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Should You Exfoliate Every Day? The Key to Smoother Skin

Should You Exfoliate Every Day? The Key to Smoother Skin

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the skin's outermost surface. As we age, our skin's natural exfoliation process slows down, leading to a dull, rough complexion. Regular exfoliation helps remove those dead cells to reveal smoother, brighter skin. It also helps other skin care products absorb better by removing the buildup of cells blocking the path.

Types of Exfoliation: Chemical vs. Physical

There are two main types of exfoliation: chemical vs. physical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) use acid to dissolve the bonds holding dull, dead cells to the skin's surface.[1] Physical exfoliants rely on gritty particles like seeds, salt, or beads to manually buff away dead skin cells.[2] 

Can You Exfoliate Every Day?

The short answer is no, most experts recommend against daily exfoliation for most people.

The Skin's Natural Renewal Cycle

Your skin is constantly regenerating by producing fresh new cells that travel up through the layers to replace the older cells on the surface.[3] This turnover process takes around 28-30 days. Exfoliating too frequently can disrupt this cycle by stripping away not just dead cells, but the newer underlying cells too.

Is It Bad to Exfoliate Every Day?

Over-exfoliation can damage the skin's protective barrier, leading to issues like:[4]

  • Dryness and irritation
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Signs of over-exfoliation like stinging, peeling, or breakouts

However, some dermatologists say daily exfoliation in a skin care routine can be okay for certain skin types. The key is to use gentle skin care products and properly learn how to use chemical exfoliation. But most experts recommend limiting exfoliation to 1-3 times per week maximum.

Benefits of Weekly Exfoliation

Regular, moderate exfoliation provides many benefits like: [5]

  • Unclogging pores and reducing acne
  • Fading dark spots and hyperpigmentation
  • Boosting radiance and evening skin tone
  • Smoothing away rough texture and dullness
  • Reducing the appearance of fine lines

Listening to Your Skin

The best way to determine your ideal exfoliation frequency is to observe your skin's response. Signs of over-exfoliation like emerging redness, tightness, peeling, or new breakouts mean you need to cut back.

Factors Influencing Exfoliation Needs

Your optimal routine depends on several variables:

  • Skin type (oily, dry, sensitive, etc.)
  • Skin care products used (some contain exfoliating acids already)
  • Climate and environment
  • Age and skin concerns
  • Certain health conditions like eczema or rosacea

Those with resilient, oily skin can likely exfoliate more often than those with very dry or sensitive skin.

Product Recommendations for Every Skin Type

Our gentle skin care line features a range of chemical and physical exfoliators suited for all skin types:

Adjusting Your Routine with Your Period

Your skin's needs can vary with hormonal fluctuations throughout your menstrual cycle. Many find their skin is more sensitive and easily irritated in the luteal phase before menstruation.[6] You may need to dial back exfoliation and use gentler products during this time to avoid irritation and acne breakouts. Conversely, your skin may handle more intensive exfoliating treatments, like a daily exfoliating cleanser, better right after your period ends.

Explore Rael's synced skin care collection to easily adjust your routine for smoother, healthier skin all cycle long.


[1] Decker A, Graber EM. Over-the-counter Acne Treatment: A Practical Guide for Patients. Am Fam Physician. 2014;89(9):675-680. Accessed on May 30, 2024.

[2] Mukhopadhyay P. Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disorders. Indian J Dermatol. 2011;56(1):2-6. Accessed on May 30, 2024.

[3] McMillan K. The skin renewal cycle. Dermatol Nurs. 2008;20(5):377-380. Accessed on May 30, 2024.

[4] Al-Niaimi F, Chiang NYZ. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(7):14-17. Accessed on May 30, 2024.

[5] Lukic M, Pantelic I, Ilic T, Slepcevic V, Gajic M, Savic S. An update on the role of exfoliation in the treatment of inflammatory acne: a review. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2019;21(5):246-251. Accessed on May 30, 2024.

[6] Rahmani-Nezhad S, Safavi SM, Poormahdi-Boro R. The relationship between phases of menstrual cycle and acne severity. J Dermatol Treat. 2020;31(3):277-281. Accessed on May 30, 2024.

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