Exfoliation provides a number of great benefits for your facial skin and, as a result, should definitely be a regular part of your skincare routine. However, it is important to understand how often you should be exfoliating your face so as not to cause unnecessary or damaging irritation1. Michelle Freese, a senior esthetician and acne expert at the Kate Somerville Skin Experts Clinic, has over 15 years of skincare experience and regularly helps her clients understand the balance of proper exfoliation. “The frequency of your exfoliation depends on your age, skin type, and the type of exfoliation you are using. But twice per week is the general rule of thumb [within the industry],” she shares.
Types of Exfoliation
As Michelle indicated, you have options when it comes to choosing an exfoliator2. Generally speaking, you can use physical exfoliants or chemical exfoliants though the two are not mutually exclusive. Just as it sounds, a physical exfoliant uses an abrasive substance to actually remove the dead skin cells from the surface of your face. Chemical exfoliation, such as exfoliating masks or scrubs, uses substances like acids or enzymes to dissolve or lift dead cells off your skin.
Choosing an Exfoliator
When choosing what the type of exfoliator you would like to use it is important to consider your skin type3. Sensitive skin can be further irritated by harsh exfoliators so it is best to use a product like ExfoliKate® Gentle which boasts ingredients like aloe vera and pumpkin enzymes that gently exfoliate and smooths skin. Freese advises that those with normal or oily skin types are able to use a more intensive treatment like ExfoliKate® which has larger physical granules while incorporating chemical exfoliants as well.
A good rule to follow is the more intense the exfoliate or sensitive your skin, the less often you should exfoliate. For example, those with sensitive skin may only want to exfoliate once a week but even those with oily skin using an intensive treatment may want to limit to once or twice a week as well. In addition, specific ingredients can determine how often you should use an exfoliate. Lactic acid exfoliators, for example, are milder and may be appropriate for more frequent use such as 3 to 5 times per week.
Incorporating Exfoliation into Your Routine
Clearly, there is a lot to consider if you decide to add exfoliation into your regular skincare routine which can be intimidating. But as we have discussed, the frequency of your exfoliation will greatly depend on the intensity of the product you select. Regardless, on the days you exfoliate, your skin care routine4 should look something like this:
- Serums or Essences
An easy way to remember this process is to consider that you want to layer on your exfoliating products from light to heavy. When you do begin exfoliating your skin, keep in mind that you may have to experiment with different ways to exfoliate to find what is right for you and your skin. An exfoliating scrub that combines a chemical exfoliant with an abrasive texture will help to clean pores while removing dead skin cells. Growing in popularity are chemical exfoliant pads which combine active ingredients with the texture of the pad, producing a similar effect to physical exfoliation.
You will also need to pay attention to the instructions listed on the exfoliator you choose when incorporating it into your routine. As we’ve already addressed, a mild exfoliator can be used nearly every day depending on your skin’s tolerance but anything more active should be limited to weekly use.
Exfoliation provides a lot of benefits for the skin such as brightening the complexion, helping to decrease the appearance of pores, and helping to reduce the presence of acne. Although it is easy to understand why some may think it is best to exfoliate as much as possible, over exfoliating can actually cause more problems such as increased redness and irritated skin5. That’s why it is important to find the right product for your skin and pay close attention to how you react to it. Once you find the right balance, you will start to see younger and healthier looking skin in no time!