How Often Should I Be Exfoliating?
When you think about getting smooth, clear skin, you probably think of exfoliation.
After all, removing dead skin and debris is important if you want the baby-soft face of your dreams, right?
Sure, a good scrub leaves skin feeling glow-y. But, while exfoliating is definitely an important part of any acne-fighting skincare routine, a lot of us overdo it. And by overdoing it, we can do damage to our skin.
That’s why, today, we’re talking all about the ins and outs of exfoliating. You know – the whys, whens, and hows of incorporating this important scrub-a-dubby step into our skincare routine.
Everything you need to know to exfoliate the right way
Let’s look at why exfoliating is important, what type of exfoliant you should use, and how often you should do it.
What are the benefits of exfoliating?
First things first: what is exfoliating? Exfoliating is simply the process of removing dead skin cells from your skin’s surface. And this is great for a number of reasons.
1. It opens clogged pores. While cleansers work well to clean out dirt and bacteria, exfoliators can get down deep into pores and break apart sebum. That deep down clean is the ultimate goal.
2. It boosts circulation. Exfoliating promotes increased blood flow, which is why your skin will look glowing afterwards.
3. It improves skin tone and texture. By sloughing away old and dead skin cells, it will promote new cell production, improving the tone and texture of skin. Regular exfoliation will help your skin look more even overall.
4. It allows skin care products to penetrate deeper. When you are able to remove the dead skin cells and debris, you make it easier for products to get in and do their job. Whether it’s moisturizer, toner, or self-tanner, exfoliating will make them much more effective.
5. It helps with fine lines and wrinkles. We’re all looking for the fountain of youth, and while exfoliating won’t take us there exactly, it can certainly help us in our quest. By promoting cell regrowth and collagen production, it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
So there are clearly some major benefits to exfoliating. But how do I incorporate this safely into my routine? Should I be doing this every day?
Well, not exactly.
How often should I exfoliate? Can I over exfoliate?
The answer to how often you should be exfoliating is pretty cut and dry actually. Experts recommend across that board that you should exfoliate 2-3 times per week for the best results.
Many dermatologists cite over exfoliation as a cardinal sin that way too many of us are making. But with all of those benefits, how is this possible?
Over-exfoliating is bad for a few reasons.
When you exfoliate too much, you will not only slough off the dead skin and debris, but you will start to irritate the skin. And when you irritate the skin, it will dry out, and ultimately look even worse than it did in the beginning.
Over-exfoliating will also strip your pores of their natural oils and leave skin more vulnerable to damage. We need some of those natural oils to keep our skin healthy and protected. This is tricky because your skin may appear to be tight and glowing, but in reality, it is dry and under-protected.
This can even cause breakouts, as your skin is unprotected and dry, and thus highly susceptible to bacteria. Because you may not associate over-exfoliating with breaking out, this can create a vicious cycle. Talk about frustrating!
So when it comes to exfoliating, it's all about using the right products at the right time.
What type of exfoliator works best?
There are two main types of exfoliators. Physical exfoliants, like facial scrubs and masks, use small granules or beads to slough away dead skin and debris. Chemical exfoliants, like serums and peels, work by dissolving intracellular glue that holds dead skin cells together.
Although there is no objective answer to what product is best for you, experts warn that overusing physical exfoliants is all too common. Most people find success with a mix of physical and chemical exfoliants. Using a mask or scrub once a week combined with a serum twice a week might be a great place to start.
There are however products out there that can safely and gently exfoliate every day. Products with salicylic acid work to gently exfoliate and can even help kill acne-causing bacteria. While it’s not recommended to use highly concentrated salicylic acid on it’s own every day, it’s safe to do so when it is formulated into an everyday cleanser or treatment. These products use salicylic acid sparingly and in conjunction with other ingredients so that it will not dry out your skin. Finding a product that has aloe vera in it as well will help reduce inflammation and swelling.
Since every person has different skin needs, it helps to get personalized treatments. If you have particularly sensitive skin, you might be better off staying away from physical exfoliants altogether. If your skin is dry, there might be certain chemicals you should avoid. Experiment and see what products work best for you.
Uh-oh, I think I’ve overdone it!
If you feel like you are suffering from over-exfoliation, give your skin a break. Avoid physical exfoliants for a little while and stick to gentle exfoliants (our SCANTILY Pad is a great option). Your skin takes about a month to regenerate, so it may take some time for your skin to get back into its groove.
Make sure you are using a gentle cleanser and a probiotic facial moisturizer to give your skin a chance to heal and regain some natural oils. And don’t skip on the sunscreen! Your skin is incredibly susceptible to UV damage right now.
And that’s why, how, and how often you should be exfoliating.
Now, you’re armed with all the info you need to scrub your face the right way and at just the right time. So go out there and glow!