Imagine if you never vacuumed or dusted in your house. Dust and debris would collect, and things would look pretty rough, pretty quickly.
Now imagine the same situation occurring on your face and skin. If you don’t exfoliate on the regular, dead skin cells have a chance to collect, and your skin looks worse of wear, sooner rather than later.
Knowing how to exfoliate your face and body is key to looking your best for as long as possible. Not sure what to do to slough off those dead skin cells or how often to exfoliate the face or skin? Let’s take a closer look at how it’s done.
How to Exfoliate Your Face – Chemical Exfoliation
One way to exfoliate your face is to use a chemical method of exfoliation. Chemical exfoliants are usually acids that help to loosen dead skin cells, so that they rinse away easily, according to Garnier.
Here’s how to exfoliate your face with a chemical exfoliant:
- Choose your product. If you want gentle, daily exfoliation, look for a facial cleanser that contains an ingredient like Alpha Hydroxy Acid or Salicylic Acid. Both are gentle enough for everyday use and will help whisk away dead skin cells.
- Go with enzymes if you have sensitive skin. While salicylic or alpha hydroxy acids are gentle, they might be too much for the most sensitive of complexions. If your skin is super sensitive, look for a product that contains enzymes, not acids, Women’s Health recommends.
- Wet your face. Most cleansers work best on wet skin.
- Apply the exfoliating cleanser to your face. Use about a dime-sized portion and work it into the skin in circular motions. There’s no need to use force!
- Rinse the cleanser off. Use warm or tepid water to rinse away the cleanser and your dead skin cells.
How to Exfoliate Your Face – Mechanical Exfoliation
Another way to exfoliate your face is to use a mechanical method — like a brush. Here’s how to exfoliate your face with a brush.
- Choose the right brush. There are a lot of brushes on the market — choose the one that’s designed for your skin type and that works with your budget.
- Apply cleanser. Use your favorite facial cleanser and apply it either to damp skin or a damp brush.
- Exfoliate each section of your face. Use the cleansing brush across your face. Don’t use it for more than 20 seconds or so in any one area.
- Rinse your face and the brush. Rinse away any cleanser after you’re done exfoliating.
Tips for Exfoliating Your Face With a Brush
Knowing how to exfoliate your face with a brush means knowing how to take good care of the brush. Here’s what to do to keep your brush in great shape.
- Use more water and cleanser than you think you need. Use a quarter-sized amount of cleanser, InStyle recommends, not a dime-sized amount.
- Swap out the brush every few months. Brushes wear out and collect soap and other debris. For healthy, happy skin, trade your old brush in for a new one every quarter.
- Don’t share your brush. You wouldn’t share your toothbrush, so don’t share your facial cleansing brush!
- Start slow. Some people can exfoliate with a brush daily. Others might be too sensitive and need to use their brushes less often.
- Don’t panic if you break out at first. Once you start brushing, you start bringing up all that junk that’s trapped beneath dead skin cells. The results can be alarming at first, but things will clear up.
How to Exfoliate Your Face with a Scrub
Another way to mechanically exfoliate your face is to use a cleanser that contains “scrubbing” materials. Back in the day, those “scrubs” contained microbeads.
Now that microbeads are banned in many places, as PopSci notes, many facial scrubs contain “natural” scrubby materials, like sugar or nuts.
Using a scrub to exfoliate your face is pretty simple.
- Apply the scrub to dry skin. Coat your face with the scrub.
- Wet your fingertips. Use moistened fingertips to gently work the scrub into your skin. Use circular movements.
- Rinse the scrub off. Rinse away the scrub using warm (not hot) water.
How Often to Exfoliate Your Face
How often should you exfoliate your face? That depends on several factors.
- The time of year. Go easy on your face in winter – once, twice a week at most is fine. In the summer, you might be able to exfoliate multiple times a week, if not daily.
- Your skin’s sensitivity. Cut back to exfoliating once or twice a week if your skin shows any signs of irritation.
- Your skin type. Oily or combination skin can take a bit more exfoliation than dry skin.
As a general rule, it’s best to start with infrequent exfoliation and work your way up. You can always cut back if needed.
How to Exfoliate Your Skin on the Rest of Your Body
It’s not enough to know how to exfoliate your face. You also want to learn how to exfoliate your skin all over, so that every part of you looks great.
How to Exfoliate by Dry Brushing
Dry brushing does more than just slough dead skin cells off of your arms, legs, and upper body. Some people also claim that it helps increase lymphatic drainage.
There are also claims that dry brushing fights cellulite, but those aren’t true, according to Allure.
If you want to banish dead skin cells from your body, here’s what to do.
- Choose a brush. Pick a brush that has natural bristles that are on the soft side. You don’t want to scratch your skin!
- Start dry. It’s called dry brushing for a reason — don’t use the brush on wet skin.
- Start at the bottom. Starting at your ankles or wrists, brush using gentle, circular motions. Make sure you get every area of the skin with the brush.
- Use more pressure on tough areas. Don’t be shy about getting a little vigorous around your knees and elbows, or any area where the skin is a bit tough.
- Shower afterward. Hop in the shower after dry brushing to rinse away the loosened skin cells. Use a gentle, moisturizing cleanser.
How to Exfoliate Skin Using Lotions
You can also exfoliate the skin on your body using a lotion that contains some exfoliant. Don’t use a facial cleanser with alpha hydroxy or salicylic acid on your body — those products are specially designed for your face.
Ingredients to look for in exfoliating skin lotions include urea, which is particularly useful for dry, thick hands and feet, according to Women’s Health. Some exfoliating body lotions contain lower concentrations of alpha hydroxy acid instead.
To exfoliate skin with lotion, follow these simple steps:
- Choose the moisturizer.
- Apply the lotion to dry skin.
- Work the lotion into your skin (no need to dry it).
How to Exfoliate Skin With a Sugar Scrub
Just like your face, you can use a scrubby product to exfoliate the skin of your body. Even better, you can create your own body scrubs at home, using products you have in your kitchen.
Sugar and oil combined make a scrub that’s both exfoliating and moisturizing. Here’s how to make your own.
- Pour 1/2 cup oil into a jar. Coconut or olive oil is ideal, but you can use also use avocado or almond oil.
- Stir 1/2 cup coarse sugar into the oil. Add 1/2 cup brown or white sugar to the oil and stir to mix. You should have a grainy, gritty paste.
- Add a few drops of essential oils. This step is optional but will make your scrub smell nice. You can also stir in lemon zest for fragrance.
Keep the sugar scrub in a closed container at room temperature. To use, scoop out a small amount, rub into the skin in circular motions, then rinse off.
If you don’t have sugar lying around, another option is to use coffee grounds. The gritty texture of the grounds makes them an ideal exfoliant.
Final Thoughts on How to Exfoliate Your Face and Body
Your skin regularly produces healthy, new cells. For those cells to be visible, the old, dead ones need to go away.
Exfoliating your skin helps to keep it looking fresh and youthful and helps to increase the cell turnover process.
Since there are so many ways to exfoliate, knowing how to exfoliate your face and how often to exfoliate your face is important for keeping your skin looking great.
Remember that it is possible to exfoliate too much, so start with infrequent scrubbings or brushings and work your way up. As you figure out how to exfoliate your face and skin, you’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t.