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How to Exfoliate the Right Way: What Does Exfoliating Do?


How to Exfoliate the Right Way: What Does Exfoliating Do?

What does exfoliating do? Is it really necessary to exfoliate? How do you exfoliate?

As skin care professionals, these are just a few questions we receive on a daily basis about exfoliation. This skin care technique is crucial for all skin types, but might be the most misunderstood. Keep reading to learn what exfoliating does, why you need it, how to exfoliate and which exfoliator you should use for your skin type and concerns.

what does exfoliating do?

Your skin is constantly shedding skin cells. When this happens, smoother skin cells push their way up to the skin's surface. However, as you age, the rate at which your body sheds dull and dead skin cells begins to slow down.

In the simplest terms, exfoliation is physically or chemically removing those dead and dulling skin cells. Exfoliating helps speed up your skin's process and helps it to behave younger.

Physical exfoliators work against the top layers of the skin to remove dead, dulling surface cells via rubbing and sloughing. These can include crystals, micro-fine granules and natural beads.

Instead of physically sloughing the dead cells away, chemical exfoliants dissolve the intercellular glue that holds dead skin cells together. Chemical exfoliators penetrate deeper into the skin and can be a great option for skin that has deep congestion, is more resistive, or can't tolerate physically scrubbing their face.

Don't be put off by the word "chemical" – while it may sound negative, it's just a descriptive term for how the ingredients perform.

is it really necessary to exfoliate?

Why do you need to exfoliate your skin? Without proper exfoliation, dead skin cells can get trapped on the skin's surface. When they're trapped, they build up. This leads to clogged pores, dark spots, rough skin texture, more pronounced wrinkles, dullness, dryness and more. Exfoliation ensures dead cells are swept away, revealing smoother, brighter, more refined skin. The benefits of exfoliating your skin include:

  • Unclogs pores
  • Reduces blackheads
  • Minimize the appearance of pores
  • Sweeps away fine lines and wrinkles
  • Detoxifies the skin by stimulating microcirculation
  • Controls excess oil
  • Brightens dull skin
  • Improves overall tone
  • Softens skin texture
  • Enhances skin clarity
  • Lightens hyperpigmentation
  • Helps skin behave younger

how to exfoliate your skin

How to exfoliate your skin depends on your skin type, skin concerns and preferences. Like we mentioned, there are two forms of exfoliation: physical and chemical. For both types, you should start by cleansing and toning your skin. If you are using a physical scrub, you can apply your toner before you apply the scrub, after you remove the scrub - or both. The important thing is to make sure you apply toner at some point after you cleanse to rebalance the pH levels.

For physical scrubs, apply a pea sized amount to moist skin and gently massage in a circular motion. Make sure to keep your motions gentle, because if you apply too much pressure (or use too harsh of a scrub) you can actually injure the skin and cause PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation). Rinse off with water then follow with your moisturizer and SPF (if it is daytime) or nighttime anti-aging and brightening products (if it is nighttime).

Usage varies a little more with chemical exfoliators, but usually you apply a thin layer to your face after cleansing and toning that you do not remove. Make sure to always read the instructions because some chemical exfoliators do need to be removed after a certain amount of time. Regardless, follow with your moisturizer and SPF/nighttime anti-aging just like you would with physical exfoliators.

how often to exfoliate your face

For physical scrubs aim for 1-3 times per week, depending on the products you use and your sensitivity level.

Chemical exfoliants have a wider range of use. Most can be used 1-3 times a week for more sensitive skin, but can be applied nightly for skin that is used to chemical exfoliation or is more resistive.

If it is an extremely gentle chemical exfoliator, like Flash Foam Cleanser, it can even be used twice daily for most skin types. Always read your skin care labels, however, because not all exfoliants are created equally.

the right exfoliator for you

chemical exfoliators

Skin Editor

This imperfection-editing leave on AHA peel creme uses 3% glycolic acid, 7% lactic acid, kombucha, Canadian willowherb and organic shea butter to smooth rough + bumpy texture, diminish dullness, brighten dark damage, improve clarity +color, target congestion, hydrated and reduce the look of lines – all without harsh skin-stripping or surface scraping.



This fan-favorite exfoliator is a deep purging facial mask that uses citric and malic acid to purge pores, smooth, brighten, and uncover fresh, revitalized skin. This tingly 10-minute face mask can be applied 1-3 times per week, or every day for 7 days straight to perform the Kerafole Purge.


Quick Refiner

Quick Refiner is a gel exfoliant that visibly smoothes skin with powerful alpha hydroxy acids, including glycolic and multi-fruit acids. This leave-on chemical exfoliator eliminates dead surface cells, uncovers smoother, softer skin and targets the appearance of pores.


Quick Refiner for Eyes

Under eye exfoliation is important too! This fast-acting, leave-on gel gently exfoliates delicate under eye skin to sweep away fine lines, wrinkles and dryness. It also boosts brightness and targets stubborn milia – you can see results in just one use.


physical exfoliators

Measured Micrograins +

This microbead-free, multi-action facial scrub controls excess oil to refine pores, strengthens the skin, and calms and cools. This scrub can be used to exfoliate all skin types – including unpredictable, easily-sensitized skin. Can be used as both a scrub and a mask.


Pumice Peel

This facial scrub provides manual microdermabrasion that buffs away dullness with ultra-fine pumice crystals. Pumice Peel targets pores, smoothes skin, improves the look of lines and more to reveal fresh, new skin.


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4 Responses

Teresa Stenzel
Teresa Stenzel

Hi Nancy, I see you have three exfoliators, Skin Editor, Measured Micrograins and Quick Refiner. It’s really a question your skin type and sensitivity level. If your skin can tolerate all three (both physical and chemical), you can rotate them, weekly or bi-weekly. Use Skin Editor every night for two weeks, and then stop, switching to Measured Micrograins scrub for two weeks, etc. As for the Radiance Rescue, this is a mask that you can use at night, as often as needed. Leave it on for 10 minutes or longer, then remove and apply your Sleepwear. This mask can be applied all over the face and around the eyes. Power Peptide is your toner, so you would use it morning and night after you rinse off your cleanser. Absolute Moisture is a moisturizer that can be applied on top of your Recovery Serum during the day, underneath your sunscreen.

Nancy PItman
Nancy PItman

I have a several Bioelements products but struggle with what should be used when. My arsenal includes Skin Editor, Measured Micrograins, quick Refiner, Radiance Rescue, Clinical Youth Seurm, Absolute Moisture, Recovery Serum, Power Peptides and Sleepwear, Flash foam cleanser.

Teresa Stenzel
Teresa Stenzel

Hi Susan, read this article for more information on rosacea:


What do you use if you have rosacea?

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