How to Exfoliate Your Skin: Your Skin Type Is Your Safety Compass

As part of your skincare routine, you must exfoliate your skin regularly. If exfoliation is not part of your skincare routine, you would notice your skin becoming dull, patchy, or breaking out.

So, to keep your skin smooth and glowing, you have to exfoliate your skin. However, exfoliating might just be a concept to people. They won’t know how to turn it into a routine or action they partake in.

You have to think of an exfoliating method that suits your skin, what exfoliators you want to use, how many times you should exfoliate to keep your skin and the after-treatment of your skin.

It’s a lot, right? But you are not done.

Then you have to think if the exfoliating method you choose is right for you. You might end up breaking your skin rather than fixing it if you use a method not meant for your skin type. This is why you need essential tips on how to exfoliate your skin the right way.

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How to Exfoliate Your Skin by Type

Shedding skin is natural in the body. However, not all dead skin cells shed off the skin. Some get stuck in the pores and clog it. Exfoliating will take care of that. It will remove any remnant dead skin cells, giving you clear skin.

But getting it right is what would keep your skin glowing. This is why it’s important to use the right exfoliating method for your skin. The following are how you can exfoliate your skin the right way based on your skin type.

Exfoliate oily skin

Oily skins are characterized by large pores and excess sebum, which clog the pores. These clogged pores lead to pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. To make sure this does not happen, exfoliate with products that would remove the extra buildup in the pores.

Manual exfoliation is best for oily skins. Scrubs or gentle scrubs with acids like salicylic acid can effectively remove excess oil and sebum. Also, oily skins can exfoliate every day with gentle exfoliators, as long as it does not irritate the skin. 

Exfoliate dry skin

Dry skins would need to exfoliate their bodies to remove the dried dead layers blocking the pores and not allowing products to seep through. The products dry skin needs are soft to the skin and would not scrub all the oils away.

Chemical exfoliators are just perfect for dry skin. They are gentle to the skin and would leave it partly moisturized.

Exfoliate sensitive skin

Sensitive skins get easily irritated. Therefore, when you exfoliate you have to use exfoliators with lactic acid to soothe and hydrate the skin. Chemical exfoliators are best for sensitive skins. It won’t irritate or redden the skin.

Stay away from exfoliating brushes or scrubs. They would be harsh on the skin. Also, exfoliate as least as possible to keep the irritation as little as possible.

Exfoliate combination/normal skin

Combination skin is characterized by an oily T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin). You would need a strong exfoliator for that area. After exfoliating, be sure to use a moisturizing serum to soothe your face and keep it nourished and hydrated.

Normal skin changes with the weather. This is why you have to use mild exfoliators when in the dry season and stronger exfoliators for humid seasons. You can be aggressive with normal skins than dry and sensitive skin. However, you should not over-exfoliate to cause damage to your skin.

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Tips on How to Exfoliate Your Skin

When you want to exfoliate, you have to remember the following tips to get the right glowing skin.

1. Use the right product

This requires you to know your skin type. You could be dry, oily, combination, sensitive, or neutral skin type. Exfoliators are made in a way to complement your skin and its characteristics.

If you are not sure of your skin type, you can ask a professional or observe your skin based on some characteristics of your skin type. Either way, identifying your skin type will get you the right product.

2. Exfoliate in the morning

Exfoliating in the morning helps to clear the dead skin left over after the skin rejuvenates and repairs itself at night. Although this doesn’t stop you from exfoliating at a particular time of day, morning just works better.

3. Do it the right way

When you exfoliate your body with the right product, you have to exfoliate properly. This includes following the instructions of whatever exfoliator you are using.

For chemical exfoliants, you apply and rub gently on your body. It doesn’t require aggressive force. Also, do not leave on your body more than you should. For peels, follow the regulated time and peel off or wash off.

On the other hand, mechanical exfoliants require a bit of pressure. However, too much must not be added. This way, you would avoid irritating or reddening your skin.

4. Add pressure, but not too much

As I said, mechanical exfoliants need pressure. You should not be too careful when you apply pressure unless the exfoliator would not penetrate the skin.

When you exfoliate your face, the key to getting pressure right is to rub press firmly on the skin like your fingers are supporting your face. Also, rub the exfoliator in a circular motion on your face when you exfoliate.

5. Remember your elbows, knees, and feet

Your elbows, knees, and feet are very sensitive. They are considered to be the place dirt hides in the most. So you have to pay extra attention to them. For your elbows and knees, use anti-clogging exfoliators.

Meanwhile, the best way to exfoliate the feet is to use warm water and an exfoliating brush or pumice stone. You can do this every day to keep the dead skin as well as cracked heels and micro-tears away.

6. Don’t forget your lips

The lips are very much a part of your body like any other. The skin of the lips is more delicate. Therefore, it doesn’t require using the same exfoliators with your body unless stated in the packaging. You can use lips scrubs to remove dead skin cells from your skin.

7. Moisturize

After exfoliating, your skin is left raw, very open, and vulnerable. You need a moisturizer to moisturize and hydrate your skin. For instance, if you have dry skin, use a moisturizer that can retain and seal moisture in your skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

how to exfoliate your skin

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin with the use of an agent called an exfoliator. When the dead skin cells are removed, new healthy skin is revealed.

The exfoliator comes in two forms; mechanical and chemical. Mechanical is the use of physical abrasive agents to scrub the dead skin cells off the skin.

On the other hand, chemical exfoliation has to do with using enzymes or acids like alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) or beta hydroxy acids (BHA) to peel off the dead skin by weakening the glue-like component that holds them together.

Why do I need to exfoliate?

You need to exfoliate to remove dead skin cells. If you don’t, your body will look dry, dull, and age faster. Your skin needs a fresh glow to remain healthy.

Also, you need to remove the dead skin cells from your pores. If they are not removed, it could lead to acne and breakouts. Even skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema appear on your blocked skin surface.

Moreover, without exfoliation, skin turnover and blood circulation would be harder. Therefore, you need the routine to keep your blood flowing, especially on your face.

And again, exfoliation allows the easy absorption of products. Without it, the clogged pores will not allow beneficial products to seep through.  

Do dermatologists recommend exfoliating?

Yes, they do. They are medical professionals in charge of caring for the skin, and they know the importance of exfoliating and keeping the skin healthy.

According to board-certified dermatologist Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, “Exfoliation help dull or mature skin appear more rejuvenated. It can help to prevent breakouts and facilitate the absorption of moisturizers.”

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) also has a list of safety tips to follow when you want to exfoliate your skin.

This means exfoliating is something we all should partake in to keep our skin healthy, smooth, and glowing.


How often should I exfoliate?

The recommended frequency for exfoliation is two times a week. However, this can change based on your skin type and exfoliation method.

For example, oily skins would need to exfoliate more frequently because they produce more sebum. The sebum clogs the open pores, leading to breakouts.

Oily skins can exfoliate three times to four times a week, depending on the exfoliation method. But over-exfoliation should be avoided because it could lead to dry skin.

Also, when strong exfoliators are used, the frequency of exfoliation would change. For instance, sensitive skins will have to exfoliate as low as once a week if they are using a strong chemical exfoliant.

But you should always pay attention to how your skin feels in between routines to determine whether to increase the frequency or not. The reason being that skin reactions and adaptability differ from person to person.

What should I do before exfoliating?

To prepare your skin for exfoliation, all you have to do is lightly dust off your dry skin to remove the first layer of dead skin cells. You can either use a washcloth or an exfoliating brush.

Some exfoliator requires you to wash your skin or face with soap and water, while others can do without it. However, you should get as much grime away from your skin as possible.

Read Also: Face Toner, The Missing Link in Your Skincare Routine

What should I do after exfoliating?

You should apply your moisturizer and face serum to keep your skin hydrated and nourished.

The skin is most vulnerable because it has been scraped of all clogging components. Your pores are open and fresh, and the best way to protect them is by fortifying them with ingredients that would help them stay healthy.


What are the tools I need to exfoliate?

When you want to exfoliate your skin, you can do it by using natural exfoliants or products.

Natural exfoliants like sugar, coconut oil, oatmeal, and baking powder are great scrubs for removing dead skin cells, says Rachel Burns, PA-C, a consultant dermatologist.

You can also use a washcloth to exfoliate your skin. Mechanical exfoliants like a bath brush and exfoliating brush are great tools you would need to keep your skin bright and clear.

Does over exfoliating have side effects?

Yes, it does. Over exfoliating could lead to adverse reactions like dryness, flaky skin, peeling, and redness.

If you are to leave your exfoliator on for a speculated time, do as the packaging recommends. Chemical exfoliators, for instance, should not be left on the face for more than a few minutes. This could lead to redness.

Also, mechanical exfoliators should not be used too frequently. It could dry up your pores or cause irritation and breakouts. This is why following the instructions on the packaging is very important.

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When it comes to keeping the skin healthy, exfoliation is a necessary routine you have to practice. Knowing how to exfoliate your skin requires knowing what your skin type is and what mechanism of exfoliation suits it best.

Also, there are particular parts of your body you should focus on. This includes your face, elbows, knees, and feet, as well as lips. And you can practice some safe routine to get your body prepped for exfoliation.

But remember that the skin is vulnerable after exfoliation and would need to be protected. Add moisturizers and serums to your skin to help it stay healthy. If you follow the helpful tips highlighted above, you will end up with satisfying glowing skin.

Africana Fashion provides relevant skincare articles to keep you up to date in your everyday healthy lifestyle.