Your skin's job is to protect you day and night from the elements of the outside world, and that means it can take a heavy beating from time to time. There's actually a lot that goes into keeping your skin healthy, and part of the process involves the constant regeneration of cells. You might not be aware of it, but your body produces new skin cells nonstop around the clock. It has to because an average adult can shed up to 50,000 dead skin cells every minute [source: Markey]. It's an important process, but sometimes cells don't slough off as well as they should, so they can end up clogging pores, which leads to breakouts. You can do your part to help facilitate the shedding of dead skin cells by exfoliating on a regular basis.
Exfoliation is a simple process that removes dead skin cells from the surface of your body. Most of the time when you exfoliate at home, you use some type of face wash that has tiny, sandlike particles in it. Gently rubbing those particles on your face helps scrape away dead skin cells and expose newer ones, leaving your skin looking and feeling healthier. Generally, you could exfoliate your face twice a week, but there are a few factors that could affect how often you should do it [source: Bruno]. If you have delicate or sensitive skin, twice a week might be too much and could cause some irritation. On the other hand, if you live in a warmer climate or your skin is naturally oily, you might have to exfoliate more than twice a week to accommodate a higher buildup of dead skin cells.
The thing to keep in mind is the goal of exfoliation. It should leave your skin feeling softer and looking healthier -- not red and irritated. If you over-exfoliate, you could end up doing more harm than good. For some people, exfoliating scrubs might just be too harsh. If that seems to be the case for you, try using a chemical exfoliator containing glycolic acid or salicylic acid [source: Health]. You'll probably need to use it only once a week. Also, avoid using an exfoliating tool or cleanser near your eyes, as this skin is far too sensitive and doesn't need exfoliation. Keep reading for even more information on the best ways to exfoliate your face.
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- Bruno, Karen. "Women's Skin Care for Your Face." WebMD. Aug. 10, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 28, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/women-face-skin-care
- Health. "Exfoliating 101: How to Let Fresh, Radiant Skin Shine Through." Feb. 20, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 14, 2009)http://living.health.com/2008/02/22/exfoliating-101/
- Markey, Sean. "20 Things You Didn't Know About … Skin." Discover Magazine. Feb. 6, 2007. (Accessed Sept. 28, 2009)http://discovermagazine.com/2007/feb/20-things-skin/