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How to Properly Exfoliate Your Face and Body

Unlock smooth, radiant skin with these exfoliation tips.
June 17, 2022

Having smooth, radiant skin is a skin care goal that most of us share. But understanding how to achieve it comes down to several factors 一 a big one being proper exfoliation. Exfoliation is key for smooth skin but there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it and the wrong way can lead to skin irritation and even potential damage. So we’ve got tips. Read more to learn all about exfoliation and how to properly exfoliate your face and body for smooth, radiant skin.

What Is Exfoliation? 

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. There are two kinds of exfoliation: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation involves scrubbing the skin’s surface with a scrub, dry brush or other exfoliating skin tool. Chemical exfoliation involves resurfacing skin care ingredients such as salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid), retinol or enzymes to chemically break down surface buildup. Products formulated with these exfoliating ingredients are often liquid exfoliators but they can also be included in face creams, cleansers or serums. 

The Benefit Of Exfoliation

Whether you choose physical or chemical exfoliation, the aim is to remove the buildup of dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. That’s especially important since your skin’s natural ability to shed dead skin cells slows down as you age, leading to dull-looking skin. Regular exfoliation can also help your serums and creams penetrate the skin better as they won’t be layered on top of dead skin cells. 

How Often Should You Exfoliate? 

Exfoliate your body a few times a week or as needed. Learning how often to exfoliate your face is a little trickier as it comes down to your skin type, concerns and skin care routine. People with sensitive skin can typically handle exfoliating once a week, while others may be able to exfoliate a few times per week. Overall, less is more because over-exfoliating is real and can cause serious damage to your skin.

How to Exfoliate Your Face 

Exfoliating for your skin type is the best way to optimize your skin care routine. If you have sensitive skin, a physical scrub or chemical exfoliation product with a high concentration of active ingredients may be too harsh for you. Reach for a gentle exfoliating serum or exfoliating cleanser, instead. 

If you have oily or tolerant skin, you can likely get away with chemical or physical exfoliation. When you find the right balance, regular exfoliation can lead to smoother makeup application and a radiant glow for all skin types. When in doubt, consult a dermatologist who can give you personalized recommendations for the type of exfoliation that will be best for you. 

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How to Use a Physical Exfoliant 

If you’re opting for a scrub, go for a gentle scrub like the L’Oréal Paris Pure Sugar Resurface & Energize Kona Coffee Scrub, which removes dead skin cells, oil, dirt and impurities without being harsh. Apply the scrub on damp skin to avoid friction. Work in the scrub for about a minute, rinse and follow up with moisturizer. 

Another idea is to opt for a cleanser with exfoliating ingredients, like the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Daily Scrub Cleanser. This cleanser contains exfoliating beads along with glycolic acid for a mix of physical and chemical exfoliation to leave the skin visibly radiant. Using wet hands, gently massage the formula in circular motions, avoiding the eye area.

How To Use A Chemical Exfoliant 

Chemical exfoliants come in many forms, so finding the right one is all about preference and your skin care routine. If you’re opting for something gentle, try an exfoliating toner like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5 Percent Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner. Use it as needed after cleansing and before moisturizer in your usual routine.

If you’re looking for a heavy lifter to exfoliate and address issues like fine lines and wrinkles, try incorporating a retinol serum like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Night Serum, 0.3% Pure Retinol into your routine. Start by applying it at night twice a week and work your way up as your skin tolerates it.

How To Exfoliate Your Lips  

If you have dry lips, exfoliating your lips can do wonders to remove dead skin and unveil a smoother texture. To do this, use a sugar scrub like the aforementioned Pure Sugar Resurface & Energize Kona Coffee Scrub and apply it to damp lips. Use circular motions to massage the product in and wipe away excess with a damp washcloth. After exfoliating, follow up with hydrating lip balm to lock in moisture.

How To Exfoliate Your Body

It’s best practice to exfoliate your body after cleansing and before shaving. To exfoliate sensitive areas like your neck and chest, try using an extremely gentle scrub or simply apply the chemical exfoliating product that you use on your face to these areas as well. After you exfoliate your face, it’s essential to follow up with moisturizer so make sure to treat the skin on your body the same way. Applying moisturizer after exfoliating is key for smooth, radiant skin.

Try Dry Brushing 

To remove dead skin cells as well as increase blood flow throughout your body, give dry brushing a try. Use a dry body brush (or loofah if you have sensitive skin) and gently rub the brush over your dry skin in an upwards motion, towards your heart. Go over each area a few times to effectively shed dead skin cells. Dry brushing works best on clean skin, before showering so keep that in mind.

Use A Scrub

Using a scrub in the shower is a great way to tackle rough skin in areas like the feet, elbows or legs. Be sure your skin is damp and not soaking wet and apply a generous amount of the scrub to your body, then rub in circular motions. To maintain smooth skin, include this in your shower routine a few times per week and remember to follow up with lotion.

Use An Exfoliating Body Wash 

If you have sensitive skin, using an exfoliating body wash or shower gel is your best bet as they tend to be more gentle. Look out for one with AHAs and apply it to your skin in the shower like you would with a regular body wash.  

Next: What Causes Orange Peel Skin?

Edited by: Reece Andavolgyi, Photo by: Chaunte Vaughn

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