The Ultimate Guide on How to Exfoliate Your Skin

The YS Beauty Lab

Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of one’s face or body, and is one of the most important aspects of your skin care routine. Not only does it help reduce blackheads, smoothen rough skin and even out skin tone, it also improves blood circulation, resulting in a healthier complexion. Here’s how to exfoliate dead skin and a list of the best exfoliators!


Image: Home Remedy Shop

The Benefits of Exfoliating

1. It reduces blackheads and minimizes pores.
Our body sheds and renews skin every 10 days. The accumulated sebum and dead skin (known as keratin) can block pores, resulting in blackheads and enlarged pores. Exfoliating regularly prevents this by unclogging pores.
2. It reduces breakouts and acne.
Exfoliation cleans up excess sebum and dirt, reducing chances of acne breakouts.
3. It smoothens skin.
Exfoliation breaks up pigmented cells and encourages cell renewal, allowing post-acne scars and dark spots to fade faster.
4. It brightens skin and evens skin tone.
Exfoliation breaks up pigmented cells and encourages cell renewal, allowing post-acne scars and dark spots to fade faster.
5. It improves skin metabolism and blood circulation.
By allowing your pores to breathe, skin becomes healthier and naturally glowing.
6. It enhances absorption of other skin care products.
Dead skin forms a barrier that prevents skin care products from reaching the deeper layers of your skin. Regular exfoliation before applying your toner, serum, mask and cream promotes better absorption.


Image: Pinterest

How Often Should You Exfoliate?

You should exfoliate once or twice a week, depending on the weather and your skin condition. You may want to exfoliate more often during hot and humid days to prevent sebum build-up. Oily and rough skin may require more exfoliation, while dryness and sensitivity mean you can’t do it too often. Don’t exfoliate every day, as it can hurt your skin, expose it to bacteria and make it more sensitive. Spend 15-30 seconds each time.

Different Types of Exfoliators

Exfoliators can be classified into physical and chemical types.

Physical Exfoliators

Examples: Brushes, sponges, pumice stones, loofahs, sugar, fruit pits, coffee grounds, rice bran, clay

Physical exfoliation makes use of scrubs to effectively slough off dead skin. Massaging fine granules onto your skin and seeing keratin, dirt and excess oil balling up and sloughing off makes the process gratifying. The massaging action also stimulates blood circulation, leading to naturally rosy skin.

Use only gentle pressure as scrubs can hurt your skin. Avoid using large granules like grounded nut shells or fruit pits if you have sensitive skin. Instead, use softer substances like clay or a konjac sponge. Pumice stones are mainly for the feet while loofahs are for the body. Also, remember to moisturize your skin afterwards as exfoliation can cause dryness.


Image: Pinterest

Chemical Exfoliators

Examples: AHAs and BHAs

AHAs (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acid) are two of the most commonly used chemical exfoliators. AHAs buff away dead skin cells to eliminate whiteheads while BHAs remove excess oil to reduce blackheads. Examples of AHAs include glycolic acid, lactic acid and citric acid, while salicylic acid is commonly known as a BHA.

Chemical exfoliators can come in the form of cleansers, toners, serums and sometimes even moisturizers. They offer mild and gentle exfoliation, and thus more suitable for sensitive skin than the physical kind. Since AHAs are photosensitive, don’t forget to wear a sunscreen if you’re using AHA-based products.


Image: Foot Doctor

The Best Exfoliators for Different Body Parts

Face Exfoliators

A chemical exfoliator, COSRX’s Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser combines salicylic acid with tea tree oil to combat blemishes and remove dead skin cells. Secret Key’s Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel contains lemon water to get rid of dead skin cells and brighten the complexion, while centella, aloe, witch hazel and chamomile extracts soothe skin.

Skinfood’s Rice Mask Wash Off Mask gently massages the face with rice grains. You can also use sonic brushes, silicon brushes or konjac sponges with a foaming cleanser as your physical exfoliators.


Lip Exfoliators

Sugar granules and jojoba oils work in both Skinfood’s Avocado & Sugar Lip Scrub and HANAKA’s Chu Chu Lip Scrub to physically exfoliate lips. Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask mildly buffs lips with its raspberry extract while hydrating them overnight.

Feet Exfoliators

There are many foot peel masks available at YesStyle that help remove keratin and callouses with a mixture of acids. Simply put on the sock-like pouches containing the acids for an hour or so, and your feet will begin to peel in 2-5 days to reveal baby-soft skin.

Body Exfoliators

Fight dark spots, freckles, wrinkles and stretch marks with TOSOWOONG’s Black Sugar Scrub, which uses the glycolic acid in brown sugar to physically and chemically exfoliate skin. Brighten your armpits, elbows and knees with A’PIEU’s rub-off Deo Armpit Brightener.