Nothing feels better than a good scrub for soft and smooth-looking skin. Exfoliating has proven its effectiveness time after time. With just a scrub session, you can feel the immediate effects — fresh, glowing skin that is extremely soft to touch. It’s a deeply satisfying ritual, one that can easily leave you being carried away into exfoliating too much. Doing it moderately gives you a healthier complexion, but excessively will dry out the skin. Along with it comes inflammation, irritation and other negative effects.

That’s mainly why there are more than just physical exfoliators in the market now. Options for much gentler exfoliation are plentiful, including cleansing oils that work the same way as exfoliators do by pulling the dirt out of your skin. Updated toners that contain facial acids give the same benefits. There are also chemical exfoliators with either acids or enzyme-based formulas and physical scrubs with jojoba beads or natural ingredients.

Here’s an easy guide to understand what proper exfoliating can do for your skin.

Pick the right exfoliator

Those with oily or acne-prone skin can fully reap the benefits of a chemical exfoliator that contains salicylic, lactic and glycolic acids — either one or all of the above in moderate amounts. First Aid Beauty’s Facial Radiance Pads contain both lactic and glycolic acids to exfoliate, tone and brighten the skin. Then we have rice-based options like Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant, or fruit enzymes such as papaya in exfoliators that are more suitable for sensitive skin. Sensitive skin users who prefer a chemical-based one can opt for one that contains a mild acid like phytic or lactic acid together with soothing ingredients like green tea or aloe vera to soothe the skin. For mature skin, you can go for something slightly stronger, like exfoliators with retinol or alpha-hydroxy acids.

While some may prefer to stick with physical ones, it is best to avoid products with large exfoliants like nut shells and fruit pits as these may cause micro-tear. Sugar granules like Fresh’s Sugar Face Polish are tiny enough to get the job done without harming the skin.

The best time to exfoliate

As exfoliating sensitises the skin, it’s best to do it at night — away from pollutants and the sun. To prevent over-exfoliating, do it only two or three times a week if you have normal to oily skin; just once a week if you have sensitive skin. Be sure to continue on with your daily skincare regimen after that — toner, serum and moisturiser — to allow all the nutrients and ingredients your skin needs and also to prevent it from drying out. If you have time to spare, this is also the best time to add in a facial mask since the skin is cleared from excess oil and dirt.

Any last advice?

One common mistake that people usually do is to use their body scrub on their face. That’s a huge no-no as body scrubs tends to have bigger microbeads that are very harsh on the face. It is also best to avoid exfoliating around the eye area as it is more delicate. Instead, use a specific eye cream/exfoliator like Alpha-H’s Liquid Gold Firming Eye Cream.

Jolin Lee
Senior Writer
Unlike most modern-day millennials, Jolin does not need caffeine or alcohol to power through the day (and night). Her eye for beauty is as sharp as her eyeliner flick, and she can spot your unblended eye makeup from a mile away.