How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Skin: The Complete Guide.

Exfoliation The Complete Guide

Are you looking to incorporate exfoliation into your skincare regimen? If yes, we salute you. Exfoliation is essential for boosting skin cell turn over and it has many other benefits which include smoother glowy skin.

If you’re trying to decide which method is better – chemical or physical -and how often you should be doing it for your skin type then we have all the information you need to make a smart decision.

It can be tricky to get just enough exfoliation to get rid of dead skin cells without causing irritation.

Too much exfoliating can be a very bad thing.

It’s all about balance.

So, How Often Should You Exfoliate?

If you have normal or combination skin – exfoliate it 1 – 2 times a week. Oily, dry or mature skin can handle 2 – 3 times weekly. If you have acne, or sensitive skin once a week is enough. 

Don’t worry we are going to cover everything you need to know about exfoliating, how to do it, how often, what kind is best for your skin an how to look after your skin afterwards.

Let’s dive in.

You should aim to exfoliate as much as is suitable for your skin type. Too little won’t give you the results you want. Too often and you risk damaging the outer layer of your skin. The outer layer of your skin is called the stratum corneum and it plays a vital role in two ways:

First, it maintains your skins natural barrier. Stopping invading bacteria and microbes from penetrating its surface and neutralising UV damage from the sun.

It also keeps moisture in the skin which keeps your skin flexible and supple so it can move with you. Healthy radiant skin starts with a well-moisturized stratum corneum.

Ever wondered why babies have such glowly smooth skin? It’s because they replace their skin cells every 2 – 3 days. Adults replace our skin cells roughly every 28 days.

As we age our skin cells get replaced at a slower rate and this eventually leads to dull and congested skin, and fine lines and wrinkles become more pronounced.

The point of exfoliating is to remove old dead skin cells to expose the new skin underneath.

What Are The Benefits Of Exfoliation?

Exfoliation improves the health and appearance of your skin. It does this in a number of ways:

  • Unclogs pores, which improves the texture of the skin
  • Stimulates the skin to release more natural moisturising factors
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Allows products to penetrate the skin deeper and work more effectively
  • Improves collagen production
  • Reduces acne breakouts by clearing out pores
  • Can help with fading dark spots and acne scars
  • Can help minimize the appearance of pores.

To keep your skin looking its best, exfoliation should be a regular part of your skincare routine.

If you don’t currently exfoliate it’s a technique that should be worked into your routine slowly. Suddenly starting an exfoliation regimen can irritate or damage your skin, so it is important to start with a gentle exfoliant several times a week and then working up to more if your skin can tolerate it.

What’s the Best Exfoliator for Your Skin Type?

You can’t change your skin type, although it will change on its own at different phases of your life. Acne-prone usually settles down by your early 20’s. Oily skin cand become normal dry or combination skin as you age. Pregnancy and hormonal changes can turn good skin bad and bad skin great.

So pay attention to your skin and choose your exfoliation method and products wisely to keep your skin healthy and looking its best.

The goal when using exfoliants. Is to remove dead skin cells without drying out or damaging your skin.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Normal Skin?

If you have normal skin with few problems, you have the freedom to experiment with both chemical and physical exfoliation to see which you like best.

Normal skin can get a glow boost from exfoliation twice a week. If your skin responds well and loves it bump it to 3 times. If your skin starts to show signs of irritation – redness, dryness or feels ‘tight’ pull it back to twice a week.

Even with normal skin, keeping it hydrated and protected will have a massive impact on the results. It’s important to check the ingredients in products your already using, as some may have chemical exfoliants in them.

Alpha hydroxy acids ie: glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant. You may already be exfoliating without realising, so check your current skincare ingredients before adding in a dedicated exfoliant.

If you use a physical exfoliator, more on these in a minute then choose a non-abrasive gentle product to start with.

Done properly exfoliation can be a real skin-changer and your skin can look the best it ever has.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Oily Skin?

Generally speaking, oily skin has a higher tolerance for exfoliation, so you may be able to exfoliate up to five times a week, depending on what product you choose. Look for an exfoliant that contains AHA or BHA and moisturize afterwards to avoid drying out your skin.

Often people with oily skin feel like there is more to scrub off. But, the reality is that the sebum or oil on your face doesn’t make it thicker or stronger. It probably is more congested and you may have more clogged pores but that doesn’t mean that you need to harshly scrub your face.

Oily skin may need more exfoliation due to congestion and even daily gentle exfoliation form chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid can be beneficial for oily skin.

Through double cleansing is a good option for oily skin and this can stop the skin from drying out to much. Lots of gel-based and foaming cleansers can be harsh on the skin. Using an oil or balm based cleanser to dissolve makeup, sunscreen and debris before using a gel cleanser can help the skin not dry out too much.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Sensitive Skin?

This is by far one of the trickiest exfoliation routines to plan for since sensitive skin includes eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and dermatitis and some types of acne-prone skin. Of course, the predominant factor here will be just how sensitive your skin is, and in what way.

If you have sensitive skin, it’s important to be gentle and use hypoallergenic products, and steer clear of scrubbing too aggressively.

Stick with very gentle chemical exfoliators like azelaic acid or niacinamide. Both of these are very gentle on the skin and very unlikely to cause irritation or purging.

Don’t use harsh physical exfoliants, the best option is a clay-based product that exfoliates with fine powder particles. They are less abrasive and protect skin from microtears that other physical exfoliants may cause.

Another option for exfoliating sensitive skin is dermaplaning. If you can’t tolerate AHAs and BHAs then consider dermaplaning. We have covered everything you need to know about dermaplaning further in this article.

How Often Should You Exfoliate for Acne-Prone Skin?

Acne can be quite tough to deal with, and while exfoliating can help keep acne at bay (by keeping your pores clear) using the wrong type of exfoliant can damage the skin which can cause scarring.

The most important factor with acne and exfoliation is the type of exfoliator you’re using. Some chemical exfoliators are made especially for acne (salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide) and have compounds in them which exfoliate without risking friction on already sensitive areas.

Dermaplaning is not an option for skin with active acne.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Dry Skin?

Dry skin is more prone to cracks, rough texture, peeling, redness, and irritation when compared to normal or oily skin. This is because it lacks the level of moisture needed to keep the skin cells hydrated.

Harsh exfoliating can be harmful to dry skin, and over-exfoliating can cause serious damage even with a good moisturizer.

Opt for a chemical exfoliator that contains both AHAs and BHA along with tiny granules like jojoba beads to soothe and exfoliate your skin.

Dry skin can benefit from dermaplaning just make sure to use a super-rich moisturizer after exfoliating. If your skin can tolerate it you can exfoliate 2 – 4 times a week.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Mature Skin?

As you get older, your skin’s rate of cell turnover slows down, which can leave your skin looking dull. A chemical exfoliator featuring glycolic acid will help slough off dead skin cells without stripping your skin’s protective barrier. It will also help boost collagen production while reducing pigmentation and age spots.

Mature and ageing skin can change from being normal/combination skin to dry sensitive skin. Bear that in mind and treat your skin gently.

Glowy radiant skin is not only for the young! Your skin can be fresh and dewy whatever your age. The secret is choosing the right type of exfoliation and the right frequency. The more you can exfoliate your skin without causing irritation the better your skin will look.

Start with twice a week chemical exfoliation and monthly dermaplaning. If your skin looks good then keep going and change things up as your skin changes.

Keeping your skin super hydrated also helps keep skin cells fresh and plump.

How Often Should You Exfoliate Combination Skin?

If you have an oily T-zone but dry skin on your cheeks and forehead, you can use an exfoliator that combines chemical and physical properties. A product made with glycolic and salicylic acids for example.

Combination skin may experience different skin problems on different days. You may feel dry and tight on some days, and feeling like you woke up with an oily film covering your face on other days.

Use a chemical/physical mix exfoliator twice a week and try having monthly to 6 weekly dermaplaning. If you feel that your skin can take more then add in another exfoliation day.

Don’t overdo it back off if your skin shows any signs of being damamged such as redness, tightness or peeling.

Luckily, the skin is quick to tell you if it’s unhappy, and you can follow the prompts it gives while working out your skincare routine. While it’s great to have standard norms to follow, it’s important to observe your own skin closely. Always consult a professional dermatologist if you are experiencing drastic reactions as well as for personalized guidance, as every person is unique and you may need something extra special to get your skin glowing again.

How Are Chemical Exfoliators and Physical Exfoliation What’s The Difference?

Both serve the same purpose: to remove dead skin cells that haven’t completely shed, but they do so in different ways. Chemical exfoliants can be acid-based and, when applied to your skin, gently melt the glue that binds together dead skin cells.

Or they can be enzyme-based and penetrate the skin to stimulate new skin cells to be made.

When dead skin cells are removed (by any kind of exfoliation) you are left with a clearer, brighter more even-toned complexion.

Examples of chemical exfoliants:

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – Two of the most popular AHAs used in skincare products are lactic acid and glycolic acid. You might already be using these without realising as they are in a lot of serums and moisturizing products in over the counter (OTC) products. These acids are also used by a dermatologist in much higher percentages in chemical peels.
  • Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHAs) – The most popular BHA is salicylic acid, it is made from the same source as aspirin. Salicylic acid is great for exfoliating acne-prone and oily skin and is also used by a dermatologist in higher strengths for chemical peels
  • Enzymes – Derived from natural sources like yeast, fruit and grains. These enzymes stimulate cell growth which pushes the dead skin cells of the surface of the skin quicker. This process takes longer than AHAs and BHAs but they are gentler on the skin. Azelaic acid and niacinamide are enzyme-based exfoliators.

Despite their alarming names, these products are often considered gentler than physical exfoliation because they do not require scrubbing.

Instead, they work gradually and deliver long-lasting results, thanks to their ability to penetrate below the surface and positively affect the skin’s underlying layers.

Physical Exfoliants

Any product that falls under this umbrella requires scrubbing or rubbing to activate the ingredients, which gives way to the term “physical.” These exfoliants run the gamete in diversity, ranging from sugar scrubs to facial brushes. With so many options from which to choose, it’s important to select a mild product that won’t cause adverse reactions (we’ll discuss this more in a moment). Also, keep in mind that heavy-handed scrubbing can damage your skin.

Examples of physical exfoliants include:

  • Microbeads – Once used in a wide variety of exfoliating skin care products, microbeads are tiny plastic particles measuring less than one millimetre in diameter. Because microbeads are made from plastic they don’t breakdown and where found in large concentrations in lakes and oceans they have now thankfully be banned by many governments.
  • Small Granules – Natural materials like jojoba seeds and ruby crystals are very small granules that are fairly uniform in size and shape which makes them an effective exfoliant with a low risk of irritating or abrading the skin. They also breakdown naturally or become harmless in waterways and sea life do not mistake them for food and ingest them.
  • Large Granules – More abrasive materials like pumice and magnesium oxide crystals form larger granules which are used in exfoliating skincare products. These can be abrasive to your skin and cause micro-tears making dryness and irritation more likely. We don’t recommend using this type of physical exfoliant.
  • Natural Materials – Such as ground fruit pits and seeds, crushed nutshell sugar and mineral salts are also too abrasive to the skin on your face. You can use these for body exfoliation scrubs safely.
  • Hand-Held Tools – Such as brushes, forces and gua sha are also exfoliating to the skin. These can harbour bacteria and not be very hygienic so be very meticulous in how you maintain these tools if you are going to use them for exfoliation.

Next Level Exfoliation-Dermaplaning.

What is Dermaplanning?

Perhaps the ultimate in pain-free instant smooth-faced softness with the added bonus of flawless makeup application. Plus it gets more bonus points for have zero downtime. Sounds great, but doesn’t it involve a surgical scalpel?

Dermaplanning is done by licensed estheticians or qualified beauty therapists who ‘shave’ your face with a surgical blade.

Scared? Don’t be its totally painless and the ideal exoliant for people with sensitive skin who can’t tolerate chemical or physical exfloiantion.

It’s not the cheapest option of exfoliation but it is super effective and you can expect to see instant smoother, glowly, more even-toned skin after just one session.

Dermaplanning lifts offs the peach fuzz, also known as vellus hair and the top layer of dead skin cells. This increases your skin ability to absorb products and your makeup will glide on and look flawless.

We warn you dermaplaning can become addictive.

Benefits of Dermaplaning

  • Smoother less textured skin
  • Removal of vellus hair AKA peach fuzz
  • Gets rid of dead skin cells
  • Increases cell turnover which stimulates collagen production
  • Skin looks ‘brighter’ and feels firmer
  • Makeup applies better on and looks flawless

What are the side effects of dermaplaning?

Dermaplanning is safe and works for nearly all skin types. Side effects and down time are zero in most cases. If you have very sesitive skin it might be slightly pink afterwards but this is not common and usually goes on its own within a hour or two.

This makes dermaplanning a great choice for people who can’t use chemical exfloilatnts or if you have a special occasion that you want to look your best for.

You should avoid dermaplaning if you:

  • Have active acne
  • Have roszcea psosiris or dermatitis
  • Open wounds
  • Have used Accutane within the last six months

This is also why it is important to seek out a qualified technician.

Is there any prep required for my first dermaplaning appointment?

You should stop using chemical exfoliants including AHAs, BHAs and retinoids fo 5 days before your first dermaplaning treatment.

If your skin tolerates dermaplaning well then 24 hours of not using active skincare acids should be fine.

Waxing, threading, shaving should be avoided for 7 days.

Don’t do dermaplaning on active acne, milia, or blackheads. Wait until these have cleared up completely before getting dermaplaning.

How long is the recovery time from dermaplaning?

Dermapaning is totally pain-free and has zero downtime. The procedure should take 30 minutes or less and feels like a credit card being gently scraped over your skin.

Your skin should be prepped with surgical alcohol before the procedure this might make your skin sensitive – you can feel a slight stinging sensation after the procedure and a very slight pinkness. This will vanish anywhere from a few minutes to an hour at most.

What do I do for my skin after a dermaplaning session?

Hydration, moisturizer and serums are ideally applied straight after derma planing. Your skin will absorb these products much more efficiently. Your Aesthetician should apply hyaluronic acid and sunscreen straight after your session.

Tips for the first 48 – 72 hours after derma planning

Avoid direct sun contact and wear a broad spectrum SPF 30. Avoid going out into the sun where possible.

Do not use any kind of chemical or physical exfoliant for 4 – 5 days – including AHA’s, BHA’s and retinoids.

Use gentle oil or balm based cleanser and dense moisturizing products for the first 7 days.

FAQ About Dermplaning

Q. Does hair grow back thicker after dermaplaning?

Nope, dermaplaning or shaving for that matter does not make hair grow back thicker. If it did every balding man would shave his head and grow back a thick lustrous mane of hair. If only that were true!

What dermaplaning does do is cut the hair off bluntly, this means when it grows back it has a blunt end until it tapers off within 2 – 3 days.

Hair is incredibly strong, it is made out of keratin – which is the same protein that tiger claws and rhino horns are made of. When hair is very short and blunt cut it is very tough which is why your face may feel like it is growing back thicker hair.

Q. Can Dermaplaning cause acne breakouts?

No, dermaplaning is only removing the top dead layer of skin and hair. Acne is caused by excess sebum and bacteria.

Q.Does dermaplaning remove melasma and dark spots?

No, dermaplaning only effect the very top layer of skin called the stratum corneum. Melasma and dark sport occur deeper in your skin where dermaplaning can’t reach.

Q. Is dermaplaning just shaving?

If you use a cutthroat razor like your great grandfather may have used then yes itis is ‘just shaving’. Modern shaving blades only have a very minimal effect on dead skin removal, they are designed for hair removal. Most of them will not get close enough to remove the top layer of dead skin cells.

Q. Can I do dermaplaning at home?

The internet is awash with ‘dermaplaning tools’ we would advise extreme caution in attempting home dermaplaning. At best it will remove the peach fuss and at worst you may give your self some serious irritation and micro-tears. Cuts and nicks are very obvious and you risk infection and a few days to a week of recovery.

Never put makeup or skincare products onto open wounds. This can cause major infections issues!

Don’t take the risk its not worth it. Go to a licenced professional. You would be better off using a mans safety razor and shaving your face than trying at home dermaplaning with a blade brought from amazon!

Q. Is Dermaplaning good for dry skin?

Yes. In fact, it is perfect for dry skin. It removes the top layer of dead and dry skin so that the fresh, plump new cells are revealed.

Which Type of Exfoliation Is Best For You?

The best answer to this question is maybe all three, as they complement each other when used properly.

But remember that too much exfoliating can strip the skin’s natural moisture barrier and leave you vulnerable to unwanted effects like dryness, UV damage, and infection. It’s best, then, not to overdo it and seek professional help if you’re concerned.

Whatever your skin type we recommend starting with once a week, and build up from there.

Personal Preference

At the end of the day, the exfoliant you choose depends on personal preference. All methods require that you be aware of your skin type so you can select the product that most closely matches your needs. This means reading labels and understanding the functions of common skincare ingredients. Adopting this practice sooner rather than later will help you build upon your skincare routine.

Either exfoliant will improve your skin’s texture and health. We’ve talked about cellular turnover, but this technique also encourages collagen synthesis to keep the skin’s structure strong and firm. It additionally helps your other skincare products, like serums and moisturizers, penetrate with greater ease.

Some Noteworthy Guidance

Once you’ve chosen your exfoliating product or technique, pay attention to the recommended guidelines. Some eliminate the need for guesswork and specify they should only be used once weekly. If not go slowly.

You may be able to ramp up the frequency of treatment as your skin adjusts, but this isn’t necessary if you’re getting the desired results: brighter, clearer, and smoother skin with a fresh glow.

If you’re not seeing these results, we recommend you gradually increase the frequency. Immediately dial it back down, however, if your skin begins to look or feel dry or irritated. Skin cells are resilient but fragile, and your goal is to improve their health rather than cause additional worries.

How to Address Specific Concerns

Physical exfoliants are beneficial for those with oily skin. You’ll see instant results, and in most cases, these products can be easily integrated into your current skincare routine. Additionally, by using small, circular movements when applying your topical exfoliant, you can help stimulate circulation. The benefits of this include reduced puffiness and increased vibrancy.

A chemical exfoliant is ideal for people with skin conditions like acne and rosacea because it doesn’t require scrubbing. By penetrating more deeply, it can also reduce early signs of ageing, like fine lines and small wrinkles. Finally, these exfoliants produce all-over results, whereas a physical exfoliant depends on your nimble application and may not reach every nook and cranny.

Dermaplaning is great for most skin types and gives skin a super boost with minimal to no discomfort or downtime.

How to Add Exfoliation Into Your Skincare Routine

Adding exfoliation into your skincare routine can be a game-changer and take your skin from meh to marvellous. Here is our recommended method for using exfoliators.

We recommend doing home exfoliation at night so that any redness can disappear while you sleep and to avoid exposing freshly exposed skin to UV rays.

How to Use Chemical Exfoliators

  1. Cleanse your skin using your preferred cleanser and pat it dry.
  2. Apply a small amount of your chemical exfoliator to a reusable cotton pad or apply directly with your finger tips.
  3. Start at the base of your neck and move upwards to your jawline. The apply to your cheeks, nose and forehead.
  4. Don’t apply chemical exfoliator directly to the skin on or around the eyes.
  5. Leave it on the skin to work for up to 30 minutes, this allows the product to work and for your skin to return to its pH neutral state before you apply your next product.
  6. Continue with the rest of your skincare routine, being sure to include a moisturizer.

How to Use Physical Exfoliators

  1. Cleanse your skin using your preferred cleanser and leave it a little damp.
  2. Add a small amount of your mechanical exfoliator to your fingertips.
  3. Apply the exfoliator to your skin, rubbing in small, circular motions.
  4. Begin at the base of your neck and move upwards to your jawline, then to your cheeks to your brow bone and forehead. Lastly down your nose and around your mouth and chin.
  5. Do not apply to the skin on and around your eyes.
  6. Rinse your face with lukewarm water and gently pat dry.
  7. Continue with the rest of your skincare routine, being sure to include a moisturizer.

Whether you’re using a chemical or mechanical exfoliator, it’s important to know when to use it and what to do after you’re finished. For sensitive skin, you should exfoliate no more than once or twice a week, while oily skin can benefit from exfoliation up to five times per week.

For normal and combination skin, exfoliate up to three times per week depending on the type of exfoliator you choose. If your skin is in the middle of an active breakout, skip the exfoliation part of your skincare routine until it heals.

Exfoliation removes the top layer of skin, so you should expect it to remove some of your skin’s natural moisture, as well. When you’ve finished exfoliating, it is important to restore your skin’s hydration by applying a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type.

Apply a lightweight, broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday but in particular after exfoliating because your skin may be extra-sensitive.

Here’s to the best skin of your life!