Dishing Out The Dirt on Exfoliating

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Exfoliation is a word you hear a lot in the skincare world. Some swear it’s the secret to glowing, radiant skin. Others say it’s good for skin but not to overdo it. And of course there are hundreds of products available to use, from cleansers to exfoliating brush systems.

It’s a beauty practice that causes a lot of confusion. How many times a week should you exfoliate if you have oily skin? What about mature skin? Is it safe to exfoliate if you have acne or rosacea? How do you know if it’s working? No wonder so many women don’t exfoliate: the information and products are overwhelming.

The truth about exfoliating is that it’s very beneficial to a skincare routine. Exfoliating will help you have fresher, younger-looking skin and improve your skin’s texture and tone. But to get the benefits, you have to exfoliate correctly, keeping your skin type and sensitivity issues in mind. The good news is that it’s not difficult once you know the basics.

We’ll clear up the confusion once and for all with this guide. Let’s begin with what exfoliating actually means.

What Is Exfoliating?

Exfoliation is removing old, dead cells from the outermost surface of your skin. That layer of dead skin cells is a barrier to cleansers, moisturizers, and other beauty products. It hinders these products so they don’t do the best job they could for your skin.

Not only that, but that layer of old cells makes you look older. Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered why your face seemed so dull and almost gray? Chances are it’s because you had a serious layer of dead cells on the surface. Exfoliating removes those cells, bringing younger, healthier skin cells to the surface where they belong.

So now that you understand exactly what exfoliating is, you should know more about why it’s so good for your skin.

The Five Biggest Benefits Of Exfoliating

  1. Smoother Skin
    If you have dry, rough skin, exfoliating will be a tremendous help. Your skin will look and feel softer and smoother.
  2. Clean Pores
    Clogged pores cause acne, blackheads, skin irritation, and can make you look dull and washed out. Exfoliating leaves your skin glowing and fresh.
  3. Softens Lines
    Once the older cells are gone, your skin renews itself faster and healthier cells replace the dead ones. This reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  4. Product Improvement
    As we mentioned earlier, dead skin cells are a barrier to moisture and a good complexion. With the old cells removed, everything from cleansers to moisturizers and anti-aging creams will work better.
  5. Better Appearance
    Exfoliating will also help with skin discoloration. As younger cells replace dead ones, uneven skin tone will look more balanced.

The bottom line?
Your skin will look its best if you exfoliate!

So you see all the advantages to exfoliating and you want to try it. Now we’ll explain step-by-step how to exfoliate your face.

A Step-by-Step Guide To Exfoliating Your Face

Exfoliating, Step 1:
Exfoliating STEP 1: Wet Your Face

Exfoliating STEP 1: Wet Your Face

Wet Your Face

This is very basic.

With clean hands, use your hands or a washcloth to wet your face. Use warm water for this step to help open your pores.

Exfoliating, Step 2:
Exfoliating STEP 2: Apply Some Scrub and Exfoliate

Exfoliating STEP 2: Apply Some Scrub and Exfoliate

Apply Some Scrub and Exfoliate

Gently massage the exfoliating scrub into your skin with your fingers or an exfoliating brush. Use a circular motion to distribute the scrub evenly and work upwards to stimulate your circulation. Don’t press or scrub too hard; you could irritate your skin or damage your capillaries. Do this for about a minute.

We’ll talk about how to choose the product that’s right for you later in this article.

Exfoliating, Step 3:
Exfoliating, Step 3: Rinse Your Face and Gently Pat Dry

Exfoliating, Step 3: Rinse Your Face and Gently Pat Dry

Rinse Your Face and Gently Pat Dry

After you’ve finished exfoliating, rinse the scrub off with warm water. Pat your face dry with a towel. Never rub a towel on your face to dry your skin: wet skin is sensitive and more likely to get irritated.

Exfoliating, Step 4:
Exfoliating, Step 4: Apply Moisturizer and Any Other Products

Exfoliating, Step 4: Apply Moisturizer and Any Other Products

Apply Moisturizer and Any Other Products

Now that your skin is soft and has healthy new cells on the surface, take advantage of this fresher skin and keep it soft and younger-looking.

Apply your moisturizer along with any anti-aging products you use such as firming creams or eye serums.

What About The Rest Of Your Body?

Now that you see how easy it is to exfoliate, you may want to try it all over. This works best in the bath or shower. Follow the same steps you used to exfoliate your face for exfoliating your body, with these modifications:

  • Use a loofah, if desired, to gently scrub arms, legs, and torso. There are also body brushes for exfoliating.
  • If the bottoms of your feet are calloused, use a pumice stone to carefully smooth them. Then use a scrub specifically designed for exfoliating feet.
  • For exfoliating hands, use a simple sugar or salt scrub.

You may need to use different products for your face and body depending on your skin type.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Face?

This answer is a little different for everyone, because no two people have the exact same skin. There are general guidelines you can begin with, though. Adjust the frequency depending on your results. Look for signs such as new or increased redness, irritation, and tenderness.

If Your Skin Is: Exfoliate Your Face:
Dry Twice a week
Oily Three times a week
Normal Twice a week
Sensitive Once a week
Mature Once a week


Since no two women have the same skin, many products are available that can work for a wide range of skin types. Your products will depend on personal preferences such as scents, special needs such as hypoallergenic formulas, and your skin type. This part of the guide will focus on how you can find the exfoliating product types that are right for your skin needs.

Dry Skin

Women with dry skin will need some extra care in the moisturizing department. Try a moisturizing scrub for your exfoliating routine; something that contains oils such as jojoba or olive oil. To reduce the risk of drying your skin out, use a product with alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and not beta hydroxy acid (BHA), because surface exfoliation is all you need with dry skin.

Oily Skin

Oily skin needs something stronger for exfoliating. Scrubs that contain mild natural acids, such as papaya or apricot extract, will work best. If you also have acne, there are chemical scrubs that will cleanse your skin and remove dead cells while preventing outbreaks. These products have ingredients such as glycolic or salicylic acid, or look for ones that say they have BHA to get a deep clean for pores.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin means exfoliating without scrubbing, which can further inflame your face. There are products specifically formulated for this skin type. Look for ingredients such as honey, oatmeal, sugar, and herbal extracts such as chamomile that will soothe your skin and remove old cells without drying and irritating. Avoid anything that is high in AHA, BHA, or retinoids. When it comes to sensitive skin, the gentler the better.

Mature Skin

Just as there are special products for dry, oily, and sensitive skin, there are ones that exfoliate and also provide anti-aging benefits. These are usually gentle scrubs that have lots of antioxidants, such as vitamins A and E. Not only do they sweep away the dead skin cells, they help rejuvenate and tighten skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition to antioxidants, look for products with ingredients such as coconut oil or shea butter.

Should You Exfoliate If You Have A Skin Condition?

While most people benefit greatly from exfoliating, women who have skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea may not. If you have a skin condition that requires special care, consult with your dermatologist to see if exfoliating is right for you. It may be beneficial to exfoliate using special products designed for your skin condition, or your dermatologist may advise you not to exfoliate at all.

Spas And Professional Exfoliation

You may, of course, opt to go to a medical spa or day spa and have a dermatologist or esthetician give you an exfoliating treatment. The benefits to this are that your skin gets a professional evaluation, you’ll get product recommendations based on your skin type, and you can relax and be pampered.

The choice of whether or not to go to a spa is a personal one. You may not feel comfortable with a stranger applying products to your skin. Or a spa may be cost-prohibitive for you. The bottom line is that you should do what feels right for you regarding exfoliating, whether that’s letting a pro handle it or doing it yourself at home.

Video Tutorials About Exfoliating

If you want to see just how easy it is to exfoliate, these videos will show you basic techniques, as well as how to make your own scrubs.

See the basics of how to exfoliate in the following videos:

How to Exfoliate Your Face Properly

The following video from will show you how to exfoliate your face properly to avoid common mistakes that could leave your face vulnerable to the elements.

A beginner’s guide to exfoliating, including deep cleansing:

Making your own products:

Here are 3 DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Body Scrub recipes that you can make for yourself or for a friend as a gift. These body scrubs can exfoliate and moisturize your skin at the same time. This video includes three easy to make exfoliating and moisturizing body scrubs (salt, coconut, strawBerry) plus two extra recipes.

How To Make Your Own Exfoliating Scrub

This four-minute video guide shows you how to make your very own sugar exfoliating scrub.

How to Make Sugar and Salt Body Scrubs

A simple 3-minute video recipe for creating a salt and sugar scrub that’s perfect for exfoliating your way to beautifully, healthy and glowing skin.


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