The Best Exfoliator for Black Skin

The Best Exfoliant for Black Skin


The Best Exfoliant for Black Skin: A Comprehensive Guide

The skin is the body’s largest organ and our first line of defense against environmental aggressors. Notably, it plays a critical role in how we present ourselves to the world. Its condition, color, and texture are all part of our unique identity. However, regardless of skin type or color, the key to radiant skin is regular exfoliation. This article focuses on the best exfoliants for black skin, how to exfoliate black skin effectively, and the best face exfoliator for black skin – or best exfoliator for dark skin.

Understanding Skin Exfoliation

Before delving into the best exfoliants for black skin, it’s important to understand what exfoliation is and why it’s crucial. Exfoliation is a process that involves removing the top layer of dead skin cells, allowing for the emergence of new, healthier skin cells. This process not only unclogs pores but also enhances skin brightness and improves the effectiveness of skincare products (1).

Black Skin and Exfoliation

Black skin, or Type V-VI on the Fitzpatrick Skin Type scale, has unique characteristics. Melanin is more prevalent in black skin, providing a degree of natural protection against harmful UV rays. However, this skin type can be more prone to certain issues like hyperpigmentation, acne, and keloidal scars (2).

Exfoliating black skin can be a delicate process because over-exfoliation might lead to irritation or worsen hyperpigmentation issues. Hence, it’s important to choose an exfoliant that is not overly abrasive but still effective.

Best Exfoliant for Black Skin

When choosing the best exfoliant for black skin, consider factors such as the exfoliant type, your skin type, and the product’s ingredients. The two main types of exfoliants are physical and chemical.

Physical Exfoliants

Physical exfoliants use small grains or a tool like a brush to physically remove dead skin cells. They can provide instant results, but they may also be too harsh for black skin, especially if it’s sensitive or prone to hyperpigmentation.

If you decide to use a physical exfoliant, choose products with finer, smoother grains like jojoba beads. Avoid products with large, rough particles, such as walnut shells, which can cause micro-tears in the skin (3).

Chemical Exfoliants

Chemical exfoliants utilize acids or enzymes to dissolve and remove dead skin cells. They can be gentler and more effective than physical exfoliants, as they work on a deeper level and offer more uniform exfoliation.

For black skin, it’s often recommended to use acids – alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid and lactic acid, or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid. These acids are effective at removing dead skin cells, clearing pores, and reducing hyperpigmentation (4). However, they should be used cautiously as overuse might lead to skin irritation. Learn about what causes hyperpigmentation.

Best Products

A few popular exfoliating products for black skin include:

  1. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant: This product is gentle and effective, using salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin without causing irritation (5).

  2. The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution: This AHA-based product can help to brighten the skin and improve its overall texture (6).

  3. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Exfoliating Cleanser: This physical exfoliant uses gentle beads and hyaluronic acid for a hydrating, smooth finish (7).

  4. Epionce Lytic Lotion Exfoliating Cream: Epionce Lytic Lotion is highly effective in treating skin imperfections and improving the skin’s texture and tone.

How to Exfoliate Black Skin

  1. Identify Your Skin Type: Knowing whether your skin is oily, dry, combination, or sensitive will help you select the appropriate exfoliating product.

  2. Choose the Right Product: As mentioned, black skin often benefits more from gentle chemical exfoliants than from harsh physical ones.

  3. Follow a Regular Exfoliation Schedule: While the exact frequency will depend on your skin type and the product you choose, most people find that exfoliating 1-2 times per week is sufficient.

  4. Apply a Moisturizer: After exfoliating, always follow up with a moisturizer to hydrate your skin and protect its barrier function.

  5. Use Sunscreen: Exfoliation can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to apply sunscreen every day.

Check out all of the products we sell and support as great skin product options!

Best Face Exfoliator for Black Skin

In the realm of facial exfoliation, the focus shifts slightly towards gentler options because the facial skin is more delicate. It’s still crucial to choose an exfoliator that will effectively remove dead skin cells without causing irritation.

Chemical exfoliants like the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum are often recommended because they can gently remove dead skin cells and lighten dark spots over time (8). Another excellent choice is the CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser, which uses salicylic acid to exfoliate while niacinamide and ceramides help to soothe and restore the skin’s natural barrier (9).


Exfoliation is a key part of any skincare routine, regardless of skin color or type. For black skin, careful selection and use of exfoliating products can result in radiant, glowing skin. Always remember to be gentle with your skin, and do not over-exfoliate. With the right knowledge and products, you can achieve healthy, glowing skin.


  1. Rawlings, A. V. (2010). Ethnic skin types: Are there differences in skin structure and function?. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 28(2), 79-93.

  2. Davis, E. C., & Callender, V. D. (2010). Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: a review of the epidemiology, clinical features, and treatment options in skin of color. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 3(7), 20.

  3. Lodén, M., & Wessman, C. (2017). The influence of a cream containing 20% glycerin and its vehicle on skin barrier properties. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 24(2), 115-119.

  4. Kornhauser, A., Coelho, S. G., & Hearing, V. J. (2010). Applications of hydroxy acids: classification, mechanisms, and photoactivity. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 3, 135.

  5. Paula’s Choice. (n.d.). Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. Retrieved from

  6. The Ordinary. (n.d.). Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. Retrieved from

  7. Neutrogena. (n.d.). Hydro Boost Exfoliating Cleanser. Retrieved from

  8. Drunk Elephant. (n.d.). T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum. Retrieved from

  9. CeraVe. (n.d.). Renewing SA Cleanser. Retrieved from

Hopefully this article was helpful in your skincare journey.  Welcome to Divine Dermatology, PLLC, your beacon for skin care in St. Petersburg, Florida. Under the skilled guidance of Carol Sims-Robertson, MD, our office celebrates all skin types and ages, curating personalized treatments that enhance your natural beauty.

From teens battling acne to adults seeking anti-aging remedies, we offer innovative solutions that cater to every person’s unique needs. At Divine Dermatology, PLLC, we believe in using our expertise so beauty transcends age and skin type. Trust us to transform your skin, elevating your confidence, and revealing the most beautiful you. 

Click here to Schedule your Free Skin Evaluation Today or call us at (727) 528-0321. Embrace the Divine Dermatology difference – where your path to beauty begins.