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Woman using a exfoliation pad to clean her face.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Face?

Nothing feels quite like a good exfoliation; it’s why we spend countless hundreds of dollars with our favorite estheticians. However, you don’t have to visit the medspa to exfoliate your skin. 

There are plenty of at-home products that do an equally impressive job of sloughing away your dead skin cells and giving you that “just had a facial” glow. 

Let’s talk about exfoliating, why it’s important, and how you can do it at home with clean, cruelty-free products. 

Why should I exfoliate?

Exfoliating regularly helps keep your skin in the best possible condition. Your skin is constantly making new skin. As it does so, dead skin cells are pushed to the surface where they eventually die and lay on top of your new, healthy skin. 

If you don’t slough away your dead skin cells, you’re setting yourself up for some serious skincare woes. 

Exfoliating helps unclog pores

Got breakouts? Help get rid of them fast by exfoliating regularly. Exfoliating helps remove dirt, oil, and those dead skin cells that can clog your pores and cause breakouts. 

Exfoliating encourages cell turnover

Your skin takes longer to renew itself as you get older. Children’s skin renews every two weeks. By the time we’re 30, it takes closer to a month for the magic to happen.  

The less new skin we make, the more opportunities there are for the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, rough patches, and uneven complexion. But not all is lost. You can stimulate your cellular turnover by exfoliating. 

Exfoliating removes dead skin and stimulates the cells in the dermal layer to begin creating new skin, giving your skin the kickstart it needs to make new skin faster.

Exfoliating aids circulation

Keeping your skin healthy involves making sure everything is working smoothly—even beyond the surface. Exfoliating helps keep blood circulating better in your skin and improves circulation. With improved circulation, your skin can more easily remove toxins. 

You’ll also assist the lymphatic system in draining properly, which can help eliminate puffiness that makes you look tired, especially beneath your eyes. 

Exfoliating helps even skin tone

If you’re worried about the varying shades that show up on your face, exfoliating can help. Removing the top layer of dead skin cells helps reveal new, undamaged skin. Over time, your skin tone will look more even as areas of hyperpigmentation begin to fade. 

Which exfoliator is best for me?

There are three types of exfoliating: physical, mechanical, and chemical. Don’t get scared by the “c” word, though. Chemical exfoliants can be completely safe—and vegan.

Physical exfoliants

Physical exfoliators use granules to gently slough away dead skin cells. You’re probably familiar with a certain apricot scrub, a decades-old product you’ll find on any store shelf—we’re going to pass on that one. The problem with that famed face scrub is that the grains are much too large for your delicate skin. 

Large granules can cause microtears in your skin that leave your face raw, irritated, and susceptible to breaking out. Not to mention there’s usually a million questionable ingredients in those store-brand scrubs that probably aren’t safe, and definitely aren’t cruelty-free.

The best options use small (we’re talking powder-fine) granules to gently lift away dead skin, dirt, and oil. Here are two of our favorites:

  • Sukin Naturals Detoxifying Facial Scrub. Cruelty-free and natural (obvi), this scrub uses bamboo stem powder instead of harder granules, making it ideal for even the most sensitive skin types. We also love the inclusion of jojoba beads which work to exfoliate and hydrate your skin. Jojoba oil is a plant-based oil that is most like your skin’s natural sebum, which means your skin absorbs it rapidly and easily. 
  • Derma-E Microdermabrasion Scrub. This scrub contains dead sea salt, which not only exfoliates but helps with detoxifying your skin. If salt granules have you questioning whether or not the scrub will be more abrasive, don’t worry. The crystals are very fine, and this scrub also boasts an infusion of citrus, grape seed, jojoba, and sweet almond oils to keep your skin hydrated and protected post-exfoliation. 

You can use these two scrubs at home up to twice a week to buff your skin and leave it with the perfect, glowing polish. 

Mechanical exfoliants

Mechanical exfoliating uses tools to remove the layer of dead skin and dirt floating around on your face. Tools like cloths, sponges, or specialized brushes are often used for mechanical exfoliation. 

It’s hard to get at-home mechanical exfoliation right. If you use too much pressure, you could end up damaging your skin. 

Chemical exfoliants

Chemical exfoliants work by breaking the bonds between dead skin cells and new skin cells so that the old skin easily rinses away. We know chemicals might seem bad, but some naturally occurring chemicals are excellent at exfoliating and completely safe for your skin.  

Some of the most popular ingredients that work as chemical exfoliants are:

  • Beta hydroxy acids. Beta hydroxy acids, or BHAs, are oil-based. They can break the dead skin bonds and dig into your pores to help clean and hydrate. A popular BHA is salicylic acid, which is derived from willow bark. 
  • Alpha hydroxy acids. Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, are naturally found as enzymes in fruit but can also be synthetically produced. Be sure to check the package to make sure you know your product’s source. Both lactic and glycolic acids are forms of AHAs, but lactic acid is commonly derived from animal milk, so be careful to check the packaging to ensure your product of choice is vegan. 

Many products feature both physical exfoliants and chemical exfoliants, which can be beneficial in helping get a deep clean and making sure all the layers of dead skin are removed from the top layer of skin. 

How often do I need to exfoliate?

Good question. A general rule of thumb is twice a week, but it may vary depending on how quickly your skin rejuvenates and whether you have dry or oily skin. Both skin types need exfoliation, but you’ll need to make sure your skin is getting enough hydration if it’s prone to dryness. 

  • Dry skin and combination skin. Avoid any product that strips your skin of its natural oils. Look for exfoliating products that include a generous amount of plant-based oils to help soothe skin, and make sure to follow your exfoliation with a moisturizer. Try exfoliating once a week to start. 
  • Oily skin and acne-prone skin. Begin exfoliating your skin twice a week. Just be sure to use an exfoliating skincare routine that also incorporates a mild cleanser to help restore your skin’s natural moisture balance.  
  • Normal skin. Normal skin types can exfoliate twice a week with virtually any cruelty-free, natural exfoliant that doesn’t cause irritation. If you notice your skin is sensitive to a specific product, try cutting it down to once a week or switching products completely. 

When you exfoliate, be sure to avoid your eyes and massage the product onto your skin in circular motions to ensure you cover all areas of your skin. 

So fresh and so clean

Don’t be afraid to be in the buff. Exfoliating your skin can make it healthy, happy, and radiate with a beautiful, natural glow that may have you skipping your foundation. 

If you still have questions about exfoliating, check out The Kinder Beauty Blog for more insight into using the great products you find in our monthly boxes. With Kinder Beauty, you’ll get great products you can trust to be kinder to your skin, animals, and the environment. 

Sign up for your Kinder Beauty Box today.

 

Sources:

Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin | NCBI 

Salicylic Acid - an overview | Science Direct 

How to safely exfoliate at home | AAD.org