There are many benefits when it comes to exfoliation—for both the appearance and overall health of your skin. “Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin using a chemical, granular substance or exfoliation tool,” explains Saddle Brook, NJ dermatologist Dr. Frederic Haberman. “The skin naturally sheds dead skin cells every 30 days or so to make room for new cells. Sometimes, dead cells don’t completely shed. This can result in dry, flaky patches and clogged pores. Exfoliating can help prevent this.”
Crystal Koro, celebrity aesthetician and founder of Facify Beauty Wand, says she often compares not exfoliating your skin to never washing your car. “Just like our cars accumulate dust, dirt, debris and build-up from the weather and pollution, so does our skin,” she says.
Exfoliation can be achieved chemically (via chemical exfoliators like acids and at-home peels) or physically, with superfine scrubs and cleansers that polish skin. To learn about all the ways exfoliation benefits your skin, read on.
It will help your topical products will work better
According to Koro, if you want to get the optimal results from your topical products, exfoliation is a must. Dr. Haberman that your skin-care products become more effective if you regularly exfoliate because the absorption is enhanced. “Without exfoliation, the active ingredients in these products have to penetrate through an increased thickness of dead skin cells before they reach the cells they can affect,” explains Koro. “Once you remove this layer of dead skin cells, your serum can absorb easily.”
It brightens your skin
“Exfoliation can leave your skin looking brighter,” says Dr. Haberman. After sloughing away the dull skin of the past, new and improved skin will be revealed for a better complexion.
It can make your skin look healthier
New York dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD says gently exfoliating can help address dull, dry and scaly skin. However, she notes that it’s important to follow it up with a moisturizer.
It can help prevent breakouts and unclog pores
When pores get clogged with dead skin and oil gets stuck beneath the surface, pimples can occur. Your regular cleanser may not be able to address this. Exfoliating can help prevent pore blockage, which can lead to fewer breakouts, says Dr. Haberman.
It helps speed up cell turnover
“Exfoliation speeds up the turnover rate and protects your skin barrier,” says Koro. She adds that this will help “reveal newer, fresher, and healthier skin that’s radiant instead of dull.”
It can boost collagen production
It seems like everyone is looking for a collagen boost these days. Exfoliation is an easy way to increase your collagen, says Dr. Haberman. The spike in collagen then “helps minimize the appearance of sagging skin and fine lines.”
It minimizes dark spots
Long after a blemish has healed, a red, brown or purple mark may remain. Each time you exfoliate, you’re removing the top layer of skin to diminish the appearance of discoloration.
It helps even out your skin’s texture
“The granules polish the skin, leaving it with a softer, smoother texture. It’s like using sandpaper on coarse, unevenly textured wood—step-by-step it becomes smooth,” says Los Angeles aesthetician Ole Henriksen.
It gives you younger-looking skin
With age, the skin’s ability to naturally exfoliate slows down. When the skin is laden with dead cells, lines, wrinkles and dryness become more apparent. “Removing dead skin reveals fresher, brighter, younger-looking skin,” says Mt. Pleasant, SC, dermatologist Marguerite Germain, MD.