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Is Exfoliating Good or Bad for Acne-Prone Skin?

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As a young woman, I had terrible facial blemishes and didn't have the privilege of knowing the best skin-care tips at the time.


A regular skin exfoliating exercise is one of the best ways to address the issue of acne. Skincare for acne-prone skin is never really complete without this process, as it definitely plays an extremely important role in the care of blemished skin.

Without a daily routine of facial exfoliation, acne, and even the debilitating effects of scarring that forms as a result of rosacea may occur. So, for those who desire healthy facial skin or those looking for an acne-free face, exfoliation is highly recommended.

It is a well-known fact that microscopic loose facial skinwhich in essence is old skinif left unattended will trap toxins, dirt, and oils. These unhealthy 'deposits' will 'seep' back under the skin, clog up the pores, and cause blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. This is the main reason why many people that don't use an exfoliating face wash as a part of their skincare routine will constantly have breakouts and recurring facial skin problems.

To avoid these recurring issues that may damage your self-esteem, the old top-skin layer must be gently removed through exfoliation to reveal fresh, healthy skin.

Many people with acne either don't believe or fail to realize that exfoliation is one of the secrets of clear and radiant skin. It is essential, and this form of skincare must be done regularly and unfailingly. It is the answer to many questions you may have concerning acne spots, pimples, and other skin blemishes.

Healthy Skin Through Exfoliation

Many of the elite spa and salon owners around the world involved in body treatments are always on top of the very latest developments in skincare therapies, remedies, and treatments. What they tell us ceaselessly is that there needs to be awareness about the benefits of having healthy skin through exfoliation.

Exfoliation generally involves a soft 'scouring' of the skin using facial scrub sponges or exfoliating face-wash products that have tiny but soft abrasive grains.

These also include grainy but creamy facial cleansers and homemade remedies such as salt, oatmeal, and even coarse sugar granules.

Besides the homemade recipes for skin exfoliation, the aforementioned products are all designed to gently scour off and eliminate dead and decaying skin cells that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Exfoliating Products for the Face and Body

Exfoliating body scrub: When exfoliating the body, usually the chest, upper arms, and back, a 'loofah,' an environmentally friendly sponge that grows naturally, or exfoliating gloves, do a great job of sloughing off dead skin. They must be used to scrub the body using regular circular motions.

A body scrub is highly beneficial in that it serves a dual purpose—it's great for exfoliation, and it's good as a blood circulation enhancer.

Face exfoliation: For facial skin, an exfoliating soap, face wash, or cleanser appropriate for specific types of skin (oily, dry, or combination) must be used. The face must be slightly dampened before the use of any exfoliating product. Again, use gentle circular motions while scrubbing the face, making sure to avoid the delicate areas around the eyes.

Using homemade recipes: There are exfoliation products all around us at home. Homemade exfoliating agents, such as mashed papaya (paw paw), contain enzymes that effectively exfoliate the skin.

Note: The body must be wet before application or use to avoid unnecessary dryness of the face or skin, which can abrade the skin and cause soreness.

Scrubbing must always be gentle on damp or wet skin. Use circular motions to remove the dead skin and vertical motions to wipe the body clean of the exfoliating particles (if you'll be using a cream-based exfoliation product). With washes, just wash the product off using circular motions, and rinse thoroughly.

Body Exfoliation

Body Exfoliation

How Often Should You Exfoliate?

Opinions differ slightly on how often one should exfoliate the face and body. But the most important thing to note is that exfoliation is necessary for healthy-looking faces, arms, and torsos.

Most of today's women's fashion demands some exposure of the chest, upper arms, and back, and there is no point in wishing you could wear such outfits if those parts of your body are spotty and unsightly.

Our faces are constantly exposed, and faces must look clean, spotless, and healthy. Applying makeup to acne-prone skin can be tricky and oily products should be avoided. Blotting papers can help minimize shine during the day while you work on your exfoliating routine at home before bed. When our faces look good and clear with or without makeup, we feel good. It's as simple as that.

Exfoliate at least every other day. It's even better if you do it daily, using a gentler exfoliating face wash, especially for those who have acne. This is one of the best ways to treat acne inexpensively and effectively.

If you have acne, it's good to be consistent with this process. In the morning, rinse your face, and then exfoliate gently. It's easy to get carried away with the scrubbing motions, but try not to.

Ensure you do it evenly, with a bit more emphasis on areas that have pimples, blackheads, or other blemishes.

10 Benefits of Exfoliating

  1. Clogged pores, which make skin look dull by trapping oil and dirt, are cleared up with consistent exfoliation.
  2. Exfoliating elements used for acne skincare are mostly chemical-free.
  3. Re-energises dull and lifeless skin.
  4. Great as an anti-aging facial treatment, as it keeps the skin supple and healthy-looking and sloughs off flaky dead skin. Exfoliating massages the face at the same time, enabling good blood flow.
  5. Flakes off the undesirable dead outer layer of skin, which promotes the growth of new and clearer skin. This will speed up the process of obtaining clear and flawless skin.
  6. Exfoliating soap works in two ways. It allows you to both cleanse and exfoliate your skin at the same time.
  7. It will help sun-damaged and discoloured skin and give it a more uniform and even tone, resulting in a brighter, more youthful appearance.
  8. For those over 40, it should become a regimen because it does effectively reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
  9. Exfoliation is very effective at stopping the growth of ingrown hairs, especially for men.
  10. Acne scars, if not completely removed, will definitely become less noticeable.

The face and upper body parts aren't the only areas of the body that require exfoliation. You should also exfoliate rough areas of the body, like the feet, knees, and elbows. And as we grow older, we must exfoliate more because as we age, our body’s natural exfoliation process slows down considerably. So, in order to give the skin a boost, and bring it 'back to life,' exfoliate.

Who Should Exfoliate?

Exfoliation should be an equally essential skin-care routine for:

  • Teenage skincare: It is great for teenage pimples, spots, and general acne skincare. It also removes pore-clogging dirt and oil, and will definitely prevent acne and give you healthier-looking skin.
  • Men: Exfoliation exposes hair follicles, thus allowing a better and smoother shave.
  • Women: The process of cell turnover starts to slow down as we age, creating skin irregularities. When skin cells start to build up unevenly on the skin's surface, it gives a dry, rough, and dull appearance. For this, exfoliation is beneficial because it removes built-up dead cells, exposing fresher, smoother, and younger skin cells hitherto hidden.

On a final note, it is possible and easy to over-exfoliate. Over-exfoliation will dry out and even irritate the skin. As the face is a sensitive part of the body, exfoliation must only be carried out when the skin is moist.

After you exfoliate, your skin must be moisturized immediately with some good natural moisturizer that contains some amount of alpha and/or beta hydroxy fruit acids.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is it okay to scrub your face twice a week at night if you have acne-prone skin?

Answer: Yes.Twice a week at night is fine.

Question: Can I apply face masks every day?

Answer: No. I will suggest just twice a week.

Question: Should I apply the neem face mask every day to get rid of teen acne?

Answer: I wouldn’t use a facial mask for more than 3 times a week. The most important thing is to ensure you keep to the regimen consistently.

Question: Should we use an exfoliating brush every day to get rid of blemishes and scars?

Answer: Absolutely not. That will be damaging your skin. Once the exfoliating product has granules that will gently work on your skin, that’s all that is required.

© 2010 viryabo


Denis Lubojanski from 7 Station Street, London on March 09, 2016:

For person with dry skin, exfoliation is must. I try it every weekend as I am short of time. Will it be okay or I need daily exfoliation?

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on February 17, 2016:

Hi Debra

Its amazing how what works for one person is a no-no for another. When my skin breaks out, i first exfoliate then apply my remedial cream.

Within a couple of days, the spots have dried up.

You are right about exfoliation removing dead dull skin, leaving it softer and brighter. Nothing else works as much wonders.

Thanks for the visit.

Debra Hargrove from North Carolina on February 16, 2016:

I get acne in the summer time. I can only exfoliation when I don't have any breakouts. But exfoliation is really great for removing dead skin and making your skin look healthy and bright.

Foyjur Razzak from Dhaka on May 14, 2013:

To reduce the occurrence of acne, apply tea tree oil about the acne prone areas. Consider utilizing tea tree oil, that is all natural and definitely will not dry out the skin as various other acne remedies, but will be just as efficient at lowering the buildup of oils in your pores.

Newsreporteer on April 23, 2013:

I purchased Citrus Clear products for my teenage son who has very bad acne, and I wanted something natural and not harmful to his skin. We tried the over the counter lotions and potions and found them to be virtually useless, except for irritating his skin. The medication offered by our GP had some very serious side effects, so i looked for a more natural alternative. Citrus Clear has greatly improved my son's skin in just a very short period of time. With regular use, this product has cleared all irritation and redness from his skin in just over 2 weeks, the acne is most definitely less pronounced and the skin is clearer. I would certainly recommend this product to anybody who is looking for an organic, chemical free way to treat acne.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on May 16, 2010:

Yes G. Coconut oil is absolutely fantastic for the skin and the hair.

I remember decades ago, my grandmother, who used it all over her skin including her hair, had wonderful skin and her hair was so lusterous. Back then, it wasn't refined, so it had a smell that was, well sooooo 'coconutty'. We young ones then thought the smell was disgusting because it was raw coconut oil.

Happily, over the years, it has become refined with a pleasant smell. Its still used extensively even today. Its a great natural for the body. And the hair.

I use avocado oil for my body and its seems good. I just started using it a couple of months ago, so i cant say much about it yet.

Thanks for giving me a tip for another hub. I'm deff going to work on that.

Godbless G.

GPAGE from California on May 16, 2010:

viryabo! Thank you for the great advice! I was also going to mention that I have started to use organic coconut oil for my skin lately (face and body) and it has worked wonders! Not sure if this is something you may want to write about since you seem to be very savvy on skin care?

There has been a lot of mention of it lately but it does work!!!!! Anyway, just sharing the love!!!!! G

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on May 16, 2010:

Hey G, nice to always see you. You are one of the lucky ones with no acne issues.

I didn't know the importance of exfoliation until i was way into my 40's. I had blemishes when i was younger, but if i had known it was great for acne skin care, i would have started much earlier. My skin is now blemish free. (not much help now i'm older, and can't flaunt like before, but well...)

Its great for dry patchy skin as long as its done gently and with not so granular exfoliating products. I use pharmagel products and they work great for me. Plus they are inexpensive and lasts for some months.

Thanks for visiting G.


GPAGE from California on May 15, 2010:

Viryabo! Thanks for this very informative hub! I do not have acne issues, but sometimes I get patches of dry skin....I should do this more often....I think people have sold me so many products over the years that I just thought it was a bunch of "you know." ha Well, I'm going to try to get back to this soon.......G

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on May 13, 2010:

Thanks habee for visiting and your nice comments. With dry skin, just make sure its done gently with light circular motions.


Holle Abee from Georgia on May 12, 2010:

Great info! I don't have acne, but I do have a lot of dry skin, so I have to exfoliate.