9 Best Korean Exfoliators Your Need To Try In 2023!

by Tori Jones
korean exfoliators

Greetings, skincare devotees, and welcome back to the haven of all things beauty! Your trusted guide and confidante here, ready to plunge into another exciting voyage into the world of skincare, this time taking a turn down the mesmerizing lanes of Korean beauty. Brace yourselves because we are about to explore the exciting world of Korean exfoliators, products that, without a doubt, your skin will adore.

There’s no denying it: our skincare routine is only complete with the holy grail of glowing skin – the exfoliator. But not just any exfoliator, my dear skin sleuths. Today, we’ll delve into the best 9 Korean exfoliators creating ripples across the global beauty landscape with their unique blend of traditional ingredients and cutting-edge technology.

In this in-depth post, we’ll navigate together through the intoxicatingly diverse world of these Korean powerhouses. We’ll delve into their key ingredients, distinct application methods, and exclusive benefits. Moreover, I’ll take you behind the scenes, introducing you to why Korean exfoliators are such game-changers in our skin health, revealing the secret magic that makes them stand out in the saturated market of beauty products.

Expect an exciting, informative, and transformative journey that will help you understand your skin like never before while shedding new light on the often overlooked yet utterly crucial step in your skincare routine: exfoliation. Are you ready to reveal your healthiest, most radiant skin yet? If so, fasten your seatbelts, skincare enthusiasts. It’s time for an enlightening ride into the exciting world of Korean exfoliators!

The Magic Behind Korean Exfoliators

Now let’s talk about the superstars of the day: Korean exfoliators. Picture this: it’s a long, tiring day, and you’ve finally managed to wash off your makeup. But your skin feels slightly off—maybe it’s the lingering grime or the dead skin cells stubbornly clinging on. That’s where our heroes, the exfoliators, swoop in to save the day! They swoosh away dead skin cells and stubborn dirt, revealing glowing, healthy skin underneath.

But the best part? Even with their might, Korean exfoliators know how to be gentle. They’re like the friend who gives you a pep talk when you’re feeling low—strong but kind, nudging your skin towards its best without harsh irritation.

Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliators: The Dynamic Duo

Exfoliator Products
Photo by Pablo Hernández on Unsplash

When you venture into the world of exfoliators, you’ll find two main heroes welcoming you: physical and chemical exfoliators.

Physical Exfoliators: The Gentle Scrubbers

Physical exfoliation involves using a scrub, brush, or other tools to manually remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. The benefits of physical exfoliation include:

  1. Immediate Results: Physical exfoliation can deliver instant smoothness and brightness since it scrubs away dead skin cells immediately.
  2. Enhanced Circulation: The manual scrubbing action can help boost blood flow to the skin, aiding in cellular renewal and giving a refreshed, glowing appearance.
  3. Improved Product Absorption: By removing the layer of dead skin cells, physical exfoliators can enhance the absorption of other skincare products, allowing them to penetrate deeper and work more effectively.

Chemical Exfoliators: The Deep Divers

Chemical exfoliation uses ingredients like AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), BHAs (beta hydroxy acids), and PHAs (polyhydroxy acids) to dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells, allowing them to be easily removed. The benefits of chemical exfoliation include:

  1. Gentler on Skin: Chemical exfoliators can be gentler on the skin than physical exfoliators, especially for those with sensitive skin or conditions like acne or rosacea.
  2. Targets Multiple Skin Concerns: Depending on the specific acids used, chemical exfoliators can help address multiple skin concerns, such as aging, hyperpigmentation, acne, and uneven skin texture.
  3. Deeper Exfoliation: Chemical exfoliators, especially BHAs, can penetrate deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess oil, making them particularly beneficial for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
  4. Promotes Collagen Production: Certain chemical exfoliants like AHAs can stimulate collagen production, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time.

My Favourite Korean Exfoliator Line-Up

Let’s dive into my top picks for physical and chemical Korean exfoliators without further ado. Stay tuned because these might just become your next skincare obsession!

The Gentle Marvel: Pyunkang Yul Peeling Gel

Pyunkang Yul Peeling Gel 100ml

First up on my hit list is the delightful Pyunkang Yul Peeling Gel. Picture papaya and licorice dancing together to sweep off those stubborn skin impurities while being as gentle as a feather’s caress. The superstar ingredient, hyaluronic acid, pumps up the hydration and youthfulness in your skin. Using this feels like giving your skin a comforting hug – it’s that good! And at a modest $14 for a 100ml bottle, it’s a steal.

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The Sweet Scrubber: Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash Off

Black Sugar Mask Wash Off

At number two, we have Skinfood’s Black Sugar Mask Wash Off. This lovely mask, packed with black sugar, macadamia seed oil, and shea butter, is a symphony of hydration and exfoliation. I remember the first time I tried it—my skin was instantly transformed, as soft as a petal and glowing like a lantern! For a mere $11, you get a 3.5oz tub of this sweet treat for your skin.

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The Miracle Worker: Some by Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner

SOME BY MI - AHA-BHA-PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner - 150ml

Next is an absolute game-changer, the AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner from Some by Mi. With alpha, beta, and polyhydroxy acids, it’s a blemish-busting, wrinkle-wiping, dryness-ditching powerhouse. I swear, after using this for a month, my skin texture felt like it had been redefined. Pick up a 1.7oz bottle of this miracle in a bottle for $20.

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The Sensitive Skin Hero: Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel

Dr.G - Brightening Peeling Gel

For my friends with sensitive skin, I present to you: Dr. G’s Brightening Peeling Gel. This gentle exfoliator, bursting with cellulose, hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin C, brightens and refreshes even the dullest skin. After incorporating it into my routine, I started seeing almost instant results—a testament to its effectiveness. You can scoop up a 4.2oz bottle for $28.

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Wine and Shine: Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine

NEOGEN Dermalogy - Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Pads

One of my favorites, the Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine, is about beauty and convenience. Imagine wine-infused, texture-soaked cotton pads caressing your skin, exfoliating away impurities, and revealing an even skin complexion. Yes, skincare can be this delicious! These gauze-peeling pads retail for $27 for a 30-count container.

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The Fan Fave: Isntree Clear Skin BHA Toner

Clear Skin BHA Toner, 6.76 fl oz (200 ml), Isntree

Isntree’s Clear Skin BHA Toner is a top-rated Korean exfoliator working wonders on normal, oily skin. The critical ingredient, betaine salicylate, a brilliant combo of beet and salicylic acid, seaweed, and other natural elements, is like a detox smoothie for your skin. For a 6.76oz bottle, it costs $20 – a small price for the significant impact it makes!

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Tea-riffic Exfoliation: Rokkiss Tea Tree Peeling Gel

Rokkiss - Tea Tree Peeling Gel - 120ml

Rokkiss Tea Tree Peeling Gel is a dream come true for anyone with acne-prone, oily, or dry skin. Hyaluronic acid and tea tree work together to bid goodbye to dead skin cells, while naturally occurring cellulose boosts skin hydration. A 4.05oz bottle of this soothing Peeling Gel retails for $10.

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The Glowing Gift: TonyMoly Floria Brightening Peeling Gel

Tony Moly, Floria, Brightening Peel Gel, 150 ml

A superstar in the Korean exfoliator family, the TonyMoly Floria Brightening Peeling Gel combines natural ingredients like lotus flower water, pearl powder, and plum extract to give your skin a burst of refreshment and radiance. It’s available in a set with the Floria Brightening Foam Cleanser for $24 on Amazon – talk about a dynamic duo!

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Vegan Victory: MOTHER MADE Exfoliating Aqua Vegan Peel Gel with Green Tea

MOTHER MADE - Exfoliating Aqua Peel Gel With Green Tea

Next, discuss the MOTHER-MADE Exfoliating Aqua Vegan Peel Gel with Green Tea. Perfect for all skin types, this vegan-friendly Peel Gel gently sloughs off dead skin and balances excess sebum without irritating. Ideal for skincare beginners, a 3.38oz bottle of this gentle Peel Gel retails for $25.

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The Blackhead Buster: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

Last but not least, meet the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid. This lightweight serum perfectly fuses BHA and willow bark water that clears clogged pores, evens skin texture, and diminishes impurities. Trust me; your skin will thank you for this one! It retails at $24 for a 3.38oz bottle.

Adding a Korean exfoliator to my skincare routine was a complete game-changer, and I have no doubt you’ll love these products as much as I do. So, dive in and let your skin discover the love it deserves!

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What are the key ingredients in Korean exfoliators?

Korean skincare is renowned worldwide for its innovative formulations and focus on gentle yet effective ingredients. When it comes to Korean exfoliators, some of the key ingredients you will often find are:

  1. Glycolic Acid: A type of Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), glycolic acid is a popular ingredient in exfoliators for its ability to gently remove dead skin cells, revealing brighter, smoother skin underneath.
  2. Lactic Acid: Another type of AHA, lactic acid is milder than glycolic acid and is great for sensitive skin types. It helps in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while also hydrating the skin.
  3. Salicylic Acid: A Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), salicylic acid penetrates into the pores to unclog them and reduce breakouts. It’s particularly effective for oily and acne-prone skin types.
  4. Rice Bran: Used for centuries in traditional Korean skincare, rice bran is a natural exfoliant that also brightens and softens the skin.
  5. Papaya Extracts: Papaya contains enzymes that naturally exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells without harsh physical scrubbing.
  6. Green Tea: It’s not only an antioxidant powerhouse, but green tea also has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the skin post-exfoliation.
  7. Volcanic Clay or Jeju Volcanic Ash: Often used in Korean clay masks, volcanic clay absorbs excess sebum and impurities from the skin, effectively unclogging pores.
  8. Centella Asiatica: Also known as “Cica” or “Tiger Grass,” Centella Asiatica soothes and calms the skin, making it a great ingredient for post-exfoliation care.
  9. Licorice Root: Licorice root helps to brighten the skin and fade hyperpigmentation. It’s often found in Korean exfoliators aimed at improving skin tone and reducing dark spots.

What makes Korean exfoliators stand out in the saturated market of beauty products?

Korean exfoliators have carved a unique niche in the global beauty market due to several distinguishing factors:

  1. Innovative Formulations: Korean skincare is renowned for its groundbreaking formulations. In the realm of exfoliation, this includes unique delivery systems such as peeling gels, pads, and powder-to-foam exfoliators.
  2. Balance of Effectiveness and Gentleness: Korean exfoliators are designed to be effective yet gentle, a balance not always found in western counterparts that can sometimes be too harsh. Korean skincare philosophy values maintaining a healthy skin barrier, so the products aim to exfoliate without causing irritation or damaging the skin.
  3. Use of Natural Ingredients: Many Korean exfoliators harness the power of natural ingredients, such as rice bran, green tea, and volcanic ash. These ingredients have been used in traditional Korean skincare for centuries and provide gentle, skin-soothing benefits.
  4. Addressing Multiple Skin Concerns: Many Korean exfoliators are multi-taskers, aiming to not only exfoliate but also brighten, hydrate, soothe, or tackle other skin concerns in the process.
  5. Affordability and Accessibility: Despite their high quality and innovative formulations, many Korean exfoliators are surprisingly affordable. They are also increasingly accessible globally, making them a popular choice for skincare enthusiasts.
  6. Extensive Research and Development: Korean beauty brands are known for investing heavily in R&D to constantly innovate and improve their products. They often lead the way in introducing new technologies and ingredients.
  7. Layering Approach: In line with the Korean skincare routine’s layering approach, their exfoliators are often designed to work synergistically with other products, maximizing the overall effectiveness of your skincare routine.


There you have it, skin care enthusiasts – my curated list of the top ten Korean exfoliators that have charmed my heart and my skin! Each one brings its own magic to your skincare routine, all the while staying gentle on your skin. Remember, while exfoliation is a crucial step to radiant skin, overdoing it can lead to irritation and sensitivity. So, start slow, maybe once or twice a week, and pay attention to how your skin reacts. Always patch test a new product, especially if you have sensitive skin. And don’t forget to follow up with a good moisturizer to keep your skin well-hydrated and glowing! Korean skincare products are globally renowned for their innovative ingredients and formulation. They’ve transformed my skin and I’m certain they can do the same for you. So, why wait? Your journey to radiant, youthful skin is just a scrub away! Happy glowing, beauties!

Feature image by engin akyurt on Unsplash

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