You wash your face, generously apply moisturizer, and sometimes even refresh your skin with a facial spray mid-day but still think your skin’s appearance has room for improvement. Well, it might have something to do with not knowing how to exfoliate—and needing to use that exfoliating face scrub hidden somewhere under your bathroom sink. Your skin can look less than flawless if you skip out on even just one important skin care habit—like exfoliating. Whether you have dry skin, oily skin, or combination skin, exfoliation should be a key part of your regular skin care routine to help maintain a beautiful, glowing complexion.
If you find yourself Googling, “exfoliate meaning,” keep reading to find out more about what exfoliation is, what the benefits of exfoliation are, and how to exfoliate from head to toe. Plus, we’re sharing our tips for picking the right exfoliation products—including exfoliating scrubs and liquid exfoliators—for your face and body.
THE MEANING OF EXFOLIATION
What does exfoliation actually mean? Per Merriam-Webster, to exfoliate means to cast off in scales, laminae, or splinters. But what does that mean in terms of skin care? We’ll explain that next!
WHAT IS EXFOLIATION?
When it comes to skin care, exfoliation is the process of sloughing off dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. But it’s not as simple as that. There are actually two kinds of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical exfoliation involves physically scrubbing your skin’s surface with a scrub, dry brush, or another exfoliating skin care tool. Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, involves the use of salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid), or enzymes to chemically break down surface buildup. Products formulated with these exfoliating ingredients are often liquid exfoliators, but they can be included in the formulas of face creams, cleansers, and more, too.
THE BENEFITS OF EXFOLIATION
Whether you implement mechanical or chemical exfoliation into your skin care routine, the main purpose of exfoliating is to slough off the buildup of dead skin cells from skin’s surface. And that’s important since your skin’s natural ability to shed dead skin cells slows down as you age, which can lead to duller-looking skin. What’s more, regularly exfoliating can also help to make your other products work better since they won’t be sitting on top of lots of buildup.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU EXFOLIATE?
The jury’s still out on this one. While exfoliation is an essential skin care step, how often you should engage in it varies from person to person. Some people’s skin can only handle exfoliating once a week, while others are able to exfoliate a few times per week. It really depends! Pay attention to how your skin responds after exfoliating to help determine what’s best for you and your skin.
HOW TO EXFOLIATE YOUR FACE
Follow these tips on how to exfoliate your face—with a face scrub or glycolic acid serum—for a smoother, more radiant complexion.
STEP 1: PICK THE RIGHT PRODUCT
If you decide to use a mechanical exfoliant, take your pick from the following four face scrubs: The L'Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Nourish & Soften Cocoa Scrub is deep yet gentle on sensitive skin, the L'Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Smooth & Glow Grapeseed Scrub will polish away dirt, oil, and debris, the L'Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Resurface & Energize Kona Coffee Scrub contains real Kona coffee grounds and naturally energizes your complexion, and the L'Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Purify & Unclog Kiwi Scrub sloughs away impurities and minimizes the appearance of pores.
Chemical exfoliation more up your alley? Pick up the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum, which effectively resurfaces your skin for a younger-looking complexion—not to mention it reduces the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles over time.
STEP 2: APPLY TO DRY SKIN
Using a face scrub? With dry fingers, apply your face scrub of choice to clean, dry skin. Avoid the eye area—that’s one place you don’t need to exfoliate.
Using the glycolic acid serum? Apply four to five drops to clean, dry skin every evening before moisturizing.
STEP 3: MASSAGE WITH WET FINGERS
Wet your fingers, then massage the face scrub over your skin. If you opt for the glycolic acid serum—skip the wet fingers and simply massage the serum onto your skin.
STEP 4: RINSE
For the scrub—use warm water to rinse off completely. For the serum—leave as is!
STEP 5: FINISH WITH MOISTURIZER
Exfoliating is always cause for moisturizing. While your skin is still wet from rinsing off, or about 30 seconds after applying your serum, go ahead and slather your skin with your favorite face cream. Try the L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care - Normal/Oily Skin, L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care - Normal/Dry Skin, or L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care - Extra Dry Skin.
HOW TO EXFOLIATE YOUR LIPS
Follow these tips to exfoliate your lips for the perfect pout.
STEP 1: UTILIZE YOUR FACE SCRUB
If your lips need a gentle scrub session, the good news is you won’t have to purchase any new products. Our Pure-Sugar face scrubs can also be used on your lips! Choose your favorite, and you’re free to start scrubbing.
STEP 2: APPLY TO DRY LIPS
Pick up only a small amount of the scrub and apply it to dry lips.
STEP 3: MASSAGE WITH WET FINGERS
Taking care not to be too harsh, use wet fingers to massage the scrub over your lips.
STEP 4: RINSE
You know how it goes!
STEP 5: USE LIP BALM
To hydrate your lips and lock in that super-smooth feeling, apply a coat of a nourishing lip balm.
HOW TO EXFOLIATE YOUR BODY
Follow these tips to exfoliate your body for softer-feeling skin all over.
STEP 1: BEGIN WITH DRY SKIN
Before you even hop in the shower, put on a pair of exfoliating gloves or grab your loofah, and gently rub your skin in circular motions to begin the dead skin cell shedding process.
STEP 2: GET IN THE SHOWER
After you’ve scrubbed your dry skin from head to toe, let the water run down your body to start the next step of exfoliation goodness.
STEP 3: USE AN EXFOLIATING CLEANSER
There are a number of exfoliation products for the body, but we’re partial to body scrubs and exfoliating body wash or shower gel as these options can easily be worked into your shower routine. Just like you did with your dry skin, you’ll want to exfoliate in circular motions with whichever body exfoliation product you choose.
STEP 4: GIVE YOUR ELBOWS, FEET, AND KNEES EXTRA TLC
Be sure to pay more attention to these areas because they’re especially prone to dryness.
STEP 5: DON’T SKIP YOUR BACK
Although you can’t reach it easily, make sure not to neglect your back. Instead, grab a back brush to exfoliate hard-to-reach places.
STEP 6: RINSE
After you’ve exfoliated like a pro, rinse off with lukewarm water.
STEP 7: APPLY MOISTURIZER
Directly after hopping out of the shower and patting yourself mostly dry, apply your favorite hydrating body lotion everywhere you just exfoliated.
BONUS: APPLY SELF-TANNER
Now that you’ve scrubbed every inch of your skin, it’s the prime time to get sun-kissed skin. Instead of stepping foot under the sun, use a clear self-tanner. Smooth the L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse evenly over your skin, being sure to allow it to dry completely before dressing.