Exfoliation is one of most important things you can do if you want clear beautiful skin.
The problem is that the layer of skin cells you see on the surface (the so called horny layer) is actually a layer of dead skin and the longer it sticks around the less vibrant your skin looks and the more likely you are to have problems.
If you know how to exfoliate your skin, you can make sure that you get rid of the oldest cells and you will reveal the brighter and softer skin hiding behind.
If you have problem skin, the tendency is to go scrubbing away at your skin by whatever means you have no matter how harsh. (I was definitely guilty of this my teenage years. It was like I had to punish those zits).
But exfoliating too much can often aggravate skin conditions like acne. The secret to beautiful skin and effective exfoliation is in a gentle approach so that you get rid of the old cells and prevent clogged pores without making your skin feel sore.
How to Exfoliate Your Face
What suits my skin may not suit yours so it is not just a case of finding the best exfoliating products available and using them properly. The best thing you can do is to try a few different products to see what suits you especially if you have very sensitive skin.
Also experiment with how often you exfoliate. I have a routine where I use an exfoliating face wash in the shower in the morning and then in the evening after removing makeup with a cream cleanser, I use an exfoliating cloth or rough wash cloth rinsed out in warm water to remove the residue from the cleanser before moisturizing. Having said that, here are some guidelines so that you have a place to start.
Choose a method you’d like to use
- use an exfoliating scrub. If you choose a product like this then look for something gentle with fine granules, otherwise it will be too harsh for your face and can create problems rather than giving you clear skin
|Benefits of Skin Exfoliation
- buy an exfoliating face brush and use this with a foaming, rinse off facial cleanser. You can either use a manual brush or one of the new electric facial brushes such as the Olay system. Many buyers think this is the best exfoliator for the face. Be careful if you are thinking of combining a facial scrub with a brush – this may be too much of a good thing for your face. See this Best Facial Cleansing brush review article to find a good one.
- use an exfoliating cloth. You can buy cloths impregnated with cleanser which you dampen and then use on you face, or special sponges like the Buf Puf facial exoliating sponge. You could also try my trick with a wash cloth for very gentle exfoliation. If you use a face cloth use a clean one every day – I have a whole pile of these in my bathroom cabinet – as a damp cloth can harbor germs that can cause skin breakouts
- try chemical exfoliation. You can buy glycolic acid gel or cream cleansers for skin which work on the “glue” which keeps dead skin attached to fresher new skin. It’s a type of skin peeling although you will not see layers of skin coming off so don’t worry. The acid idea may seem a bit scary but it dissolves in water leaving behind fresh new skin without burning or leaving a red raw look. It is not recommended for sensitive skin but it is great for skin prone to acne or blackheads. You can also buy kits which combine mechanical exfoliation with chemical peeling such as the Olay Regenerist kit.
- try dry brushing your face. Similar to dry body brushing, this has great benefits in removing dead skin cells and improving circulation but it is probably best to try this after your skin has got used to regular exfoliation using other methods.
- if you don’t want to exfoliate every day you can use an exfoliating mask every week or so which will help remove dead cells and leave your skin clear and bright
Experiment with Pressure
Whatever method you use, experiment with how much pressure suits you for exfoliating skin without aggravating it.
Whatever you do should not hurt! If it does you are applying too much pressure. As your skin gets used to exfoliation however you can use firm pressure. It is almost as if your skin gets “fitter” as it becomes used to the process.
Keep to a Regular Routine
Try and exfoliate every day. If that is too much for your skin cut back to every other day or every three days or so. Again as your skin gets used to exfoliation, you may be able to increase how often you do this.
Nourish Your Skin
After you exfoliate, nourish your skin. It will absorb moisturizer and other treatments better than ever after exfoliation.
How to Exfoliate Your Body
You will see a huge difference in the skin on your body with regular exfoliation. Soft, clear smooth skin with no rough areas around knees and elbows – what’s not to like?
You can use all the same methods you use to exfoliate your face on your body. However the facial products can be expensive to use all over and the skin on your body is often less sensitive than the skin on your face so there are some additional choices which work well.
Use a Body Scrub
Body scrubs generally have coarser granules than facial exfoliating products and they are often scented whereas perfumed products are not recommended for your face. In fact there are some delicious sounding scrubs around like you would want to eat them rather than smear yourself all over before your shower.
Use a Loofah
A loofah sponge is a natural product which is not soft like a sponge. It comes looking all flat and dry and then swells in water. It’s rough texture is great for getting body skin in good condition. You can buy a long loofah which will reach your back or buy a back scrubber which incorporates a loofah.
Use a Body Buffer
A body buffer is similar to a loofah but it is made of nylon mesh and comes in lots of bright colors. Use this with foaming shower gel for best results.
You can buy special gloves with a rough surface which you wear in the shower and use to exfoliate your body. Many women swear by these but I don’t like the feel of them on my hands.
Electric Body Brush
You can get the equivalent of facial cleansing brushes for the body and if you would like to use a brush on your face and body you can buy brushes which have two different heads to suit the gentler exfoliation needed for the face as well as the tougher job of exfoliating your body.
Dry Skin Brushing
While dry brushing the face is not so popular (probably from the mistaken view that it will hurt), brushing the body with a natural bristle brush is a well accepted. It has huge benefits and not just softer skin from the exfoliating effect of the brush as it helps your lymphatic system to function effectively and therefore your whole immune system. See Dry skin brushing: benefits and techniques and Dry Body Brushing : Cellulite Enemy Number One? for more information.