The benefits of exfoliating includes the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, avoiding breakouts and maintaining skin wellness. Almost all areas of your body can benefit from exfoliating properly, from your face to your feet.
By now you are probably well aware that exfoliation is a super important part in your skin care regimen. But you might be wondering what kind of exfoliator you should use, how to exfoliate properly, how often you should exfoliate, how to actually use exfoliating products and when to stop exfoliating (all of the conflicting information out there can be overwhelming!).
You need not worry, because we are here to give answers to all of your questions and lecture you on everything you need to know about how to exfoliate properly to get a smoother, brighter, and glow-like skin.
What is Exfoliation?
Exfoliation is an essential part of your skincare routine that aids in removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin. While some people believe that it can be beneficial for removing dry or dull skin, increase blood circulation, brightening and improving your skin’s appearance.
There are different methods for on how to exfoliate properly. Your skin type should determine which method and how often you exfoliate because every type of exfoliation may not work for every skin type.
- Normal skin is clear and not sensitive
- Dry skin is rough, itchy or flaky
- Oily skin is greasy and shiny
- Sensitive skin may nip or burn after product use
- Combination skin can be both dry and normal in some parts and oily in others
What To Use For Proper Exfoliation
There are different methods for exfoliation and the method you choose should be guided by your skin type. Mechanical exfoliation uses tools, such as brush, sponge, glove or a scrub to physically remove dead skin cells. Alpha and beta hydroxy acids are chemicals use in chemical exfoliation to gently dissolve dead skin cells. Natural exfoliation uses product like sugar, salt and oatmeal.
1. Mechanical Exfoliant
- Exfoliation brush: This is usually a bristle brush used on the body or face to brush off dead skin cells. Other type of brush can be use with your facial cleanser or body wash.
- Exfoliation sponge: Use of exfoliation sponge is a gentler way to exfoliate skin. You can lather it with warm water, soap, or body wash in the shower .
- Exfoliating glove: If brushes or sponges are difficult to grip, you can use a glove. Rub in soap or body wash in the shower. They can be effective for wide areas such as legs or arms.
- Exfoliating scrub: This can be applied directly to the skin using a mild, circular motion. You can wash your skin with warm water after applying the scrub to dissolve the dead skin cells.
2. Chemical Exfoliant
- Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs): Glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and citric acids are examples of AHAs. These work by dissolving bonds holding dull and dead skin cells on your skin’s surface. This will cause the skin to shed dead particles naturally.
- Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs): Beta hydroxyl and salicylic acid are examples of BHAs. These may be better for rosacea skin.
3. Natural Exfoliant
These are made from natural products such as oatmeal, sugar, salt to aid in the removal of dead skin cells to reveal new ones:
- Finely ground sugar
- Baking soda
- Coffee grounds
- Finely ground sea salt
- Finely ground almond
How To Exfoliate Different Skin Type
When mechanically exfoliating, it is vital to be gentle on your skin. You can apply a scrub with your finger using small, circular motions or choose an exfoliating tool of choice.
If you choose to use a brush, make short, light strokes. Exfoliate for about 20-30 seconds and rinse off with lukewarm not hot water before patting dry. Exfoliation should be avoided if your skin has open wounds, cuts, or is sunburned. Apply moisturizer or serum after exfoliating.
- Dry skin: Exfoliation is essential for dry or flaky skin. Avoid mechanical exfoliation on dry skin, because the process is drying, irritating and it can lead to microtears. AHAs like lactic or glycolic acids are effective for dry skin.
Glycolic acid will help break the bonds between the outer layer of dead skin cells and the next skin cell layer and encourage healthy skin turnover. Follow up with a moisturizer after using glycolic acid. It can make the skin susceptible to sun injury.
- Sensitive skin: Scrubbing or mechanical methods of exfoliation should be avoided. These will irritate the skin further and can lead to redness. Use a washcloth with a mild chemical exfoliator. For acne, you can also try a mandelic acid.
- Oily skin: Oily or thicker skin can benefit from natural exfoliation and brushing to avoid pimples, blackheads and clogged pores. Oily skin may have an extra layer of buildup dead skin cells on the surface that natural exfoliation can remove. Gently use an exfoliator or scrub to massage in circular motions for best results.
- Normal skin: If your skin is complications free, you can choose any exfoliation method. Mechanical and chemical exfoliation are both safe and effective for this skin type. You may need to test the different methods to find out which works best for your skin.
- Combination skin: Combination skin type often benefit from a mix of mechanical and chemical exfoliation. It is advisable not to use both on the same day as it can irritate the skin. Use a moisturizer immediately after exfoliation if your skin feels dry.
Exfoliation By Body Part
Take care when exfoliating delicate body areas, including the face. Exfoliating these areas frequently can lead to dryness, redness, and itchiness.
- Face: The type of exfoliant to use on your face depends on your type of skin. To exfoliate your face mechanically with a scrub. Start by washing your face, gently apply the scrub to the skin with a finger. Massage in circular motions. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry. Then follow up with other skincare products.
For a liquid chemical exfoliant, apply with a washcloth. Work with a dermatologist to determine the type of exfoliation safe for your skin.
- Arms and legs: The simplest way to exfoliate your arms and legs is with a glove, brush, or sponge. This can help get rid of dead skin cells and improve circulation. Lather body scrub in a shower with dry brushing can also be of great help.
- Feet and hands: There are peels and scrubs available to exfoliate feet and hands. You can also use a paraffin wax and pumice stone to exfoliate feet.
- Pubic area: You can use a scrubbing brush to exfoliate your pubic area and bikini line. Do this in a warm shower at all time to first soften the skin. Apply scrub gently in a circular motion and wash thoroughly afterward.
How Often Should You Exfoliate?
How often to exfoliate depends on your type of skin and exfoliation method. In general, it is advisable to exfoliate dry skin once or to twice a week to be effective, while oily skin may require more frequent exfoliation.
On the other hand, exfoliating once a week may be best for a normal or combination skin. Be cautions not to over-exfoliate, as it can lead to skin redness and irritation. It is important to exfoliate properly if you choose to, so that it does not damage your skin and lead to acne breakout.
The benefits of exfoliation include:
- Removing dead skin cells.
- Improving circulation and lymphatic drainage.
- Encouraging skin turnover, resulting in brighter skin.
- Allowing for better absorption of moisturizers and serums.
- Unclog pores.
- Prevent acne.
- Stimulate collagen synthesis.
When To Stop Exfoliating
Stop exfoliating the second you notice any redness, inflammation, peeling, tingling or irritation. Exfoliation should be avoided if you use acne products or certain medications. It may lead to a skin breakouts.