How often should I exfoliate my face?

Susan says… My question (& I’m sure other’s too) is how often should we exfoliate? With ever increasing choice in exfoliators on the market and differing advice as to regularity of use (sometimes as a marketing ploy to buy more product), ideally how often should we be exfoliating? Are we doing more harm than good with daily products?

The Beauty Brains respondwhat_is_this_____by_a_dawg13-d574e78

This is another one of those questions where there’s no “one size fits all” answer. As you pointed out there are many types of exfoliators on the market and it’s difficult (impossible?) to find a consensus of opinion on how often to use them. We tend to look for expert dermatologist point of view but even there consistency is lacking. For example, according to Dr. Badreshia-Bansal of the American Academy of Dermatologists, “exfoliating once a week is sufficient.” But Clinique’s staff dermatologist recommends “relatively gentle exfoliation twice a day.” Whoever you chose to believe, the most important factor to consider is the harshness of the exfoliating treatment: the more severe the treatment the less frequently it should be used.

Type of exfoliators

The following list of exfoliators are ranked in order from mildest to harshest. In terms of frequency of how to exfoliate face, our rule of thumb looks like this: items 1-3 can be used daily, 4-5 weekly, 6 monthly, and 7-9 should be at the direction of your dermatologist.

  • Washing face with cleanser and wash cloth
  • Scrubs (harshness depends on particles type: polyethylene microbeads, walnut shells, sugar and salt scrubs)
  • Salicylic acid
  • Enzyme peels (Subtilisin based)
  • Glycolic acid/Lactic acid
  • Home dermabrasion (Aluminum oxide small particles, small)
  • Professional chemical peels (higher acid concentration)
  • Professional Dermabrasion (Aluminum oxide medium particles)
  • Professional Dermabrasion (Diamond particles, coarse grit)


Image credit: