You wash your face in the morning and at night and apply toner, serum, moisturizer and sunscreen daily. But if you aren’t regularly exfoliating, your skin care routine is lacking!
According to Merriam-Webster, exfoliate means “to cast off in scales, laminae or splinters.” When it comes to skin care, exfoliation involves sloughing dead skin cells off the face and body. Eliminating those skin cells has several benefits, including:
- Improving your circulation
- Promoting skin turnover (and therefore brighter skin)
- Enhancing absorption of serums and moisturizers
Types of exfoliation
There are two types of exfoliation:
- Mechanical exfoliation. Removal of dead skin cells by physically scrubbing the surface of the skin with a dry brush, sponge, scrub or other exfoliating tool. This type of exfoliation is usually recommended for individuals with oily skin.
- Chemical exfoliation. Removal of dead skin cells through use of chemicals, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and enzymes. Chemical exfoliants may take the form of cleansers, toners, creams, serums and peels, and are generally the best choice for individuals with dry and/or sensitive skin.
People with normal skin can typically choose either method of exfoliation. Individuals with combination skin may require a mix of both methods (on different days) for optimal results.
How many times a week should you exfoliate?
Not sure how often to exfoliate? Some folks can only tolerate the practice once a week whereas others can exfoliate several times per week. Therefore, it’s important to note your skin’s reaction to exfoliation (and exfoliation products) and to adjust your routine accordingly.
How to exfoliate your face
Follow these simple steps to help achieve a smooth, radiant complexion with a scrub or chemical exfoliant:
- Choose the correct product. Seeking a mild scrub for oily skin? Try CSI Amber Honey Exfoliating Scrub. It’s “formulated with exfo-amber, a natural plant exfoliant that helps lift away dead skin cells, excess oil, grime and other pore-clogging impurities that can leave your skin looking dull and lifeless.” CSI Fruit Radiance Glycolic Smoothing Cream, on the other hand, is a great choice for those with dry or sensitive skin. It “contains naturally-occurring glycolic, lactic and pyruvic acids which gently yet effectively exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells, embedded dirt and debris.” Have normal or combination skin? Reviva Labs Light Skin Peel Mild Exfoliant “refines and smooths skin texture.”
- Apply product to dry skin. Use dry fingers to apply your preferred exfoliant to skin that is clean and dry, taking care to avoid your eyes.
- Massage product into skin. Wet your fingers and massage the product into your skin using gentle, circular motions. Note: If using serum, fingers should remain dry.
- Rinse skin. Use lukewarm water to remove the exfoliant from your skin. Note: There is no need to rinse off a serum.
- Moisturize skin. Pat your face dry and follow up with your preferred moisturizer.
Exfoliating your body
For skin that’s soft and smooth, follow these easy steps:
- Choose the correct product. There are many different exfoliation products for the body. Dermatologist-recommended Aveeno Positively Radiant® Exfoliating Body Wash contains natural exfoliants and Total Soy Complex to “gently wash away dry, dull skin to reveal softer, smoother skin.” Or try Sea Salt Zum Body Scrub™, which is made with all-natural ingredients, like organic sea salt, organic sunflower oil and vitamin E. Another popular pick: Reviva Labs Coconut Charcoal White Lava Rock Body Wash—ideal for all skin types!
- Start with dry skin. Before even setting foot in your shower, use exfoliating gloves or a loofah to
rub your skin in a gentle circular motion, which can start the process of shedding dead cells.
- Step into your shower. After scrubbing, rise your body with lukewarm water.
- Apply product to wet skin. Gently massage your preferred exfoliant into your skin according to package directions, paying special attention to feet, elbows and other areas that may be prone to dryness.
- Rinse skin. Use lukewarm water to remove the exfoliant from your body.
- Moisturize skin. Pat skin dry and follow up with your preferred moisturizer.