10 Best Korean Exfoliator To Try In 2023 | For Removing Blackheads, Whiteheads and Bumps

by Jih Yun

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.

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

Which is the best Korean exfoliator?

I tested and reviewed several Korean exfoliators and found the best ones based on its cleansing properties, hydration, ingredients quality, etc. The DERMALOGY NEOGENLAB Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Pads was voted the best Korean exfoliator

DERMALOGY NEOGENLAB Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Pads is formulated with lemon, orange, and papaya fruit extracts, sodium hyaluronate, lactic acid, and glycolic acid. One side of the peeling pad exfoliates the skin while the other side moisturizes the skin. It’s also easy to use as the pads feature small pockets to slide in the fingers for better grip.

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.

Check out the detailed reviews of the best Korean exfoliators below:

Top Korean Exfoliator 2023

Types Of 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.

There are two types of exfoliators: Physical ad Chemical.

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.

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. 

Difference between physical and chemical exfoliator

When it comes to exfoliating – the process of removing dead skin cells – there are two main types: physical and chemical. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks, and it’s important to understand the differences between them in order to choose the best Korean exfoliator for your skin.

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Physical exfoliators use physical abrasives, such as salt, sugar, or microbeads, to physically scrub away dead skin cells. These types of exfoliators can be useful for removing surface-level impurities and revealing brighter, smoother skin. However, they can be harsh on the skin, especially if overused or used on sensitive skin.

Some physical exfoliators can also leave behind micro-tears, which can cause inflammation and further damage to the skin. Chemical exfoliators, on the other hand, use gentle acids like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) to dissolve dead skin cells without the use of physical abrasives.

These types of exfoliators are generally gentler on the skin, making them a good choice for those with sensitive skin or those who are new to exfoliating. However, it’s important to note that not all chemical exfoliants are created equal – some can be too harsh for certain skin types.

Ultimately, the best Korean exfoliator for you will depend on your individual skin type and concerns. If you have oily skin and want to target acne and clogged pores, a chemical exfoliator with BHAs might be your best bet.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, a gentle physical exfoliator with fine particles might be a better choice. Whatever you choose, be sure to follow the instructions and avoid over-exfoliating, which can lead to irritation and damage to the skin.

What is the difference between Korean exfoliator and regular exfoliators

When it comes to skincare, Koreans have really set the bar high with their 10-step routine, and exfoliation is a crucial step in it. Korean exfoliators are different from regular exfoliators because they use gentle ingredients that are not harsh on the skin. Korean beauty products focus on delivering hydration to the skin while smoothing out the texture.

Regular exfoliators usually contain harsh chemicals and microbeads that can be damaging to the skin’s barrier. These exfoliators can strip the skin of its natural oils and leave it feeling dry and irritated.

Korean exfoliators, on the other hand, use mild ingredients like rice bran, sugar, and green tea powder that gently slough off dead skin cells, without damaging the skin.

Another difference is the texture of Korean exfoliators. Most Korean exfoliators come in the form of scrubs that have a soft, bouncy texture which makes it easier to distribute and spread the product evenly. These scrubs also help stimulate blood circulation, giving your skin a natural glow.

Korean exfoliators also come in different forms such as peels and masks, which provide a more thorough exfoliation. These products contain fruit enzymes and AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), which remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, revealing brighter and smoother skin. In conclusion,

Korean exfoliators are a game-changer in the skincare industry. They are gentle on the skin while providing effective exfoliation. The use of natural and hydrating ingredients sets them apart from regular exfoliators, making them the best choice for achieving healthy and glowing skin.

What type of exfoliator should I use for sensitive, acne-prone skin

If you have sensitive, acne-prone skin, you may be hesitant to try exfoliators for fear of further irritating your already reactive skin. However, exfoliation is a crucial step in any skincare routine as it removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores, which can help reduce acne and reveal a brighter, clearer complexion.

But which type of exfoliator should you use? First and foremost, it is important to avoid physical scrubs that contain harsh granules or beads. These can not only cause micro-tears in the skin, but they can also spread bacteria and exacerbate acne.

Instead, opt for chemical exfoliators, which use enzymes or acids to break down dead skin cells without the need for physical scrubbing. Look for exfoliators that contain gentle alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic acid or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid.

These are effective at unclogging pores and reducing inflammation, but won’t be too harsh for your sensitive skin. Always patch test a new product first, and start with a low concentration (less than 10%) to avoid over-exfoliating. Another option is to use a softer, more gentle physical exfoliator like a konjac sponge or a silicone brush head.

These will still provide some physical exfoliation without causing damage to the skin. Overall, the best type of exfoliator for your sensitive, acne-prone skin will be one that is gentle, non-abrasive, and free from harsh chemicals or fragrances.

With the right type of exfoliator, you can enjoy the benefits of a clear, radiant complexion without causing further irritation or breakouts.

In conclusion, finding the best Korean exfoliator is no easy feat, but after trying and testing various options, we can confidently say that the winner is the Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash Off.

Its gritty texture and natural ingredients provide a gentle yet effective exfoliation experience that leaves your skin feeling soft and radiant.

But don’t just take our word for it – give it a try and experience the wonders of Korean skincare for yourself. Whether you’re an avid K-beauty enthusiast or a newcomer looking to jump on the bandwagon, this exfoliator is sure to become a staple in your routine.

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

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

Best Korean Exfoliator For All Skin Types

The first one on this list of best Korean exfoliator is by Neogenlab.

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 2021

Pros: 

  • Quick and easy. Exfoliates as well as moisturiser.

#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

Check out this best best Korean exfoliator by Innisfree below!

#3 — Mizon Honey Black Sugar Scrub

Best Korean Exfoliator for Oily skin

The next one on this list of best Korean exfoliator is by Mizon!

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

#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

#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

#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:

Cons: 

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

#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

#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

#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

Check out the best Korean exfoliator below!

#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

Check out the best Korean exfoliator below!

Also Read

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  2. Best Korean eye creams
  3. Best Korean Under eye Concealer

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