Your Skin Exfoliation Questions, Answered

exfoliating tips

What is skin exfoliation?

Whether utilising chemical or physical elements, exfoliating is the act of removing dead cells from the top layer of your skin. While your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells, this act happens every 30 days, so new skin cells can take its place.

While many of these dead skin cells will fall off naturally, some don’t shed from the skin perfectly, meaning it can leave a dry and flaky patch on the skin, or it can clog your pores. This is why exfoliating should be such an important part of your skincare routine.

How does skin exfoliating work?

What you use will vary based on what part of the body you are exfoliating, so consider this carefully when taking on the process.

The main methods of exfoliation you can do from the comfort of your home are either chemical or mechanical, while your skin type should be a key consideration when choosing.

Mechanical involves the act of physically rubbing the skin, therefore you may use a loofah (often used on the feet and legs), a brush or a sponge.

On the other side, chemical exfoliation often involves scrubs containing ingredients like BHA (beta hydroxy acids), AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or glycolic acid.

You can get scrubs specifically for your face or your body, as your face can be more sensitive and will often require a lighter formula so as not to cause a reaction. Your feet do require a much stronger formula, as it is a very rough part of your skin. Some use files and stones to smooth the heels. There has been an increase in exfoliating socks entering the market, containing ingredients such as glycolic acid and malic, which can be left on your feet while you sit and watch the TV for an hour.

Should I use a face exfoliator?

Yes, everyone should exfoliate the skin. The question isn’t whether you should, but more how often and what should you use, while the answer is based on your skin type and sensitivity.

It should be stated that the American Academy of Dermatology highlight how beneficial it can be to work out your skin type in order to gain the greatest results and remove any potential issues that might occur.

How to exfoliate the pubic area?

This is an overlooked part of the skincare routine but is important to prevent ingrown hairs after shaving, as well as helping prep the area for waxing.

You need to start off by applying warm water to the area. In general, we recommend jumping into a warm shower, to make sure the area is clean and to open up the pores.

After a couple of minutes, apply a pea-sized amount of your chosen exfoliating cleanser (I recommend using a face one rather than a body one, to prevent any irritation) and then use either a body brush or a loofah.

Gently rub the entire area in a circular motion, while avoiding the inner labia. After this, rinse off the scrub with water and then softly pat dry with a towel.

How often should you exfoliate your skin?

There isn’t a decisive answer on this question, however, the general consensus is that you should exfoliate two to three times per week, based on a normal or combination skin type. If you are more sensitive, however, then you may want to limit the act to once per week.

Can you exfoliate your skin too much?

Yes, you can exfoliate too much. As previously mentioned, for most you can do twice per week, but this is even further limited if you have sensitive skin.

As you exfoliate, you are removing dead skin cells, but you are also removing sebum. While this can help with reducing blemishes, you also need natural oil on your skin and by removing all of it you could actually cause a breakout, the exact thing you were trying to prevent. You’re also not giving the top layer of skin enough time to heal and repair, which can cause irritation and make the skin go red.

If you notice any inflammation then you know you’ve either gone too hard or done it too regularly, or the items and liquids you are using aren’t working for your skin type, therefore you should stop straight away.

It’s not just acids you should be looking for in a scrub, you should also look for ingredients offering calming properties, with anti-inflammatory agents.

How long should it take to see results after exfoliation?

This has a double answer. After just 10 minutes you should see an improvement in your complexion if done properly. However, for the real long term and highly noticeable results, it can take 6-8 weeks. Obviously, this is quite a stretch of time, however, you won’t benefit by simply doing it more often than you should, as this will just cause irritation. Start off with once per week and then increase if you feel your skin can handle it without any reaction. 

What should I avoid when exfoliating my skin?

Fortunately, the law is on our side here, banning harmful substances on a regular basis, therefore most products sold in the UK are completely fine, however, if purchasing online, just be careful to check where it is being shipped from and what safety tests it has gone through, only purchase from a reputable source.

Parabens are a known ingredient which can cause damage, however, these are more commonly found in make-up or shaving gel rather than exfoliating scrubs.

You want to ensure the ingredient used to extract pollutants from the skin isn’t harmful at all. We use activated charcoal to extract impurities, as it offers amazing results, while completely natural and not abrasive at all, meaning no irritation. 

What happens if I don’t exfoliate correctly?

As we have mentioned above, scrubbing too hard or using the wrong ingredient can cause the skin to become irritated and potentially go red. You can also cause a breakout on the skin, offering the opposite of what you were hoping to achieve.

Try to follow the instructions on the pack you purchase and just exfoliate once per week at the start until you know how your skin will react.

For men, the skin is thicker, so you can scrub slightly harder or use different ingredients.

Do exfoliators go off?

Most exfoliating scrubs will expire after approximately two years. However, this can be impacted by whether it has been left open, as this can increase the chances of bacteria growing. The positive is, unlike other areas of beauty and make-up, exfoliators are made from powerful ingredients that won’t be suspect to ‘going off’ as quickly.

Can you use exfoliating scrubs before having a fake tan?

Yes, you should exfoliate before having a fake tan. This will remove the dead skin cells, helping to offer a tan without patches. Afterwards, you might want to have an ice facial in order to close the pores and tighten the skin, before applying the fake tan.  

Do you exfoliate before or after cleansing?

Type this in on Google and the first 20 results will all offer different answers. The real answer is you should try both ways, as both ways have pros and cons.

If you cleanse first, you are removing all the dirt and sweat from the skin, so that you can exfoliate on a clean surface. Whereas if you exfoliate and then scrub, you are rising the dead skin cells from the skin and then the cleanser is helping to remove them.

Most opt for a cleanse before scrubbing, however, it is important you understand both ways can work.

Is it better to exfoliate in the morning or at night?

If you were to poll a team of the best dermatologists in the world, you would most likely have an even split on whether they prefer in the morning or at night, as both have different benefits. If you exfoliate in the evening then you can use slightly harsher ingredients, while removing all the built-up dead skin cells and prep your skin for your nighttime routine. If you didn’t get enough of your beauty sleep, then exfoliating in the morning can help to offer a brighter complexion.

However, whether you use a scrub in the morning or at night, all dermatologists will agree on one point, you should be using something gentle, no large jagged particles. Superfine brushes are a popular option, as you want to avoid creating micro-tears.

It is important to remember the best time to exfoliate should balance your lifestyle and commitments. If you find you’re too tired in the evenings and don’t stick to your skincare routine then maybe the morning is better. On the other side, if you have to look after a child who wakes up at the crack of dawn, then mornings can be a little too hectic.

At the same time, if you do apply a heavy makeup each day then you may want to exfoliate in the evenings, to ensure everything is completely cleaned off.

Can exfoliating make you break out in spots?

While exfoliating can help to reduce your chances of getting spots by clearing your pores of dead skin cells if overdone it can have the reverse effect. If you’re new to exfoliating then you may also notice an initial breakout, especially if you do have overly clogged pores, while the acids used are purging the skin, therefore a breakout may occur so the healthy smooth skin can show from underneath.

If you do suffer from a breakout, try reducing the regularity and potentially the quantity size of the product you are using. You should also inspect what ingredients are used, to understand what is being used to break open the pores, as ingredients such as jojoba beads can be a gentler option (albeit not the cheapest). It’s important to also remember if you are having a breakout on the chin, it most likely is in relation to a hormone imbalance and probably isn’t related to the skincare routine. 

What parts of my body should I exfoliate?

It goes without saying that your face needs to be exfoliated, at least once per week. You also need to use a body scrub on your legs, especially if you regularly shave. Your arms, buttocks and armpits are no different and require a body scrub. Your hands and feet face a lot of intensive damage and are much rougher than other parts of your body. You can use your normal body scrub, but you might want to experiment, such as with exfoliating socks.

Everyone should exfoliate the scalp, however, this is even more important if you suffer from dandruff. You could either opt for Epsom salts or you could try a shampoo with salicylic acid or urea in the ingredients.

But perhaps the area you will be most surprised to read about is your lips, especially if your lips tend to get a little flaky. There are plenty of products that can help with this, but if you fancy a bit of a DIY kit, then simply add Vaseline to a soft toothbrush. Don’t go too hard, you don’t want to cause a reaction or any damage.

What age should I start exfoliating?

You can start exfoliating your skin as early as your teen years, from 14 onwards. During this time you may find your skin to become imbalanced and a lot more oily than it was before. This excess oil can lead to some problems, like breakouts, blackheads and spots. By adding an exfoliator, be it physical or chemical will help keep the skin clear and buff away bacteria build-up. 

Does exfoliating help with wrinkles?

Without exfoliating the skin you will collect a build-up of bacteria, dirt and debris that can not only cause your skin to breakout with spots but can make it appear old, wrinkled and dull. If you exfoliate regularly you will find your complexion will be radiant, full of youth and bounce. 

Is it ok to exfoliate the skin everyday?

Exfoliating everyday may sound like the answer to all your problems, but in actual fact, it can create a lot of problems. Too much exfoliation can lead to the skin becoming stripped of the natural oils and water needed to keep it balanced with the protective barrier able to work correctly. To get the best out of exfoliating the skin, try using your preferred product 2-3 times a week. 

How long does it take to see results of exfoliating? 

You are able to see a visible difference in your skin straight after exfoliating the it. Your complexion will be noticeably clearer and vibrant. For other skin concerns, such as uneven skin texture, you will find if you consistently use an exfoliator there will be a marked difference in your skin's texture and tone in 6-8 weeks. 

What happens if you don't exfoliate your skin?

Not wanting to worry you, but a lot of problems can occur from not exfoliating your skin. You may notice your skin is dull, prone to a lot of spots and some dry patches. You will also find your skin looks older and more wrinkled with the chances of it becoming prone to irritations and rashes. Exfoliating the skin will keep it healthy and functioning properly. 

Don't miss out on more skincare tips and expert advice over on our YouTube channel! Come and find us on The Green Sofa by hitting the subscribe button, you won't regret it! 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Popular picks

Best Seller
Midnight Rescue Elixir
Midnight Rescue Elixir
141 Verified Reviews
Best Seller
Salicylic Egg Cleanser
Salicylic Egg Cleanser
329 Verified Reviews
Best Seller
100% Natural Deodorant
100% Natural Deodorant
from £7.99
2806 Verified Reviews
Anti-ageing Eye Serum
Anti-ageing Eye Serum
114 Verified Reviews
Sold Out
Natural Deodorant Stick
Natural Deodorant Stick
from £9.99
262 Verified Reviews
Glycolic Glow Toner
Glycolic Glow Toner
118 Verified Reviews