A Beginner’s Guide for Exfoliating the Skin

Many of you do not go beyond washing and moisturizing your skin, but every skincare freak would know what miracle exfoliation does to the skin. There is no doubt that it is one of the most important skincare steps that shouldn’t be missed if you want youthful, glowing, and smoother skin.

There are so many good reasons to add an exfoliator into your skin routine; when used right, it can change your skincare game.

So, if you are a newbie in the skincare world who doesn’t have any idea about exfoliators and their benefits, you are in the right place to gain some knowledge. And, those of you who don’t wish to include exfoliators in their skin regime will surely include this step after reading this article

exfoliation of the Skin

What is Exfoliation, and How Does it Work?

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead cells from the topmost layer of your skin. The human skin has a natural process of shedding dead skin from the upper layer of the skin to make space for new skin cells.

However, as we grow up, our skin starts to lose its ability to shed dead skin on its own, for which we need the leverage of ‘exfoliators.’ Dead cells are the reason why our skin looks dull, clogged, and textured as it hides the fresh cells beneath.


Exfoliators work by removing those dead cells while revealing the fresh ones and improving the skin’s overall appearance. Exfoliating stimulates collagen and elastin production in your body, keeping your skin firm and ready to recover fully. As a result, exfoliation is an excellent approach to delay or even prevent the onset of wrinkles!

A retinol face wash or cleanser can also assist you in achieving the same goal. The finest retinol cleansers will gently exfoliate the skin to remove oil, dirt, and pollutants while purifying it.

Benefits of Exfoliation for the Skin

The benefits of exfoliators make them worth every penny. Let us look at some legit reasons why you would spend your hard-earned money on exfoliators.

    • The regular face wash and cleansers cannot go inside your skin for deep cleaning, whereas exfoliators penetrate deep inside to decongest the pores.
    • While cleansing the skin helps to remove dirt, exfoliation removes the dead skin cells to reveal a fresh, glowy skin that is hiding underneath.
    • Dead cells work as a barrier on the skin that does not allow the goodness of any other skincare products to seep in. This is a waste of your hard-earned money buying those expensive moisturizers and serums.
    • Regular exfoliation helps to delay aging as it works to revitalize the skin.
    • Exfoliation helps your makeup sit well for long on the skin. Or else, the dead skin build-up makes the skin and the makeup application look patchy. An exfoliated skin is even and smooth and looks well after applying makeup.
    • Exfoliation gives your skin an instant glow when it is looking dull and lifeless. If you haven’t used an exfoliator before your first try will make a world of difference to your skin.
    • Exfoliation is not only for the facial skin. You can exfoliate your body’s skin too to reveal a softer and healthier appearance. Body exfoliators are different and a little heavier than facial exfoliators as they are thicker.

Types of Exfoliation

In the world of beauty care, there are mainly two types of exfoliators, physical and chemical. Although their purpose is the same, that is, to remove dead cells from the skin, they work differently. Let us see both of their works individually.


Physical exfoliators or also known as manual exfoliators, use friction to get rid of dead skin cells. These types of exfoliators are widely available; they are found in the form of grains, seeds, nutshell powders, sponges, etc. Usually, to get the face accustomed to the concept of exfoliation, people start with physical exfoliation.

 Pros of Physical Exfoliation

    • Beginner-friendly and does not require any expert knowledge
    • Budget-friendly
    • You can make physical exfoliators at home, such as lemon-sugar scrub, coffee-honey scrub, etc.
    • Available in a wide variety in the market,
    • It can be used for the body too
    • Does not react to the skin, so safe to use for the first-timers

Cons of Physical Exfoliation

    • Can cause microtears and hyperpigmentation to the facial skin if overused or massaged vigorously
    • Many skincare experts do not support the use of physical scrubs on delicate facial skin.


No, you don’t have to get petrified hearing the word chemicals. These are not the lab chemicals you experiment with but are skin-friendly that are infused with skincare products under expert supervision.

The chemical exfoliators consist of acids and enzymes like glycolic acid, citric acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid to break the bond of the dead skin cells and let them dissolve away. Here, no manual effort is required to clear the dead cells, the chemical exfoliators will gently do their work.

Pros of Chemical Exfoliation

    • Does not require harsh scrubbing
    • Works overnight
    • Provides the best result if used according to skin type
    • Best for darker skin people as physical exfoliation can cause hyperpigmentation
    • There are also the mildest forms of chemical exfoliators like retinol.

Cons of Chemical Exfoliation

    • Expensive
    • Risky for beginners because they don’t know which chemical to choose for their skin.
    • Overuse can cause peeling, redness, and itchiness
    • People with extreme skin issues should take recommendations from dermatologists before using chemical exfoliators
    • Chemical exfoliators are sun-sensitive, so you should only apply them at night.

How to Choose the Right Exfoliator for Your Skin

You can treat your skin right when you know how to choose the right kind of exfoliator. Here are some insights on how to choose an exfoliator according to your skin type.

Dry Skin: When your skin is dry and flaky, it does not require more dryness from physical exfoliators. For dry skin, chemical exfoliators with glycolic or lactic acid work the best. They will remove the dead skin, as well as provide a moisture barrier to the skin.

Oily Skin: Oily skin is thicker and has extra layers of dirt and gunk buildup on the skin’s surface. For this type of skin, physical exfoliators can be helpful to remove the layer of oil and dirt from the skin.

Acne-prone Skin: Severely acne-prone skin requires special attention according to expert recommendations on any active chemical usage on the face,  You can use a retinol face wash in such cases too. However, remember to wash away the face wash properly after applying it to the skin.

If you don’t have severe acne, salicylic acid works the best for regular acne-prone and bumpy skin. This acid smoothens down the skin texture and helps to deal with acne within a few uses. Salicylic acid has other tremendous benefits, like removing black and whiteheads.

Normal Skin: You can explore any type of exfoliator, both physical and chemical with a normal skin type. Make sure to use one at a time.

Aging Skin: People with aging skin should stay away from physical exfoliators as the scrubbing can cause more dryness and make wrinkles more prominent. They should go for hydrating chemical exfoliators consisting, lactic acid or glycolic acid.

Combination Skin: You may need to switch the use of exfoliators between physical and chemical depending on your skin requirement. Again, one type of exfoliator at a time.

Sensitive Skin: If you have sensitive skin, avoid physical exfoliators. Instead, go for a mild chemical one like retinol. Retinols are so mild that they can be used every day, but people with sensitive skin should go slow.

Things NOT to do with Exfoliators

Here is a list of things that you should NOT do with exfoliators.

    • Don’t apply to the under-eye area: The under-eye skin of humans is extremely thin. Exfoliation of any form can cause unnecessary irritation to that area leading to premature wrinkles. Be it physical or chemical; exfoliation should be avoided there.
    • Don’t exfoliate every day: This goes for both chemical and physical exfoliators. While exfoliation is beneficial for the skin, over-exfoliating can be the opposite. It can cause roughness, itchiness, redness, peeling, and many other skin issues. It is ideal if you use it once or twice a week.
    • Do not be harsh with the physical scrubs: Physical scrubs contain small exfoliating granules in them, like sugar, salt, etc. So, you should use them in gentle circular motions of facial skin. Otherwise, too harsh scrubs can cause microtears and hyperpigmentation on the skin.
    • Don’t overlap chemical exfoliators: Chemical exfoliation should be used one at a time. For example, you cannot overlap between lactic acid with salicylic acid, use one at a time. Or else it will adversely affect your skin.

 Final Thought

So, what is your thought on exfoliation now? Are you ready to include it in your skincare routine? Well, we have given you some basic knowledge of exfoliation and its work. But you will achieve the best outcome when you find the right kind of exfoliator for your skin after some trials and errors.

Read More:

Treat your skin right by exfoliating 

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