Exfoliation is a critical part of any holistic skincare routine. But although exfoliation can feel great and lead to phenomenal benefits for your skin, plenty of people aren’t sure how often they should slough off dead skin cells. A regular skincare routine ought to be completed once or twice per day – is exfoliation the same?
Turns out, exfoliation is a little more complicated. The best frequency depends on your skin type and your personal comfort level. Let’s break down this topic in more detail and figure out how often you should exfoliate.
What Even Is Exfoliation?
Your skin’s pores get dirty every day. Not only do they get clogged with dirt from daily activities, but they can also become clogged with facial oil (called sebum) and dead skin cells. Don’t worry – dead skin cells accrue naturally and you shed them all the time.
However, dead skin cells can pile up over time and make your face look older and drier than it really is. While your skin will naturally shed away dead skin cells to uncover younger, newer cells over time, this doesn’t occur at an ideal rate if you want to look your best.
Enter exfoliation. In a nutshell, exfoliation involves using a physical or chemical exfoliating agent that can dig into your pores and get rid of all the gunk trapped inside. Dirt, dead skin cells, facial oil, you name it. It all gets scrubbed away.
But exfoliation specifically focuses on dead skin cells to uncover the layer of healthy cells beneath.
How Does Exfoliation Help?
The result of sticking to a consistent exfoliation routine? Younger, healthier-looking skin that appears absolutely radiant. In fact, the color change is natural – by rubbing the skin, you increase blood flow to the cells on the surface, giving you a healthier glow. You may even experience less acne as a result of overall healthier skin.
Exfoliation also feels great on the skin, both for you and anyone who touches your face. Your skin will appear softer and a little more supple. If you want your skin to look as good as possible, need to add exfoliation to your routine.
Exfoliators come in two types: chemical and physical. Some, like Suki Skincare’s Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, can purify your pores and reduce the buildup of dry skin over time. It even includes extra ingredients for healthier skin.
Does Exfoliation Hurt?
Of course, exfoliation does a number on your skin, especially in the beginning when you may not be used to it and your skin might be more sensitive to the new process. By sloughing away dead skin cells and exposing the sensitive skin underneath, you can cause your skin cells to create extra oil to make sure that it doesn’t lose too much water.
This is a normal process for the body and it’s not something to worry about. Exfoliating at the proper rate (more on that below) shouldn’t read to any adverse side effects. But if you exfoliate too often, you’ll accidentally end up rubbing away the healthy and young skin cells that will make you look radiant.
Furthermore, you might cause irritation like rashes with over-exfoliating. Your skin will dry out over time and you may break out in acne. All this is to say that exfoliating too often is something you should always avoid. So you need to know how often you should exfoliate.
The trick with exfoliation is that different frequencies work best for different types of skin. You want to balance enough exfoliation that you get rid of dead skin cells and dirt consistently, but not exfoliate so much that you make your skin too sensitive or dry as a side effect.
Exfoliating twice per week is the standard that most people follow, but there are a few alterations depending on your skin type.
- Dry or sensitive skin – try to exfoliate only about once per week. This stops you from going overboard and still allows your skin to benefit from the many positives of exfoliation. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, you can even drop this down to once every two weeks.
- Oily or acne-prone skin – feel free to exfoliate up to two or three times per week depending on the sensitivity of your skin. Don’t go over three times, however, no matter how oily your skin feels and how much you want to get rid of gunk in your pores.
- Combination skin – this is the most common skin type. You can follow the two or three times per week rule here as well without adverse side effects.
- Mature skin – if you have older or wrinkly skin, twice per week will usually be fine. You might need to drop this down to once per week if you find your skin dries out too easily.
The Best Times to Exfoliate
Aside from exfoliation frequency, you’ll also want to exfoliate at the right time. For most people, this is before bed during the evening.
Basically, exfoliating before bed (and after going through a deep skin care routine, complete with face serum and moisturizer) will give your new skin cells a chance to breathe and recover from the exfoliation process. Since you’re sleeping, your pores aren’t being packed with extra dirt and debris. When you wake up in the morning, your skin will appear more radiant than before.
You can exfoliate during the morning, of course. This is usually recommended for those who don’t have particularly sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, exfoliation might make your face look a little redder and rawer than you like before it calms down and recovers.
As with many things involving facial skin care, the ideal frequency and strategy will be unique to your skin. Remember to take all of this advice as a general set of guidelines instead of hard and fast rules. The ideal exfoliation frequency for you may not be the perfect exfoliation frequency for someone else.
Just remember not to go over. No matter how tough your skin is, exfoliating too frequently will lead to side effects like acne, raw skin, and itchiness.