Your Step-By-Step Guide To Safely Exfoliate Your Face And Body For A Radiant Skin

Your Ultimate Guide To Exfoliation

A lady exfoliating her face

Have you ever seen a beautiful skin that glows so much that you just have to be stealing a glance at it and wished it for yourself?⁠ You probably thought “what does he\she uses to have a skin like that?” ⁠ And here you are, no matter how much you invest in expensive creams and oils, you just never get that “glow’. ⁠Sometimes, it is not about the expensive skincare products, but one little thing you keep overlooking -EXFOLIATION.⁠

What Is Exfoliation?

The word exfoliate comes from the Latin word “exfoliare” meaning “to strip off leaves”. According to Oxford Advanced American Dictionary, “exfoliate” means “to remove dead cells from the surface of the skin in order to make it smoother”.

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead cells from the outer layer of the skin. It’s an important part of a beauty routine with lots of benefits. But just like most beauty processes, it can be detrimental if done wrongly, probably more detrimental.

Why Should You Exfoliate?

Although you might know that exfoliation gives your skin a radiant glow, making it attractive, you might not know that it also improves the health of your skin. Basically, our skin cells renew and the cells that form the outer layer of our skin die to make room for new cells.

Though the dead cells shed naturally after 30days or so. Sometimes, they don’t shed completely. This results in dry flaky patches that can make your skin look dull and in time clog your pores. And what’s worse, these dead cells prevents your skincare products from working effectively as it acts as a barrier and prevents proper absorption into your skin, thereby wasting your precious money and energy invested in your skincare. Exfoliation helps to remove dead cells completely.

The Benefit Of Exfoliating

According to the board-certified dermatologist, Michelle Henry; “exfoliation helps to stimulate collagen synthesis to improve the skin’s texture, integrity and keep the skin looking plump, tight and young”.

Here are a few things exfoliation does for you!⁠

✔️ When dead cells accumulate on the skin, the skin tends to be rough to touch and has a dull-gloomy appearance. ⁠Exfoliation improves skin radiance – just the radiant glow you need.⁠

✔️ Prevents clogged pores especially for oily skin by removing oil buildup on the skin.⁠

✔️ Removing dry dead skin cells leaves your skin smoother and gives you a more even tone.⁠

✔️ Allows your skincare product to be more effective. With a new healthy skin, your expensive skincare product will now be able to absorb into your skin better. ⁠Now your skincare products can work hand in hand and give you the radiant glow you envy.⁠

✔️ Increase lymphatic drainage to detox your body. When you exfoliate your skin in a circular motion, it helps boost blood flow to the area.⁠ This effective circulation helps to remove toxins from your body, keeping your body healthy overall.⁠

Already drawing the picture of that smooth radiant skin in your head, you might feel enticed to start exfoliating right away with any tool or products you get your hands on. I get you are excited, but before doing so, take caution. If the wrong product and method are used, you might end up ruining your skin (you wouldn’t want that).

How Do You Exfoliate?

If you choose to exfoliate, then it’s better to do it safely. Have a proper exfoliation routine, don’t just decide you want to start exfoliating.

For me, the number one factor you need to consider before choosing your exfoliation routine is your skin type (Yes!)

Knowing your skin type will save you from some mistakes and headaches. With your skin type as the guide, you can easily choose a proper routine.

What's your skin type?

  • Sensitive skin – may sting or burn after product use.
  • Normal skin – clear and not sensitive
  • Dry skin – dry, flaky, itchy or rough
  • Oily skin – shiny and greasy
  • Combination skin – dry in some areas and oily in others (especially the T-zone).

Method of exfoliating

There are two main methods of exfoliating:

  1. Mechanical method
  2. Chemical method

Mechanical Exfoliation

Mechanical Exfoliation involves the use of physical exfoliators. It uses tools such as a brush, sponge, or scrubs to physically remove dead skin cells.

A lady exfoliating her leg

Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical Exfoliation involves the use of chemical exfoliators. It uses chemicals such as hydroxy acids to gently dissolve dead skin cells.

A lady using chemical exfoliator on her face

For optimum results and to prevent skin damage during exfoliation, dermatologists recommend the following tips:

1. Stay Away From Products You React To

If you have a particular ingredient you usually react to, make sure to stay away from exfoliators that contain that ingredient. Avoid exfoliators that contain retinol or benzoyl peroxide as they can worsen dry skin or cause acne breakouts.

2. Choose A Suitable Exfoliator For Your Skin Type.

Whether physical or chemical exfoliator, choose the one that’s suitable for your skin type. If you have dry or sensitive or acne-prone skin, you want to stick to a washcloth and a mild chemical exfoliator, as physical exfoliators might be too harsh on your skin. If you have oily or thicker skin, you can opt for a physical exfoliator or strong chemical exfoliator. However, if you have a darker skin tone or very prone to dark spots, then don’t go for strong chemical exfoliators or mechanical exfoliators as these might result in more dark spots on the skin.

3. Never Scrub Aggressively

Scrubbing the skin during shower

Hey! Your skin is your friend, be gentle with it. Avoid scrubbing your skin aggressively, especially if you are using a physical exfoliator, it can lead to skin tears and irritation. 

Whether a scrub or chemical exfoliator, apply your product using gentle circular motions while applying some pressure (you wouldn’t want to be too gentle so you would actually remove the cells). Do this for about 30 seconds, and then rinse off with lukewarm water (not hot water). If you use a brush or sponge, use short faint strokes. 

Never exfoliate if you have open cuts or wounds. For your heels, elbows and knees which are considered to be the dirtiest part of your skin, you can apply more pressure. They have thicker skin so they can withstand more aggressive exfoliation.

4. Use the right product the right way

Even the best product could give wrong results if used in the wrong way. Always follow the instructions on the exfoliator especially if you are using a chemical exfoliator. Follow the instructions and don’t be tempted to leave it on for longer than recommended. Not following the proper instruction may result in sensitive and irritated skin rather than doing the skin some good.

5. Exfoliate In The Shower

According to Mc Mackin ” the warmth of a shower softens the skin and releases the body’s natural oils while opening your pores. This aids in the exfoliation process and the removal of dead skin cells.”.If you are exfoliating in a bath, opt for a fragrance-free bathing gel. Soak your body for 10minutes before you start to exfoliate to allow your skin to soften. If you are exfoliating in the shower, run the water over your skin for five minutes before you start.

6. Apply A Moisturizer Immediately

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells as well as the natural oils of the skin. After exfoliating, the best practice is to apply moisturizer immediately to prevent the skin from being too dry and irritated.

7. Find The Right Exfoliation Routine For You

How often you exfoliate depends on your skin type. Choose the right routine for yourself. Do not over-exfoliate and do not under-exfoliate, strike a balance. Talk to your dermatologists about the right routine for your skin type. Here’s a little exfoliation guide for you.

How To Exfoliate – Your Step-By-Step Guide

Exfoliating Your Face

  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and rinse with lukewarm water.
  • After washing off your cleanser, take small amount of your exfoliator and place a small dot on your forehead, cheeks and chin.
  • Spread the exfoliator across your face using gentle circular motions. If the exfoliator is not suitable for the eyes, do not use on the eye area.
  • Gently rub for about 30 seconds and use lukewarm water to rinse it off.
  • Then apply your facial moisturizer.

Exfoliating Your Body

Once you are done with your face, move down to your body, following the same process. Pay extra attention to your elbows, knees and heels.

Exfoliating Your Feet

Pumice stone

Using a pumice stone,you can exfoliate your feet at the end of each day to keep your feet in good shape – soft and crack-free. It won’t take long. Just two minutes that are actually worth it. Make sure to scrub your toes and entire heel. Never use a razor to scrap your feet, it can be dangerous.

If you decided to make exfoliation a part of your skincare routine, I commend you (Good choice!). ⁠

Now that you know how to go about your exfoliation, you need to know what exfoliation mistakes to avoid for a smooth exfoliation process and effective results.

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