Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Viddhi Patel (Journalist)  on 03rd Oct 2020

Here's What You Should Know About Exfoliating The Body

About Exfoliating The Body

Exfoliation is getting rid of the cells on the outer layers of the skin, which are no longer alive. The process is simple and results in cleaner, radiant, and polished skin.

Dead skin cells don’t leave our skin entirely at times, and it results in a drier skin with flaky patches and clogged pores.

Exfoliation unclogs the stubborn pores, helps reduce acne breakouts, evens out texture, increases blood circulation, and brightens dull, aging skin.

A fresh layer of skin is exposed, ready to retain hydration making the skin younger, brighter, and healthier.

Regular exfoliation increases cell turnover and stimulates collagen production, creating healthier and bouncier skin. 

It is escapable.

Exfoliation has gone around with so much marketing that it has led everyone to believe that exfoliating will beautify them by getting rid of the outer layer.

But what they don’t say is that the outer layer, stratum corneum, acts as a barrier and protects the skin from the outside world or irritating components, pollution, UV rays to an extent, and keeps the water inside the skin.

While exfoliating, the stratum corneum layer can get disturbed, leading to dryness, irritation, and acne breakout. Hence, exfoliating in the right manner, at right intervals, and knowing your skin is essential or your skin hangs out in the dry.

Not all skin is the same; not all skin types need exfoliation! Younger people do not need exfoliation unless they suffer from certain kinds of skin conditions like dry skin, eczema (where the formation of thick layers of skin is high), etc. since their skin regularly sheds the dead skin cells. And exfoliating even further may disrupt the natural affair of the body.  

What it Means to Exfoliate the Body

The thought that exfoliation is just for the face is long gone. And the need for our body to feel smoother is equally quenching.

The tiny rotting corpses of skin cells stay on our bodies at times and don’t readily leave. Their simple existence on our body can cause breakouts, grimy feet, and hair loss.

Every part of your body needs to be taken care of and cleaned, or the dead skin cells may cause calluses and clogged pores. Different parts of the body need different kinds of attention and care. They can’t all be scrubbed away with a pumice stone.

Body scrubs containing polyethylene, walnut shells, pumice, volcanic ash, sugar, and sea salt are offered readily and marketed profoundly in the cosmetics industry.

If you used the scrub with pressure and harshness, it may lead to the same things they were used to get rid of in the first place, dryness. 

The exfoliators

  • Mechanical/Physical exfoliants.
  • Chemical exfoliants.

Physical Exfoliants

Manual scrubbing or rubbing of any exfoliant or during any method classifies as a mechanical or physical exfoliant. Cleansing scrubs, body brushes, and loofahs are common physical exfoliants you might be already familiar with or are already using. Physical exfoliants are easy to get a hold of and are as simple as using a washcloth during bathing, muslin cloth, a DIY scrub, or shaving, as it removes the top layer of the dead skin cells along with hair and unclogs pores.

The exfoliation is immediate, but there is too much at stake. Poorly performed physical exfoliation may lead to transepidermal water loss and irritation.

Most scrubs do what they are supposed to without you having to rub it excessively. The tiny, gritty micro-exfoliants should be used with gentle care, and within certain time limits, overdoing it will bring you only harm.  

Abrasive materials for manual body exfoliation-

  • Loofahs  
  • Dry brushes
  • Silicone brush (softer on the skin)
  • Pumice stones
  • Micro derma rollers
  • Cleansing scrubs
  • Sponges
  • Microbead scrub
  • Sugar crystals
  • Adhesive exfoliation sheets

A myriad of ingredients is already available in your kitchen that can be transformed into an effective exfoliating scrub.

The ingredients like coffee (antioxidant properties, promote collagen production), sugar(grainy and exfoliant) help you exfoliate with minimum possibility of side effects from unknown ingredients if done correctly, gently, for a certain amount of time only and in circular motions.

Large and sharp-edged products create micro-tears leading to irritated skin, inflammation, and infection possibility. For the products with fine particles, it is fine enough to use them.

The market has many scrubs for body, feet, and face along with skin type options. But, use a certain exfoliant at a time, using multiple products in one go may seem tempting for instant results, but it is a strict no.  

Chemical Exfoliants 

This classification of exfoliatin uses chemicals like hydroxy acids to exfoliate the skin. Dr. Dray profoundly recommends chemical exfoliation, “Chemical has less room for error, people overdo physical scrubs”.

This method uses acids to break down bonds of dead skin cells.

Some common acids are further classified as-  

AHAs [Alpha hydroxy acids]-

Water-soluble and beneficial for dry skin and sun-damaged skin. The acid also helps with hyperpigmentation from scars, melasma, and age spots.

AHAs also help close enlarged pores, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and evens the skin tone. Lactic Acid 10% + Hyaluronic Acid 2% by beminimalist exfoliates mildly without compromising hydration in skin and reveals clear and radiant.

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BHAs [Beta Hydroxy Acids]-

Oil-soluble and beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin type. These acids dry out excess oil in dead skin cells. Reaching deep into your hair follicles, it unclogs your pores. Salicylic Acid 2% by beminimalist is a great addition to your routine as a daily exfoliant, which will help ward off blackheads and your oils regulated, giving you a flawless matt look.

A daily gentle exfoliant with 2% salicylic acid wards off blackheads and keeps your oils in check for that flawless matt look everyone dreams. 

  • Salicylic acid.
  • Beta hydroxy acids

These acids can be found in toners and serums and can be applied as a moisturizer. They are gentler, and when left to soak in the skin, they dissolve dead skin and promote cellular turnover. The skin reaches its optimal youthfulness naturally, and these chemicals balance your skin’s pH levels.  

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Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum
Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum
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Chemicals and your body

Chemical exfoliation helps peel away an invisible surface of the skin, giving space to new, evenly pigmented cells to generate and take over.

Research has proven that one of the best exfoliators is leave-on AHA or BHA exfoliant. If well formulated, chemical exfoliant dissolves dead skin cells' bonds, revealing the fresh, healthy, bump-free skin underneath.
AHA improves and exfoliates and enhances the ability of the skin to vital hydration and promotes firmer skin.

Clogged pores from the neck down, blemishes, redness, roughness, and bumps filled skin can be remarkably worked upon through BHAs.

The upper back and chest are acne-prone areas, and using chemical-based exfoliants suits better. Physical exfoliators tend to show results more effectively on rougher and thick-skinned areas like heels, knees, and elbows.  

Not all exfoliation is the same. Face Exfoliation is Different From Body Exfoliation

There is a reason why there are types of scrubs available specifying the area of the body it should be rubbed or lathered. We have done many skincare mishaps in our lives, like sleeping with make-up on. But never commit the crime of using a body scrub to exfoliate your face. It is a big fat NO.

You apply serums, expensive serums, and high-end moisturizers on our faces. All of it will go to the Bahamas with this tiny little fluke. The skin on your face is different from the rest of the body, it is softer, thinner, and sensitive.

Applying a body scrub, which is designed as an aggressive product to get through the thick skin of your body on your face can lead to cuts and irritation. Body scrubs have a stronger concentration of acids, which if applied to your beautiful face, may lead to potential breakouts and redness.  

The distinction

The difference between the exfoliation for the face and the body is that chemical exfoliation is safer when it comes to facial exfoliation as physical ones are aggressive for the facial area. While physical exfoliation can be opted for the body, mainly the heels.

Use your fingers for mechanical scrub and cotton pads or washcloth for chemical exfoliation when working on the face. You can opt for the soft-textured loofah, sponge, or a brush when exfoliating your arms and legs and a pumice stone for your feet.  

Let’s exfoliate That Body According to Your skin type!  

Before diving in any of the exfoliant or any product, take a step back and get to know your skin. Is it oily? Is it sensitive? Is it dry? Your skin type is the decision-maker. Avoid exfoliation in skin conditions like rosacea.

While normal skin types have scope to experiment with their skin, sensitive skin types need to be careful with what they go for.

There are measures, intensity, types, various processes, ingredients to be wary of when jumping in on the cleansing part.

Dry and acne-prone skin prefer just a washcloth and a mild chemical exfoliator. On the other hand, oily skin will prefer stronger chemical treatments. 

Did you know?

The skin’s pH level rebalances, and the production of collagen boosts at night. Hence, exfoliation works best at night.

Treat your skin like a feather

While using a chemical exfoliator or a scrub, apply the product gently with small, circular motions for about 30 seconds and rinse with lukewarm water. A brush or a sponge with short light stokes works just fine.

Put an immediate end to exfoliation if your skin is red, inflamed, peeling, or irritated.

Certain medications or acne products like retinol and benzoyl peroxide may make the skin worse or lead to breakouts if used during the exfoliation process.  

Moisturize after exfoliation 

Exfoliation, even if done with the utmost care, leads to dehydration in the skin. Moisturizing helps the skin to stay away from a major possibility of dryness.

The barrier that exfoliation took away is made up for through moisturizing the skin.

Chemicals cause the skin to become vulnerable to sun damage; apply an SPF if you prefer to exfoliate in the morning.  

Keep away from too much exfoliation

Simply because too much or too often of exfoliation leads to redness and irritation.

This question majorly depends on your skin type and exfoliation method.

The more aggressive the exfoliation, the less often it should be conducted.

Oily skin types may need to exfoliate more often, and other skin types can do with exfoliating once a week 

The goodness of exfoliation

Exfoliation can leave your skin feeling smoother, vibrant, and brighter.

The skin is open to absorb any other topical products you are on, increasing their effectiveness. It helps prevent the clogging of pores resulting in a noticeable reduction of breakouts.

Collagen production boosts with regular exfoliation, and there is an improvement in blood circulation.

Exfoliation allows the living cells to arise and shine, leaving you with an overall healthier skin. Hair follicles are gifted with more room to breathe, your pores are clear, your body is smooth, and your complexion youthful and bright.  

The bottom line is that you do you

Give your skin what it needs, may it be OTC exfoliators, serums, or brushes, it all depends on you and your skin.