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Why Do You Need to Exfoliate Your Skin?

Why Do You Need to Exfoliate Your Skin?
SkinStore Editors
Writer and expert8 months ago
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Who doesn't want soft, smooth, glowing skin? That's a resounding everyone. One of the easiest ways to promote skin health while increasing skin cell turnover rate is with the tried-and-true act of exfoliation. With age, the rate at which the skin naturally renews itself begins to slow down. But by clearing dead skin cells from the skin's surface, which can dull your complexion and cause clogged pores, the skin is left glowing—literally. Exfoliation is the removal of the top layer of dead skin cells that can turn our complexions dull and ashy, to reveal the younger, plumper skin cells underneath.

For all the good exfoliation offers, it's important to know that not all exfoliators are created equal. Physical exfoliators rely on small particles to polish away dead skin, whereas chemical-based ones depend on acids to eat away dead skin. The one type of exfoliator to steer clear of is those with microplastics or other harsh elements that can tear the skin.

Table of Contents:

The Importance of Exfoliating Your Skin

No matter your skin type, exfoliation is a must. Regularly exfoliating the skin on your face and even your body helps eliminate a build of pore-clogging dead skin cells, leaving behind a fresh layer of baby skin. With fewer dead skin cells on the surface, the skin also emerges softer, smoother and brighter.

Regular exfoliation is vital in the quest for healthy, youthful skin because the rate at which our skin cells naturally slough off slows down with age. Usually, the skin sheds naturally every 30 days (give or take), but that becomes less frequent as the skin ages and the hands of time take their toll on our skin. When dead skin cells build up on the skin, the result is dull, dry skin with flaky spots. So, removing these cells refreshes the skin leaving it smoother and more radiant. Plus, fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration are less noticeable, and there may be fewer blemishes for breakout-prone skin. Simply put, aiding the skin in its natural rejuvenation process allows new skin cells to make their way to the surface quicker than on their own.

Exfoliating the skin can make it look better, but it also improves the skin's overall health. That's because eliminating dead skin cells prevents them from clogging up the pores and leading to breakouts. Routine exfoliating also helps to stimulate collagen production (natural collagen levels decrease with age) to maintain the skin's intertie and keep it plump and firm.

It's best to exfoliate the skin once or twice per week, depending on what it can handle to make the most of your exfoliating efforts. Over-exfoliating the skin can irritate and inflame it and strip away its natural oils, but as long as you do it safely and consistently, here's what you can expect.

Related Article: How to Exfoliate Your Face for Clear, Glowing Skin

Boost Cell Turnover

Exfoliating the skin helps accelerate the skin's natural renewal process, which begins to slow down with age. By aiding skin cell turnover, the skin is better equipped to bring fresh skin cells to the surface. For the skin to look bright and glowy, it must rid itself of dead skin cells plus dirt, pollution and everything else that accumulates on the skin and gets trapped within the pores on any given day.

That's where exfoliators come into play. They lift away pore-clogging dead skin cells to boost the skin's ability to turnover. By eliminating dull skin, the exfoliator can promote a healthy glow we all want. Sometimes, when the skin needs a little pick-me-up, a quick exfoliation to loosen dead skin cells on the surface is all it needs.

Clear Away Impurities

Even if you’re diligent about cleansing your skin morning and night, there’s still the rare occasion when dirt, oil and debris aren’t fully removed. When that’s the case, a good exfoliator can make a difference.

Exfoliating the skin unclogs pores and whisks away impurities. By lifting away dead skin and other debris that sits invisibly on the skin and contributes to congested pores and eventually breakouts, regular exfoliation can leave the skin clear and free of skin-dulling impurities. Plus, exfoliating the skin can help keep blackheads and whiteheads at bay, which arise from a buildup of dead skin cells—a major plus!

Smoother Texture and More Even Tone

A buildup of dead skin on the surface of the skin can easily make the skin feel rough and bumpy and cause the skin to lose its healthy, youthful glow.

When discoloration and hyperpigmentation are an issue, they may become more pronounced when surrounded by a lack of fresh, unpigmented skin cells. So, removing those discolored skin cells from the surface brings fresh, new skin cells from deep below up to the top and leaves the skin looking and feeling more even in tone and with a softer, smoother texture. Even if your skin doesn't bear the common signs of discoloration, it can appear as if it is bogged down by a buildup of dead skin that prevents light from reflecting off the skin properly. But it's not just hyperpigmentation that exfoliation is good for. It can also improve the look of sunspots, acne spots, and scars by breaking down dead skin cells that are 'stuck' while smoothing out the texture.

The Benefits of Exfoliation

A More Radiant Complexion

While it may sound like a stretch that buffing away old, dead skin cells can leave the skin looking more radiant and with a healthy glow, the truth is that it does. The less dead skin on the skin's surface, the healthier it will look.

But that's not the only thing exfoliation is good for. Regularly wiping away accumulated skin cells can also boost blood circulation, helping to flush toxins out of the skin for a natural radiance.

Minimized Pores

The pores can look prominent and like they’re stuffed to the brim with dirt, oil and dead skin if you don’t exfoliate your skin regularly. While many different elements can take up residence deep within the pores, it’s mostly an accrual of old skin cells that can cause them to look large and clogged. But simply buffing away skin cells that haven’t shed naturally can give the appearance of smaller-looking pores. Once the pores are free of dead skin cells, they will also look less obvious under makeup.

Enhanced Skin Care Absorption

When the skin isn't bogged down by extra dirt and skin cells, it can better use all the skincare products you apply, like serums and moisturizers. With less skin debris (it acts as a roadblock between the skin and skincare products), the skin is better equipped to absorb the formulations. They'll also work faster, deeper and more effectively on freshly exfoliated skin so that you can reap the full benefits of the actives, nutrients and vitamins in the formulations.

Beyond removing pore-clogging dead skin, certain exfoliations, particularly alpha hydroxy acids, double as humectants to draw water to the skin. Then, when you layer on a moisturizer or a hydrating serum, the skin is prepped and ready to utilize the moisturizer and lock it in. Moisturizers are just one of many skincare products that you'll notice a difference in using post-exfoliation—the same rule of thumb applies to serums, lotions and even oils.

The Age-Defying Effects

To keep your skin youthful for as long as possible, you'll want to exolete it regularly and reap the age-defying effects of a good exfoliator. Besides keeping the skin clear, brightening discoloration and softening the skin's texture, exfoliation is essential in stimulating collagen production. That's because the simple act of exfoliating the skin brings blood flow, which strengthens the skin's integrity to keep it tight and plump and improve elasticity.

With less dead skin on the surface, there's also less dryness making any signs of fine lines and wrinkles far less noticeable. It also aids in lymphatic drainage of the skin, pushing out toxins and other skin-clogging and -dulling elements to make it look rejuvenated and youthful.

SkinStore’s Expert Picks: Exfoliators & Scrubs

Lancer Skincare The Method: Polish

Safe to use daily, this exfoliating treatment gently buffs away dead skin with pure minerals and enzymes to restore and resurface the skin. Surface debris is removed, and the skin looks and feels softer, smoother, and more even.

SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

Never rough or irritating to the skin, this exfoliator gently scrubs away dullness and dead skin thanks to a blend of super fine jojoba beads and alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids. Suitable for all skin types, the skin is left feeling hydrated and refreshed and with a more even skin tone and texture.

PCA Skin Daily Exfoliant

For skin that needs a bit more hydration, reach for this exfoliate. A mix of jojoba oil, aloe vera and exfoliators work together to reveal fresher, younger skin.

Obagi Medical Professional C Microdermabrasion Polish and Mask

Not all exfoliators have to be traditional scrubs. This mask-meet-skin polish exfoliates, nourishes, and brightens the skin all at once. The blend of ultra-fine crystals lifts dead skin cells up and away while vitamin C helps to brighten hyperpigmentation and provide antioxidant benefits.

Neostrata Skin Active Exfoliating Wash Facial Cleanser for Mature Skin

Mature skin tends to be more on the dry side, so the right exfoliator is key. This gentle one exfoliates without over drying the skin to stimulate cell turnover and enhance the skin’s texture and clarity.

Alpha H Liquid Gold Exfoliating Treatment with Glycolic Acid

Whether you use this exfoliator on its own or mix it into your favorite cleanser, mask, or cream, it helps to clear dead skin cells from within the hair follicle to reduce ingrown hairs and razor bumps. Plus, a unique mix of glycolic acid and licorice helps to exfoliate and tightens enlarged pores in just one use.

The Bottom Line

To keep your skin in tip-top shape, you'll need to make exfoliation a regular part of your skincare routine. When starting, exfoliate the skin once or twice per week and eventually try and work your way up to daily exfoliation or whatever your skin can handle. This way, you'll reap the benefits of a good exfoliating routine, like fewer breakouts, smaller pores, more even skin tone, softer skin texture, and anti-aging benefits like collagen production and a healthy glow.

The key to reaping the benefits of exfoliation is to find a skin-suitable exfoliation that works with, not against, your skin. It shouldn't leave the skin feeling dry, itchy, red, or flaky but smooth, soft and glowing. Naturally, consistent exfoliation is better than doing it here and there, and the long-term benefits of exfoliation are widely known. Without regular exfoliation, the skin will become home to a buildup of dead skin cells that can leave your complexion dry and your skin looking dull, weathered and far older than it is. Plus, by exfoliating the skin consistently, the skincare products you use daily and nightly will benefit far better, leaving you with the healthiest skin ever.

Shop all exfoliating skin care products at SkinStore.

SkinStore Editors
Writer and expert
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Our team of beauty experts cover everything from skincare to makeup, picking out the most effective products from the best brands and latest trends. Stay up to date on everything beauty with the SkinStore blog, and find all your essentials in one place.