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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: http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2012/194/b/9/what_is_this_____by_a_dawg13-d574e78.jpg

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Natasha Kundi's London Blog April 3, 2015, 8:56 am

    I love this article, exactly what I needed to know! Thanks!

  • sumayah August 8, 2015, 2:32 am

    do chemical exfoliation works to remove acne scars in the upper side of our back ? ?? if not what is the best way for treatment !!

  • Yvonne October 3, 2015, 4:02 pm

    Thanks for breaking down the different exfoliating methods by recommended frequency. Considering you have AHAs listed as weekly applications, what do you think about the products and professionals (Paula Begoun) recommending daily or twice daily exfoliation?

  • Barbara October 25, 2015, 8:21 pm

    I have heard of using baking soda with face wash as a scrub.
    What are your thoughts on that?

    • Randy Schueller October 26, 2015, 8:09 am

      Not good. It can raise the pH of your skin which interferes with the acid mantle.

  • Max Logan September 25, 2017, 7:12 pm

    I read that scrubs (like apricot shells) have small particles with ragged edges that basically rip your skip, leaving it raw and unprotected for bacteria invasion. Means, no-no to scrubs. Could you please comment on this?

    • Randy Schueller September 26, 2017, 1:19 pm

      Scrubs like this have been sold for YEARS and I haven’t seen evidence of faces being ripped open.

  • Max Logan September 26, 2017, 5:23 pm

    Thank you 🙂
    Beauty industry is so confusing these days! So many controversial opinions on every subject.

  • Ashley March 29, 2019, 4:56 pm

    Hello guys !
    First of all thank you for all the information and time you dedicate to answer our questions and share information !

    My question is… what natural face scrubs ( dyi ) could you recommend ?
    would be awesome if you make a list of them, or share a link if you already have this topic covered.
    I have been using sugar, lemon and honey scrub mask 1 a week at night time.

    • Perry Romanowski April 3, 2019, 7:37 am

      Sugar and salt scrubs are probably the most effective and gentle enough. I wouldn’t recommend using lemon on your face though, that is too acidic and damaging.