How Should I Exfoliate Acne-Prone Skin?

Exfoliation can work wonders to combat acne, but overdoing it can irritate your complexion. Here's how to strike the perfect balance.

Despite commercials and common wisdom that suggest otherwise, acne can happen to anyone—not just teenagers. Whether you've struggled with acne your whole life or breakouts are a new adventure, finding the right recipe to eliminate pimples and blackheads is no small feat.

Regular exfoliation deserves a place in everyone's beauty routine but is especially important if you have oily or acne-prone skin. Here's how to master the fine art of sloughing your skin into smoothness.


How Should I Exfoliate Acne-Prone Skin?

Gentle Daily Exfoliation

If your skin is oily and not prone to sensitivity-induced problems such as rashes and redness, gentle daily exfoliation can help you combat breakouts while keeping your skin smooth and clear. But don't use harsh exfoliants.

Instead, turn your daily face wash into a mild scrub by using a cleansing brush each night. The Clarisonic line features brushes for every skin type, offering gentle daily exfoliation that removes dead skin, makeup, and oil from your pores.


How Should I Exfoliate Acne-Prone Skin?


Weekly Deep Exfoliators

Supplement your daily exfoliation routine by giving your skin a good deep cleansing once or twice per week. Deep exfoliators can help combat acne's ultimate cause: sebum.

Deep exfoliating treatments also slough off dead skin cells, preventing sebum from getting trapped in your pores. And if you crave a smooth complexion, you'll love the velvety-smooth texture you get with a deep exfoliator.

You have two basic options and will likely find that you prefer one type of exfoliant over the other. There's no right answer, so let your skin's appearance and behaviour guide you.

Mechanical exfoliators feature scrubbing ingredients such as microbeads or ground coconut husk to loosen and lift away flakes. These particles do the work for you, so there's no need to press with your hands while you exfoliate. ASAP Daily Exfoliating Facial Scrub is a standout.

Chemical exfoliators use glycolic, salicylic, or other acids to dissolve dirt and oil while removing dead skin cells. These products can burn mucous membranes if you're not careful, but many people find that chemical exfoliants are generally less irritating to the skin than grainy scrubs. Try Skinstitut Glycolic Scrub.

Some manufacturers now offer combination products that blend scrubbing ingredients with chemical exfoliants. These typically offer the deepest clean but can also irritate your skin. Do a patch test first, and then limit your use to once per week.

Skincare When You Exfoliate

The way you exfoliate your acne-prone skin can affect your skin's behaviour. To get the most from your cleansing routine without triggering a breakout:

  • Don't overdo scrubbing. You can irritate your skin and make it more vulnerable to bacteria.
  • Continue moisturising, no matter how oily your skin is. Dehydration can actually worsen breakouts by triggering an overproduction of sebum and trapping bacteria in your skin.
  • Always use clean hands, flannel, or brush when exfoliating. Otherwise, you'll undermine your cleansing efforts.


How Should I Exfoliate Acne-Prone Skin?