Are You Exfoliating Your Face Correctly?

Exfoliating is a crucial yet widely abused (or ignored) part of one's skincare routine.

By definition, exfoliate means to "wash or rub a body part with a granular substance to remove dead cells from the surface of the skin." But this statement leaves so much unanswered: What type of granular substance? Should I be doing a chemical exfoliation instead? How often? What products should I use after?

We could keep going, but you get the idea. Exfoliating is tricky, and finding the right balance can take some trial and error depending on your skin's needs. If you're confused, keep reading for the general rules of thumb to follow. 

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For starters, whether it's once a week or every night, all skin types should be exfoliating, period. Because exfoliating removes dead skin cells, and removes dirt and debris, it helps minimize the appearance of pores and helps reduce breakouts.

If you have normal skin, exfoliating 2 – 3 times a week is perfect, whereas those with sensitive skin should only incorporate it once—and those with acne-prone skin can benefit from every other night to even every night.

Now that we have that down, what type of exfoliation should you be using? There are two distinct categories: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation is something with granular particles that uses physical abrasion to slough off dead skin cells. Definitely be really careful with this type of exfoliation, because if the scrub is too jagged or sharp, it can tear your delicate skin barrier, which can actually make your skin worse. You don't want it to feel like sandpaper is rubbing against your face. A good way to physically exfoliate is via a antimicrobial cleansing brush like Foreo.

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The preferred way to exfoliate your face though is chemical, using acids–like AHA, BHA and salicylic acid, or fruit enzymes to effectively dissolve dead skin, dirt and grime. Chemical exfoliants can be found in face washes and leave-on treatments, and are great for helping with acne and blemishes. The only rule of thumb here is to not use it the same night as a retinol or prescription acne treatment.

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Now that you're well-versed in exfoliation, click HERE to learn about how to properly use retinol products.