When it comes to skincare, exfoliation is perhaps the most overlooked, controversial, yet important step in a routine. A process where you remove dead skin cells from the skin using granular substances, chemical peels, or even different tools, exfoliation manages to help prevent dryness, flaky patches, and clogged pores that could potentially cause zits. However, if not done right, you could end up with some unwanted skin damage like micro-tears, scars, and dryness, which is why it's important to learn how to exfoliate skin the proper way. But before we get into it, we wanted a little more information on what exfoliation is.

 

What Is Exfoliation?

What Is Exfoliation?

We reached out to internationally renowned celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and the founder and CEO of Kosmoderma Clinics, Dr. Chytra V Anand, to give us more clarity. On what exfoliation is, she explained, "Exfoliation is a critical skincare step where you remove the superficial dead cells on the skin. You can use a physical exfoliant, a mechanical exfoliant or a chemical exfoliant to exfoliate the right way." When the dead skin cells don't shed completely, they can cause skin problems, hence exfoliating is super important.

Dr. Anand further elaborates, using a fantastic example, "Think of it like this — if you keep a glass outside in your balcony and you never clean it, what happens over time? The dust accumulates over it. If you keep it like that, more dust accumulates and finally you can’t see the glass anymore unless you scrub it really hard. This is the same philosophy for skin — and if you don't exfoliate, the skin will get sluggish unless you stimulate it by exfoliation. If you don't exfoliate, you'll be left with dull, blotchy looking skin."

Now that we've covered what exfoliation is, let's look at the benefits of exfoliating the skin.

 

Benefits Of Exfoliating

Benefits Of Exfoliating

01. Unclogging Pores

One of the main reasons people exfoliate their skin is to unclog their pores. Over time, a bunch of gunk and grime accumulates on the skin, and if not drawn out, it can cause different types of acne on the skin, ranging from blackheads and whiteheads to even cystic acne. It's important to understand how to exfoliate skin, because regular exfoliation can help unclog the pores and decongest them to avoid any unwanted skin impurities.

02. Anti-Ageing

02. Anti-Ageing

If ageing is a major concern for you, you can be assured that exfoliation will take care of it. By scrubbing away dead skin cells, you can reveal new skin underneath. Additionally, when you exfoliate, you increase the cellular turnover in the skin, thus softening fine lines and wrinkles — and also preventing them in the future. Building an anti-aging skincare routine? Incorporate an exfoliant into it for sure!

03. Stimulating Fresh Cell Production

Sometimes, your skin doesn't get rid of its dead skin cells completely, causing skin trouble — but not when you exfoliate! "The skin cell cycle is a 28 day cycle, and as we age the cell cycle slows down," Dr. Anand explains.

"Exfoliation is the only way to keep the skin cycle at the 28 to 30 day mark because when we exfoliate, the skin feels refreshed thanks to the stimulation of fresh cell production," she further adds.

04. Smoothening The Skin

04. Smoothening The Skin

Since exfoliation scrubs away dead skin cells and promotes cell turnover, it manages to smoothen out the skin like no other. And this doesn't apply to just the skin of your face either! Exfoliating your body, especially before hair removal days can be extremely helpful in washing away any dirt and oils that may have been left behind that could cause ingrown hair if overlooked.

05. Skin-Prep

05. Skin-Prep

Whether you're going bare-faced and want a quick way to get that glow, or if you want a smoother base for your makeup, or even if you just want your moisturiser to effectively work — exfoliation can help with all forms of skin-prep. Learning how to exfoliate skin makes your entire skincare and makeup routine more efficient, since it refreshes the skin, unclogs the pores for better moisturiser absorption, and evens out the skin texture for smoother makeup application.

 

How To Exfoliate Your Skin

How To Exfoliate Your Skin

Luckily, learning how to exfoliate skin isn't much of a challenge — just about anyone can do it, as it's super simple. All you need to know is your skin type, really! Ahead, we're listing down the ways you can exfoliate your skin, depending on your skin type. Read on...

01. For Oily Skin...

If you have oily skin, you could benefit from exfoliating a couple of times a week to prevent any pore-clogging oil buildup. You could turn to granular scrubs along with exfoliating brushes for exfoliating the face. Here's how to do it:

Step 01: First, take your regular old scrub and massage it onto your face, making sure you cover the face and neck area.
Step 02: Using your fingers, start massaging the scrub in circular motions to stimulate the cells on the face. Alternatively, you could also use an exfoliating brush for this step, but if you're wary of those, just doing it with your hands is fine.
Step 03: Keep massaging the exfoliant onto your face for a couple of minutes. Wet a washcloth, and remove the scrub from your face after making sure to remove the scrub in circular motions too.
Step 04: Rinse with water once, and continue with your skincare routine as usual.
 

02. For Dry Skin...

You may be wary of exfoliants, but don't for a second think that exfoliation isn't important! Learning how to exfoliate skin can be extremely helpful for dryness, since it can help remove dead skin cells to reveal healthier skin. Skip the scrubs and mechanical exfoliators, and instead, turn to chemical exfoliants.

Here's how to exfoliate dry skin:
 

Step 01: Turn to a chemical exfoliant — AHAs with glycolic acid help the most with dry skin. Apply it after cleansing your skin for best results.
Step 02: You don't need to wait for it to dry up; you can straight away move onto the next step in your skincare routine.

Pro-tip: Always make sure you use an SPF after using chemical exfoliants, and only use it once a week for dry skin.
 

03. For Sensitive Skin...

While scrubbing and mechanical exfoliation may work for oily skin, sensitive skin needs a little extra TLC, lest it get irritated and inflamed. Opt for chemical exfoliation for sensitive skin, but always make sure to use it sparingly. You can follow the same steps as recommended above for dry skin when using a chemical exfoliant, but be sure to consult a dermatologist about what active ingredients to use.

04. For Normal Skin...

04. For Normal Skin...

Normal skin without any complications can get away with just about any type of exfoliation — whether you want to go the manual route, the chemical way, or stick to good ol' scrubs. It's all about figuring out what your skin needs!
05. For Acne-Prone Skin
Acne-prone skin is a little bit more on the sensitive side, and therefore, needs a similar approach to sensitive skin exfoliation. Turn to chemical exfoliants for acne-prone skin, and look for ingredients like salicylic acid to help take care of your acne. However, be sure to exfoliate your skin sparingly, 2-3 times a week, and then only use it for maintenance.
 

06. For Combination Skin...

If your T-zone gives you trouble, you can use both scrubs and chemical exfoliants — but never on the same day, to avoid skin irritation. Also, always use a moisturiser afterwards to ensure that your skin doesn't dry out on the non-oily areas.

 

How Do You Know You Need To Exfoliate?

How Do You Know You Need To Exfoliate?

While learning how to exfoliate skin was easy, there's no immediate sign that will tell you that you need to exfoliate your skin. While regular exfoliation is always a great bet, Dr. Anand explains that there are a few warning signs that mean your skin could require exfoliation. "If your skin is dull-looking, if you have visible open pores, if your skin looks sluggish with premature ageing signs, or if it's blotchy with an uneven skin tone and poor complexion, these are signs you need to exfoliate," she shares.

 

Home Remedies To Exfoliate Your Face

Home Remedies To Exfoliate Your Face

Whether you want to go the DIY route or are looking for a store-bought exfoliant to exfoliate your face, a bunch of remedies exist that you can carry out at home. Here they are:

01. DIY Scrubs

DIY scrubs contain natural ingredients that work to exfoliate your skin thoroughly. However, you do need to mix them with softening ingredients otherwise they can be abrasive on the skin. DIY exfoliant ingredients include coffee, sugar, oats, and even salt! Here are a couple of DIY scrubs you can make at home:

 

Oats Scrub

Oats Scrub

One of the least abrasive ingredients, an oats scrub is super easy to make. Here's how to make it:

Step 01: Take some oats — just one cup should suffice — and grind it into a powdery formula in a blender.
 

Step 02: Store this in an airtight jar to ensure longevity of the scrub. When you want to use it, wet it with water, or use a hydrating ingredient like honey or even olive oil to exfoliate your face.

 

Coffee Scrub

Coffee Scrub

Coffee works on your skin the same way it works on your body — it energises and refreshes the skin by cleansing the pores to remove toxins. Plus, it takes time to absorb into water, so you can be assured that it will cleanse your skin thoroughly. Here's how you can make a DIY coffee scrub at home:

Step 01: Take some ground coffee, and whenever you want to use it as a scrub, mix it with coconut oil or olive oil.

Step 02: Apply it evenly on your face, and rinse it off with warm water. That's it!
 

02. Store-Bought Scrubs

Store-bought scrubs are available on days that you're a little too lazy to concoct a DIY recipe. Based on your skin type, you can opt for different scrubs with different ingredients to exfoliate your skin. Don't use them too frequently, and you're good to go!

03. Mechanical Exfoliation

03. Mechanical Exfoliation

Manual exfoliation tools such as face brushes, sponges and washcloths exist which interact with the skin to remove dead skin cells. However, these should be used with a little bit of caution, especially if you have sensitive skin, since they can cause abrasions and micro-tears on the skin if overused or used carelessly.

04. Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliants are another great way to exfoliate the skin. By using acids like AHAs and BHAs to dissolve and remove the dead skin cells on the skin, chemical exfoliant is a great fuss-free way to exfoliate the skin. These can be done at home or at a dermatologist's office, and include good-for-you ingredients based on your skin type too.

FAQs

01. What is a good skin exfoliator?

It depends on your skin type! Depending on what your skin needs, a chemical exfoliant, mechanical tools, or manual exfoliants like scrubs can help.

02. Can I exfoliate my face daily?

According to Dr. Anand, the answer is no! She says, "You cannot exfoliate daily! Your skin needs to repair itself after exfoliation. The way to exfoliate is based on your natural skin type and your age group. Of all the skin types, it's oily skin can take exfoliation once a week to once in two weeks. If you have pigmentation issues or acne issues you can use exfoliation every 2 to 3 weeks till it is repaired and then maintain the skin with exfoliation once in three weeks."

03. Should I exfoliate at night or morning?

While there's no one answer to this, many consider it better to exfoliate at night since it gets rid of the makeup worn during the day along with the dirt, grime, and impurities that may have accumulated.

04. What happens if you never exfoliate?

If you don't exfoliate ever, your skin will eventually show rapid signs of ageing, dullness, experience more breakouts, and cause more blackheads.

05. Is exfoliating good for acne?

Yes, it is! Exfoliating can smoothen the skin and reduce breakouts by unclogging the mores, and ensuring no future breakouts occur.