Facial Exfoliation: What It Is, 6 Benefits, and How To Do It (Correctly)

02 May 2023 / Treatments
Facial Exfoliation: What It Is, 6 Benefits, and How To Do It (Correctly)

Do you feel like your skin is lacking a bit of radiance or becoming rougher in texture? When we were younger, our skin would naturally shed every few weeks, revealing fresher, brighter, and smoother skin. However, as we age, this process, called cell turnover, slows down dramatically, which means the dead skin cells remain on the topmost layer of the skin for a lot longer. But with a little bit of a push, we can manually shed these dead skin cells and other debris for a more revitalized glow. This process is called facial exfoliation.

How do I start exfoliating?

To exfoliate your skin, you’ll need to add products into your skincare routine that go beyond just cleansing. Exfoliating either chemically or mechanically will remove the dead skin cells that are laying on the top layer of your skin, revealing newer and more radiant skin underneath.

What are the benefits of facial exfoliation?

Unclogs pores: While cleansing your face will remove makeup, oil, and dirt, exfoliating will go deeper into the skin and clear out your pores. This is ideal for those who struggle with acne, enlarged pores, closed comedones, and more.

Allows other skincare products to work deeper in the skin: When you exfoliate, you remove build up on the top layer of your skin. Once the dead skin cells and debris is removed, your skincare products can penetrate deeper in your skin and work more effectively.

Reveals brighter, more radiant skin: By continually removing the dead skin cells on the outer layer of your skin, you’ll start to notice a brighter complexion as new skin is revealed and pigmented cells are sloughed off. Your skin may also look healthier and feel softer as you begin to regularly exfoliate.

Boost circulation and stimulates collagen: Exfoliation stimulates blood flow, which can give your skin a younger-looking appearance. After consistent use, exfoliation can also increase collagen production which minimises fine lines and wrinkles.

Helps to smooth out the skin: If your skin feels rough, dry, or bumpy, it can be due to your skin’s cell turnover slowing down. Adding an exfoliation product into your routine will help remove the dead skill cells, which will help smooth out your skin.

Mechanical vs. chemical exfoliation

Mechanical exfoliation involves using a textured product/medium to slough off dead skin cells. This includes scrubs, special sponges or brushes, charcoal products, washcloths and any other product that uses its texture to remove dead skin cells. If you’re looking to go the mechanical route, it’s important to find products/mediums that won’t damage your skin. Scrubs with very fine particles, like sugar scrubs or rice enzyme powders, are less abrasive than other options.

Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, uses alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHA’s) to exfoliate the skin. While the term “chemical” sounds more intense, it can actually be a lot gentler on the skin than some mechanical exfoliators, which can possibly leave small tears in the skin.

AHA’s work on the top layer of the skin to dissolve the bonds that keep skin together. This reveals the new skin underneath. Think products like lactic acid peels, cleansers with glycolic acid, or other products with citric acid.

BHA’s are a tad stronger than AHA’s. They are effective at getting deep into pores and unclogging them to address skin concerns like texture, blackheads, and more. Examples of BHA’s include products with the popular ingredient, salicylic acid.

If you’re looking for a chemical exfoliation product, try our AHA Cleanser (complete with glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid) or our AHA Night Serum (complete with glycolic and lactic acid).

What exfoliation products are best for my skin?

Everyone’s skin is different and will react to different exfoliation products in various ways. Here’s a general breakdown of what we would recommend for each skin type (but again, it’s best to trial on your own skin and go from there!).

Sensitive skin: If your skin is easily irritated by skincare products, we would recommend a chemical exfoliator over a mechanical exfoliator. Try a mild AHA exfoliator (think glycolic, lactic, or mandelic acids) once per week and gradually increase the frequency if your skin reacts well to it. 

Oily skin: People with oily skin can often benefit from either mechanical or chemical exfoliants, or a combination of both (if using both, don’t use on the same day). Oily skin could have an extra layer of buildup on the surface that a very gentle mechanical exfoliant can shed. On the other hand, a chemical exfoliant is better for oily, acne-prone skin since it can get deeper in the pores and clear out the oils to prevent further breakouts.

Normal or combination skin: If you have normal skin without any complications, or combination skin, you can choose from mechanical or chemical exfoliants. While we lean towards chemical as a gentler, more effective solution, you can experiment with any kind of exfoliator and choose the one that works best for your unique skin.

How often should I exfoliate my skin?

If you’re new to exfoliating, you’ll want to gradually add an exfoliating product into your skincare routine. For the first few weeks, less will be more, so your skin doesn’t get irritated and cause more harm than good. As a general rule of thumb, you can eventually work your way up to exfoliating your skin with a mechanical exfoliator between two to three times per week. Exfoliating too often with a mechanical exfoliator can sometimes damage your skin barrier, so we wouldn’t advise using the products more than three times per week.

If you’re using chemical exfoliators, you can usually use them more often! You can work your way up to incorporating products with AHA’s and BHA’s every day for an effective skincare routine. When you’re using chemical exfoliators, always remember to wear sunscreen every day, as your skin will be more prone to sun damage while using these types of products. 

When should I not exfoliate my skin?

If you have an active breakout, your skin will already be inflamed, and continuing with a mechanical exfoliator could cause further irritation. You may be able to continue with chemical exfoliators, as they can help in some cases, but if you’re concerned, it’s always best to speak with a skin expert. Other times you should reconsider exfoliators is if you have any type of open wound or cut on your face, or if you’re sunburned.


Learning how to exfoliate in a way that doesn’t cause more harm than good can be tricky. We hope that with the above tips, you can find an exfoliation product that best works for your skin. We’re sure you’ll be on the way to brighter, younger, and more radiant skin in no time.

If you are still unsure about which products to use for your skin, contact our team at 6331 0377. We can schedule a Custom Skincare Consultation, where we’ll talk about your skin concerns and goals and devise a plan of the best products and treatments that will help you achieve your best skin yet.

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