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How to exfoliate at home


Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin. Some people believe that this improves the appearance of their skin. If you choose to exfoliate, it’s important to do so properly so that it does not damage your skin. Since every type of exfoliation may not work for every skin type, dermatologists recommend the following tips how to exfoliate at home.

  • Understanding your skin type will help you choose an exfoliation option that best suits your skin.
  • Consider the skin care products you already use.
  • Some medications and even over-the-counter products may cause your skin to be more sensitive or peel, such as prescription retinoid creams or products containing benzoyl peroxide or retinol. Exfoliating while using these products may worsen dry skin or even cause acne breakouts.

How to exfoliate at home?

There are two main methods for at-home exfoliation – mechanical and chemical – and the method you choose should be guided by your skin type

Mechanical exfoliation involves using a tool, such as a brush or sponge, or a scrub to physically remove dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation uses chemicals, such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids, to gently dissolve dead skin cells.

Those with dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin may prefer just a washcloth and a mild chemical exfoliator, as mechanical treatments may be too irritating for this skin type. Those with oily, thicker skin may want to use stronger chemical treatments or mechanical exfoliation and notice dark spots on your skin after burns, bug bites or acne breakouts.

How to exfoliate at home

For some people, especially those with darker skin tones, more aggressive forms of exfoliation may result in dark spots on the skin. When exfoliating, be gentle to your skin. If using a scrub or chemical exfoliator, apply the product gently using small, circular motions. Do this for about 30 seconds, and then rinse off with lukewarm – not hot – water.

If using a brush or sponge, use short, light strokes. Exfoliating can be drying to the skin. Apply moisturizer immediately after exfoliating to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.

How often you exfoliate depends on your skin type and exfoliation method. Generally, the more aggressive the exfoliation, the less often it needs to be done. Be careful not to over-exfoliate, as this could lead to skin that is red and irritated.

How to exfoliate at home

If you aren’t sure what skin type you have, or if you have questions about exfoliating your skin, speak with a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can evaluate your skin and help you decide if exfoliation is beneficial for you.


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