You must have heard the word several times, ‘exfoliation.’ It sounds like a trending term that everyone is raving about. Exfoliation makes the skin radiant, healthy and makes it have better texture. The human skin undergoes a continuous process of cell growth and death. Exfoliation is a process that is useful to maintain vitality and protect the body from unwanted organisms.

Exfoliation is a beauty treatment which removes dead skin cells on the outermost layer of the skin. These dead cells are found in the epidermis. These cells accumulate together on the skin forming a dull layer of dead, dry cells. The body has a natural, complex process of getting rid of these cells known as desquamation. Young cells are better at desquamation, and as we age, the process becomes slower.

The body’s ability to shed dead skin cells becomes less efficient as we age. Without proper care and treatment, many skin problems can arise. There are many reasons why your skin needs exfoliation, and this guide will intimate you on the benefits of exfoliation.

Types of exfoliation

There are two main ways to exfoliate to achieve the desired results. They are:

  • Mechanical Exfoliation 
  • Chemical Exfoliation 

1. Mechanical exfoliation: This involves the use of abrasion to physically remove the outermost layer of skin on the body. Facial scrubs which can be applied with your fingers, sugar crystals and salt crystals are all used in exfoliation. Abrasives tools or materials such as scrubbing disks, brushes or loofahs can be used for exfoliation. Abrasive tools may cause a little discomfort on the skin.

2. Chemical exfoliation: This method does involve any physical activity like scrubbing. It involves the use of skin care products that contain compounds that dissolve dead skin cells. Care products with salicylic acid, alpha and beta hydroxyl acids and other enzymes are used to exfoliate dead cells chemically. 

Chemical exfoliation is gentler and has deeper penetration when compared to mechanical exfoliation. It is advisable not to exfoliate the lips due to the thin layer of skin on it. If you feel you need to exfoliate your lips, the best way to exfoliate is mechanical.  Adequate care should be taken when exfoliating the lips.

Why you need to exfoliate

There are many reasons why you need to exfoliate. They include:

1. To prevent premature skin aging

As we grow older, we age, and our skin begins to lose its elasticity and vitality. Factors including exposure to the sun, lack of exercise, diet and even genetic factors play significant roles in how quickly your skin will age. Your body’s ability to shed old skin is greatly reduced as you age. This leads to an accumulation of old and dead skin cells. This undesirable process affects everyone in different ways and at different extents.

There are many benefits of exfoliation, and an ability to prevent premature skin aging is one of them. Premature skin aging can lead to a plethora of skin problems which include: 

  • Thinning of the skin which leads to fragile skin. 
  • Easily bruised skin. 
  • Increased skin transparency. 
  • An increase in the likelihood to produce skin lesions

Premature aging in young adults leads to a wrinkled and saggy face. Wrinkles and skin sagginess should be combated before they occur. Waiting for them to show up before treatment would be like fighting a lost battle.

2. Exfoliation reduces hyperpigmentation

A good reason why you need to exfoliate your skin is to reduce the effect of hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition where patches of skin get darker. This condition is caused by an increase in melanin production which causes dark spots and imperfections such as sunspots. Heat and overexposure to the sun are some of the reasons hyperpigmentation occurs especially during the summer.

A benefit of exfoliation is that it breakdowns hyperpigmented skin patches which leads to a more uniform skin tone. Chemical exfoliation is suitable for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. When exfoliation is combined with a lightening agent such as vitamin C, the process is accelerated. 

Prolonged physical abrasion can irritate and increase pigmentation. It is important not to over exfoliate when treating hyperpigmentation. A medical aesthetician should also be consulted before any drastic moves are made. 

3. Exfoliation reduces pore sizes.

Skin pores are tiny holes present all over your skin except for the hands and feet. The purpose of skin pores are to lubricate the skin by releasing a natural oil called sebum. Skin pores also release sweat. Generally, having large pores on your skin is not a reason for concern.
However, large skin pores are not aesthetically pleasing. This a reason why you need to exfoliate your skin. 

Dead cells, dirt and other materials that accumulate in the pores make them clogged by sticking to the oil produced in them. These accumulations make clogged pores appear larger. Some persistent problems require simple solutions which may go unnoticed. 

Clogged pores can lead to breakouts of acne and blackheads. Some adults have acne even after adolescence. A major reason for this is clogged pores. A sure benefit of exfoliation is the removal of the dead skin cells in the pores. Exfoliation makes the pores healthier and appear smaller in size.

4. Exfoliation gives you a more radiant skin

Accumulation of dead cells on the skin make the skin look dull and not vibrant. Skin radiance can be improved by a healthy diet and the right conditions. Also, dead skin cells have a dull appearance and reduce the amount of light that bounces off the skin. The skin reflects more light when the outermost layer of dead, dry cells are gone. 

This effect gives the skin a more radiant glow. Exfoliation provides the skin with a uniform layer of brilliant healthy skin cells which in turn gives the skin more appeal. 

5. Exfoliation leads to better skin absorption

The skin is a semi-permeable membrane. This means it selectively absorbs substances for growth and nourishment. When cells die, they lose moisture and become dry and flaky. Dead cells on the skin form an unwanted layer which blocks proper skin absorption. The effect can be imagined like an onion surrounded by old layers of dry skin. 

They retard the rate at which materials including humectants such as water and nutrients are taken into the skin. This may affect the performance of your skin care products and even medical ointments and creams. 

By exfoliating, you destroy this unwanted defense, leaving your skin healthy and well moisturized. Of course, you also reap other benefits of exfoliating. Exfoliation gives better efficiency to your other skin care products. Better skin absorption of moisture slows the aging process, prevents skin dryness and soothes itchy skin.

6. Exfoliation relieves itchy skin and eczema

Itching gives the human body the sensation to scratch. Severe itching can cause serious discomfort for people, keeping them awake at night and requiring medication to sleep well. There are several causes of itchiness including allergic reactions, toxins such as poison ivy, STDs and dry, flaky skin. 

Itchy skin can also result from the accumulation of dead skin cells. Natural oil levels are low in dry skin causing irritation and the uncomfortable sensation of itchiness.  The best way to exfoliate dry skin is by gentle scrubbing.

There is a general misconception that exfoliation is not a suitable treatment for eczema. On the contrary, exfoliation, when done right is critical for the treatment of eczema. The exfoliation process removes the dry, dead cells and improves the penetration of medically prescribed ointments for eczema. The best way to exfoliate for eczema is to use a gentle scrubbing tool such as a soft brush before applying medication.  Moisturizing during the treatment of eczema for better results is important.

7. Improved cell turnover

A reason why you need to exfoliate your skin is to improve cell turnover also known as cell renewal factor. 

Naturally, the skin replaces itself with a new layer every 28 days. When age kicks in, the process becomes slower. This means that your body keeps old layers of skin for longer periods. This gradual process reduces your skin’s health.

Children and younger people have a higher turnover rate than older people. As you age, the process becomes less efficient, and it comes with some downsides. Less efficient cell turnover is why your skin doesn’t look as good as when you were younger. 

If you suffer from acne, you mostly have a less efficient cell turnover rate. You may also have a higher amount of dead skin cells which clog pores and leads to acne. There is no need for alarm. Improving your cell turnover rate and getting rid of those obnoxious pimples is a reason why you need to exfoliate your skin.

The skin has reduced efficiency in nutrient absorption and vitamin E synthesis. Improved cell turnover in conjunction with healthier pores adds more elasticity to the skin and gives it a better texture.

8. Exfoliation improves skin elasticity and collagen levels

Ending up with loose, saggy skin is something nobody wants. This is an important reason why you need to exfoliate your skin.

The skin contains proteins which help it maintain healthy conditions. Some of these proteins are collagen and elastin. Collagen is responsible for holding individual skin cells together and gives the skin structural strength. Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human skin cell. Together with elastin, it helps give your skin shape, elasticity and adds strength to the skin. 

Collagen provides strength within the fibrous molecules of cells. Collagen also helps heal wounds and stimulates tissue growth. Elastin, on the other hand, is found in connective tissues in the body. Elastin helps the skin to return to its initial position when stretched or pulled. 

Adequate levels of collagen and elastin in your skin gives it a youthful appearance. It has already been discussed that the benefit of exfoliation is healthy skin cells. Younger, healthier skin cells produce more of these vital compounds due to improved cell turnover.

9. Exfoliation increases circulation

Improved blood circulation and improved lymphatic drainage are some of the reasons why you need to exfoliate. Some techniques in exfoliation such as dry brushing improve the natural lymph flow in the body. 

This improved flow helps to detoxify the body of toxins and improves the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the skin to give it a healthier younger look. A benefit of this method is the reduction of the appearance of cellulite. Skin with cellulite will have a dimpled or bumpy appearance. This condition is prevalent in about 80% – 90% of females. 

10. Increased aesthetic appeal.

Exfoliation is not exclusive only to actors, models and other celebrities as there are countless benefits for you too.  Looking good improves confidence. Proper body care can make you feel better about yourself, and this can improve your mental health. A better mental state reduces stress levels. Reduced stress levels improve your heart health and prolong lifespan. Reduced stress levels also reduce your chances of developing depressive disorders. It is safe to say that it is good to look good and this is a great reason why you need to exfoliate your skin.

Celebrities seem to have perfect skin and flawless makeup. They are all reaping the benefits of exfoliation. Taking proper care of your skin will make your skin glow with a lustrous wonder. Exfoliation improves the cohesion of makeup to the skin by removing dead cells and improving the binding of makeup. The best way to exfoliate before makeup is to use a mild scrub and the gentle action of your wet fingers on your skin.

Exfoliation also improves skin tanning. Sloughing off dead skin cells gives a more uniform tan look during those summer months which you enjoy so much. It is vital to keep your skin adequately protected during the summer months and also avoid prolonged exposure. Sunscreen and moisturizers should also be used during those hot periods.

Exfoliation for men

For men, exfoliating improves the shaving experience. Exfoliation promotes smoother skin and reduces the formation of dreaded ingrown hairs. Not surprisingly, exfoliation reduces the amount of ingrown hair. When hair has been removed, a new one grows in its place. When the hair cannot break through the pore because of blockages, it is known as an ingrown hair. 

Skin pores which have been clogged by dead cells and dirt can impede the normal growth of hair. Ingrown hair can lead to red spots and blemishes. Eliminating the effects of ingrown hair is a reason why you need to exfoliate your skin.

Exfoliating reduces the occurrences of blemishes and spots on your skin, combats premature aging, improves skin health and much more. Exfoliation sounds like the solution to all minor skin problems you might be facing. You may even be tempted to consider it as a daily routine. However, before you do, there are some necessary things you should consider.

Factors to consider

Anything done in excess is detrimental to your health. Although periodic exfoliation is an essential routine, care must be taken not to overdo it. Generally, exfoliation should not be done more than twice a week to prevent skin irritation and other harmful consequences.

Over-exfoliating can lead to dry hard skin. Prolonged cycles of exfoliation reduce the natural oil produced in the skin. Sebum produced in the pores of the skin lubricates it and gives it its luster. It also protects your skin from bacterial and fungal infections. It is recommended that you moisturize your skin after exfoliating. 

Over-exfoliating can lead to skin sensitivity. When too many layers of the skin are exfoliated, the resulting layer will be weak and sensitive. This may increase its vulnerability to infection and breakouts of acne. This can lead to skin inflammations such as dermatitis and rosacea. Oversensitive skin may increase the likelihood of damages caused by UV rays from the sun and other sources of heat.

People have different skin types. Male skin is slightly different from female skin while some people have more sensitive skin than others. When purchasing a scrub or other exfoliants, it is better to go through the ingredients to check for harmful substances. These are substances which may not be suitable for your skin type. It is important to have proper knowledge of chemical substances which can irritate your skin.

Chemical substances in some exfoliants such as alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA) can increase sensitivity to the sun. If you are affected by this, you should reduce the number of chemical exfoliants used during summer months.
Care should be taken while exfoliating the scalp. When using scrubs, you should not scrub too hard or apply too much pressure while using scrubbing tools.


The body has amazing ways of taking care of itself. The skin sheds itself to renew and maintain a healthy layer of younger and more efficient skin cells. Unfortunately, your skin cannot always keep the same level of efficiency. Aging, diet and natural environmental conditions affect your skin health. One of the solutions to this quagmire is exfoliation. Exfoliation is a beneficial process that keeps the skin healthy and vibrant. Exfoliate your skin today!