Exfoliating is a key to achieving clear, healthy skin. It helps remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, revealing a new layer of fresh skin that is smoother and more radiant. Exfoliating also offers the added benefit of minimizing pore size and reducing the look of lines and wrinkles.

What You Should Know About Exfoliating Your Face

When done right, exfoliating can revive your skin and boost its luminosity. The sad part is many of us don’t know how to properly exfoliate. Some people do it aggressively or more often than recommended, while others skip it altogether. Continue as we dive a little deeper into face exfoliation to find out how often you should do it.

What are the benefits of exfoliation?

As previously mentioned, exfoliation refers to the process of removing dead skin cells from the topmost layers of the skin. This cleans the skin and brightens your complexion, as well as enables the active ingredients in your skincare products to penetrate deeper and work their magic or what they are intended to do. 

What exfoliating does is help break down some of the dead surface cells that usually lead to dullness and a tired-looking appearance. It can also speed up cell turnover and clear clogged pores, which can be beneficial in improving acne and lightening dark spots. Benefits of exfoliating include:

  • Decongests the pores
  • Helps remove oil, dirt, grime, and dead surface cells
  • Helps fade pigmentation for an even skin tone
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Allows for better absorption of skincare
  • Reduces the look of enlarged pores
  • Helps minimize superficial scars

What are the two types of exfoliation methods? 

There are two ways to exfoliate your skin: physical (also called manual or mechanical) and chemical.

  • Physical exfoliation – uses a tool or abrasives to manually remove the dead cells. It can involve the use of a sponge, brush, or towel, as well as a face scrub or gel with granules like sugar microbeads. It is important not to scrub too much or hard with this technique, as this can lead to irritation and compromise the skin barrier. 
  • Chemical exfoliation – uses chemical exfoliants with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). It can involve the use of facial peel pads, facial cleansers with salicylic acid, or other skin care products with acids that break down surface skin cells. 

This doesn’t involve manually scrubbing the skin, so it is considered gentler than physical exfoliation. It is, however, important to use a moisturizing sunscreen afterward, as chemical exfoliants can make the skin prone to redness and sun damage. 

What is the right method for you: This depends on your skin type and preference. Many, however, usually recommend chemical exfoliation as this doesn’t involve the use of granules that can potentially cause little tears in the skin and offers additional benefits. Dr. Sylvia’s AHA Resurfacing Serum, for instance, gently exfoliates the surface of the skin, while also targeting dark spots and improving the visible signs of aging. 

You can still go with physical exfoliation, but make sure that it matches your skin type and do it properly. 

How often should you exfoliate your face?

This also depends on your skin type and what you can handle. It is not recommended to exfoliate every day. 

  • Normal – you can do so about two to three times a week.
  • Dry – you may want to exfoliate once a week or every other week and avoid harsh exfoliants or those with granules. 
  • Combination – you can do about two to three times a week but make sure to notice how your skin feels or reacts after exfoliation.  
  • Oily – you can exfoliate three to four times a week, depending on what your skin can tolerate. You may want to lessen it if you notice dryness or irritation.
  • Sensitive – if your skin usually becomes red or itchy after exfoliation, skipping it may be advisable. You can also choose to do it once a week but opt for a product with a low concentration or percentage of AHA and take note of how your skin handles it. 

Do take note that the type of exfoliant you use can also affect how many times a week you should exfoliate. The environment you’re in also plays a role in how often you should exfoliate. If you, for instance, live in a place with lots of pollution, you may need to exfoliate more often. A consultation with a skin or aesthetic doctor can help you figure out how you should approach exfoliation. 

How to exfoliate

Again, this will depend on your preferred method. Here are some general guidelines

Physical exfoliation

  1. Wash your face first.
  2. Use a small amount of your face scrub or a clean exfoliating brush. Move in gentle circular motions and avoid the eye area.
  3. Keep your movements gentle; avoid rubbing your skin aggressively
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat your face dry with a clean towel. 
  5. Apply a moisturizer or a hydrating mask, cream, or serum. 

Chemical exfoliation

  1. Wash your face with a cleanser.
  2. Apply your preferred chemical exfoliant in small circular motions.
  3. Follow the product instructions. Some products may need to stay on the skin for a while before rinsing, while others don’t need to be rinsed. 
  4. Follow with a treatment serum or a moisturizer or the next step in your skincare routine. 

Make sure not to over-exfoliate, which means doing it often or using very harsh exfoliants. This may result in side effects such as redness, flaking, and irritation. Again, you should also be mindful of how long you should leave a chemical exfoliant on your skin or use a physical exfoliant (usually not more than a couple minutes). Always follow the package instructions.

Aesthetic treatments for exfoliating the face

At Cutis, we also have aesthetic treatments that can exfoliate your skin and reveal fresher and healthier skin underneath. These include:

  • Hydra dermabrasion – is a multi-step facial treatment that involves cleansing, exfoliation or T-zone intensive care, and infusing the skin with formulated serums. It is a gentle procedure that uses the power of water and oxygen (instead of an abrasive surface) to remove impurities from the skin.
  • VI Peel – is a medical-grade chemical peel that can improve the tone, texture, and clarity of your skin. It resurfaces the skin’s top layer and helps soften lines and wrinkles, reduce pigmentation, and smooth uneven skin texture. It can also stimulate collagen production.
  • Meso-Peel – combines microneedling via Dermapen 4 and Über Pro Peel, which is a chemical peel formulation designed to enhance microneedling procedures. This combination promotes cellular turnover that can also improve dull complexion, signs of aging, and rough skin texture. 

Book a consultation

To learn more about our exfoliating treatments and products, contact Cutis Medical Laser Clinics. Schedule a consultation with our aesthetic doctor in Singapore and find out how we can help you achieve your beauty and skincare goals.