Every 30 days or so, the skin spontaneously renews itself. When the outer layer of the skin, or epidermis, sheds dead cells and replaces them with new ones, this process occurs.
Dead skin cells are shed by regular everyday tasks, such as putting on and off clothing. A person is unaware when old skin cells fall off throughout the day.
Exfoliation is when a person gets rid of these dead skin cells more easily from the top layer of skin. However, when using an exfoliant to do this, individuals must take great caution, as these items can easily damage or irritate the skin.
We look at the various ways to exfoliate the skin on the face in this article, taking into account the type of skin. As the skin is more fragile on the face than on some other areas of the body, we also look at what to avoid.
Ways to exfoliate your face
There are a variety of steps they can take if anyone wants to exfoliate their face:
- Using gentle approaches for the face in particular.
- Avoid delicate skin on the lips and around the eyes.
- Ensure that the face is always clean before exfoliating.
- Exfoliate the skin either manually or chemically.
Manual exfoliation includes the use of a tool or scrub to manually extract dead skin cells from the face.
To dissolve dead skin cells, chemical exfoliation involves using a mild acid.
There are low levels of chemical exfoliants in most products marketed for use on the skin, so they are safe for most people to use.
For those with sensitive or dry skin, chemical exfoliants may not be necessary, as they may cause dryness or irritation.
Building up use progressively will help avoid skin irritation with any chemical exfoliation.
Initially, individuals should not use chemical exfoliants more than once a week. A dermatologist may advise on the correct product for use and selection.
The most prevalent forms of chemical exfoliants include:
- alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
- beta hydroxy acid (BHA)
Forms of exfoliants
We list the different exfoliants below, which may be options.
For those with more sensitive skin, using a washcloth is a safe choice.
Take an ordinary washcloth and wet it with warm water, then use it in small circles to gently rub the skin.
It can also be helpful to cleanse the face before exfoliating, as this opens the pores of the skin.
- Natural sponge
To get rid of dead skin cells on your face, a natural sponge will function well.
Wet and wring out the sponge, then use small circular movements to exfoliate the face.
As this can cause inflammation, try not to place too much pressure on the skin. Since they are no longer securely attached to the surface, light strokes can easily get rid of dead skin cells.
- Face scrub
A popular way to get rid of dead skin cells from the face is exfoliating scrubs. They can, however, harm the skin as micro tears or irritation can be caused by the ingredients.
Avoid items that contain hard parts, such as nutshells, that do not dissolve.
Scrubs made with salt or sugar by manufacturers dissolve quickly and are soft on the skin. People can always use them only with caution, however, and not more than once a week. For individuals with sensitive or dry skin, they are usually not appropriate.
An person may want to produce their own at home, such as a sugar or oatmeal scrub, as an alternative to buying commercial face scrubs. Again, these should be applied to the face only once a week.
AHAs act to expose new skin cells underneath by dissolving the top layer of skin.
To make pores look smaller or to reduce the presence of fine lines, use AHAs.
The most common AHA is glycolic acid.
- To the BHAs
To unclog them, BHAs penetrate the pores and are more suited to oily and mixed skin types.
Salicylic acid is the most common BHA, and for the treatment of acne, medical professionals use it.
Things to avoid
Below, we list what to avoid while exfoliating, as well as tips to avoid skin damage.
- Take caution, as the American Academy of Dermatology says, when using products that already contain benzoyl peroxide or retinol. It may cause skin issues by exfoliating on top of using these products.
- Stop purchasing goods that are meant for use in other parts of the body by manufacturers, as they are too rough for the delicate skin on the face. Choose a product that can be used directly on the face.
- Stop exfoliating skin that is damaged or sunburnt or if an underlying skin condition is present. It can help to check for irritation by testing an exfoliant on a small patch of skin.
- Moisturize after exfoliating and to protect the skin with a high sunscreen factor. All exfoliation improves ultraviolet (UV) light sensitivity.
- Before shaving or using other hair removal techniques, exfoliate. This helps to prevent pores that might become more open during shaving from clogging dead skin cells.
- Stop exfoliating in the morning or even the night before a significant case. Some redness or inflammation can be caused by removing dead skin from the face.
To find the best way to remove and exfoliate dead skin from the face, it is important to understand the skin type of an individual.
The principal forms of skin are:
By washing their face with water, then gently patting it dry, a person may decide their skin type at home. A tissue should be pressed to the chin, nose, forehead and cheeks in turn after 1 hour. An individual should be able to figure out their type of skin by looking for traces of oil on the tissue, as follows:
- Normal skin: No tissue oil and no proof of dryness.
- Dry skin: no tissue oil, and the skin feels tight or has a flaky appearance.
- Oily skin: tissue oil, and the skin looks shiny.
- Skin combination: normal or dry cheeks; oil on the tissues of the nose, forehead, or chin.
- Sensitive skin: The skin looks itchy, red, or dry.
There are a number of exfoliants available, and there are several basic home scrub recipes. Use exfoliants with caution, as sensitive skin can be harmed.
Overuse of exfoliants or the use of unnecessarily harsh products can irritate even non-sensitive skin.
Exfoliating gently once a week with the right type of exfoliant for the skin type of an individual will help make the complexion appear clearer. It can also help to treat breakouts or to avoid them.
- Arif, T. (2015). Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: A comprehensive review.
- How to remove dead skin from the face (LINK)
- How to safely exfoliate at home. (n.d.).