How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Face?

TL,DR:

  • Exfoliating facial skin is one of the most important skincare regimes.
  • Over-exfoliation can lead to dry skin, inflammation, sensitivity, and acne.
  • It is best to exfoliate the skin two to three times a week.
  • Physical exfoliation includes face scrubs, facial brushes, sponges, etc.
  • Chemical exfoliation includes leave-on products, exfoliating pads, peels, etc.

Exfoliating your skin can be liberating. Most people feel tempted to scrape off that layer of dead skin by opting for different types of facial scrubs or acid peels. After all, who wouldn’t want that baby-soft smooth texture and fresh glow that lifts one’s spirits? However, it is important to know how much is too much as over-exfoliation can strip off natural oils and leave the skin feeling rough and dull. There could also be some inflammation, leading to acne breakouts due to the impaired protective barrier.

Let us look into some of the factors that determine how often you should exfoliate, what is the best method to exfoliate skin based on different skin types, and how to care for your skin after exfoliation.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Face?

When it comes to exfoliation, most people recommend limiting it to twice or thrice a week. Initially, you can do it once a week and see how your skin feels before going in for a full-fledged routine or two to three times a week. Always exfoliate gently as many products can be abrasive to the skin, and you can end up scraping off good skin cells by rubbing too hard.

How often one should exfoliate their face can also depend upon their skin type, as follows:

Oily Skin:

Those with oily skin typically experience lots of acne breakouts and clogged pores. This skin type would, therefore, require a good amount of exfoliation. A minimum of two to three times per week is recommended to remove the excess sebum and dirt collected on the skin surface.

Dry Skin:

Dry skin is fertile ground for dead skin cells, which again requires regular exfoliation. However, care should be taken to choose products that have hydrating ingredients to cool the skin and control the dryness caused by exfoliating more often.

Sensitive Skin:

Sensitive skin can be irritated by chemical products, even in small quantities. So, it is best to choose products that contain gentle ingredients such as plant-based enzymes and rice extract for this skin type. It is also recommended to limit exfoliation to just one session per week for sensitive skin.

Mature Skin:

Exfoliating twice or thrice a week can help in reducing the appearance of fine lines and dullness, making it beneficial for people with mature skin. Again, over-exfoliation can lead to skin thinning, which will only speed up aging, so always err on the side of caution.

Best Methods of Exfoliating Your Face

The method you choose also plays a major role in deciding how often you should exfoliate. There are two methods, as follows:

Physical Exfoliation:

In this method, physical tools are used to remove the dead skin cells like:

  • Face scrubs
  • Washcloth
  • Microbeads
  • Facial brushes or sponges

Face scrubs have faced their own fair share of controversies, wherein they are touted to be too abrasive for the skin, leading to the misconception that they should be avoided altogether. Critics say the grains in these scrubs are capable of causing microtears in the skin. However, with a bit of research, you will easily be able to steer clear of any harsh or harmful ingredients.

For example, fruit pits, nutshells, and salt are not very good ingredients for a scrub. Instead, scrubs that contain bamboo powder or jojoba beads are great for even sensitive skin. Always choose scrubs that contain fine particles. Follow a gentle circular motion that will help stimulate skin cells and keep irritation at bay.

However, everything good comes with a bit of bad. The physical method of exfoliation comes with its own set of pros and cons, as listed below:

PROS:

Physical exfoliation is known for giving immediate results. One exfoliation session will reveal a smooth and bright complexion, making it the go-to beauty hack for a quick party or day out.

Physical exfoliants work on the skin independently, meaning they do not interfere with the performance of other products you might routinely use. This means it is completely safe to use a serum or hydrating essence immediately after exfoliation.

CONS:

Physical tools such as brushes and sponges require regular maintenance and cleaning. Failing to do so can lead to the breeding of bacteria.

Some physical scrubs like walnut shells and fruit pits can be too harsh on the skin.

Chemical Exfoliants:

Water-soluble acids, like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), or plant-based enzymes, are the main ingredients used in chemical exfoliants. They help remove the dead skin cells by dissolving the bonds that hold the cells together, giving smooth and radiant looking skin in return. Chemical exfoliants come in the form of peels, leave-on liquid formula, and exfoliating pads.

Here are some of the pros and cons of chemical exfoliants:

PROS:

Less abrasive as compared to physical exfoliants

They do not need to be rinsed off as most of them come with a leave-on formula, making it a fuss-free option.

CONS:

Since they are chemical-based, they can penetrate deep into the skin, causing irritation and increased sensitivity.

For oily, mature, or sensitive skin, both methods of exfoliation can be used. For dry skin, opt for chemical exfoliation.

Skin-Care Post Exfoliation:

The golden rule post exfoliation is to follow a two-step procedure to replenish the skin’s essential oils, which may have been ripped off during the process.

  • Moisturize with a hydrating serum or moisturizer to maintain the skin’s protective barrier.
  • Protect the skin by using sunscreen to cut down the risk of damage from the sun rays.

This guide to exfoliating your skin should solve all your doubts and help you achieve smooth, glowing skin.


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