Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells from the outer layers of your skin, making your skin look brighter and rejuvenated. Exfoliation also creates a better surface to help make skin products more effective.

While we all know that exfoliating is an important step in every skin care routine, using the wrong method and products for exfoliation can do more harm than good. It can throw your skin’s natural make up off kilter, making it oilier or drier than it already is.

Skin Types

So, where do we begin? Start by finding out what your skin type is. There are five types, from which you can determine which products to use and avoid and the methods and tools to be used for proper exfoliation. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment when it comes to exfoliating for the different skin types.


Dry skin is characterized by flaky, itchy, or rough areas. If you have dry skin, exfoliate once a week using a gentle cleanser with fruit enzymes that get rid of dead skin. Follow up with a moisturizer or hydrating serum to minimize your skin’s moisture loss.


Sensitive skin can easily become red or irritated. Use products that have fruit enzymes (e.g. papaya or pineapple) or lactic acid to exfoliate and soften your skin without irritating it. Avoid using scrubs or cleaning brushes, as these can be too harsh on your skin.


Oily skin is characterized by a shiny or greasy appearance. Over-exfoliating is a big no-no for individuals with oily skin. Doing this can, in fact, worsen the condition. Take care of oily skin by exfoliating two to three times a week using acids such as glycolic or salicylic acid instead of facial scrubs.


Normal skin is usually clear and is not prone to sensitivity. You can opt to choose manual or chemical exfoliating face wash as these are both safe for this skin type.


This skin is characterized by some areas that are dry and some that are oily. Try to exfoliate two to three times a week on alternating days so as not to risk irritating your skin. You can use exfoliating products with alpha-hydroxy acids.

Safely Exfoliating at Home

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends observing the following tips when exfoliating at home:

  • Be mindful of the skincare products that you’re already using
  • Find out which exfoliation method best suits your skin type
  • Be gentle to your skin, especially when exfoliating
  • Use a moisturizer after exfoliating to help keep your skin hydrated
  • Determine the right exfoliation schedule for you, as this depends on your skin type and exfoliation method of choice

If you’re unsure about your skin type or how to go about exfoliating and caring for your skin, it’s best to see a board-certified dermatologist.