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How To Exfoliate the Right Way

How To Exfoliate the Right Way

Approximately every 30 days, our skin sheds dead skin cells. This natural process is necessary for making way for the production of new cells. On occasion, the skin will neglect to shed all its dead cells, resulting in clogged pores, dry skin, and a rough texture.

Exfoliating is a useful process for solving this issue. 

Exfoliation is a process in which dead skin cells are removed from the outer layers of your skin. Besides ridding your skin of dead skin cells, the benefits include increasing blood circulation and brightening your appearance.

While it might seem annoying to have to make up for your skin’s incompetence when it should be able to successfully rid itself of dead skin cells every 30 days, this is only a small price to pay for the confidence of healthy, fresh-looking skin.

Exfoliating is a popular procedure that can render a lot of damage to the skin if performed incorrectly or on the wrong skin type. To avoid this, let’s walk you through exfoliating the right way.

What Is Exfoliating?

Exfoliating is the act of removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. Typically, exfoliation involves washing your face with a granular soap so that it can shed unwanted materials in layers.

There are two main methods for exfoliating. The first is called mechanical exfoliation. This type of exfoliating involves using a tool to shed dead skin cells from the outermost layer of your skin. 

One of the possible tools for mechanical exfoliation is a brush. Specially made bristle brushes can be used on the face for exfoliation. Some are designed for dry brushing, while others require a proper cleansing agent.

Sponges can also be used for mechanical exfoliation. They are typically considered a gentler method and are used in the shower. Exfoliating gloves, also commonly used in the shower, are easier to handle but are generally used for larger areas of the body, such as legs or arms, rather than the face.

The other type of exfoliation is chemical exfoliation. Instead of tools, chemical exfoliation uses chemicals to dissolve and rid your face of dead skin cells. 

Exfoliating products contain either BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) like salicylic acid or AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) like glycolic or lactic acid. While they both work to buff away dead skin cells, BHAs are generally believed to be the safer option for acne-prone skin.

Benefits of Exfoliation

Suppose you are on the fence about incorporating exfoliation into your skincare routine. In that case, we are here to inform you that there are several benefits to exfoliating your skin if done correctly.

On a scientific level, two of the major benefits of exfoliation include improving circulation and removing dead skin cells. These two effects alone can have an extremely positive influence on your skin’s health

They can prevent acne breakouts, encourage skin turnover, absorb moisturizers and other topical skin care products, resulting in healthier, more hydrated skin. Consistent exfoliation will help your skin appear smooth and soft. 

To add to the importance of exfoliating your skin, it is worth mentioning that there are also disadvantages to not exfoliating at all. If you do not exfoliate your skin, you’ll be left more susceptible to having your pores become clogged with sebum, dead skin cells, or bacteria. 

Not only will this tarnish the tone of your skin, but it can also lead to unwanted acne. Additionally, blackheads and whiteheads can negatively influence your skin’s texture, causing you to age more visibly. 

Exfoliating the Right Way

There are a few different factors to consider when it comes to fitting exfoliating into your skin care routine. It is important not to over-exfoliate, as this can harm your skin further. The stronger your methods of physical exfoliation prove to be, the less often you should exfoliate. 

Selecting Your Method

Remember, there are two main forms of exfoliation — chemical and mechanical — and selecting the best type for you is the first step. 

If you opt to use a chemical exfoliant, make sure to be gentle with your application. Whether you are using a scrub or a liquid product, you will want to use a cotton pad or washcloth when putting the product on your skin. 

If these items are not available to you, you can also use your fingers. Apply the chemical exfoliator in small, circular motions for about 30 seconds. Then, rinse the product off with lukewarm water.

Similar to the chemical exfoliant, using mechanical exfoliation requires a level of gentility. Rub the tool gently against the skin in small circular motions unless you are using a brush or sponge, in which case it is recommended that you use short light strokes.

Skin Type

The type and method of exfoliant that you choose to use should suit your skin type. Your skin type is determined by genetics. Generally speaking, there are five types of skin: 

  • Normal
  • Sensitive
  • Dry
  • Oily
  • Combination

There is a chance that your skin type can be exacerbated or altered by environmental or hormonal changes. One easy way to identify your skin type is to monitor its behavior by examining its characteristics at the end of a day. 

  • If your skin is oily and shiny by the end of the day, you likely have oily skin.
  • If your skin is tight or flaky, you likely have dry skin. 
  • If your T-zone is shiny, but the rest of your face is dry, you probably have combination skin, a combo of oily and dry.
  • If your skin shows signs of redness and itchiness, you likely have sensitive skin. 
  • If your skin shows no distinct characteristics or has minimal oil, dryness, or redness, your skin type is probably normal.

Simply put, those with dry or sensitive skin would respond better to mild chemical exfoliators rather than mechanical exfoliation, while oily skin does best with stronger mechanical exfoliation. The other types can try their hand at either chemical or mechanical exfoliation.

Normal Skin

The only challenging part about selecting a method of exfoliation for those with normal skin has to choose from so many different options. Mechanical and chemical exfoliation is typically safe to use on skin and lacks complications.

Dry Skin

Those with dry skin should avoid mechanical exfoliation because the process tends to be drying. Additional drying from mechanical exfoliation can lead to unwanted microtears. Instead, try using a chemical exfoliant that features AHAs like glycolic acid. Glycolic acid will be effective at encouraging healthy skin turnover. 

Oily Skin

Oily skin responds well to mechanical exfoliation. Oily skin tends to have an extra layer of buildup that mechanical exfoliation can remove. If you opt to use chemical exfoliation, it may take a stronger exfoliant to attack this additional layer. Those with oily skin may also require more frequent exfoliating, but always be wary of over-exfoliating.

Combination Skin

Since combination skin has the same needs as oily and dry skin, it may require combined mechanical and chemical treatment. This might mean applying your chemical exfoliant with a tool. If this proves to be too strong for your skin and causes irritation, it is better to alternate between methods rather than using both at once.

Sensitive Skin

It can sometimes be difficult to find the right fit for sensitive skin, and the process may require trial and error. Avoid mechanical exfoliation because it can cause further irritation and redness. Instead, try a mild chemical exfoliator and adjust as necessary.


When exfoliating, remember to select the right exfoliation method that compliments your skin type. Do not exfoliate if your skin has any open wounds or is sunburnt. This may cause further damage to your wounds and irritation on your face. 

After exfoliating, remember to treat your tender skin with a gentle but effective cleanser followed by a nourishing moisturizer. Then, as always, apply your sunscreen with SPF 30+. 

Yes, this process takes effort, but the man who is willing to put in the effort to do it correctly is the man who will reap the most benefits.

Besides, a Made Man never backs down from a challenge. He is self-disciplined and ambitious, set on doing whatever it takes to maintain a life of simultaneous luxury and cleanliness. 

So, if you are up for the challenge, MadeMan is here to help.


How to safely exfoliate at home | AAD

The Dynamics of the Skin's Immune System | PubMed

Skin type classification systems old and new | PubMed

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