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Washing my face has always been a pretty mindless, no-brainer decision, especially after I started dabbling with makeup, when I could feel all of the foundation, oils, and grime seeping into my skin after a long day. But exfoliating? Not so much. Why? Because I’m lazy, plain and simple.
Even though at this point I know exfoliating means clearer, brighter, and healthier-looking skin — thanks to the removal of dry and dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, drawing out congestion in clogged pores, the list goes on — I find myself doing the bare minimum after a long day. That means after my makeup is off and I’ve put on a night cream, I call it quits; the last thing I want to do is make a mess with a big tub of face scrub or spend a long time washing my face with a super expensive face brush. Because every day can feel like a “long day,” I’ve had to make a conscious effort to be better about this.
It’s taken some self-discipline (and a cuter medicine cabinet in my new apartment), for starters, but having a few wildly convenient, easy-to-use products on hand has definitely helped, too. I’ve learned to lean on chemical peel pads; like makeup remover wipes, the little wet cloths are infused with formulas designed to whisk away dead skin cells and promote cellular renewal.
Just a few swipes (and maybe a rinse) two or three times a week, and you’re done. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites — all a bit different, though they have the hero glycolic acid in common — should you need some help on making exfoliation a habit, too.
Pixi by Petra Glow Peel Pads, $22: At $22 for 60 pads, this formula will give you the best bang for your buck with an impressive 20 percent glycolic formula. This isn’t for those with really sensitive skin, but if you know your face can handle some tough love and needs some serious buffering and clarifying, you’ll be happy with this treatment. Alongside the glycolic acid, these pads are also infused with a mix of vitamin E, glycerin, aloe vera, and rose water that really soothes and moisturizes the skin afterwards. Bonus? You can get it at Target.
M-61 PowerGlow Peel, $62: The fact that these come in individual packets isn’t the only reason to give the M-61 peel pads a try — they really do work. In this formulation, glycolic and salicylic acid team up to remove excess oils, reduce pore size and the appearance of fine lines, as well as improve your skin’s overall texture and tone. On top of that, chamomile and lavender soothe irritation. This option works for a number of different skin concerns, but it’s worth noting that vitamin K in this formula works to address dry or rosacea-like patches. If you don’t feel like spending $62 to try something out, you can pick up a 10-pack for $28 over at Bluemercury.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Daily Peel, $84: If anti-aging prevention is just as important to you as exfoliation, this two-step peel might do the trick. The first step includes a powerful cocktail of acids that promote skin exfoliation (including glycolic acid to reduce signs of aging, salicylic acid to reduce pore blockage, and lactic acid that promotes natural cell renewal), and the second infuses anti-aging ingredients like retinol into your skin for a smoother, glow-y complexion. You only get 30 pads, but the results are pretty gratifying. If you want to test them out before committing nearly $100, you can buy the mini-size from Sephora, which contains five pads for $16.