Here’s How You Can Properly Exfoliate Your Skin

acne exfoliating cleanser

Exfoliation – a word that’s going around a lot in the skincare world with misunderstandings of what it is and how to do it properly.

To put it in simple words, it’s scrubbing your skin to ward off any dirt or grime accumulated on your skin.

But, it’s more than that.

You need to have the right knowledge about exfoliators – which one to use, how to use and when to use them.

This guide will give a detailed explanation of exfoliation and every other information related to it.

First things first,

What Is Exfoliation Exactly?

Exfoliation is entirely the process of benefiting the body – and, for our purposes specifically, the face – to more efficiently remove the dead skin cells that can accumulate on the surface of the skin.

Exfoliation can be done in two different ways –

Physical Exfoliation

This is the old but standard practice of exfoliating, which involves using a scrub or mechanical tools to alleviate the dead skin cells. Some common examples of mechanical exfoliation comprise exfoliating brushes (dry brushes), sponges, and even gloves. You scrub away the layer of dead skin cells. Physical exfoliation is best suited for normal and combination skin types.

Chemical exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, is less about physically scrubbing away dead skin cells and more about letting distinct chemicals break up them. This includes treatments like chemical peels, and a specific category of skin care ingredients known as hydroxy acids. This includes AHAs and BHAs. AHAs or Alpha Hydroxy acids are made up of naturally occurring acids that can be found in most fruits and plants. AHAs are water-soluble and help with minor hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. BHAs or Beta Hydroxy Acids are also found in nature – fruits, and plants. However, they are oil soluble and can penetrate further into the pores. BHAs help reduce breakouts and are less irritating.

Generally, chemical exfoliation is best suited for Oily or Dry skin types.

Why Exfoliate Your Skin?

When you know how to exfoliate properly, you can see visible improvements in your skin, such as –

  • Dull skin starts looking more radiant
  • There is increased blood circulation to the skin on the face.
  • Exfoliation brightens the skin’s appearance.
  • It also helps in achieving a more even-toned complexion.
  • Exfoliation supports skin cell turnover.
  • Lastly, it helps in unclogging pores and cleaning the skin thoroughly.

How To Exfoliate Your Skin?

Exfoliation By Skin Type

While exfoliating, it is important to be extremely gentle on the skin. You do not want the scrubs or chemical exfoliants to damage your skin along with its barrier.

Make small circular motions using your fingers to apply the exfoliator and massage it for around 30 seconds before washing or with lukewarm water.

Avoid exfoliating the skin that has cuts, open wounds, or is sunburned. Do not forget to apply a moisturizer with an SPF after exfoliating.

Dry Skin

For dry and flakey skin, exfoliation is highly important. Do not use physical exfoliators such as scrubs to exfoliate because the process is drying and it can lead to microtears. Chemical exfoliants like AHAs are effective for dry skin.

Glycolic acid will alleviate and wipe off dead cells gathered on the surface of the skin and stimulate healthy skin turnover. Make sure to wear an SPF and a moisturizer after using glycolic acid as glycolic acid can make the skin more prone to sun damage.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is already prone to itchiness, redness, or getting irritated if any kind of abrasive product is used on it. So, avoid scrubbing or any other physical exfoliants on sensitive skin.

They will aggravate your skin further which can lead to redness.

Instead, use a mild chemical exfoliator and apply it with a soft washcloth. For acne, you can also test a salicylic acid peel.

Oily skin

Oily or thicker skin can aid from physical exfoliation and brushing. Oily skin may have an excess layer of buildup on the surface that physical exfoliation can remove. Use the exfoliator or scrub gently in circular motions for the best results. Using an acne exfoliating cleanser would be beneficial.

Normal skin

If your skin doesn’t have any intricacies, you can prefer any method of exfoliation. Physical and chemical exfoliation is both safe for this skin type. You may need to hit and try to discover which procedure works best for your skin.

Combination skin

Combination skin, just like the name suggests, may require a combination of physical and chemical exfoliators. Avoid using both on the same day as it can irritate the skin. Use a moisturizer immediately if your skin feels dry after exfoliation.

Exfoliation By Body Part

Different areas of the body require different exfoliation. Take care of your skin while exfoliating the sensitive regions as exfoliating these areas too often can cause dryness, itchiness, or redness.


The kind of exfoliant to use on your face relies on your skin type. To exfoliate your face physically with a scrub, apply gently to the skin with a finger. Massage in small, circular motions. Wash off with lukewarm water.

For a chemical exfoliant, which is a liquid, dab it on with a cotton pad or washcloth. Consult with a dermatologist to determine which type of exfoliation is safe for your skin.

Arms and legs

The effortless way to exfoliate your arms and legs is with a brush, sponge, or glove. This can assist you in getting rid of dead skin cells and boost blood circulation. Look for a body scrub at your provincial pharmacy or online and lather with it in the shower. You can also try dry brushing.

Feet and hands

There are several scrubs and peels available on the market to exfoliate feet and hands. You can also utilize a pumice stone to exfoliate feet.

How Often Should You Exfoliate?

Exfoliation depends on your skin type, so depending on your skin type you should exfoliate.

Some chemical exfoliants can be strong so exfoliating your skin once or twice a week will be effective for dry skin.

Oily skin may require more frequent usage of acne-exfoliating cleansers.

The only thing you need to evade is overdoing exfoliation. No good will come out of it and only your skin will suffer.

Wrapping Up

Exfoliation is an important step for skincare. There are multiple exfoliators, both physical and chemical, that are available in the market. Look for the one that suits your skin the best and suffices your skin requirements