As we age, the turnover of our cells slows down, and dead skin can stick around, creating an unappealing complexion. Exfoliation can revive your skin, taking it from dull and lacklustre back to bright and radiant. So, if you’re ready to unleash your inner glow, here’s everything you need to know about exfoliating for a flawless complexion.
What Does Exfoliate Mean?
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface to reveal the newer skin beneath. Working to create a clearer and more youthful complexion, exfoliation is an essential beauty treatment for achieving radiant skin on your body, feet, face, lips and scalp. Whether the dead cells are buffed away with an abrasive surface or broken down with the use of active ingredients and chemicals, all exfoliation aims to achieve brighter, fresher and younger looking skin. As a bonus, exfoliation will also help your skin better absorb other products and create a smoother base for makeup.
Things to Know Before Exfoliating
Exfoliation can benefit every skin type when used in the right way. All you need to do is make sure you’ve got the right type of exfoliator for you.
- Dry Skin: Dry skin can benefit from exfoliation’s ability to allow moisturiser to penetrate the skin fully. Choose a chemical exfoliator or light facial scrub and follow immediately with a hydrating lotion for top results.
- Oily and Acne-Prone Skin: If you have oily or acne-prone skin, stay away from rough scrubs that cause breakouts. Instead, use a face wash with glycolic or salicylic acids to remove dirt and break down pore-clogging dead skin cells.
- Sensitive Skin: Sensitive skin can be exacerbated by exfoliating, so make sure you choose gentle products. Avoid gritty scrubs and instead use a mild cleanser or toner that is rich in fruit or plant enzymes
- Normal and Combination Skin: Normal and problem-free skin can also benefit from regular exfoliation. Try a peel once a week to add an extra glow to your complexion. If you have combination skin, however, choose an exfoliant that is adjustable to the different areas of your skin, such as powder cleansers featuring baking soda.
How Often Should You Exfoliate?
Exfoliating both your face and body at least once a week will help remove the dead cells from your skin and reveal a more youthful appearance. While strong exfoliants, such as masks and peels, should only be used on a weekly basis as a treatment, gentle exfoliants, such as lotions and light scrubs, are best used every two to three days. Use your regular facial exfoliator either in the morning or before bed depending on your preference.
Exfoliating Skin on the Face
The skin on your face is sensitive, so you need something gentle, but it’s also the part of your skin that’s m
- Scrubs: Traditional scrubs and exfoliating cleansers are an easy way to exfoliate the skin on your face. They’ll clean your face and leave it looking refreshed with minimal time and effort. Simply add one to your beauty routine every two days when washing your face. Use a washcloth and gently massage the product into your skin in a circular motion. Be aware, though, some scrubs contain microbeads (small plastic particles) that, when washed down the drain, can build up in lakes and endanger wildlife.
- Skin-Care Brushes: One of the most effective new ways to exfoliate the skin on your face is with the use of a skin-care brush. These electronic cleansing brushes are masters of cleaning out oily pores that collect dead skin cells. It’s most effective on your T-zone and will see you have clearer, more radiant skin on a regular basis.
- Face Peel: If you have acne, consider using an at-home face peel to exfoliate your skin. Look out for products with glycolic or salicylic acids to help create clearer skin and fight acne. Just make sure that you only use facial specific peels on your face. Body peels are much too harsh for this delicate area of skin.
- Exfoliating Face Lotions: If you’re a fan of two-in-one products (who isn’t!) than an exfoliating facial lotion might just be the product for you. Exfoliating and moisturising at the same time, these multitasking products are ideal for creating radiant, hydrated skin. Choose one with glycolic acid for an added boost toward clearer, more youthful looking skin.
- Rolling Exfoliators: If you’re after an exfoliator that packs a punch, try a rolling exfoliator. These gel-based products roll away dead skin cells before your eyes. Just massage the product into your skin to uncover a clearer complexion and promote collagen production. Rolling exfoliators are especially good for those noticing deep wrinkles or who suffer from acne scarring.
Best Face Exfoliators
Exfoliating the Body
Dead skin cells don’t just occur on your face. Exfoliate your body too for an overall radiance and glow.
- Gloves: Exfoliating gloves can either be used on their own or in conjunction with products, such as body scrubs. The woven fabric quickly and easily buffs away excess skin particles to reveal the new skin underneath. Use it all over your body by gently rubbing in a circular motion. If you have dry skin, however, skip the glove as it can irritate your skin and cause further dryness.
- Body Peels: Those with dry skin should use a body peel instead of exfoliating gloves. Body peels work to leave skin supple and exfoliated with the use of fruit enzymes, lactic acid and glycolic acid. As well as working to reveal your more youthful looking skin, body peels are also great at clearing out clogged pores and follicles. Use them in summer when you’re skin is more prone to body acne and ingrown leg hairs.
- Exfoliating Body Lotions: While peels may be too intense for sensitive skin, exfoliating body lotions get the job done while staying gentle and kind. Perfect for those with easily irritated skin or conditions such as keratosis pilaris, most exfoliating body lotions release their active ingredients slowly and can be used daily. Make sure to choose varieties containing alpha or beta hydroxy acids for the best results.
- Dry Brushing: Like exfoliating gloves, dry brushing can see significant benefits without the use of any beauty products. Look for a brush with soft, short bristles and use in light, circular motions, moving from your feet upwards. As well a buffing away old skin, this method is also thought to help stimulate lymphatic drainage, creating temporarily smoother skin.
- Pumice Stones: Don’t forget to exfoliate your feet, as this is where a lot of dead skin cell build up occurs. After every shower rub the bottom of your feet with a pumice stone for a minute on each one. Doing so will scrub off dead skin, leaving you with soft, supple feet in no time.
Best Lip Exfoliators
How to Exfoliate Lips
There are times when we all suffer from flaky and scaly lips. Instead of just continuously layering on lip balm, buff away the excess skin and moisturise to reveal perfect lips below. An easy way to do so is by gently brushing lips with a toothbrush and some petroleum jelly, like Vaseline. This method will leave lips soft and scale-free with ease. Alternatively, purchase a pre-made lip scrub and apply using your finger.
Best Lip Exfoliators
When we think of exfoliation we tend to think of our faces and bodies, but what about our scalp? Scalp exfoliation is a great way to combat dandruff, beat a dry scalp and promote healthy hair growth. All you need to do is swap out your regular shampoo and conditioner for exfoliating versions once a week, and you’ll have a healthy scalp and great hair before you know it.
Best Scalp Exfoliators
Natural and Homemade Exfoliants
Natural exfoliants are great at gently cleansing pores and skin, and buffing away dead cells. Brown sugar added to coconut oil makes an excellent, lightly abrasive scrub. Use it once a week to create an amazing glow with these simple pantry ingredients. Baking soda made into a paste with distilled water also works wonders as a natural exfoliant and is cheap and easy to make at home.