How Often Should I Exfoliate My Body?

Woman exfoliating arm and shoulder.
It's good to exfoliate your whole body, not just the face.
© Bolotnikov

Beautiful skin takes work. When you look in the mirror and see breakouts spotting your nose and cheeks, it's probably easy to remember the importance of exfoliating your face, but what about the rest of your body? You're covered from head to toe in skin, and that skin is constantly shedding dead skin cells -- at a rate of up to 50,000 per minute [source: Markey]. The problem is that sometimes those dead skin cells don't fall off -- they just build up and clog pores or make skin feel rough. That's why it's important to exfoliate your entire body instead of just your face.

Exfoliating your entire body can help prevent body acne in many places below your neck, such as the chest, back and arms. It also might help you avoid ingrown hairs by preventing dead skin cells from plugging up follicles where you've shaved or waxed. And it can help even out skin tone and keep your skin hydrated and soft.


As far as how often you should do it, most health experts agree that two or three times a week is plenty [source: Meppem and Noonan]. If your skin is very sensitive, you might prefer to do it less. Keep in mind that the purpose of exfoliating is to remove skin cells that are dead. You shouldn't have to scrub too hard or too often to make that happen. If you do, you're likely to take off healthy cells, too, which might leave your skin looking red and feeling sore. Rubbing the particles firmly but gently on your skin in circular motions should be enough to get the job done.

You can use an exfoliating scrub or just combine a regular body wash with a loofah or a washcloth. For an extra burst of energy, try using a salt scrub, which could help with blood flow to your skin and make you look and feel better [source: O'Neill]. Regardless of what you use to exfoliate, your skin might be better off for doing it. Just don't overdo it. A couple of times a week is plenty -- anything more might irritate your skin.

For even more information and helpful articles on how to exfoliate your body, read on to the next page.


Often Exfoliate FAQ

How often should you exfoliate skin?
Most health experts agree that exfoliating your body and face two or three times a week is enough. If you have sensitive skin, once or twice a week is sufficient.
Is it OK to exfoliate everyday?
Exfoliating every day can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause irritation. If you exfoliate daily, you're likely to take off healthy cells, too, which can leave skin looking red and feeling sore.
What does it mean to exfoliate?
Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin using a brush, scrub or simply a washcloth.
Is it good to exfoliate acne prone skin?
Yes. Dead skin cells that don't fall off can build up and clog pores or make skin feel rough, which isn't good for already acne-prone skin. Exfoliating a few times a week can deep clean pores and even out skin tone.
How often should you exfoliate your lips?
Some health experts say that you shouldn't exfoliate your lips at all. Others say it's OK to exfoliate once every week or two. Use a circular motion, and be gentle — no scrubbing, irritating, or breaking the skin. Always follow up with an ultra-moisturizing balm.
Is it better to exfoliate in the morning or at night?
If you wear foundation or concealer every day, then exfoliating in the evening a couple times a week after you've washed your makeup off is better, as this can remove any that you missed and deep clean your pores. It can also make your nighttime products work better, as they can penetrate your skin. If you wear makeup less frequently, but are using overnight goodies like glycolic acid or retinol products, the morning may be a better time to exfoliate, as you can brush off all of the dead skin cells that were loosened up as you slept.

Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Markey, Sean. "20 Things You Didn't Know About … Skin." Discover Magazine. Feb. 6, 2007. (Accessed Sept. 28, 2009)
  • Meppem, Victoria and Alex Noonan. "Buff Your Body." Marie Claire. Nov. 15, 2007. (Accessed Sept. 15, 2009)
  • O'Neill, Megan. "Radiate Energy." SELF. January 2009. (Accessed Sept. 15, 2009)