How Often Should You Be Exfoliating Your Face?

  • 4 min read

Is your skin feeling a little flakey or lackluster? Youknow that taking care of your skin is important – and that exfoliation may be part of the equation – but all the options and deluge of conflicting information on the internet can raiselotsof questions.

How much exfoliating is too much? Too little?

How often do I need to exfoliate?

What should I use to exfoliate my face?

If you want to reveal your healthiest, glowiest self, it’s important to know the proper products and steps foryourskin. Ahead, what exfoliation is, different types of exfoliants, and how to choose the right exfoliator for you! 

What is Exfoliation?


Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your face. It can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and improve the overall appearance of your complexion. It also helps improve skin cell turnover and improves the absorption of your skincare products. 

How Often Should You Exfoliate? 

The frequency with which you should exfoliate depends on a few factors, such as your age, skin type, and lifestyle habits. A good rule of thumb is 2 - 3 times per week –but  the recommended frequency varies depending on the products you’re using and your skin type.

For example, gentler chemical exfoliants may be OK to use more frequently, while physical exfoliants can stress the skin with micro-tears if applied too often. Those with dry or sensitive skin are at greater risk for over-exfoliation than their oily-skinned counterparts. 

So, when deciding how often to exfoliate, consider your skin type and thickness (moremature skin tends to be thinner and so more easily damaged by over-exfoliation) and the type of exfoliator you prefer.

The Different Types of Exfoliators

Physical Exfoliators 

Physical exfoliators are typically scrubs that use small particles such as seeds, beads, or salts to slough away dead skin cells. 

In my practice as an esthetician, I don'tever recommend using seeds, salt or sugar scrubs, walnut shells, or pumice on the face as it can easily cause micro-tears in the skin and cause irritation and inflammation. 

Additionally, over-exfoliating with physical exfoliators can actually causemore skin buildup, and therefore, they should only be used once or twice a week depending on your skin type.

Chemical and Enzymatic Exfoliators 

Chemical exfoliators, on the other hand, use acids or enzymes (like AHAs, BHAs and lactic enzymes and papaya enzymes) to dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells allowing them to be easily washed away. 

Enzymatic exfoliants are similar to chemical ones but they use naturally occurring enzymes instead of acids or chemicals to break down dead skin cells without causing irritation.

Enzymatic exfoliants generally come in mask form and can be left on for 10-15 minutes before being rinsed off with warm water. These types of masks are great for those with sensitive skin since they provide gentle yet effective results without causing redness or dryness afterward.

Chemical and enzymatic exfoliants provide a gentler form of exfoliation than physical ones as they don't require scrubbing as part of their application process. They also help to improve overall skin texture by removing dulling surface layers while encouraging cell turnover, leading to brighter skin. 

Here’s the catch: chemical exfoliants tend to be more drying than physical ones, so it's important that you follow them up with a good moisturizer.  

Manual Exfoliation

Manually exfoliating the face with a washcloth is a great way (and my personal favorite!) to exfoliate the skin and remove dirt and debris – and works well for just about every skin type. 

I recommend doing this once or twice a week in the shower, at the very end just before you're ready to step out. (That’s when the skin cells are soft, loose, and most ready to come off.) 

You'll need a soft, damp washcloth to gently exfoliate your face using circular motions. Make sure to be gentle and avoid excessive pressure, which can irritate or even tear the skin. Focus on areas that are prone to dead skin build-up such as around the nose, chin, and forehead. 

Once finished, rinse with clean water to remove any remaining exfoliated material from your face, and immediately (preferably within 30 seconds of stepping out of the shower) apply your facial moisturizer and/or serum.

Choosing the Right Exfoliator for Your Skin Type 

It's important to choose an exfoliator that's right for your skin type. 

If you have dry or sensitive skin, look for an exfoliator with gentle ingredients like jojoba beads or lactic acid that won't strip away too much moisture from your face. 

For oily or acne-prone skin types, try an exfoliator with salicylic acid or glycolic acid to help clear out clogged pores and reduce breakouts. 

Watch for Signs of Over-Exfoliation

It is important to pay attention to the condition of your skin and watch for signs of over-exfoliation, such as dryness, redness, breakouts, or irritation. 

If you notice any of these issues when exfoliating, reduce the frequency with which you exfoliate – or switch to a different exfoliant type. Ultimately, exfoliating should leave your skin feeling soft and refreshed, not dry or red. It is important to listen to your skin and adjust exfoliation frequency as needed.


Regularly exfoliating your face is key to achieving radiant and healthy-looking skin – but it’s important not to overdo it! 

The frequency with which you should be exfoliating, as well as the products you should use, largely depend on the type of skin you have; oily or combination skins typically need more frequent exfoliation than dry or sensitive skins do. 

Lastly, start off slow – just one or two times a week – and adjust depending on how your skin responds. Taking care of our skin is essential for maintaining a healthy complexion, and one important step in any good skincare routine is mindful exfoliation. Happy glowing!