub away the dirt and get rid of the dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliators use certain mild acids to peel away the dead skin cells to reveal brighter skin underneath.

Physical Exfoliators

Physical exfoliators are products that you rub on the face directly and it helps reveal brighter skin by removing dead skin cells. This includes – scrubs, peeling gels, peeling creams, wash-off masks. 

  • Peeling Pads – Peeling pads are a mix of both physical and chemical exfoliators as these peeling pads are soaked in AHA, BHA, and PHA essences used in chemical exfoliants. Along with this there are also hydrating ingredients in these pads. 
  • Scrub/Wash-off Masks – these products have small granules or powder that you can put on your face, wait for it to sink in, and then wash it off using a rubbing motion. 
  • Peeling Gels and Peeling Creams – This type of physical exfoliator uses fruit enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells and unclog pores. 
  • Exfoliating Masks – This type of exfoliator absorbs excess oil, gets rid of dirt and other impurities from your skin. These can be clay masks, charcoal masks, or other such clarifying ingredients.  

Chemical Exfoliators

Chemical exfoliators are formulated with AHAs, BHAs, PHAs, and LHAs. These active ingredients remove dead skin cells to reveal brighter skin. Mostly, they are in the form of serums, essences, masks, and creams.

  • AHA or Glycolic Acid – these are water-soluble acids that are derived from fruit, milk, and sugar cane. It acts on the surface of the skin by removing dead skin cells and increasing collagen production. It visibly improves your skin texture, as it works to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots in the process. Tis type of chemical exfoliator is recommended for dry and mature skin to all skin types.
  • BHA or Salicylic Acid – This type of chemical exfoliator is recommended for those with acne-prone skin as Salicylic acid is known to fight bacteria that causes acne. It unclogs your pores by penetrating deep into the skin and cleanses it. It also reduces whiteheads and blackheads. Other than this, it also has anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • PHA or Gluconolactone – It’s a gentler version of AHA and is recommended for sensitive skin type. It has larger molecules than AHA and work efficiently on the skin without causing much disturbance to the delicate layers of the skin. 
  • LHA or Salicylic Acid Derivative – This is a gentler version of BHA and is also recommended for sensitive skin. It has a slow penetration process that allows the exfoliation of individual cells.

Top Picks for Best Korean Exfoliator

List of Top Korean Exfoliator

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, exfoliating your skin can not only brighten your skin but also boost the effectiveness of the other skincare products you apply, allowing it to penetrate deeper into the skin.

Let’s look at some of the top Korean exfoliators for different skin types.

Best Korean ExfoliatorBest ForPrice 
DERMALOGY by NEOGENLAB Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling PadsAll Skin Types$27.00
Innisfree Green Barley Gommage Peeling MaskSensitive skin$13.50
Mizon Honey Black Sugar ScrubOily Skin$14.89
Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling GelAll Skin types$11.89
THE FACE SHOP Jeju Volcanic Lava Deep Pore-Cleansing FoamOily skin/Acne-prone skin$13.00
Benton PHA Peeling TonerNormal Skin type$26.00
SECRET KEY Lemon Sparkling Peeling GelAll Skin Types$10.90
COSRX One Step Original Clear PadAcne-prone skin$22.00
SKINFOOD Rice Mask Wash OffOily skin and combination skin$9.99
SOME BY MI Aha.Bha.Pha 30Days Miracle Toner Acne prone skin$14.96

#1 — DERMALOGY by NEOGENLAB Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Pads

Best Korean Exfoliator For All Skin Types

Most of the time, what keeps us away from taking care of our skin is the tediousness of it. Korean skincare has made even that easier with these Gauze Peeling Pads. All you need to do is, swipe your face with it once or twice a week with these pads on both sides to give you all in all skin care

Key Features:

  • Formulated with lemon, orange, and papaya fruit extracts, sodium hyaluronate, lactic acid, and glycolic acid
  • Comes in three different choices – Wine for skin tightening, Green tea for acne prone skin and Lime for skin brightening
  • One side of the pad exfoliates while the other side moisturises the skin
  • The pads are equipped with a pocket to slide your fingers in for ease of use
  • They smell great
best korean exfoliator 2020

Pros: 

  • Quick and easy. Exfoliates as well as moisturiser.

Related: Exfoliators should be used once or twice a week. For other days of the week, check out these hydrating Korean face wash!

#2 — Innisfree Green Barley Gommage Peeling Mask

Best Korean Exfoliator for Sensitive Skin

There is something very satisfying about a peeling mask. It feels like you can actually, visually experience all the dirt and dead skin cells peeling away. The Innisfree Green Barley Gommage Peeling Mask is amazing for all skin types and very effective in giving you clearer, smoother skin. 

Key Features:

  • This is a hybrid exfoliator, a combination of physical as well as chemical
  • The main ingredient is fermented Green Barley, which is exclusive to the island of Gapado
  • This ingredient naturally is loaded with 3 types of AHAs which gently exfoliate the skin
  • Gives you smoother skin literally after the first use
  • Very quick to use, all you require is about 5 minutes in total
korean body exfoliator

Pros:

  • Can be used on any skin type

Related: Troubled with acne? Here are Korean moisturizers for acne-prone skin that will help you keep at acne at bay!

#3 — Mizon Honey Black Sugar Scrub

Best Korean Exfoliator for Oily skin

While we know that sugar is traditionally used to exfoliate skin because of its natural abrasive properties, Black sugar has something even better – antioxidants! And we know that antioxidants translate to anti-aging, plumper skin, and even skin tone. Mizon has a wide range of exfoliators out of which I love the Honey Black Sugar Scrub. Black sugar also contains glycolic acid that brightens your skin and keeps it healthy.

Key Features:

  • The active ingredient, black sugar is a fantastic anti-oxidant
  • It also naturally moisturises the skin
  • The physical grains gently exfoliate the skin, get rid of blackheads and give you clearer and smoother skin
  • The other ingredient, honey, is a natural lightener and tan remover
  • Honey also adds to the hydration of the skin and makes it softer and more supple
skinfood black sugar mask wash off exfoliator

Pros 

  • Gentle physical exfoliator that can be used for oily skin

Related: Here are nourishing Korean lip tints that will not only make you look good but also moisturize your lips!

#4 — Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel

Best Korean Exfoliator For All Skin Types

Give your skin a real smoothie treat with the Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel. With the goodness of apples, this peeling gel gives your skin freshness and youthful suppleness

Key Features:

  • The key ingredient is the tannin extracted from apples which has a natural brightening effect
  • It reduces puffiness of the skin and the appearance of wrinkles
  • Gives your skin elasticity
  • It exfoliates gently to reveal brighter skin
  • Evens out the skin tone
  • The vitamins from the apples give the skin plenty of antioxidants and nourish it
  • Deep cleans as well, removing residual dirt and grime
neogen dermalogy bio-peel gauze peeling lemon

Pros

  • Easy to use, all you need is 3-4 minutes for the entire procedure

Related: Cover blemishes, age spots, and dark spots with these skin-nourishing Korean CC creams!

#5 — THE FACE SHOP Jeju Volcanic Lava Deep Pore-Cleansing Foam

Best Korean Exfoliator For Oily Skin And Acne Prone Skin

A cleansing foam that is also a mild exfoliant is what we need for daily skin care. The Jeju Volcanic Lava Deep Pore-Cleansing Foam by The Face Shop is soft on the skin, gentle and very effective.

Key Features:

  • The active ingredients in this exfoliator are the volcanic soil and volcanic ash from the Jeju island
  • While the soil removes the dead skin cells and residual dirt left on the skin, the ask absorbs excess sebum and purifies the skin 
  • Skin feels clean, smooth, soft and clear
  • Actively reduces the occurrence of acne as well
the klog exfoliating

Pros

  • Physical exfoliant that can be used every day

Related: Remove your makeup with the Korean’s famous double cleaning method using a Korean cleansing oil. Check it out!

#6 — Benton PHA Peeling Toner

Best Korean Exfoliator For Normal Skin 

Replace your regular toner with the Benton PHA Peeling Toner for the mild exfoliation while also tightening the pores and giving you smoother skin. 

Key Features:

  • Has PHA, a chemical enzyme that gently exfoliates the skin
  • PHA is also safe from photosensitivity 
  • Has active ingredients that moisturise the skin like Centaurea Cyanus Flower Water, Chrysanthemum Morifolium Flower Extract and Ceramide NP
  • Does not irritate the skin
korean exfoliator amazon

Pros:

  • PHA is not photosensitive so this can be used in the mornings before stepping out into the sun

Cons: 

  • May not be suitable for very sensitive skin as the PHA can mildly irritate it

Related: Here are hydration cleansing foams from top K-beauty brands you’ll love!

#7 — SECRET KEY Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel

Best Korean Exfoliator For All Skin Types

Nothing like a good lemon based exfoliator to do the job of cleaning, exfoliating and brightening your skin. The Secret Key Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel is like lemon champagne for your skin. It truly does leave your skin shiny and sparkly after using it.

Key Features:

  • The active ingredient in this exfoliator is lemon, which is a natural miracle
  • Lemon has exfoliating properties that remove dead cells
  • It also brightens the skin as it is a natural bleach and tan remover
  • The citric acid and Vitamins in lemon brighten the skin and even out the tone
  • Green tea is also an ingredient in this gel which soothes the skin and reduces inflammation
  • The base is carbonated water which deep cleans the pores
somi toner

Pros

  • Skin feels refreshed and supple on using this gel

Cons

  • May not be suitable for sensitive skin

Related: Take care of the fragile under-eye skin with these moisturizing undereye creams.

#8 — COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad

Best Korean Exfoliator For Acne-prone Skin

The biggest problem acne prone skin faces is that sometimes harsh exfoliators make the problem worse. But if you are given an exfoliator that actually protects your skin from breakouts, wouldn’t you use it? Try the COSRX Original Clear Pad for some effective skincare

Key Features:

  • Willow bark water and BHA are the active ingredients that clear clogged pores
  • The cotton exfoliating pads are soft, yet exfoliates as it is soaked in an acne fighting toner
  • It tightens pores while also getting rid of excess sebum which might clog the pores
  • Skin looks smoother, clearer and has a glow
secret key lemon sparkling peeling gel

Pros: 

  • Easy to use, very effective

Related: Add a Korean ampoule to your skincare routine to reduce pigmentation and acne. Check out some options here!

#9 — SKINFOOD Rice Mask Wash Off

Best Korean Exfoliator For Oily and Combination Skin

Rice, rice bran and rice bran oil are all ingredients that give your skin wholesome nutrition. SkinFood believes in giving your skin the right food to keep it healthy, young and glowing. The SKINFOOD Rice Mask Wash Off is just the right diet for your skin.

Key Features:

  • Rice bran and rice bran oil are chock full of antioxidants that fight aging and keep your skin supple and plump
  • It also has a high amount of vitamin E which moisturizes your skin and gives it the necessary fatty acids
  • Rice powder has a natural gritty texture. This is so fine that while it does not damage the skin, it gently exfoliates to remove the dead skin cells and dirt
soko glam skin texture

Pros: 

  • Easy to use and wash off

Related: Improve your overall skin health with these amazing Korean Vitamin C Serums. Check it out!

#10 — SOME BY MI AHA.BHA.PHA 30Days Miracle Toner 

Best Korean Exfoliator For Acne prone skin

Sometimes you don’t want to use 101 things on your face, which is totally understandable (who has the time and dedication?). Use just the SOME BY MI Aha.Bha.Pha 30Days Miracle Toner after you wash your face and before you moisturize, to tighten your skin, exfoliate as well as keep your skin clear of acne. 

Key Features:

  • Tea Tree extract is the active ingredient that is known to be best for keeping acne at bay
  • Niacinamide and Adenosine are the other ingredients that brighten the skin as keep it free of wrinkles
  • Low pH toner
  • Slightly acidic, keeps acne and breakouts away
  • Calms the skin and lightly moisturizer it
soko glam rosacea

Pros: 

  • The high amount of tea tree extracts make this toner very efficient in dealing with acne prone skin

Which is the best Korean exfoliator?

Innisfree Green Barley Gommage Peeling Mask is the best Korean exfoliator for sensitive skin. The Mizon Honey Black Sugar Scrub is the best Korean exfoliator for oily skin. While THE FACE SHOP Jeju Volcanic Lava Deep Pore-Cleansing Foam is the best Korean exfoliator for acne-prone skin while the Benton PHA Peeling Toner is the best Korean exfoliator that suits most skin types

#1 — When and how to use exfoliators?

Use an exfoliator after you have thoroughly cleaned your face with a face wash. Take a small amount of exfoliant and gently massage it into your skin for a few minutes. Leave it on for about 2 to 3 minutes and then wash off with plain water. You can exfoliate once or twice a week depending on your skin type. 

#2 — How to choose the best Korean exfoliator?

To choose the best Korean exfoliator for you, you have to consider three things – ingredients, skin type and exfoliant type, reviews. 

  • Ingredients: Check the ingredients list of the exfoliator. Avoid exfoliators with potential aggressors that might trigger allergic reactions, redness, or irritation to your skin. Instead opt exfoliators with botanical ingredients that are for pure, organic, and safe to use on the skin. It’s recommended to always do a patch text before using the product. 
  • Skin Type and Exfoliant Form: More Korean skincare brands formulate its products targeting specific skin concerns or for specific skin types. So ensure that the Korean exfoliator you pick is formulated for your skin type. For example, if you have dry, flaky skin look for a gentle exfoliator that will gently get rid of dead skin cells without completely stripping your skin’s natural barrier. Whereas, if you have oily skin, combination or sensitive skin type, opt for a chemical exfoliant in peeling pads form or liquid form. But if you have sensitive skin then opt for physical exfoliant and go easy on the chemical exfoliators. For normal to combination skin type you can opt for physical exfoliators or exfoliating masks that are gentle on the skin. 
  • Reviews: If you’re still confused which one’s the best Korean exfoliator, it’s best to read authentic reviews of the Korean exfoliators. You will find several Korean skincare bloggers on YouTube and other other platforms that give out detailed reviews of different Korean exfoliators. 

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