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For those who are relatively new to skincare, one of the first big questions that comes up is how to exfoliate your face and skin the correct way. Exfoliating your face by using cleansers or serums is a common aspect of regular skincare routines, but it’s also important to avoid “over exfoliating”. 

If you’re looking to learn how to exfoliate your face without accidentally overdoing it, this is the guide for you. Keep reading to learn how to exfoliate, the different types of exfoliants and why exfoliating has benefits for all skin types - not just as part of a skincare routine for oily skin. We’ll also provide guidance for how to incorporate exfoliation into your regular regime and tailored product recommendations from the CeraVe skincare range.

Chemical vs physical exfoliation

Before we explore how to exfoliate your face, let’s take a step back to understand what exfoliating is all about. We all know that we’re ‘supposed’ to exfoliate, but what exactly are we doing when we use exfoliating products? Put simply, exfoliating is a name for the various methods of removing dead skin cells from the surface of skin. If you’re curious about how to exfoliate, there are two key methods – chemical exfoliation and physical exfoliation:

Chemical exfoliation: These are a type of skincare ingredient (usually alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids) that work within the skin to break down and dislodge the bonds keeping dead skin cells on your face. Chemical exfoliants are non-abrasive, instead relying on a chemical reaction to remove dead skin cells, simultaneously unclogging pores. Chemical exfoliant ingredients to look out for include salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid.

Physical exfoliation: On the other hand, physical exfoliants remove dead skin cells via a mechanical process, physically rubbing against the skin to dislodge dead skin cells. When it comes to how to exfoliate your skin physically, widely used methods include scrubs and facial brushes.

What are the benefits of learning how to exfoliate skin?

Taking the time to learn how to exfoliate your face and how to exfoliate your body can have a wide array of benefits for the skin. Overall, exfoliating at a frequency that works for your skin type can help your skin look brighter and help clear clogged pores, reducing the appearance of blemishes. Your skin will also likely feel softer and smoother with regular exfoliation, and you may find that skincare products absorb better. As we get older, the rate of skin cell turnover decreases. Exfoliation helps counter this slowdown, which means it can also help keep skin looking more youthful.

Just as knowing how to exfoliate your face and how to exfoliate your body has visible skin benefits, skin lacking adequate exfoliation also has visible signs. Depending on your skin type, skin lacking exfoliation can appear: 

  • Rough and bumpy: Commonly experienced by dry skin types

  • Clogged pores, blemishes and blackheads: Most often associated with oily skin

  • Dull appearance: Usually corresponds with normal skin

How to use exfoliator in your regular skincare routine

Now that we’ve covered the types of exfoliants and the benefits of learning how to exfoliate the face, it’s important to understand the basic rules to follow for optimal benefits. Here are some simple tips:

  • If you have oily skin prone to breakouts, you can use a chemical exfoliant as often as daily

  • If you have normal skin, exfoliate once or twice per week

  • If you have sensitive skin, use a gentle exfoliant no more than once a week

  • As for how to exfoliate the body, skin on the body is more robust, so you can exfoliate up to a few times a week depending on your skin’s texture

Don’t forget that exfoliating too often can compromise the skin moisture barrier and cause the appearance of redness and breakouts – so be sure to listen to your skin and use hydrating products containing ceramides after exfoliating. 

Here are some ceramide-enriched CeraVe product recommendations to help you introduce exfoliants into your weekly routine while taking care of your skin moisture barrier.


Face and body cleanser


Exfoliating cleansers are a great place to start your journey. CeraVe’s are formulated to hydrate and comfort at the same time as they cleanse and exfoliate. For example, our CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser with Ceramides is a gentle salicylic acid wash that can be used as a facial cleanser or body cleanser suitable for dry skin. If you have oily skin prone to blemishes, opt instead for our CeraVe Blemish Control Cleanser for Mild Acne-Prone Skin, with potent 2% salicylic acid.


Smoothing body cream


Did you know you can exfoliate by changing up your moisturiser? Rather than physically exfoliating your body, we recommend using our CeraVe SA Smoothing Cream for Rough and Bumpy Skin. This formula gently exfoliates rough and bumpy patches without compromising the skin moisture barrier.


Smoothing hand and foot cream


The hands and feet are two of the most exposed parts of the body, so it’s no wonder that they can often become rough, bumpy and in need of exfoliation. We recommend trying our CeraVe Reparative Hand Cream, a non-greasy cream for dry rough hands. For the feet, our CeraVe Renewing SA Foot Cream will help smooth and comfort rough, dry heels.


If you enjoyed this guide, read our next article what does non-comedogenic mean?



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