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How to Exfoliate Dry Skin

Updated on July 24, 2012

The Idea of Exfoliation

To exfoliate or not exfoliate, that is the question. Well actually, the question is what is exfoliation?

Exfoliation removes the outer surface of dry skin. Our body naturally sloughs off older skin cells, but as we age, we become less efficient at this.

You can tell if you need to exfoliate by taking a clear piece of scotch tape and putting it on your forehead. Rub gently and then remove it. Now look at the tape and see if there are any little pieces of skin left on the tape. If you see dry skin attached to the tape, you probably need to exfoliate your dry skin.

Good Looking Skin from Exfoliation

The natural process of getting rid of old skin cells is called desquamation. As the cells of our skin age, they travel up to the surface where they naturally get sloughed off. The process is not totally efficient, in that the cells can build up on the surface of our skin and cause our face to to dull. Exfoliation, when done properly causes no irritation and leaves your skin look polished, glowing, and refreshed.

Exfoliation helps your skin be healthier and have a glow about it.

Dry skin can cause a build up of skin cells that act as a barrier and causing oil to be trapped in the skin. Breakouts, blemishes, and acne can result. Exfoliation can help you remove the damaged skin tissue and encourage new, healthier skin cells to grow. Your skin will look more even toned and have less blackheads and small whiteheads. These occur from clogged pores on the skin, and may be especially seen on the forehead. Exfoliation unclogs your pores. Another benefit of exfoliation is reduced brown spots. Brown spots often come from aging, pregnancy, genetics, and hormonal changes. The pigmented cells may fade with exfoliation. In addition, skin lightening products will help speed up the fading process.

Skin Care Regimen

In the winter, dry skin is especially prominent. Exfoliation becomes an integral part of a skin care regimen to reduce the build up of dry skin cells. You will have softer, smoother skin, when you use a good moisturizer after you exfoliate. As you age, your skin ages, you become less efficient at sloughing off dead skin cells, and dry skin cells accumulate. Exfoliation helps do for yourself, what nature is not doing for your skin.

Exfoliation Tools

 Exfoliation can be good for your skin
Exfoliation can be good for your skin | Source

Two Types of Exfoliation Techniques

There are two types of exfoliation techniques. A chemical exfoliation dissolves the dry skin cells, when you apply it and leave it on for a period of time. Chemical or “acid” exfoliants have ingredients that include

Chemical exfoliants include products that contain AHAs and BHAs, Glycolic Acid, Hydroxy Acids such as Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Phytic Acid and also enzymes such as Pumpkin, Papaya, and Pineapple.

  • Lactic acid helps increase moisture and offers good barrier protection.
  • Salicylic Acid is good for acne and is also an anti-inflammatory.
  • Phytic Acid can help brighten up your skin and reduce pigmentation.

A physical or mechanical exfoliation technique uses facial brushes, facial scrubs, and sponges. It is thought that a combination of chemical and physical exfoliation brings about the greatest results.

Over Exfoliating - Be Careful

Be careful about too much of a good thing. Exfoliating too much, or too often can cause damage to your skin.
You will know you have over exfoliated if you skin feels irritated and turns bright red shortly after the exfoliation was done. If your skin starts to dry out from the chemical exfoliation, you are removing too much protective barrier skin.

In the summer, the effects of the ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage your skin. Sun damage causes dry skin that blocks the pores can be eased with exfoliation. The chemical exfoliants gives even results and provides necessary moisture to the skin. In addition, using hydrating gel masks, sprays and products that enhance moisture are important for your skin during the summer. And of course sun protection is essential.

Exfoliating in the Summer and the Winter

In the summer, the effects of the ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage your skin. Sun damage causes dry skin that blocks the pores can be eased with exfoliation. The chemical exfoliants gives even results and provides necessary moisture to the skin. In addition, using hydrating gel masks, sprays and products that enhance moisture are important for your skin during the summer. And of course sun protection is essential.

The benefits of exfoliatation allows the dead skin cells to be efficiently cleared away and then when you moisturize you skin, it will penetrate deeper into your skin.

In the winter, some exfoliants can irritate your skin, so test a small, unnoticeble patch of skin to be sure it doesn’t cause redness. If your skin is very dry or irritated, let it heal before you do any exfoliation treatment.
You can go to a spa for a a facial and get let a professional exfoliate your skin, or you can do it yourself.

Use Chemical Exfoliants at Night

How to Exfoliate Dry Skin -

Use a gentle chemical exfoliation to dissovle the cells that need to be removed. Over the counter retinol or a prescription retinoid used before bedtime is another option. Be aware that these products may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so it is best to only use these products at night.

Retinoids helps unclog pores, increase skin cell renewal, smooth the skin, reduce fine lines, and boost collagen in the skin. In 4-12 weeks, your skin will probably be clearer, brighter, and softer. Prescription retinoids are more effective than over the counter, known as retinol, the effects can still be seen, it may just take longer, and is less potent. You can see if your health insurance will cover prescription retinoids. It is recommended to apply it at night due to the ingredients being sensitive to the sun. Retinoids can cause your skin to be redder, more dry, and increase flaking, so it is advisable to work it into your skin care routine slowly. Keep increasing the amount, as long as your skin is not showing any signs of irritation or redness.

The best way to use retinoids:

  • wash your face and wait 15 minutes before applying the retinoids
  • you only need a pea size amount to cover your whole face
  • wait a few minutes and apply a moisturizer to your face
  • Do not use any retinoid product if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • don't use retinoids at the same time you use products containing benzoyl peroxide or AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) as they may counteract the effect of the retinoids by deactivating them.
  • do not use retinoids for several days before waxing to avoid skin irritnation
  • if you find you can't use retinoid because your skin is too sensitive, stick with physical exfoliation
  • always be conscientious about using sunscreen.

Summertime is a good time to start any exfoliation treatment if you have dry skin. The humidity in the air during the summer season makes your skin less likely to dry out more.

You can over exfoliate, so be careful and be knowledgeable. Exfoliating too often can do harm to your skin. With each exfoliation, you skin becomes more vulnerable to the sun.

It is recommended to only exfoliate once a week for dry skin. Every 6 weeks we get new skin.

Look Younger than Your Years

The benefits of exfoliating is to achieve smoother, softer, silkier skin. Moisturizers will pentrate better, and your skin will look better.

Starting in our 30’s our skin cells begin to renew at a slower rate than when we were younger. With the right knowledge, you can help mother nature along. Get glowing, healthier skin and look younger than your years with proper skin care.


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    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi BP, vitamin C is wonderful for so many things. Using a wash cloth is a great wayn to exfoliate, just be careful not to do it too often for the sake of your skin. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      Great advice. I wash my face with a vitamin C lotion and if I need to exfoliate I use a washcloth.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Tom, LOL, I would not have expected you to exfoliate, but I am glad you enjoyed the info. Next time you are looking to make conversation with a woman, you might have something to talk about. Thanks for the up votes and for sharing, you are the best!!!!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi my friend, this is all great information in this well written hub, all though i have never had it done I'm sure it is great for the skin .

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Heather, Another thing we have in common. I have sensitive skin too. I can't use any soap on my face, and in the shower I pretty much use dove, or I get itchy. I hope to do more articles on the different skin types. so if you have any questions or you are curious about something, I will be glad to include that info in a hub. Thanks again for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Heather63 5 years ago

      I went for a facial recently (my first one) and was told that I have nice but sensitive skin. I'm looking forward to checking out your article about natural skin care remedies!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Heather, I am glad you liked this hub. I also am blessed to have nice skin. I love going to spas for beauty treatments and I think our skin is a fascinating aspect to learn more about. Thanks for your kind comments.

    • Heather63 profile image

      Heather Adams 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thanks for the article. I like how you used videos effectively to show techniques. I've been lucky to naturally have pretty good skin, but am "of that age" now where I need to really start treating my skin better.This is a good guide to exfoliating!