8 Reasons You Should Be Exfoliating Regularly

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On the days that you use a scrub in the bath or shower and then follow up with a creamy body lotion, your skin never feels silkier or looks smoother. That dreamy texture isn’t the only perk of exfoliation. In fact, the benefits go more than skin deep, which is why exfoliating regularly has plenty of perks.

  • Rebecca Marcus, MD is a board-certified dermatologist in Dallas, TX
  • Tammy Fender is an aesthetician and the founder of Tammy Fender holistic skincare

Why it’s important to exfoliate skin regularly

“Exfoliating skin clears away dead skin cells, helping skin to appear brighter and more radiant,” says Dallas, TX dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, MD. “In addition, skin-care products are able to penetrate more effectively after exfoliation. Exfoliation can help prevent clogged pores by removing debris and dead cells.”

When you exfoliate your skin regularly, the process also promotes cell turnover and helps the skin detoxify. “Exfoliation can improve skin health by whisking away potential toxins from the skin’s surface, refining the pores and preventing breakouts, but also encourages the natural renewal process,” says aesthetician and founder of Tammy Fender holistic skin care Tammy Fender. “That means that skin has less exposure to environmental stressors but is also supported in strengthening and repair, enhancing hydration, structural integrity and bringing out a natural radiance.”

How often you should exfoliate

It can vary depending on the degree of sensitivity of your skin, but on average, exfoliating your skin twice a week is sufficient, according to Dr. Marcus. 

The difference between physical and chemical exfoliants

Some products contain a combination of the two, and it’s important to know how they differ. “Physical exfoliants work via physical friction, using small particles to remove superficial dead skin cells,” explains Dr. Marcus. “Chemical exfoliants work by chemically dissolving bonds between dead skin cells, allowing them to be sloughed off more easily.”

Dr. Marcus prefers gentle chemical exfoliation. “Physical exfoliation carries a higher risk of inadvertently abrading and damaging the skin,” she says. “My favorite product for gentle chemical exfoliation is Beauty Pie AcidEnzyme Exfoliating Face & Body Cleanser ($60). I use this a few times a week in the shower on my face and body to unclog pores, gently remove dead skin cells and boost radiance.” It contains salicylic acid to clear pores and fight breakouts, papaya-derived enzymes to gently smooth and brighten skin, and soothing mallow extract and oat extract. 

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On the other hand, Fender is a huge supporter of physical exfoliation and, in particular, has worked with her Epi-Peel ($95) formula for years in the treatment room. “Using a gentle gommage technique stimulates micro-circulation and helps slough away dead surface cells, and is especially effective when you use less pressure and invest the extra moment or two in light, repetitive exfoliation,” she says. “You always want to think about the long-term benefits a treatment will bring to skin. Aggressive exfoliation, as I’ve seen, can happen with some strong chemical applications and often does not respect the integrity of the skin. You want to remove the dead, dull surface cells, but without ever harming the underlying living layers of the skin.”



No matter if you go the physical or chemical exfoliation route—or both—always proceed with caution and be sure to avoid over-exfoliating and damaging skin. Now that you know the basics, read on for all the reasons to exfoliate. 

Reasons to exfoliate

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It helps topical products work better

By removing dead skin cells, products are able to penetrate the skin more easily and reach their target, where their intended action is performed, according to Dr. Marcus. 

“Gently exfoliating the skin is the first step in a process that allows skin to absorb and integrate whatever you apply next,” Fender says. “One of my favorite two-step at-home treatments, based on my spa protocols, begins by exfoliating with Epi-Peel, followed by a longer application of Restorative Radiance Masque ($195), which is packed with beneficial active botanicals. Whatever you apply after an exfoliation is amplified, so it’s important to choose a formula that is ultra-nourishing.”

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It brightens skin

Exfoliating will literally get you glowing. “When we talk about brightness, we are responding to the way light illuminates the skin’s surface,” Fender says. “By removing the dull, dry outer layer of the skin through exfoliation, the underlying fresh, vibrant layers of the skin are able to better shine.” 

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It speeds up cell turnover

“Exfoliation stimulates the body’s own natural restoration process, encouraging the skin to create fresh, new cells once the outer dead cells have been removed,” Fender says. 

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It boosts collagen production

“By improving cell turnover, exfoliation encourages skin to make new cells, which contain fibroblasts, which are important in collagen synthesis,” Dr. Marcus says. To trigger even more collagen production, Fender suggests pairing exfoliation with facial massage to enhance that effect.

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It prevents breakouts

“Exfoliation can help loosen up and whisk away impurities, excess oils and dead surface cells, [which] clog the pores and contribute to breakouts,” Fender says. “By keeping the pores clear, exfoliation can help prevent acne and other blemishes from forming.”

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It minimizes dark spots

“By optimizing cell turnover, exfoliation removes very superficial layers of skin, which may themselves contain pigment, and also encourages skin to regenerate, which can gradually fade pigment as skin produces new healthy cells,” Dr. Marcus says.

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It evens skin texture

“The appearance of smoother, more elastic skin is one of the benefits of regular exfoliation, which whisks away dead cell clusters,” Fender says. “However, this is especially true when exfoliation is followed with a nutritive concentrate like Quintessential Serum ($180), sealing in moisture and providing the emerging fresh skin with everything it needs to glow.”

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It helps skin look younger

“As skin ages, it becomes more dry, so by exfoliating regularly, that dryness is whisked away and aging skin is encouraged to stay active and to produce fresh cells,” Fender says. “Exfoliation also helps aging skin better absorb serums and moisturizing creams, however, so the process provides a great way to maintain skin fitness, ensuring the skin has ample nutrients and hydration to support continued growth.”

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