When was the last time you exfoliated? If you're like most people, you answered that question with, "What? Do I need to do that?”
The answer is YES! But not to worry, we're going to unveil the mysteries of exfoliation. One thing above all is crystal clear – you should show your body a little TLC and start exfoliating, no matter what skin type you have. Not only should you use exfoliators on your facial skin, but you can – and should – use them on your more private areas, as well as the rest of your body.
Who knew? Let’s explore the wonderful world of exfoliation together!
What is Exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells and other build-up from your skin.
Although your skin does shed dead cells naturally, it’s not easy to tell when it’s happening properly. Taking a shower or washing your face does can help remove them, but your skin needs a lot more TLC if you want soft, smooth skin.
How To Exfoliate
The process of exfoliation involves more than just rubbing something against your skin to remove those dead skin cells. You need to make sure that you're exfoliating in a gentle yet effective manner. Otherwise, you could end up damaging your skin!
No matter your skin type or the form of exfoliation that you choose (we'll clear up some of those mysteries shortly), you should follow these simple steps:
All exfoliates are abrasive in one way or another. They have to be since they're designed to help remove dead skin. Since they're naturally abrasive, you should be gentle when applying them. Rubbing too hard can damage your skin's outer layers, causing irritation, redness, and an increase in acne.
No matter which type of exfoliation you decide to use, make sure to use smooth movements when applying them. Also, don't apply a lot of pressure. Show your skin some love! These products are designed to do the job practically on their own and don't require a lot of force to work properly.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Once you're done applying the exfoliant, it's time to moisturize your skin. Why? Exfoliant products are actually very drying.
In order to keep your skin in great condition – plump, soft, and healthy – you need to follow exfoliation with a moisturizer designed for your skin type. This completes the process and locks in some much-needed moisture.
You always want to add the moisture back after you take it away. Otherwise, you could upset the balance your skin works so hard to create.
Types of Exfoliation
Now that you know some of the basics of exfoliation, it's time to dive into more detail. You’ll want to understand the two main types of exfoliants so you can pick the right one for your skin type.
Chemical exfoliants and abrasive (or manual/mechanical) exfoliants both have a number of pros and cons, and they work for various types of skin. Let’s take a look, and see which one sounds best for you!
A chemical exfoliant is one that uses a form of acid. While that sounds scary, it really isn’t! These acids are designed to remove dead skin cells without irritating your skin. In fact, you’ve probably heard of some of the most common ones like beta hydroxy acids (BHA), alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), and polyhydroxy acids (PHA). See, not so scary!
Others include salicylic and glycolic acids. They appear in many different skin care products and can be purchased separately as lotions. These vary in strength depending on the percentage of acids in the product, and they’re great for a variety of different skin types.
Look for ones that fit your budget and won’t irritate your skin.
An abrasive exfoliant contains elements to physically remove dead skin cells when it’s rubbed on the face or body. You most likely already have one! Common examples include brushes and washcloths.
While a shower sponge or pouf tends to hold more body wash, neither has the exfoliating power of a washcloth, thanks to the slightly rough individual fibers used to create the cloth.
Looking for even more exfoliating action? There’s an exfoliant out there for everyone! There are even scrubs that have crushed shells, salts, and sugars, and other ingredients that give them a grainy feel. These exfoliants can be harsh, so use them with caution, and don’t rub them too deeply into your skin. You want to take care of what Mother Nature gave you!
Which Body Parts Should You Exfoliate?
Great question! The answer is simple – you can exfoliate just about any part of your body.
While many people focus on exfoliating their faces in order to enhance their complexions, others remove the dead skin from everywhere on their bodies. It’s up to you!
Some people choose to exfoliate their bodies while in the shower (always a great idea) and their faces in the evening a few times a week as a part of their standard skin care routine. You can focus on a certain area, or go wild and exfoliate your entire body. You have the freedom to do as you please, just make sure to only exfoliate a few times a week so as to not over-exfoliate, which can scrub your skin raw and irritated.
Exfoliation Advice for Various Skin Types
Since there are so many different types of exfoliants out there, it’s important to choose the best one for your skin type. For example, people with oily skin will need a different exfoliant than those with dry skin.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a quick breakdown.
Let’s cut to the chase—there are few things that oily skin just doesn’t handle well. It’s tough, especially due to the oils that naturally coat your face (and the rest of your body.)
Although oily skin tends to be acne-prone and shiny, this skin type has some juicy benefits.
One, people with oily skin tend to age a bit slower because those oils will keep your skin moist and keep some of those wrinkles at bay. And two, you can exfoliate far more often, because your skin can handle it. Good news, right?
With that said, a chemical exfoliant will work best for oily skin, such as one with salicylic acid or beta hydroxy acid in it. These are particularly great if acne is a problem.
Apply these exfoliants up to four or five times per week, and follow them with a light moisturizer. And voila! Beautiful, glowing skin will be yours!
Dry skin can be easily irritated by exfoliants. Although people with dry skin can still use both chemical and abrasive exfoliants, you’re better off avoiding those that contain alcohol. This means that you need to read that ingredient list, especially if you’re looking at a chemical exfoliant.
Why? Because alcohol can be drying and your skin is dry enough already.
Pick an exfoliant that has moisturizing properties, and make sure to follow up with a separate, super-strong moisturizer. That will help your skin look its best for those picture-perfect moments.
Combination skin can be the best and worst of both worlds. You have skin with dry, flaky patches in some areas and shiny oiliness in others. This makes it a bit tricky, but not impossible, to exfoliate.
The key to proper exfoliation lies in applying the product in the right spots.
Since your T-zone (your forehead, between your eyebrows, and your nose) tends to be oily, exfoliate only that area with a product designed for oily skin. You can exfoliate the dry parts of your face with a different product, making sure to go easy on your drier skin. Choose an exfoliant designed for dry skin, and use it sparingly.
Finding two different exfoliant products for your face will be worth it, and in the end, your skin will definitely show you some appreciation!
Do you have normal skin? Then count yourself lucky! Your skin isn’t too oily, overly dry, or even a combination of the two. You don’t even have to worry about extra irritation because your skin isn’t sensitive at all.
People with normal skin can handle just about any type of exfoliant, whether it’s chemical-based, a scrub, or even a brush. You can even exfoliate more than twice a week without worry. It’s a win-win for you!
Sensitive skin can be tricky, but we know you’ve got this! With sensitive skin, it seems like every product, no matter its ingredients, tends to annoy your skin. Sensitive skin can be oily, dry, or combination, and the rules for those skin types still apply.
Your goal here is to avoid products that can irritate your skin, so physical abrasive exfoliants may be out of the picture. Instead, pick chemical ones that have low acidity and keep an eye out for things like scents and alcohol that may be irritating. It’s always better to err on the safe (and gentle) side!
Are you ready to start exfoliating and unleash the beauty beneath your skin? Although it’s very important to moisturize after you exfoliate and be gentle with those scrubs, lotions, and tools, you also need to make sure that you aren’t exfoliating too much. This can be irritating as well.
Come up with a solid weekly routine that includes exfoliating once or twice (no more than that), and you and your skin will be in great shape!
Are you ready to get your glow game on? Properly exfoliating your skin – all of it – is the best way to end up with a soft, glowing complexion that keeps all eyes on you! Just make sure to choose the correct gentle exfoliating products that are right for your skin type, use the best methods, and remember to moisturize.
The key is to not irritate your skin during the process, so it can emerge glowing like never before! Simply add exfoliation to your weekly beauty routine and before you know it, you’ll have the soft, smooth, radiant skin you’ve always wanted.