What Is a Good Exfoliant?

Exfoliation is the process of removing the dead cells of the skin. It can help your skin glow. Two methods of exfoliation are mechanical and chemical-based.
Exfoliation is the process of removing the dead cells of the skin. It can help your skin glow. Two methods of exfoliation are mechanical and chemical-based.

Exfoliation is the process of removing the dead cells of the skin. It helps you get a facial glow by removing the dirt and oil from clogged pores.

A good exfoliant should be the one that suits your skin type. Also, it is not possible to find one good exfoliant that suits everyone’s skin.

Skin types

  • Dry skin: The skin looks dry, rough or flaky.
  • Oily skin: The skin looks shiny and feels greasy.
  • Combination skin: The skin is oily in some areas, particularly the T-zones, and dry in some areas, such as the cheeks.
  • Sensitive skin: The skin looks irritated and red. It stings or burns after applying the product.
  • Normal skin: The skin is clear and not sensitive. Almost all products suit this skin type. This type of skin is uncommon.

What are the methods of exfoliation?

There are two broad-based methods of exfoliation.

  • Mechanical: Mechanical ways of exfoliation involve using a brush, sponge, loofa or body scrubber. These are harsh and hence, not suitable for sensitive and thin skin.
  • Chemical-based: These involve making use of chemicals, such as products known for skin peels (alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs and beta-hydroxy acids or BHAs). This is a gentler method than mechanical exfoliation.

If you want to use a do-it-yourself (DIY) scrub, you can use a combination of coffee powder, castor sugar and milk for exfoliation.

What exfoliant works best for your skin type?

Choosing the right exfoliant for your skin type will help eliminate unwanted side effects, such as skin irritation, and it will give you the desired effect.

Sensitive skin

BHAs (salicylic acid) are generally less irritating than other chemical or physical exfoliants.

Normal skin

If you have normal skin, you may be able to use any kind of exfoliant. You can try various methods and check which one works best for you.

Dry skin

Dry skin needs an exfoliant that will not increase flakiness. AHAs (glycolic acid) work well if you suffer from dry skin troubles. BHAs, such as glycolic acid, will clear away the layer of dead skin cells and enable the skin to retain moisture as well as help absorb moisturizers effectively.

Oily skin

If you are someone with oily skin, you can use mechanical methods, such as a brush or scrub, to remove the greasiness, oil and dirt from your clogged pores.

If you suffer from acne as well, exfoliating products that contain salicylic acid as the main ingredient can work best for you. Other products, such as glycolic acid and retinoids, are also good options.

Is exfoliation good for everyone?

You need to try exfoliation to see if it works for you and if you tolerate it. You can also ask your dermatologist. Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells. However, if you do it  wrong, it can do more harm than good. It may irritate your skin and may even cause acne breakouts if you are prone to acne. Hence, it is mandatory to take care of your skin while you exfoliate it.

How to care for your skin while exfoliating

Skin that has been exfoliated is more prone to damage from the sun. Here are a few dermatologist-recommended tips to follow.

  • Wear sunscreen whenever you venture out in sunlight.
  • Avoid strong chemical or mechanical exfoliation if you have a darker skin tone.
  • Never exfoliate if you have open cuts or wounds or if your skin is sunburned.
  • Apply moisturizer as soon as you exfoliate to avoid skin dryness and to provide hydration to the skin.
  • Make sure you do not over exfoliate your skin. With time, you will realize which method works best for you and how frequently you can exfoliate with the product. Most over-the-counter products with AHAs and BHAs should be used thrice a week.

If you are unsure of finding the right exfoliant for your skin, consider scheduling an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist will evaluate your skin and suggest a good exfoliation method for you. A professional dermatologist chemical peel may provide better results.


Bar soap and water are fine for cleansing the face if you have sensitive or dry skin. See Answer
Medscape Medical Reference

American Academy of Dermatology

PRS Global Open