When people talk about exfoliation, many beginners who have never exfoliated before would tend to imagine rubbing their faces with sand, or something as abrasive.

We are here to assure you that this is not true. Exfoliating your skin the right way should be an entirely painless – in fact, very therapeutic – process.

Knowing how to exfoliate your face may seem very straightforward, but this tutorial would prove useful not just to beginners!

Read on for exfoliation tips based on your skin type and other dos and don’ts that even seasoned skincare users may not know.

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Why do you need to exfoliate?

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Before we get to the actual tips, let’s first understand why exfoliation is an important part of a skincare routine.

When you exfoliate your skin, you’re clearing out the dead skin cells off the top layer of your skin. While your skin naturally exfoliates itself, the process slows down (like everything else) as you age.

What this means is that the dead skin cells accumulate at the surface of your skin, preventing newer and brighter-looking skin from surfacing, and at the same time, make it harder for your skincare products to penetrate deeply into your skin.

Think of it as sweeping the dust off a surface – leaving your dead skin cells there will make your skin look duller and rougher.

Skin exfoliation can help prevent acne, remove blackheads, and even minimise your pores visibly.

How to exfoliate if you have acne-prone skin

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Acne starts with an over-production of sebum, combined with an accumulation of dead skin cells that clog pores.

As such, using chemical exfoliants that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) is the best option for you.

This is because AHAs help melt down sebum and dead skin cells, which can help with the unclogging of your pores and improving your acne condition.

These exfoliants typically come in the form of a toner. To use it, simply drench a cotton pad with it then gently wipe it through your skin.

DV Tips: 

  • Overly high level of AHAs can be irritating to your skin. When picking out your chemical exfoliant, try to go for at most 5% AHAs
  • Avoid using vitamin C when you’re using AHA exfoliants to prevent irritation
  • Once you see your acne improving, stop using the AHA products to prevent irritation and sensitivity

How to exfoliate if you have dry skin

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How dry is your skin? For those who have extremely dry skin that flakes and feel a stinging sensation even from regular cleansing, avoid exfoliation altogether.

The usual skincare products that you use such as cleansers and toners may already contain a little exfoliating agents in them. Along with your use of a cotton pad for some of your skincare steps, which also give you a physical exfoliation, you’d have received enough exfoliation that your skin needs.

But if your skin is just slightly dry and you’re seeing problems like clogging or blackheads, you may want to do a bit of exfoliation.

In this case, considering using a peeling pad. Make sure you find one with a gentle formula and soft fabric to avoid stressing out your skin.

How to exfoliate if you have oily skin

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Those with oily skin typically have a thicker skin too, because of the build-up of materials on the surface of the skin.

If you have oily skin, use a physical scrub.

Apply it with a gentle massage for around three minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water.

DV Tip: Some of us may find the “scrubbing” sensation very comfortable but make sure you don’t overdo it. Over-exfoliation can compromise your skin barrier, leading to a host of skincare problems later. Also, pick out a physical scrub that has very tiny, gentle beads. You shouldn’t feel any pain when using it.

How to exfoliate if you have combination skin

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Use a peeling gel on your U-zone.

If you have combination skin, you have a dry U-zone (cheeks and chin) and an oily T-zone (forehead and nose). Just like how you’re recommended to multi-mask (use different masks on different areas), the best exfoliation method for you is to multi-exfoliate.

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Use a scrub on your T-zone.

What this means is that you can use a peeling gel on your U-zone to help balance out your skin’s pH, and then use a scrub on your oily T-zone.

How often should you exfoliate?

  • If you have acne-prone or oily skin: once every one to two weeks
  • If you have dry skin: once every one to two weeks
  • If you have extremely dry skin: once every month or never
  • If you have combination skin: once every week

Post-exfoliation care

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Always moisturise after exfoliation.

While exfoliation is an important part of a skincare routine, there are several things to take note of when you do it.

  • After exfoliation, avoid using strong products such as retinols or go for harsh treatments such as lasers
  • Exfoliate at night instead of in the day so your skin can be less exposed to environmental elements after exfoliation
  • Always moisturise your skin after exfoliation

Video guide for exfoliation

Prefer watching a video? Here’s one we love:

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