How to exfoliate your skin
Exfoliating is one of those terms that is constantly thrown around in the world of skincare. But what does it actually mean? What is the purpose of it, and what is the best way to go about it?
The basics of exfoliating
In the simplest terms, exfoliating is removing the layer of dead cells that sit on the top of your skin.
Depending on age, skin sheds within about 30 days, but exfoliating helps speed that natural process along. Leave that top layer of skin hanging out and you’re looking at a host of unpleasant problems - ranging from acne to dull, lifeless looking skin.
Broadly speaking, exfoliation can be grouped in two categories: mechanical and chemical.
Mechanical exfoliation is most likely what you envisage when you hear ‘exfoliator’ - a cleanser with small solid particles that help shift those dead cells. You’d be correct in thinking that, however, mechanical exfoliation can take many other forms - ranging from muslin cloths to loofah gloves to electronic brushes.
Essentially, mechanical exfoliation is any process where you ‘scrub’ to remove the cells.
Chemical exfoliation involves applying various different acids to the skin, which help to break the dead cells down.
Chemical exfoliants are usually either applied as a toner and wiped away with a cotton pad or as an overnight peel. The acids used are either alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), usually derived from fruits, and are perfectly safe for use on your skin.
How often should I exfoliate?
How often you should exfoliate depends on a really wide variety of factors.
If you’re using an electronic brush, these are generally gentle enough to use every day, as are mild exfoliants (like our kóri facewash!) both in the toning chemical and mechanical face wash categories. Others are harsher and should only be used a couple of times a week.
It’s also important to think about your skin type. If you have very dry skin, you’ll want to limit using a heavy duty exfoliant to once a week, whereas if you’re at the oilier end of the spectrum you can get away with it more or less every day.
Your body is also likely to need exfoliating less often than your face, as it can generally take a more abrasive scrub.
Generally speaking, the best advice is to listen to your skin. If it’s feeling tender and looking a little too rosy, you’re probably exfoliating too much. If it’s looking dull and feels like there are dead cells building up, you’re probably not exfoliating often enough.
How to exfoliate your face
We’ve already covered some general pointers about exfoliation, including the different types of exfoliant and the fact that different body parts require different types of exfoliation. First we’ll take a look at how to exfoliate your face with a manual exfoliant.
- Get steamy - the best place to exfoliate manually is in the shower. Steam helps to loosen grime that’s stuck in the pores, meaning you can banish those pesky dead cells for good. If you can’t do it in the shower, get a hand hot face cloth and pop over your face for 30 seconds to get those pores good and open.
- Lather up - grab your trusty exfoliant of choice. We love our kóri facewash which is gentle enough to use every day. Dispense a 20p sized blob and massage it gently into your face.
- Rinse off - the best thing to rinse with is warm water, however if you need an extra boost of exfoliating power use a terry face cloth to buff the cleanser away in circular motions.
Moisturise - as exfoliating penetrates the pores, it makes other products more effective. Also, the process of exfoliating can cause some trauma to the skin, so be sure to give it the TLC it deserves. Our kåre moisturiser is perfect for this.
If you’d prefer to give a chemical exfoliant a go, our gösta tonic contains citric acid. This AHA dissolves the bond between dead skin cells meaning they can be wiped away, reducing acne and brightening the skin. It’s also gentle enough to be used on all skin types - a real win-win if you ask us!
Chemical exfoliants should be used after you’ve cleansed and before moisturising. How often to do them depends on which acids the products are made up of - so you’re best reading the instructions for your specific product. AHAs tend to be milder than BHAs, which are great for those with oily skin as they really clear out the pores.
How to exfoliate your body
It’s not just your face that can benefit from exfoliating - your whole body can!
Exfoliating your body is a bit of a different ball game in that you’re much more likely to go for a mechanical method. As it’s a bigger surface area that’s also exposed to the outdoors in a different way - it goes without saying that exfoliating your body will be different from exfoliating your face.
Despite this, there’s still a really wide selection of body exfoliants out there. Some are doubled up with a foamy body wash, whereas others use natural products (such as coffee, sea salt and nuts).
Our skrub body polish makes the best of nature’s exfoliants combining coffee, cane sugar and strawberry seeds to leave your skin silky smooth.
- Jump in the shower - not so different from your face, admittedly, but exfoliating your body in the shower is just much easier than the bath, or bathroom floor. Try it in the bath and the product will rinse straight off, and try it just generally in the bathroom and you could have a big old mess to clean up.
- Apply - get in the shower and pick up your exfoliant. Your body can handle a tougher exfoliant than your face, so experiment with different types to find out what works for you. Our skrub body polish range uses coffee grounds to help buff away dead skin cells. Our coconut version uses coconut oil to provide an extra moisturising boost for those with dry skin, whilst our strawberry one benefits from the addition of strawberry seeds to help buff away any extra build up - which is particularly good for the oily skinned of us out there. Blessed with normal skin? Then our original skrub is perfect for you.
- Let nature do its work - we’re big fans of saving time here at grüum, so any product that multitasks is good in our books. That’s why we love our coffee scrubs so much - the coffee works to reduce the appearance of cellulite, whilst argan oil helps lock moisture in.
- Rinse off - make sure you have a good rinse off - especially if you’re going to shave immediately after using the skrub. We recommend using your hands or a soft cloth in a circular motion to help move things. Particularly focus on working the product around your elbows, knees and heels as these are some of the driest parts of the body.
- Moisturise - as we’ve already said, it’s really important after exfoliating!
- Marvel at your glowing, smooth skin - nice.