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Major Mistakes You’re Making When Exfoliating Your Face & What to do Differently

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

Skincare is subjective. What may work for you, might be terrible for the next. But, one thing that’s for sure, is that exfoliation is a slippery slope for everyone. We’ve all been there; exfoliated every day and completed destroyed our moisture barriers, used the wrong exfoliant and rubbed our skin raw, or maybe you’ve completely left exfoliation out of your routine altogether and watched the dead skin cells pile up to give you a super dull complexion. Whatever it may be, there is definitely a proper way to safely exfoliate your skin, and there will always be a plethora of things to try out, but with these tips, you’ll be one step closer to amazing skin not only now, but forever. 

You’re Using Harsh Manual Exfoliants

In the past few months, you may have heard the uproar surrounding Kylie Cosmetics’ Walnut Face Scrub. Estheticians around the world screamed in agony for all those pre-teen girls’ skin during the launch of this product. This is because harsh manual exfoliants like the walnut scrub and St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub, among others, cause tiny microtears in the skin. Sure, you may see that patch of dry skin on your cheek isn’t as flaky anymore, but the long term effects of these harsh exfoliants are detrimental to the health of your skin. You’ll see premature aging and increased redness of the skin with prolonged use, and, if the exfoliating elements are too rough, you can even be at risk for infection. If you’re going to use a face scrub to exfoliate, I recommend Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant. It’s so gentle that you can use it every day (which isn’t the case for most exfoliants!), and a little bit goes a long way. 

You’re Not Washing Your Facial Brush

Whether you’re using Clarisonic’s 3-in-1 cleansing brush or one you picked up from the dollar store, it’s imperative you’re cleaning your brush before and after every single use. Even though this is a great and gentle way to get that top layer of dead skin off of your face, you’re only creating other problems for yourself by leaving all that micro-gunk on there (i.e. acne, and lots of it). The best way to wash your facial brush is to first, thoroughly hand wash the bristles with an antibacterial soap. When I used this method of exfoliation, I loved Hibiclens Antimicrobial Cleanser to clean my brush. Many doctors use this for surgery prep, so I felt confident that all the germs in my brush were getting washed away. After that, soak your brush head in rubbing alcohol for just two minutes. Once that’s done, let it air dry! It’s that easy. Trust me, your skin will thank you later.

My biggest tip… Try out chemical exfoliation!

Now, I know that chemical exfoliants, which have active acids in them, sound super scary at first, but they’re actually really simple and safe to use. There’s a wide array of chemical exfoliants that you can use, depending on what you’re trying to treat. For example, salicylic acid is used to treat acne, lactic acid is for lightening dark spots, and glycolic acid is amazing for easing those fine lines and wrinkles. Those are only a few, but what these acids do is work underneath the skin. They don’t only slough off that top layer of dead skin upon application as manual exfoliants do. Instead, they continue to work hours after you apply them, and the condition of your skin will improve over time with prolonged use, giving you longer-lasting results, as well. To make these products even better, chemical exfoliants are amazing for sensitive skin types, being that there’s no harsh scrubbing involved with the application. My holy grail chemical exfoliant is The Ordinary’s Mandelic Acid. It’s so gentle, is the solution to many different skin problems, and great for those inexperienced with chemical exfoliation. The best part? It’s crazy cheap. 

There are so many different ways you can exfoliate your skin, and thousands of products out there to try out. In your journey and with whatever you use, though, make sure to treat your skin as kindly as possible, and always make sure your exfoliating products aren’t sloughing away your healthy skin at the same time as your dead skin. Be gentle, and always do your research before trying out any new products!

Her Campus CWU Writer Sophomore at Central Washington University Major in Broadcast Journalism I have a passion for makeup, travel, and all types of foods!