How to Get Smooth-Feeling Skin: Your Guide to Facial Exfoliation
Exfoliating is the key to soft, supple and smooth skin. The process of sloughing away dead skin cells is also beneficial because it helps the skin-care products you apply afterwards absorb better so you can really reap those benefits. However, exfoliating too much or the wrong way can have negative effects. Ahead, learn how to exfoliate the right way to achieve smooth and soft skin.
What Is Facial Exfoliation?
Facial exfoliation involves either chemically breaking down or physically removing dead skin cell buildup from the surface of your skin. In doing so, it can improve the appearance and texture of the skin. Exfoliating can also help prep the skin for additional skin-care products.
How Often Can I Exfoliate?
It’s typically recommended to exfoliate two to three times a week, depending on your skin type and the type of facial exfoliation that you use. If you’re new to the practice, you may want to start by exfoliating the skin once a week and work your way up to more frequently. For more on how often you should exfoliate your skin, click here.
How to Exfoliate
STEP 1: Exfoliate Your Skin
No matter which type of exfoliator you pick — physical or chemical —, you’ll want to use them in a gentle, upward circular motion and follow the instructions on the product. Keep reading to see which products we recommend for facial exfoliation.
STEP 2: Moisturize Your Skin
After you’ve exfoliated, it’s hydration time. Reach for a moisturizer formulated for your skin type and gently massage it onto your complexion in upward circular motions until evenly distributed. This helps to provide hydration to the surface of your skin after cleansing and exfoliating.
STEP 3: Protect Your Skin
While exfoliating your skin can reveal new, more radiant-looking skin that was hiding underneath all of that dead skin cell buildup, those new cells can be sensitive to sunlight. This is why it’s so important to be diligent about applying and reapplying sunscreen with broad-spectrum SPF. If daily SPF use isn’t already a habit, it’s time to make it one. To take your sun protection a step further, wear protective clothing prior to heading outdoors and seek shade when possible.
The Difference Between Chemical vs. Physical Exfoliation
Technically, they both remove dead surface skin cells but they accomplish this in different ways. Physical (manual) exfoliation involves sloughing off these dead skin cells with a scrub. Grains, salts, sugars, or other materials that buff the skin are physical exfoliators. Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, involves removing dead surface cells with the use of chemicals or acids. Although the name can be quite intimidating, chemical exfoliators are very beneficial and can sometimes be gentler on your skin than face scrubs. Chemical exfoliants are divided into two groups: AHAs and BHAs.
What Are AHAs?
AHAs, or alpha-hydroxy acids, are water-soluble and include acids like glycolic acid which is derived from sugar cane, citric acid which is derived from citrus and lactic acid which is derived from milk. AHA’s are known to better improve texture and pigmentation. One of our favorite chemical exfoliators with AHA's is the L'Oréal Paris 10% Glycolic Acid Serum.
What Are BHAs?
BHAs, or beta-hydroxy acids, are oil-soluble. The most well-known BHA is salicylic acid. According to the FDA, both AHAs and BHAs can help improve the appearance of skin texture and tone with continued use over time but BHAs are more frequently used to target acne.
Four Exfoliating Skin Care Products to Try Now
Infused with charcoal, this gel exfoliator with salicylic acid and microbeads deeply cleanses, tightens pores and smooths skin. The formula helps reduce imperfections and the appearance and formation of blackheads. In just one week, you’ll notice smaller pores and a clearer complexion.
This gentle sugar scrub is kind to your face and contains brown, blonde and white sugars that are rich in minerals. After using it, your skin will feel purified and clean.
Brighten a dull complexion with this refreshing gel formula for normal and combination skin. It’s formulated with white wax microbeads and ultra-fine grains, in addition to pineapple and papaya extracts. After use, you’ll notice a smoother complexion.
These daily peel pads resurface dull, uneven tone and rough texture to reveal youthful-looking skin. They contain glycolic acid which helps to brighten the skin to give you a lit-from-within glow.