There are several different opinions out there regarding whether it is best to use a manual exfoliator like a scrub or a chemical exfoliator like a glycolic peel. No matter which method you choose to use, it is important that everyone exfoliate their skin regularly, no matter their skin type. Exfoliation removes dead skin cell build-up and helps to stimulate the skin to produce new, healthy cells. Without proper exfoliation in your regimen, other skin care products will not reach their full potential and skin can appear dull or lifeless. Dead skin cell build-up can also lead to breakouts.
Manual Exfoliation: A manual exfoliator is one that needs "assistance" in removing dead skin cells. For instance, with a scrub you need to apply the product and then massage it onto the skin to exfoliate. This type of exfoliation will help to remove the dead top layer of skin. There are two very important things to remember when using a manual exfoliator; make sure you are using a scrub that contains completely spherical beads/crystals and make sure you massage gently without applying too much pressure. If you choose a scrub that has jagged edges, it can tear the skin. If you suffer from sensitive skin or acne and currently have active breakouts, it is recommended to not use a manual exfoliator.
Chemical Exfoliation: A chemical exfoliator is normally applied to the skin and left on for a certain amount of time. Some are no-rinse products that can remain on the skin all day or night. The two most common forms of acids used for chemical exfoliation are Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs and Beta Hydroxy Acids or BHAs. AHAs are generally recommended for those with more tolerant skin or those with sun damage, dryness or thickness. BHAs are used to help treat blemishes or acne. AHAs help to remove the "cement" holding the dead skin cells together in order to allow them to slough off more easily. BHAs have a slight exfoliating effect on the skin but primarily work best at cleaning out the pores to reduce acne breakouts and blackheads. Often these two types of acids are found combined in different products.
Whichever method you are most comfortable with, it is generally recommended to exfoliate 1-3 times per week. Since the skin on your face is thinner than the skin on your body, it is recommended to only use exfoliation products that are specifically formulated for the face. When exfoliating regularly, make sure to wear a sunscreen daily to help prevent future damage.