Does exfoliating cause acne?

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Does Exfoliating Cause Acne

We would all love skin that radiates and glows, bringing out the best skin for that bikini outfit or that evening gown. However, your skin may have areas that make your skin look dull and make you feel uncomfortable. In most cases, feeling self conscious about ourselves can lead to lower self-esteem and you may even decide not to go out that evening altogether!

Determined to beat acne and poor looking skin, you think about exfoliating but have heard that it may even be the cause of acne…

Thankfully this is not the case! But let’s start with the basics and build our understanding of the skin and its function.

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead and keratinized cells on the surface of your skin which will lead to your skin looking visibly younger and healthier.

The dermis (lower layer of your skin) is constantly generating new cells and sending these cells to the epidermis (upper layer) of your skin.

As these new cells traverse from the lower part of the skin to the top layer, they age; gradually dying and filling up with keratin through their journey. The keratinized cells are essential for the protective quality of our skin. However, keratinized cells are constantly sloughing off naturally to make way for newer and fresher cells.

As newer cells come closer to the epidermis, they can unevenly pile to give your skin an uneven and dull appearance. These keratinized cells can be scrubbed off by exfoliation to reveal newer and younger looking skin.

One of the primary benefits of exfoliation is that it unveils younger, fresher skin but it also opens up your skin to breathe better and for oils (sebum) to the released fully. This allows follicles and pores to be clogged less frequently (with dead skin cells and sebum), which in turn minimizes acne appearance.

Sadly, exfoliation is a double edged sword and can be easily overdone at home especially with cheap equipment and overzealous scrubbing. In some cases, not paying attention can lead to uneven skin radiance, localized inflammation, and irritation which can yield a worse look than before. A notable example of this is, when exfoliating your face while neglecting to exfoliate the rest of your body!

Does exfoliating cause acne?

By now you must be wondering, if you exfoliate, will your skin be more prone to acne?

In a word, No! Acne is caused by clogged pores and follicles. Skin exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the surface of your skin within those pores and follicles.

If you already have acne prone skin, without a daily exfoliation routine, acne may have a higher chance of appearing on your skin. Keratinized cells commonly trap toxins from your body and the environment. Over time, these toxins can seep back into the skin, clogging pores and leading to acne, blackheads, and whiteheads leading to a vicious cycle.

How many times should I exfoliate?

Now that we have established that exfoliation in moderation is good for your skin, what is the ideal frequency to exfoliate?

To avoid breakouts and acne, you should often gently exfoliate your skin 3-4 times a week to reveal your younger healthier skin. This is, however, dependant on your skin type and how it reacts to exfoliation. We have a more detailed post on technique and what brushes you should ideally use. If you have back or body acne check out our back scrubber post.

Some individuals can get away with exfoliating once a day if they have facial and body acne, but you need to know how your body reacts to this stimulus.

Be on the lookout for over exfoliation as it easy to get carried away. Common signs of over-exfoliation include dry skin, inflammation, and localized irritation.

To combat this make sure to moisturize with your favorite moisturizer or choose one from our favorites moisturizers for acne prone skin here.

Final Thoughts

Healthy, vibrant skin adds to boosting your self-esteem and radiance. To achieve skin that makes you look healthy, vibrant and young, you should incorporate and total body exfoliation routine into your skin care regimen.

Exfoliating dead skin cells off your body will not only make your skin look younger, it will allow for much better blood flow and allow your skin to more readily receive acne fighting moisturizers, sprays and cleansers.


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