How Often Should You Be Using A Facial Exfoliator?

The person who said that "beauty takes time" probably didn't come to this realization late in the day. That person would have known how it feels when you barely have the time and energy to cleanse your face, much less exfoliate it. And still, how tempting it is to squeeze exfoliation into your skincare routine, given what you've heard about the benefits.

There's no better way to balance the benefits vs. the time commitment of exfoliation than to take it from the top. This means identifying your skin type and contrasting the two exfoliation methods to select the better one for your skin, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says. Only then will you be able to say how often you should exfoliate.

You've started on the right track if you're washing your face twice a day to remove dirt, oil, and makeup and to cleanse your pores, Healthline says. Exfoliation goes deeper to remove dead skin cells to make room for new ones (via Healthline). With dead cells out of the way, your pores should be unclogged. Many people say their skin feels "tingly" almost right away. And when they look in the mirror, they see what this means: their skin looks brighter and smoother — practically glowing (via Fleur & Bee). Smoother skin also eases the way for moisturizer to permeate. And no matter how old you are, your skin craves moisture. It should play a starring role in every skincare routine.

ID your skin type first

As tempting as it may be to jump in and start exfoliating your skin, those two puzzle pieces deserve to be examined. As the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) warns, if you don't exfoliate safely, you can damage your skin and even break out. By now, you've probably identified your skin type. This is how health and beauty experts and product manufacturers classify it, too. If the one-word descriptors aren't clear, each of the six types has a distinguishing characteristic, Healthline says.

For example, sensitive skin tends to respond to new products by becoming red and irritated. By contrast, normal skin handles experimentation well. Dry skin flakes and itches while oily skin is often shiny. (People with oily skin often call it "greasy.") Combination skin is just what it says; a combination of dryness and oiliness. (To treat this skin right, each section should be dealt with accordingly.) Acne-prone skin tends to break out easily, with blemishes that can range from minor to moderate.

These skin types can face two exfoliation methods: physical (sometimes called mechanical) or chemical exfoliation. The former involves a facial scrub (some even homemade) as well as a tool, like a brush or sponge (via the AAD). Chemical exfoliation relies on acids to deep-clean the skin. Though the word "acid" may sound frightening, facial acids are formulated for the skin and are quite gentle (via Fleur & Bee).

Do you have time to exfoliate?

It's too soon to settle on the "right" exfoliation method for you. First, you should test any method on a small area of skin before using it on your entire face. You know enough by now to try to align an exfoliation method with your skin type. For example, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people with dry or sensitive skin use a mild chemical exfoliator and a microfiber washcloth. Those with oily skin can use a stronger chemical treatment.

By now, you may see that deciding if you have time to exfoliate — based on how often you should — defies a quick answer. As the AAD says, the more "aggressive" an exfoliation method is, the less often you need to do it. This is why people who have oily skin may be best able to withstand the rigors of exfoliation, Healthline says. They could exfoliate every other day or build up to daily treatment. But the site makes it clear that people with everything but oily skin should subject their skin to exfoliation only once or twice a week. Fleur & Bee agrees, saying that this frequency is enough to render results. And Women's Health rounds out the chorus, saying that it's better to err on the side of exfoliating less than exfoliating more. All things considered, it should be no surprise that "beauty takes time." After all, learning how to do beautiful things the right way does, too.