Basic Questions: Why Exfoliate? When and How Often Should I?


There was a time not long ago when skin care to me meant washing my face with whatever cleanser was the cheapest.

Now and then I would pick up pointers from friends or some article somewhere and try them out. I remember this one time someone told me I should look for an exfoliant. The next time I went shopping for “face wash” I bought an exfoliating scrub and replaced my cleanser with it. I know, I know…

When I started learning about skincare, I was overwhelmed. Cleanser, Toner, Astringent, Scrub, Spot Treatment, Mask, Moisturizer. What are all these things? If I am cleansing daily and masking weekly, what is this exfoliating scrub for?

Whenever I pick up a beauty product, I feel just feel confused. Its like I’ve mistakenly walked in to course level 2. The scrub that came with my skincare line, for example, tells me to “use when a deep clean is needed” and that it “works best when paired with” the only thing this package didn’t seem to come with.

Ok… but what? 

If you’re more of a basic girl like me, never fear! I am here to share my notes with you.

What is Exfoliating?

Simply put: exfoliating removes all the dead skin cells, leaving you with healthy, radiant skin!

Why Do I Need to Exfoliate?

When skin cells die, they dont usually flake away, they stick to the face, clogging pores and follicles. With all this gunk in the way, your skin is less able to absorb the useful ingredients inside your other skincare products. Under exfoliated skin will appear dull, greyish, rough and uneven in tone.

How Often Should I Exfoliate?

I would say, the best plan is once a week. Depending on whether you’re using a chemical exfoliant or a scrub, this can vary a bit. A scrub can be used up to 2 or 3x per week depending on your skin type. It’s recommended to start with once a week and see how your skin reacts.

When is the best time to Exfoliate?

With so many other skincare products to incorporate, my biggest question was when? There seems to be a bit of debate over morning and night, not only between beauty bloggers, but dermatologists as well.

Here’s the best advice I gathered: If you wear a full face of make up daily, it can be beneficial before bed to give a deeper clean and remove all the excess particles. If you have oily skin, or tend to use stronger products in the evening you may want to exfoliate in the morning. Exfoliating can cause irritation so it’s best to be used away from acne, and other deeper more irritating treatments.

But here’a where these opinions conflict: Since exfoliating removes the dead layer, and leads to better absorption… using it at night before your other products seems to make more sense and lends better results for some. I guess it’s up to you!

What happens if I Over Exfoliate?

Exfoliating is a deep cleaning process and can be very irritating for your skin. Over exfoliation can cause redness, dryness and sensitivity. If you feel like you’ve gone over board, dial back your routine to a basic cleanser and moisturizer for a few days.

Remember –
regardless of when, or how often you exfoliate, always moisturize after to avoid excess dryness and irritation!

Hopefully I was able to basic it out a little for you! Let me know your exfoliating tips and share your thoughts on the whole morning vs night debate in the comments below!


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