How to Exfoliate the Right Way?

Exfoliation seems like it should be simple: regularly clear away debris on the skin, just like how we sweep the floors and wipe the counters to keep junk from piling up, right?

Well, not quite!

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead cells from the skin’s surface, so it is a cleansing act. But if we’re comparing it to other cleaning, we should think of exfoliating more like gently dusting a lamp and less like scrubbing dried food off a pan.

The main mistake most people make with exfoliators is rubbing them too hard against their skin. The next most common mistakes are exfoliating too often and with the wrong product. To make sure you’re getting the absolute most out of your exfoliator, make sure to follow these tips:

1. Know the Two Exfoliator Types

Did you know that there are two main categories of exfoliators? 

Physical exfoliators are the scrubs with small beads, like our Exfoliating Scrub. When you use physical exfoliators, be sure you’re scrubbing gently. 

Chemical exfoliators are found in the more liquidy products and the peels, like our Mini Peel Pads or Chemical Peel service. Chemical exfoliators break down bonds between surface cells to remove the dead ones without scrubbing, which can save you from redness and irritation. 

2. Be Gentle!

No matter what exfoliator you use, think “light” and “gentle” as you apply the product. This is especially important for physical exfoliators, which can easily cause tears in the skin if applied aggressively. Those tears can lead to infection, breakouts, and other problems—the opposite of what you want! To get the clean, bright, and even complexion you’re going for, imagine the pressure you’d use to make a shallow line in soft beach sand.

3. Less is More

Unless you have particularly oily skin and a skincare professional has recommended you exfoliate several times per week, you probably should only exfoliate 2 to 3 times per week.

When using an exfoliator for the first time, start with once per week and see how your skin responds. If you’re seeing results with no irritation, stick with that cycle. If or when you start seeing fewer results, bump up your frequency to twice per week and, again, keep an eye out for irritation. The name of the game is: clear away those dead cells, but don’t irritate the live ones underneath!

So, now that you’re armed with the dos and don’ts of exfoliation, here’s what we recommend you do next:

Using chemical exfoliators? 
  • Start with a clean slate (using a Gentle Cleanser).
  • Then, onto your chemical exfoliator, like our Mini Peel Pads. Glycolic acid and Salicylic acid are your friends. BONUS: Our acne clients love the Mini Peel Pads as they help clear up acne and exfoliate. (for acne mini peel pads are the preferred)
  • If you’re using our peel pads, apply evenly over your face and neck, avoiding eye area. Allow to absorb before applying additional products. Do not rinse. 
  • After your skin is dry, apply moisturizer. Don’t forget the SPF if this is your morning routine.
Using physical exfoliators?
  • Start with your Clarifying Cleanser, Glycolic Cleanser, or similar.
  • A physical exfoliator like our Exfoliating Scrub is here to clear and brighten your complexion.
  • Use those light, circular motions we talked about!
  • Rinse with warm (NOT hot) water to avoid irritation.
  • Pat face dry and apply moisturizer, plus SPF if it’s the beginning of the day.
And with that, you’ve got everything you need to know to exfoliate the right way! Enjoy your clearer, brighter skin—you deserve it!