9 Exfoliators To Use in Your 30s For Smooth, Glowy Skin

How To Exfoliate Your Skin in Your 30s

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Our skin turnover gets slower by the day in our 30s. Instead of shedding off, dead skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin. They give you a congested and dull-looking appearance. That’s why exfoliation gains a new level of importance in this decade. But how you exfoliate your skin and the exfoliators you use in your 30s are just as important. Even though it may not be the hardest decision you’ll ever have to make in your 30s, you’re stuck with two options: physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation. And I’m here to tell you exactly why chemical exfoliants are the best way to exfoliate your skin followed by the best face exfoliators for your 30s. Let’s dive in!

In a hurry? Here’s my top recommendation:

Caudalie Vinopure Brightening Glycolic Acid Essence is the best exfoliator for your 30s. It packs glycolic acid and antioxidants for visibly glowing skin. It’s gentle enough for daily use and suitable for all skin types.

Physical Exfoliation vs Chemical Exfoliation

Physical exfoliation (scrubbing) requires you to rub tiny particles against the skin in an attempt to remove dead skin cells and get rid of flaky skin. But here’s the deal with 30-something skin, aging skin, or just mature skin. It’s more sensitive.

And even though scrubbing does have a place in your skincare routine in your 30s, regularly doing it has the potential to do more harm than good. You can cause micro-tears in your skin and even damage your skin’s elasticity.

Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, does not need any intervention. By using certain acids, chemical exfoliants cause a reaction on the skin that ends up sloughing away dead skin cells.

Even though “chemical exfoliation” or “acids” sound harsher, they’re actually gentler and more effective than physical exfoliation. Because they’re highly customizable.

The most common exfoliants you’ll find are alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) such as salicylic acid.

Benefits of Chemical Exfoliants

  • They encourage skin turnover and stimulate collagen production, which is pretty anti-aging.
  • They remove dead skin cells without the need for rubbing and irritating the skin.
  • With their removal, your other skincare products are better able to penetrate your skin.
  • Chemical exfoliants have additional benefits like speeding up cell turnover rate, brightening the skin, preventing acne, clearing up pores, and increasing radiance.
  • Some acids even have hydrating properties.
  • With physical scrubs, you can’t really start from tiny particles and upgrade to rocks. But with chemical exfoliants, you can decide on the strength and the concentration.
  • Unlike one-size-has-to-fit-all facial scrubs, there’s a chemical exfoliating acid for every skin type.
  • Instead of dry humping your skin with scrubs in your 30s, have your way with your skin using exfoliants that actually interact with your skin.

How To Choose a Face Exfoliator To Use in Your 30s

1. Know your skin type.

To get the best results, you need to have a good understanding of your skin type. The reason is simple; all of these acids pretty much do the same thing.

How they differ from each other is how fast and/or deep they penetrate the skin. That’s why your skin type has a defining role in which acids you should use to exfoliate your skin in your 30s.

2. Pick the right exfoliating acid.

If you have normal skin in your 30s, well, the world is your oyster. So you can go ahead and try the mainstream exfoliant glycolic acid. It’ll provide surface-level exfoliation and keep your skin smooth in your 30s. It’s also beneficial for a variety of concerns like hyperpigmentation, scarring, and fine lines.

If you have oily and acne-prone skin in your 30s, you should definitely try beta-hydroxy acid such as a salicylic acid cleanser to exfoliate. It’s oil-soluble and works best on oily skin. What sets it apart from the rest is its ability to unclog pores, and treat and prevent blackheads and mild acne.

If you have dry skin in your 30s, you can try lactic acid serums to exfoliate. It’s an alpha-hydroxy acid but is gentler than glycolic acid. It’s best for dry skin because lactic acid also works as a humectant and keeps the skin hydrated.

If you have sensitive skin in your 30s, consider exfoliators with PHAs, aka poly-hydroxy acids. Lactobionic acid and gluconolactone are gentle PHAs that exfoliate but don’t irritate. And they have additional hydrating and antioxidant benefits. Plus, they’re perfect for women in their 30s who deal with rosacea.

If you have combination skin in your 30s, try multi-acid exfoliators. They are great for all skin types, but they’re especially helpful for combination skin. If you have combination-dry skin, pick a product made with both lactic acid and salicylic acid. If you have combination-oily skin, try a multi-acid formula that contains both glycolic and salicylic acid.

3. Pick the right product type.

Here’s the deal. Exfoliation is not always a separate skincare step. Because all kinds of products can contain chemical exfoliants. So, decide how you go about exfoliating first.

There are exfoliating treatments, serums, peels, and liquids. These are targeted products formulated to exfoliate. And they give the best results. After picking the right chemical acid for your skin type, exfoliate your skin 1-2 times a week with a serum or a treatment.

For example, look for a lactic acid serum if you have dry skin. Or try a salicylic acid treatment if you have oily skin.

There are also exfoliating toners, cleansers, and peel pads. These are better for squeezing exfoliation into your daily skincare routine. They’re more beginner-friendly. Again, remember to pick the right acid for your skin type.

Try a glycolic acid pad if you have normal skin. Or go for a toner with gluconolactone if you have sensitive skin.

The Best Exfoliators For Your 30s

Below are some amazing exfoliators you can use throughout your 30s to maintain smooth skin.

1. Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Essence

Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Acid Essence - Best Exfoliator For Your 30s

This is an anti-aging facial essence. It’s made with glycolic acid to exfoliate the skin, brighten your complexion, and reduce hyperpigmentation. Because it’s an essence, it’s also gentler than an exfoliating serum but also more hydrating than an exfoliating toner. And because it’s Caudalie, it packs grape water, which is rich in antioxidants and that’s always a plus for 30-something skin. It’s oil-free, so it’s suitable for oily, combination skin too. The essence leaves your skin visibly glowing.

Quick Look

Product Type: Essence
Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, grape water, glycerin
Skin Type: All
Size: 5 oz/150 ml
Notes: Vegan, cruelty-free, oil-free

2. Renee Rouleau Pro Results Power Serum

Renee Rouleau Pro Results Power Serum- Exfoliation In Your 30s

This is an exfoliating glycolic acid serum. It also contains lactic acid and mandelic acid with a total concentration of 20%. The treatment smooths out the skin texture with the help of chemical exfoliants, reduces the look of fine lines, and plumps up the skin. The addition of allantoin, green tea, and aloe calms the skin and reduces redness. If you have visible sun damage, wrinkles, and rough skin texture, this is going to give your skin a makeover!

Quick Look

Product Type: Serum
Key Ingredients: 9.5% glycolic acid, 9.5% lactic acid, 1% mandelic acid
Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily
Size: 0.5 oz/15 ml
Notes: Vegan, cruelty-free

3. Farmacy Honeymoon Glow AHA Resurfacing Night Serum

Farmacy Honeymoon Glow AHA Resurfacing Night Serum

This is a gentle peel that packs both alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Made with lactic acid, glycolic acid, and naturally derived salicylic acid, it’s an excellent exfoliator you can use in your 30s for several skin concerns. It’ll reduce discolorations, eliminate dullness and congestion, and boost hydration. Hydrating hyaluronic acid and honey replenish the skin and keep it radiant, plump, and glowing. That way, you don’t need to deal with dryness from exfoliants.

Quick Look

Product Type: Serum
Key Ingredients: Lactic acid, glycolic acid, willow bark extract
Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Notes: Cruelty-free

4. Pixi Glow Tonic

Pixi Glow Tonic- Exfoliation In Your 30s

If you prefer something for daily use, this 5% exfoliating glycolic acid toner is the one to add to your cart. It’s safe for daily use and perfect for getting rid of flaky skin from dryness or from retinol peeling. The radiance booster increases micro-circulation and helps fade away hyperpigmentation. It’s gentle enough for sensitive skin and it leaves your skin instantly glowing, and smooth.

Quick Look

Product Type: Toner
Key Ingredients: 5% glycolic acid, aloe
Skin Type: All
Size: 8.5 oz/250 ml
Notes: Cruelty-free

5. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads - Exfoliation In Your 30s

Peel pads are like the pad version of a face toner. Just like exfoliating toners, you can regularly use them as part of your daily routine or as weekly treatments if you have very sensitive skin. These pads are soaked in glycolic and lactic acids. And they contain a soothing blend of aloe, cucumber, and green tea for their anti-inflammatory benefits. You can sweep away dead skin cells and brighten your complexion without visible peeling or irritation.

Quick Look

Product Type: Peel pads
Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid
Skin Type: All, including sensitive skin
Size: 60 pads
Notes: Vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free

6. L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives 3.5% Glycolic Acid Cleansing Gel

L'Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives 3.5% Glycolic Acid Cleansing Gel

This exfoliating cleanser is for those of you who need urgent resurfacing action. The 3.5% glycolic acid unclogs pores, sloughs off dead skin cells, and brightens the complexion with every wash. The fragrance-free glycolic acid cleanser has a gel texture and contains soothing aloe and salicylic acid to minimize blemishes too. You can use it to target acne, wrinkles, or lackluster skin.

Quick Look

Product Type: Exfoliating cleanser
Key Ingredients: 3.5% glycolic acid, salicylic acid
Skin Type: All
Size: 6.7 oz/200 ml
Notes: Fragrance-free

7. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5 HA - Exfoliators For 30s

This is a gentle serum and one of the most affordable exfoliators you can use in your 30s no matter your skin type. It’s 5% lactic acid to soften skin texture, fade hyperpigmentation, and plump up fine lines. It also packs hyaluronic acid to replenish the skin too. If you’re new to exfoliation or you have very sensitive skin, you can get started with this one.

Quick Look

Product Type: Serum
Key Ingredients: 5% lactic acid, hyaluronic acid
Skin Type: All
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Notes: Cruelty-free, vegan, oil-free, fragrance-free

8. Clarins Fresh Scrub

Clarins Fresh Scrub - Best Exfoliating Scrub For 30s

Again, I’m not a huge fan of scrubs for exfoliating my skin. However, this one is a rare exception. So if you like scrubs or you prefer physical exfoliation, this is for you. I loved this because the micro-beads are formulated into a rich paste. So it’s like you’re scrubbing your face with cream. And the best part is that the scrub illuminates your complexion instantly and leaves your skin visibly radiant! It smells fresh and packs squalane to boost moisture.

Quick Look

Product Type: Scrub
Key Ingredients: Squalane, leaf of life extract
Skin Type: All
Size: 1.7 oz

9. Kiehl’s Ferulic Brew Facial Treatment

Kiehls Ferulic Brew Facial Treatment Essence - Best Exfoliator For 30 Year Olds

And lastly, this is an amazing exfoliating treatment for your 30s to encourage skin turnover, even out skin tone, and soften the appearance of fine lines all without irritation. This has 3.7% lactic acid. So it’s pretty gentle to begin with. Additionally, it contains ferulic acid, which is a plant-derived antioxidant to help reverse free radical damage, and brighten skin. The formula is also infused with squalane and moisture-boosting plant oils as well as the antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E to add glow.

Quick Look

Product Type: Essence
Key Ingredients: 3.7% lactic acid, ferulic acid, squalane, vitamin C, vitamin E
Skin Type: All
Size: 6.8 oz/200 ml

So these are the best exfoliators for your 30s. Exfoliation is the best way to achieve smooth, glowy, and youthful skin. And as long as you properly do it, you’ll see a visible difference in your complexion.

When to Use Physical Exfoliators in Your 30s

Physical exfoliants are not all bad for the skin. They are amazing on lips, legs, elbows, and even hands. But if you’re still on the fence about acids, do keep exfoliating your face with scrubs.

You need to exfoliate one way or another. But remember to be very gentle. Go for a nourishing formula that doesn’t leave the skin dry or tight.

Additionally, you can exfoliate your skin with a cloth. Try exfoliating after facial steaming or after having a bath when the skin is relaxed and the pores are open.

Gently rub the exfoliating cloth on your skin. You can also do this for the dry and flaky under-eye area as long as you’re not being harsh with it.


Read Next: The Best Peel Pads For Wrinkles

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