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How to exfoliate

The best way to scrub...

How to exfoliate
06 January 2012

Q: This might sound like a really stupid question, but how do you exfoliate 'properly'?


A: Our expert Ahmed Zambarakji answers your questions below:

Not a stupid question by any means, mate. The goal of exfoliation is to get rid of dead skin cells, dislodge any gunk festering away in your pores and even release any trapped or / ingrown hairs. It’s a lot like sanding down a plank of wood, as - when done properly - you’ll reveal a fresh layer of even-toned skin.

There are two exfoliation methods available to you: chemical and mechanical. You’re probably more familiar with the latter method as most men’s exfoliators come in the form of a face scrub that contains tiny granules that are designed to literally buff away debris. Most of the time these face scrubs foam up and so should be used with lukewarm water.

Formulas with a denser consistency can be used directly on damp skin, to give you a more aggressive scrub – this is an ideal as a pre-shave measure for guys with really thick beards. I like to use a fairly grainy exfoliator during or after a hot shower when my pores are open and my beard is soft. I go about the job with a light circular motion, paying careful attention not to overdo it and cause my skin any discomfort or irritation. You really don’t need to put that much elbow grease into it.

Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand typically use ingredients like AHAs (alpha hydroxyl acids), salicylic acid or glycolic acid, all of which are designed to loosen the ‘glue’ that holds dead skin to your face. This method can be less aggressive than mechanical scrubbing and – in spite of the hardcore-sounding ingredients – can be fairly gentle in the right concentration.

Chemical exfoliants are often found in overnight products and in many corrective (often ‘brightening’) skincare products. Most of them don’t require any kind of special technique to apply either – just slap the stuff on as you would a moisturiser or lotion.

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(Image: Getty)