Exfoliating 101: Safe and Effective Exfoliating Tips

Posted By Raw Sugar on August 16, 2022

We often hear that the key to clear, smooth, healthy skin is exfoliating - but what does that actually mean? If your skin is looking dull, or feeling dry, exfoliation may be the method you need to bring out your glow!

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin from the outermost layer of the skin. This dead skin is replaced naturally every two to four weeks, but as we get older, this process slows down, allowing dead skin to build up and contributing to problems like fine lines, wrinkles, breakouts, and dullness. Exfoliation helps us to gently remove this dead skin, helping to clear the way for the new, healthy skin beneath to take the center stage. Exfoliating your skin regularly may help aid in keeping pores clear, reduce the risk of breakouts, and even improve the absorption and performance of your other skincare treatments. 

Common Ways To Exfoliate

There are two main types of exfoliation:

  • Physical: Removing dead skin with friction produced by rubbing something against the skin
  • Chemical: Removing dead skin with chemical ingredients that penetrate the surface

Chemical exfoliators can pose a high risk for skin irritation due to their key ingredients. They also tend to be costlier than the products and tools used for physical exfoliation. There are three common ways to benefit from physical exfoliation:

  • Cleansing brushes: The bristles on cleansing brushes can slough off dead skin. However, they may also cause irritation due to their abrasive quality.
  • Washcloths: Textured washcloths are another way to lift off dead skin. If they are too rough, they may lead to irritation like cleansing brushes, but if they are too soft, they may not exfoliate as thoroughly.
  • Body scrubs: Scrubs contain ingredients like sugar, salt or beads that create friction when rubbed against the skin. They are a convenient option because they rinse away and their smaller particles are less likely to cause irritation.

Do You Exfoliate Before or After Shaving?

Exfoliating before you shave helps to ready skin for your razor. Doing so may help you get a closer shave. However, exfoliating after shaving has its benefits, too. Using a body scrub or other physical exfoliator within two to three days of shaving may minimize the risk of blocked hair follicles, which in turn helps make ingrown hairs less likely to form. In short, you may wish to exfoliate immediately before you shave and then within 48 to 72 hours afterward.

What Does Exfoliating Scrub Do?

The main thing that an exfoliating scrub does is lift away dead skin. This may:

  • Improve skin texture
  • Enhance radiance
  • Cut down on the frequency of acne breakouts
  • Make discoloration and signs of aging less apparent
  • Contribute to better results when shaving or using other hair removal products
  • Support more natural-looking and more even results from sunless tanning products
  • Promote circulation to the skin

Some exfoliating body scrubs contain supportive ingredients that offer additional benefits. Ones made with plant oils and butters like shea butter and jojoba oil can supply moisture to the skin to lower the likelihood of dryness. Vitamins and minerals found in some scrubs can nourish skin and may offer antioxidant defense  against free radicals that contribute to the development of signs of aging. In addition, a body scrub may contain skin-soothing ingredients like aloe vera leaf to soothe skin.

How Is an Exfoliating Body Wash Different Than a Scrub?

Body washes contain surfactants that help water mix with sweat, excess skin oils and impurities to cleanse the skin. An exfoliating body wash may also contain beads that remove some dead skin. A body scrub is used specifically for exfoliation. It doesn't cleanse your skin, and it usually contains more friction-creating particles or beads. Because of this, a body scrub may be a more effective exfoliator than a body wash.

How To Use Exfoliating Body Scrub

To get the best results from exfoliating body scrub, follow the directions for use listed on the packaging. These instructions may differ from product to product. However, most instruct you to do the following:

  • Remove a small amount of the scrub from the jar or bottle.
  • Apply the body scrub to the desired area.
  • Massage the scrub against your skin, making circular motions.
  • Rinse the area thoroughly.
  • Gently pat dry with a soft towel.

Body scrubs may cause the floor of your shower or tub to feel slippery, so clean surfaces with water after exfoliating to ensure safety.

How Often Should I Exfoliate?

The general rule of thumb is to exfoliate one to four times per week. When you first begin exfoliating, you may wish to start off using a body scrub just once every week. If you find that roughness and dullness persist, increase to two times per week and then reassess. Continue to increase the number of weekly applications up to four as needed. Redness or inflammation may indicate that you're exfoliating too frequently.

What Body Scrubs Should I Use?

When choosing body scrubs, pay attention to the ingredients listed on the label. Some products can contain harsh chemicals that have the potential to irritate the skin. Raw Sugar body scrubs differ from these formulas. The base of each product is made with a blend of plant-derived ingredients and botanical extracts processed through a cold-pressing process that preserves vital nutrients. Our body scrubs are free of SLS/SLES and parabens to benefit sensitive skin, and they come in a diverse assortment of pleasing scents like Raw Coconut + Mango. Plus, every product is cruelty-free and vegan to lower the eco-impact of your skincare routine.

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