You Should Be Exfoliating–Here’s What You Need

It’s cold, and you know what that means?

Dry skin! Yay!

While moisturizing is a quick remedy for dry skin, exfoliation is what helps keep that moisture locked in.

Exfoliation sloughs off dead skin cells, which our skin accumulates no matter the season. Aside from working alongside your moisturizer to keep your skin supple, exfoliating has several other benefits:

  • Fades dark spots
  • Reduces fine lines
  • Helps other products work better (allows a more direct contact to the skin)
  • Releases natural oils
  • Softens skin
  • Brightens your complexion, and more!

I cannot wait to tell you about all the ways you can exfoliate beyond the common cleanser with “exfoliating” shell shards. I’m highkey #TeamExfoliate, so this is gonna be thorough. Whether you like your exfoliation gentle or rough, there’s a method and/or product for everyone’s face and body!

Physical Exfoliation

Physical exfoliation is when you exfoliate, well, physically!

Cleansers made with exfoliating bits are only one way to exfoliate your skin physically.

Let’s explore some other techniques:

Muslin and Washcloths

This is perhaps the most gentle option of all the physical exfoliators. Affordable, reusable, and easily accessible!

Konjac Sponges and Loofahs

Image via FutureDerm

Both konjac sponges and loofahs can come in a variety of textures, but generally, the loofah is stiffer than a konjac sponge. Konjac sponges are quite squishy, but still effective.

Now, for the vegans and eco-friendly people out there, konjac sponges are made for you! They’re made from the konjac root, which is a porous root vegetable grown in Asia. No sponge is harmed in the making of this exfoliator! Pretty cool, huh?

Clay, Nut Shells, Oatmeal, and Other Granules

This is what I assume you’re most used to whether they were tiny plastic beads in your cleanser (which I advise against using since they just get flushed into oceans), or bits of oatmeal in your bar of soap. It is a common exfoliating technique.

Be vigilant and look up reviews on exfoliating products. Even if those with natural granules are more environmentally friendly, the granules used can be sharp enough to cut your face! So check for any complaints about such issues before investing in these products.

Facial Brushes  i.e. Clarisonic

The initial cost isn’t the cheapest, but many people swear by the power of a face brush. It buffs and cleanses your face faster than you ever could manually, which is its appeal alongside its effectiveness. The brush does need to be maintained–Charging, batteries changing, brush replacing… but plenty of people say it’s totally worth it!

Korean Italy Towel

Image via Amazon

Y’all… This super affordable rag is a game-changer!

Just wade in the bath or contemplate your life in the shower for a few minutes (the longer you “soak” the better), wet this towel, and begin scrubbing while applying moderate pressure! You will literally begin to see little gray balls roll up on your skin. That’s dead skin cells, old lotion, and dirt all falling off of your skin. It’s equally gross and amazing! Your skin texture improves immediately; you’ll feel as soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Now you may Google this, see all the colored Korean Italy towels and wonder which one should I buy? Can I use it on my face? What’s maintenance like? Are there different levels of exfoliation based on their colors? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

PAUSE: A Quick Introduction to Dry Exfoliation

Image via SpaVerde

Dry brushing is the process of detoxing from the outside in.

The biggest benefit of dry brushing is that it stimulates your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is responsible for getting rid of the body’s toxins, waste, and other unwanted material.  It is also said to boost circulation, remove dead skin cells, improve digestion, and can temporarily diminish the appearance of cellulite. Head over to Goop, for an in-depth look into dry brushing from what it is to how to do it.

Chemical Exfoliation

As you’ve probably guessed, chemical exfoliation happens chemically. So despite how harsh the word “chemical” sounds, some are generally gentler than manually scrubbing your face.

Image via selfridges&co

Leave-On Hydroxy Acid Products

There are two types of these:

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are water-soluble and are usually found in products for dry, aging skin. It’s the more potent of the two and because of this, it’s also more likely to cause side effects.
  • Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are oil-soluble and have a UV protective effect, so wear sunscreen while using it!


At-home peels have the hydroxy acids mentioned above in high concentrations.  There are also other peels, such as superficial peels, that are essentially controlled chemical burns.


Retinol increases cell turnover and is a form of vitamin A. It should be applied to the skin overnight.


The most popular enzymes used are pineapple and papaya. Yup, fruits! Which means you can DIY a mask with this gentle exfoliator.

There’s a lot to chemical exfoliants, so I’d suggest doing some research. Labmuffin explains the science-y bits of chemical exfoliants, and SELF breaks chemical exfoliants down in a way that’s easier to digest.

Soak Insider Tip: I wrote a ton about the different types of exfoliants out there, but I do have one warning you should heed–Don’t over-exfoliate!

Keep exfoliation down to once or twice a week. Too much abrasiveness in any form will cause more harm than good.

 Feature image via Pinterest.

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