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When to Exfoliate in Your Skin Care Routine

Regular exfoliation is a must for healthy, glowing skin! Read on to learn how to incorporate chemical and physical exfoliants into your skin care routine & our favorites that are suitable for even the most sensitive skin types.

Updated November 11, 2021 by Amanda Dixon

When to Exfoliate in Your Skin Care Routine

You should always exfoliate clean skin. This means the skin is sunscreen, makeup, and product-free. You can cleanse right before exfoliating or cleanse at night and exfoliate the following morning.

Do You Need a Chemical and Physical Exfoliant?

Everyone’s skin can benefit from using a combination of chemical and physical exfoliants on a weekly basis. Chemical exfoliants use acids to dissolve and loosen dead skin cells while physical exfoliants are formulated with small particles to help slough off dead skin and debris. By using both chemical and physical exfoliants regularly, the skin is left feeling smooth and soft.

Should You Exfoliate Morning or Night? 

Chemical exfoliants such as glycolic peel pads should be applied as part of your evening skin care regimen. In contrast, physical exfoliants such as face scrubs should be applied in the morning. If you apply retinol or glycolic acid in the evening, the skin cells will loosen up overnight, making morning the perfect time to brush them off with a physical exfoliator. 

How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Face? 

To prevent the build-up of dead skin cells, exfoliating the face two to three times a week is recommended. If you are new to exfoliation or have a sensitive or dry skin type, exfoliate once a week to avoid irritation. 

Best Face Exfoliators for Sensitive Skin

A few of our favorite facial exfoliators that are suitable for sensitive skin types include: 

  • Clarins Comfort Scrub - An oil-infused face scrub suitable for dry and sensitive skin types, the Comfort Scrub from Clarins melts into a silky texture to smooth and soften the face and lips while gently exfoliating with natural sugar microcrystals. This is a great physical exfoliant for those new to exfoliation!

  • Origins Modern Friction™ Nature’s Gentle Dermabrasion -  A natural physical exfoliant that gently removes dead skin cells, promotes cellular renewal, and brightens the complexion, the Modern Friction™ Nature’s Gentle Dermabrasion from Origins is formulated with rice starch to refine and improve skin texture while lemon oil brightens, and aloe vera soothes.

  • Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta® Ultra Gentle Daily Peel - Chemical exfoliating treatment pads, the Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel from Dr. Dennis Gross are formulated with alpha and beta hydroxy acids to gently detach dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of pores. Colloidal oatmeal and other nourishing botanicals help calm and hydrate the skin. 

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