How To Exfoliate Skin: The Only Skin Exfoliation Guide You’ll Ever Need.

How To Exfoliate Skin: The Only Skin Exfoliation Guide You’ll Ever Need.

Do you know how many dead skin cells you shed per day? On average five billion a day! So we are here to tell you why skin exfoliation is super important for a healthy, glowing complexion. Let’s take a look at why it’s important to make sure exfoliation is a part of your skincare routine.

Why Is It Important To Exfoliate Skin?

Exfoliation is key to removing dead skin cells on the outer layers of the skin to make skin look brighter, more radiant and youthful. Whilst these cells would eventually fall off on their own, dead skin cells left on the skin’s surface can make skin appear dull, dry and flakey. If we don’t remove the dead skin cells, pores can become blocked which often leads to blackheads, breakouts, acne or oily skin.

Often a misconception about exfoliation is that it’s only suitable for dry skin types but actually it is equally important for oily skin types and those concerned with ageing. Exfoliating skin helps stimulate collagen production by improving the skin’s texture leaving skin looking plumper and firmer. A huge benefit of exfoliation is that by removing the old dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin, products such as your moisturiser and serums absorb better, meaning that the ingredients in these products are able to work harder giving you optimal results.

There are a couple of types of exfoliation that can be used to treat the skin, it’s simply a matter of choosing one that best suits your skin type.

Mechanical  VS Chemical Exfoliation: What Are The Differences?

The two most common types of exfoliation are Mechanical exfoliation and Chemical Exfoliation. Let’s explore these in more depth below.

Mechanical Exfoliation

The method of using a Mechanical exfoliator often comes as a facial scrub or brush by physically removing the dead skin cells.



Oilier skin types can benefit from mechanical or physical exfoliation methods as they have thicker skin. Oilier skin types may have an extra build up of skin cells and oil trapped on the surface which may require an exfoliator such as a scrub for best results.


Those who suffer from dry or sensitive skin would be best advised to stay away from this exfoliation method as mechanical exfoliation is quite drying on the skin and can be harsh on dry, sensitive skin. 

Using a facial scrub or tool should be used with caution as over use of these tools can damage the skin barrier by causing micro-tears, lead to further sensitivity and broken capillaries.

Mechanical Exfoliation Tools

Tools such as Facial Scrubs and exfoliating brush, sponge and gloves are all mechanical exfoliation tools, many of which are perfect to use on the body but can be too harsh to use on sensitive areas of skin such as the face.

Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation typically comes in the form of acids or skin peels and work by dissolving the dead skin cells using chemicals such as AHA’s(Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHA’s (Beta Hydroxy Acids).


Some of the benefits  of using chemical exfoliation are that they work by breaking apart bonds holding dull and dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. This allows skin to naturally shed dead skin cell particles.

This type of exfoliation works well on all skin types, but particularly those concerned with dry, ageing or acne prone skin as they help to encourage healthy skin turnover.


When using a Chemical exfoliator it’s important to do a test patch on your skin to make sure your skin can tolerate this form of exfoliation. Starting slow is key as over use of chemical exfoliation can lead to breakouts and inflammation of the skin.

Chemical Exfoliators

Chemical exfoliators can come in the form of acids, applied to the skin on a cotton pad and followed up by a moisturiser or as a chemical peel which are best carried out by a professional therapist as they will be able to apply the best products for your skin type and concern. It is essential to use an SPF the following day or straight after application if applied in the AM. This is because skin is more sensitive to UV rays after exposing new skin cells from the removal of the dead cells.

The Skin Exfoliation Tools And Products You’ll Need

At SKINICIAN we have a few exfoliators which we have spent years developing - one to suit every skin type. Have a read below at which exfoliator you think would best suit your skin type and concern.

Facial Exfoliator

Our gentle yet effective facial scrub has been formulated with marine-friendly biodegradable micro-particles to gently remove the build-up of dead skin cells leaving skin looking and feeling smoother and brighter. As mechanical facial exfoliators tend to dry out the skin, we have counteracted this by formulating our scrub with ingredients such as Shea Butter and Vitamin E to promote healing, hydrate the skin and protect against free radical damage.

Pro-Radiance Enzyme Cleanser

Packed full of AHA’s, this foaming cleanser helps to gently dissolve dead skin cells with the use of fruit enzymes to leave skin feeling smoother and looking radiant.

Pro-Radiance Enzyme Peel

If you feel confident using an at-home peel, we have formulated the most luxurious treatment to use at home, our Pro-Radiance Enzyme Peel. Formulated with fruit enzymes such as prickly pear, this AHA peel contains a cocktail of resurfacing ingredients to leave skin glowing with similar results to a clinical  peel.

Overnight Retinol Powerbalm

Our best at home chemical exfoliation comes in the form of our Overnight Retinol Powerbalm. Formulated with retinol to help resurface skin, this product can also help diminish fine lines and wrinkles and help reduce visible pigmentation from acne and age spots.

Body Scrub

Created for use on the body, this body scrub offers the benefits of mechanical exfoliation and has been formulated with corn cob granules and Japanese Seaweed to effortlessly scrub away dead skin cells leaving skin feeling smoother and looking more radiant in appearance.

Professional Chemical Peel

We are big believers that there is nothing better than a Resurfacing peel to chemically exfoliate the skin. Our professional salons offer a Lactic Acid or Glycolic peel dependent on your skin type and concern. These peels help to resurface skin by removing old, dead skin cells, encourage skin renewal and decongest skin. Click here for our salon locator to find your nearest SKINICIAN salon.

How to Exfoliate Skin

Every skin type needs some form of exfoliation to help remove the build up dead skin cells on the skin and body. For your specific skin type, check out our dedicated AM/PM skincare routine pages to give you tailored advice for your skin type. Below are some top tips on how best to use exfoliator on the face and body.

Exfoliating The Face 

Please note, we have included an exfoliation method within each step to give you the option of which method of exfoliation suits you best. Only one type of exfoliation should be used ine the one routine.

Step 1

Ensure you cleanse your face, removing all traces of SPF, make-up and daily pollutants. To see any results in your skincare routine, it stems from a clean base.

A cleanser such as the Pro-Radiance Enzyme Cleanser could be used as a chemical exfoliation here, removing dead skin cells and leaving a radiant complexion.

Step 2

After cleansing, the next step in your routine should be exfoliation. If you are choosing a mechanical exfoliant such as a facial scrub, apply this to the palms of your hands and apply to the face in gentle circular motions, removing with either a soft cloth or your finger tips and tepid water. For best results rub into the skin for at least 30 seconds per area.

Step 3

At this stage you can choose whether you would prefer to use a mask in your routine (if you have used no other exfoliator steps at this stage) as a chemical exfoliant such as the Pro-Radiance Enzyme Peel. Applying the peel to freshly cleaned skin, leave the peel on for 5-10 minutes removing with a cloth for best results.

Step 4

Follow your exfoliation with a toner, serum and moisturiser to ensure skin is able to restore hydration, protect and soothe the skin’s barrier.

Exfoliating The Body 

In the shower or bath, apply the exfoliating body scrub to damp skin in circular motions. This product can be used on all areas of the body except the face. If you have any broken or irritated skin it is advised to leave these areas of skin alone so as not to further irritate and inflame the skin. You can either wash the exfoliator off with your hands or you may prefer to use a sponge, cloth or gloves at this point to deepen the level of exfoliation.

Skin Exfoliation FAQs

How Often Should You Exfoliate Skin?

Most skin types can tolerate weekly exfoliation. For those who find they need more frequent exfoliation some exfoliators can be used 2-3 times per week. For chemical exfoliation and peels it is advised to consult a skincare specialist for how frequently would be advised for your particular skin type.

Is Exfoliating Bad For Your Skin?

No exfoliating is a great way to keep skin looking and feeling healthy. Exfoliation for the skin is only considered bad for your skin when used to frequently causing damage to  the skin barrier.

Do You Cleanse Or Exfoliate First?

It is advised to cleanse skin thoroughly first removing any make-up, SPF and pollutants for exfoliation to be given the best chance at removing dead skin cells.

Do You Exfoliate Wet Or Dry Skin?

When using a mechanical exfoliant, it is advised to apply to damp skin so as not to cause too much friction and rubbing on the skin barrier. The aim is to gently remove dead skin cells with minimum damage and irritation to the skin.

Does Retinol And Lactic Acid Exfoliate Skin?

Yes, Retinol and Lactic Acid are both considered to be a form of chemical exfoliation. Both ingredients help to speed up the turnover that skin cells renew, resurfacing the skin whilst promoting the lower levels of skin to produce new cells.

When Should You Stop Exfoliating?

If the skin barrier has been impaired in any way, such as redness, sensitivity or inflammation it is advised to avoid any exfoliation on the skin until the barrier has been repaired.

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