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Tips on How to Exfoliate


Since our skin protects our delicate insides from the world around us, the top layer takes a beating and can begin to look worse for wear before it gets naturally shed.

Exfoliation is an easy and effective way to refresh the skin, but which method is best? It’s time to take a closer look at how to exfoliate to figure out what products will work best for your skin type.

How the Skin Exfoliates Itself

The outermost layer of skin is what exfoliation is aimed at. It’s made up of dead skin cells that have been pushed to the surface as the lower layers of the epidermis generate new cells.

It takes roughly five weeks for cells to be generated, move upwards, die and then flake off. Naturally, if you can speed up the process there won’t be as many dead skin cells sitting on the surface creating a dull appearance.

Helping Mother Nature Along: Exfoliation Products

Exfoliation has several benefits:

  • Gives skin a fresher, more even tone
  • Unclogs pores
  • Softens fine lines and wrinkles
  • Allows skincare products to penetrate more easily

All the products below work to remove dead skin, they just do so in different ways. Choosing one depends on your skin type and other underlying issues.


The simplest way to exfoliate is with an at-home scrub.

For centuries people used homemade concoctions that included coarse ingredients like sugar, salt and sand. Modern-day scrubs are a little more gentle consisting of ingredients like microbeads and oatmeal.

Today, some products are also paired with an electronic scrubbing apparatus, but they can be a bit harsh on the skin and in some ways are closer to microdermabrasion.

The one drawback is that scrubs aren’t the most effective exfoliators unless they are used on a regular basis. However, an additional benefit of a scrub is that it can do double duty. Mild daily scrubs can replace your face cleaner so there’s one less step to deal with.

  • Effectiveness – Low/Med
  • Irritation – Low
  • Cost – Low
  • Maintenance – Med/High


If you want instant exfoliation, microdermabrasion is just about the best method. A technician glides a tool that shoots out fine particles over the skin to essentially sand off the outermost layer. It’s highly effective but can irritate the skin.

  • Effectiveness – High
  • Irritation – Med/High
  • Cost – Med
  • Maintenance – Med

For more information about microdermabrasion, check out our detailed post here.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels dissolve dead cells and increase cell turnover for deep exfoliation that can slough off multiple layers while it stimulates the growth of healthy new skin cells. A variety of ingredients are used in peels with Alpha Hydroxy Acids being among the most popular.

Chemical peels can vary greatly in their strength, which affects their effectiveness, cost and irritation of the skin.

  • Effectiveness – High
  • Irritation – High
  • Cost – High
  • Maintenance – Low

For more details on chemical peels, you can read our post on the subject here.


Retinoids, an anti-aging wonder drug, has recently been made into a cream for exfoliation. It’s now known that retinoids are able to speed up the skin’s exfoliation process by converting vitamin A into retinoic acid. This is part of the reason why it is so good for people with acne issues.

While retinoids are an amazing exfoliator they have their drawbacks. One being you need to get a prescription in order to get retinoids.Once you get the prescription there will be a 3+ months acclimation period where you could experience very sensitive skin, peeling and breakouts.

A better option may be to use a cream that contains retinol, a less potent and gentler form of retinoids that have very similar benefits but just take longer to provide them.

  • Effectiveness – High
  • Irritation – High
  • Cost – Med
  • Maintenance - High

Of course, you can always use a combination of the methods above to create an exfoliation process that is tailor-made for your skin.

You can take a look at the different exfoliating products we carry on our Face Care page.

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