No matter your skin type, you’ve probably considered exfoliating in the past. Whether you want to gently slough off dead skin cells or tackle tougher blemishes, exfoliation can be an effective way to freshen up your complexion and boost your beauty routine. However, there are several different methods of exfoliation on the market, from scrubs to peels to mechanical tools like dermaplaning, and it can be hard to know which one will work best for you. That’s why we asked ourselves one question: how often should you exfoliate?
Let’s talk exfoliation
If your skin feels dry or flaky (or maybe even if it doesn’t), you might think exfoliation is right for you. There are many forms of exfoliation—from manual scrubbing to topical products to lasers and injectables—but they all have one goal in common: sloughing off dead skin cells and helping your healthy skin show through. Although exfoliation has benefits, it’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment and there are some precautions you should take when considering an at-home or professional exfoliating session.
What is exfoliation anyway?
In order to give you a well-rounded answer to your question, let’s first define exfoliation. Exfoliation is simply removing dead skin cells from your skin’s surface, says Debra Jaliman , MD , assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Without proper exfoliation, these dry cells build up on top of one another and lead to an uneven texture that can make your complexion look dull.
Benefits of exfoliating
Sloughing off dead skin and pore-clogging sebum can help to improve skin's tone and texture and reduce oil production. (That's why you see so many products that say they exfoliate!) While a daily scrub is usually not necessary, most dermatologists recommend using a gentle facial cleanser or an exfoliating product with chemical or physical scrubs two to three times per week. However, keep in mind that it's easy to overdo it. If your skin is red or irritated after using an exfoliating product once a day for two weeks straight, try cutting back on how often you use it—or give your face a break altogether.
How often should you exfoliate?
To put it simply, you should exfoliate daily. This removes dirt and dead skin cells to reveal soft and smooth skin that glows. If you have especially oily or acne-prone skin, exfoliating at least 2–3 times a week may be ideal for you. Of course, results vary from person to person, so it's up to you and your dermatologist to determine what works best for your particular skin type.
Products to help with exfoliation
There are countless products on market to help you with exfoliation. Most of them rely on some form of microdermabrasion or light abrasion to unclog pores and remove dead skin cells that build up over time. However, not all scrubs are created equal – some can cause irritation and redness. If you have sensitive skin or eczema you may want to avoid facial scrubs altogether and opt for chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid instead.
The skin under your eyes vs. everywhere else
The skin under your eyes is thinner than anywhere else on your body. Not only that, but there are fewer oil glands and hair follicles (thanks for reading so carefully). That’s why you need extra gentle products to avoid irritating these sensitive areas. If you have dry skin or active acne, it’s especially important to find a gentle formula; otherwise, your skin could end up looking worse than before you started using an exfoliant.