How should I exfoliate my skin?

Jeannette O. Graf, MD
There are many different ways to exfoliate the skin. The key is do so gently, without irritating the skin. Products formulated with acids and retinols are great ways to gently rejuvenate your skin. If you like the feeling of scrubs, avoid scrubs with rough edges like crushed apricot pits or walnut shells. They can actually injure your skin. You can also opt for exfoliating pads and at-home peels, which are formulated to use twice or three times a week. For deeper exfoliation to really treat any sun damage or fine lines, in-office peels are always an option.

The skin can be exfoliated using a washcloth, face brush, microdermabrasion kit, or a scrub containing an abrasive material, such as finely ground fruit pits or polyethylene beads. Shaving also exfoliates the skin. Chemical exfoliants, such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), stimulate rapid cell turnover and regeneration of new skin cells.

It is not necessary to scrub hard to exfoliate skin. Exfoliation should be gentle to avoid irritating the skin.

In addition to exfoliants, facial masks also may help draw out impurities from clogged pores. Facial mask ingredients such as clay, sulfur, or charcoal typically accomplish this task.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.