Even if you’ve heard this advice before, it warrants repeating every once in a while: what you do to your skin before applying an ounce of makeup is super-duper important. In fact, it can make the difference between a flawless, radiant face and one that’s not quite as glowing as it could be. Beyond that, prepping your skin means your makeup will apply more easily and it’ll even help it stay put for longer.
Cleaning, toning, and moisturizing are all key, but a step that often gets forgotten is exfoliating. We’re not talking about physical exfoliators (the kind with salt or sugar bits) or more aggressive night-time exfoliants that you use once a week. Rather, we’re talking about gentle, pre-makeup exfoliators that you swipe on before your moisturizer to nix dead cells, dry bits, and to help minimize pores.
Completing this step means you’ll have a great foundation for, well, your foundation! Below we’ve rounded up some awesome options for you in every price point.
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
First Aid Beauty comes to the dull-skin rescue with their Facial Radiance Pads, $15, which are approved for all skin types. They’re made with a blend of glycolic and lactic acid to exfoliate, tone, and brighten, and are meant to be used daily. This one also comes in a larger size if you want to stock up.
Clinique Clarifying Lotion Twice A Day Exfoliator
We love that Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion Twice a Day Exfoliator, $16, is formulated in five different versions according to skin type. That means you can tailor your pre-makeup regimen exactly to your needs. Simply apply your choice exfoliator to a cotton ball or pad and gently sweep over your skin. Follow up with your moisturizer, sunscreen, and then makeup.
Clean & Clear Lemon Exfoliating Facial Pads with Vitamin C
Clean & Clear’s Lemon Exfoliating Facial Pads with Vitamin C, $6, get fantastic reviews across the board. As the title indicates, they’re infused with vitamin C, a wonderful antioxidant that also helps brighten and even out complexions. We recommend this product specifically for oily or acne-prone skin types.
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Pixi Glow Tonic
Pixi’s Glow Tonic, $4, has become a cult favorite in the skincare community. It’s a budget-friendly, alcohol-free formulation that combines 5% brightening glycolic acid with soothing aloe, ginseng, and botanical extracts. Note that it comes in two larger sizes, as well. This small one is great for travel and sampling before you commit to the full bottle.
Kenzoki Amazing Exfoliating Water
For an ultra-gentle pre-makeup exfoliator, try Kenzoki’s Amazing Exfoliating Water, $29. It’s essentially water that’s been enriched with ginger essence and oil to detox, revitalize and soften. Lemon extract gently exfoliates while licorice extract keeps skin calm. Like the Clinique and Pixi, apply a small amount to a cotton ball and swipe over clean skin.
Go-To Exfoliating Swipeys
We’ve got one more exfoliating pad option for you to try! If you’re looking for an option that’s slightly more aggressive, these Exfoliating Swipeys from Go-To, $35, may fit the bill. The hero ingredient is lactic acid, which nixes dead cells, stimulates cell renewal, and brightens. The wipes also contain aloe vera to help soothe. Because these pads are slightly stronger than some of the other products on this list, we recommend using them every-other-day. They’re still pretty gentle, though, and even sensitive skin types sing the praises of this product.
If you decide to try one of our suggestions, let us know how it works out for you!