Ask the Expert: How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Face?
Here at Skincare.com, we are always talking about exfoliation: the different types of exfoliation, its many benefits, and our favorite exfoliators for face and body skin. While exfoliating your skin remains an essential part of any skin care routine, over-exfoliating your skin can do more harm than good. Which leads us to the question, how often should you exfoliate your skin? The answer, and more, below.
WHAT IS EXFOLIATION?
Exfoliation is the process of sloughing away dead skin cells from your skin’s surface. Exfoliating skin can help reveal a brighter-looking complexion, keep the pores clean of debris and buildup, and help address a rough texture. But like other skin care techniques, there is such a thing as too much exfoliation.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU EXFOLIATE YOUR FACE TOO OFTEN?
Your skin is the perfect barometer for whatever’s going on within. If you’re stressed, it can be reflected in the form of a breakout. Similarly, sleep deprivation can make your under-eye area look puffy. Over-exfoliation is a bit more surface-level, but the concept remains the same. “It’s not hard to spot excessive exfoliation,” says board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Dendy Engelman.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), aggressive exfoliation may exacerbate existing skin conditions. This happens, states Dr. Engelman, when the skin becomes inflamed and its natural barrier is weakened. The resulting redness from over-exfoliation could increase the effects of those suffering from rosacea while other cases may induce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Scrubbing your face too often could also clog your pores further, potentially causing a breakout and rendering the whole point of exfoliation nil. Additionally, the skin’s now-weakened barrier can cause skin to become more sensitive and susceptible to external aggressors.
If you suspect you’re over-exfoliating your face, don’t worry. Taking a breather from exfoliation sessions can give time for skin to recuperate. There are also a few factors you can take into consideration before determining how often you should be exfoliating your face. More on that, next.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU EXFOLIATE YOUR FACE?
As to how often you should be exfoliating your face, Dr. Engelman says it all comes down to the individual. “’How much is too much’ is a very personal question,” she says. “Some people can only handle exfoliating once a week while others need it every day.” Before you settle on how often you should be exfoliating your own face, be sure to take the following into consideration:
Your Skin Type
The AAD suggests determining your skin type prior to figuring out how often you should exfoliate your face. The more sensitive your skin is, the less often you should exfoliate your face. If you observe your skin has a higher tolerance to exfoliation, you could increase your frequency.
Ingredients & Products You’re Using
If you know your skin is more on the sensitive side, try to avoid products containing harsh particles, or BHAs or AHAs while keeping how often you exfoliate to a minimum. On the flip side, says the AAD, those with oily skin may be more adept at handling stronger methods of exfoliation and ingredients that can be irritating to sensitive skin types, such as exfoliating brush heads or formulas with salicylic acid.
How Often You Exfoliate Already
If you’re already experiencing signs of over-exfoliation on your face such as redness or chafing, take note of the frequency in which you exfoliate already. If these signs seem to be a result of your daily exfoliation, try cutting back to exfoliating a few days a week (or less) as tolerated and reevaluate the product ingredients you are using.
TIPS FOR EXFOLIATING YOUR FACE
After you’ve taken the above factors into account, you can adjust the frequency in which you exfoliate your face. Here are some additional tips you can follow to make sure you’re getting the most out of exfoliating your face.
Cleansing your face can help to remove impurities taking up residency on your skin and in your pores. This allows for easier exfoliation, and reduces unnecessary scrubbing. To discover which face wash to use based on your skin type, click here!
Follow with Moisturizer
After exfoliating, it would be wise to follow up with a moisturizer. For ultimate moisturization, try using a formula containing hydration powerhouses such as hyaluronic acid or ceramides. A moisturizer formulated with SPF is an added plus.
Don’t be so hard on yourself! If you’re using an assistive item such as a brush head, strokes should be short and light. The AAD recommends using a scrub with your hands in gentle circular motions for approximately 30 seconds before rinsing off with lukewarm water.
Editor’s note: Avoid exfoliating your face if you have any open cuts, wounds, or sunburn present. Doing otherwise could lead to infections or further discomfort.
For a complete guide on how to get the skin on your face super smooth, click here.