What is Skin Exfoliation? Here's How to Properly Exfoliate the Face & Body

Woman with exfoliant on face wearing towel in front of pink backdrop

Exfoliating is an essential step of any skincare routine.

If you want to brighten your complexion, prevent breakouts, or reduce the appearance of fine lines, exfoliation is a must.

Read on to learn all about skin exfoliation, including what it is and tips for exfoliating your skin type.

What’s a Skin Exfoliant Anyway?

You likely know that a skin exfoliant works to remove dead skin cells from your face and body. But did you know there are two distinct exfoliation methods you can use?

Physical exfoliation is any skin exfoliant product or method that requires manual scrubbing or rubbing. Mechanical exfoliation uses products like loofahs, cleansing scrubs, pumice stones, and dry brushes typically rubbed in a circular motion to remove dead skin.

Chemical exfoliation is any product that uses chemicals (usually hydroxy acids and retinol) with enzymes to remove dead skin cells. At Patchology, our Beauty Sleep hydrogel face sheet mask is loaded with anti-aging retinol and peptides to smooth fine lines. And you can achieve soft, smooth skin from head to toe with our exfoliating foot peels.

Many people use a combination of these types of exfoliants to achieve flawless skin all over. For instance, a gentle bubbly face mask with niacinamide may work best for the sensitive skin on your face, while pumice stones work best for smoothing rough heels.

Why is Exfoliation Important

Regular exfoliation is incredibly beneficial for your skin. Here are a handful of the benefits of adding this step to your skin care regime:

  • Clean out clogged pores, which can help reduce acne
  • Remove dead, dull skin cells to reveal a glowing, vibrant complexion
  • Help your skin care products to penetrate the skin and work more effectively
  • Smooth the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Promote collagen production for firmer, brighter skin

Is Exfoliating Good For Your Skin?

While exfoliation is good for skin, the best way to enhance your complexion depends on your skin type. The American Academy of Dermatology, people with acne-prone or dry skin should consider using a washcloth and mild chemical exfoliator rather than mechanical exfoliation. 

While exfoliating can be good for acne, harsher exfoliants may be too irritating if you have sensitive skin. You never want to scrub or pick at your acne, so a gentle chemical exfoliant is best.

People with oily skin might have better results from a stronger chemical exfoliant or physical exfoliation. Whenever you’re introducing a new product to your skin care routine, make sure to test it on a small area to see how your skin reacts.

How to Exfoliate Your Face and Body

Ready to incorporate exfoliation into your beauty regime? Here are some tips to follow.

When it comes to exfoliating your face, apply your product gently using small, circular motions after removing your makeup. Do this for about 30 seconds, and then rinse off with lukewarm water. Then, make sure to immediately follow with a moisturizer since exfoliating can dry your skin.

You can also use a detox face mask to help clear up your complexion and clean out pore­-clogging debris.

Exfoliating your body can be different. Most people exfoliate with a body wash and loofah in the shower. Make sure to use a gentle, moisturizing cleanser and avoid showing in water that’s too hot. You can also consider using a dry brush

This exfoliation method is growing in popularity because it can help to remove dead skin build up, reduce bumps, and promote circulation and blood flow.

For rougher skin, like your hands and heels, consider using an exfoliating peel that works to remove dead skin and soften your hands and feet. 

Pro Tip: When you want to achieve silky smooth hands, one of the first things you should do is exfoliate your nails. You can gently exfoliate your nails with the first nail treatment containing glycolic acid. This treatment instantly makes your nails look healthy and lustrous before you move on exfoliating the rest of your hand.

How Often Should You Exfoliate 

It’s important to never over-exfoliate your face or body since this can lead to more irritation. You should also never exfoliate your skin if you have an open cut or a sunburn.

According to Healthline, most experts advise that you exfoliate two to three times per week. However, that’s entirely up to your skin. You may use a gentle exfoliating cleanser every day, but only complete a full-body mechanical exfoliation once or twice a week!

Elevate Your Exfoliation Efforts

Ready to upgrade your exfoliation routine to help your skin glow from within? Check out our favorite exfoliating cleanser, this Enzyme Cleanser from Plant Apothecary, Cloud Break. This is the perfect first step in your daily skincare routine that delivers the cleansing benefits of a gentle facial cleanser without stripping the skin of vital oils. 

Then, follow up your cleanser with an exfoliating face sheet like our Beauty Sleep mask! And don’t forget to give your lips, hands, and feet some TLC too. Our Full Collection of Skincare Favorites at Patchology have your exfoliation and beauty needs covered from head to toe!