What Does Exfoliating Do for Your Skin?

What Does Exfoliating Do for Your Skin?

We all want to perfect our skin care routine, but buzzy words and trends get thrown around often — making it tricky to decipher what’s worth it.

Exfoliation, however, gets talked about for good reason! An exfoliation routine will take your skin to the next level. Keep reading to learn all about exfoliation and why you should implement it into your skin care routine.

What is an exfoliator?

There isn’t just one type of exfoliator. Your ideal exfoliant might be a chemical peel, a cleanser, or a physical exfoliator. Numerous over-the-counter skin care products have exfoliating properties, so choose what best works for you.

Your exfoliating product of choice will be used after a cleanse and before moisturizing. Unlike a regular cleanser, your exfoliator will scrub out the dead skin cells and excess grime that can’t be eliminated from a standard face cleanser. 

Exfoliating products are stronger by design, so it is crucial to start slowly. If you have sensitive skin, use a soft, clean washcloth or cotton pad and gently rub the exfoliant into your skin in circular motions — you'll still exfoliate away those dead skin cells without irritating your skin.

Now, let’s further explore the benefits of exfoliating.

What does exfoliating mean for my skin?

Removing dead skin cells and buildup will give your skin a fresh, clean slate. Regularly cleansing and exfoliating your skin will help improve the overall feel and appearance of your complexion. 

An at-home exfoliation treatment will make your skin feel smooth and softer to the touch, since exfoliating products work to make your face supple and bright. Meanwhile, if using a chemical exfoliant, the acids within the product works under the surface to slow the production of oil, so your skin will be less prone to blemishes.

But what if I have acne?

Exfoliating is especially important for acne-prone skin. Of course, a week of regular exfoliating won’t be a quick-fix acne cure, but it's a start — and it'll support the skin’s health over time.

Breakouts and blemishes aren’t fun, but exfoliation can make it more manageable. Whatever your exfoliation method, the product you use should contain BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) and AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), which work in tandem to support your complexion. 

An exfoliating product will support your skin’s natural ability to fight free radicals and grime buildup that break down collagen. Ridding your skin of excess will instantly make your face feel smoother. Plus, collagen loss can contribute to premature signs of aging. Implementing exfoliation into your routine can help support the overall health of acne-prone skin.

What about other skin types?

We recommend exfoliation for all skin types, including dry, oily and combination skin.

Oily skin certainly benefits from exfoliating treatments. As mentioned, ingredients found in exfoliating products specifically target the inner layer of skin, slowing down oil production and unclogging pores. Your skin may look and feel less oily by incorporating an exfoliant into your skin care routine.

Dry skin also benefits from exfoliating. However, don’t overdo it or scrub too hard. Physical exfoliation is a popular method, so with dry skin, be gentle to avoid irritating your skin.

What ingredients should I be looking for in an exfoliating product?

As we mentioned earlier, keep an eye out for BHAs and AHAs.

BHAs (beta hydroxy acids)

The most common BHA is salicylic acid. This acid works from the inside out to produce the best results. Salicylic acid reduces oil on the inner layer of skin. 

Excess oil and layers of dead skin cells clog the pores, which then cause blemishes, dark spots and other unwanted breakouts on the surface of your skin. BHAs support clear pores, which is a necessary step to achieving a supple complexion.

AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids)

AHAs target the top layer of skin, making it best for on-the-surface results. Search for glycolic acid, citric acid, lactic acid or tartaric acid. 

These kinds of acid smooth the look and feel of the skin and minimize the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots and other blemishes. Consistent use of an exfoliant with AHAs and BHAs will give you refreshed, glowing skin!

How do I incorporate exfoliation into my skin care routine?

First, it's important to note that over-exfoliation is real, so don’t do it every single day. Instead, do your exfoliation routine about three times a week to avoid irritating the skin and causing dryness.

Follow these steps on your exfoliation day:

  • Cleanse: Run lukewarm water and use a reliable and gentle cleanser, like our Gentle Soothing Cleanser, to give your skin a clean slate. This will clean the surface layer of the skin and prepare you for your exfoliation routine.
  • Exfoliate: Whether you prefer a chemical exfoliant, like Crystal Clear, or opt for a physical one, like Clay Time, exfoliate immediately following a cleanse. This allows you to target deeper layers and remove leftover dead skin cells.
  • Tone: Use your favorite toner to finish cleansing the skin.
  • Treat:Treat your skin with a serum, like our Youth Serum, to plump and hydrate. 
  • Moisturize: Further hydrate your skin by applying your favorite gentle moisturizer. This will make your skin look radiant.
  • Protect: In the morning, always finish your skin care routine and protect your complexion with sunscreen.

To sum it all up...

Exfoliating promotes the look of radiant skin by addressing dead skin cells and buildup, in turn supporting healthy cell turnover. An exfoliation routine can help prevent unwanted blemishes, acne and hyperpigmentation — and make your face look bright and radiant for years to come. 

At Skin Pharm, we’re all about a well-rounded skin care routine, and exfoliation is part of that. Add an exfoliating product to your routine to achieve healthy, glowing skin. 

Peer review

This article was medically reviewed by Chelsie Rogers, PA-C, a board-certified physician assistant with 6 years of experience in cosmetic dermatology.


Exfoliating for Acne-Prone Skin | Healthline

What doctors say you need to know about BHAs. | NBC News

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

Dangers Of An Over-Exfoliated Skin | The Naked Chemist


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