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How To Exfoliate Your Skin and How a Dermatologist Helps

When you exfoliate, you’re removing a layer of dead skin from your epidermis, the outermost layer of skin. While your skin exfoliates naturally by shedding .03 to .09 grams of dead skin every hour, to get the radiant skin you dream about, it could use a little help.

Let’s talk about how you can exfoliate at home and how a dermatologist takes the process to the next level.

How to Exfoliate Your Skin at Home in Four Steps

1. Determine Your Skin Type

Your skin type will determine how and how often you should exfoliate. There are five basic skin type categories:

  • Normal
  • Dry
  • Oily
  • Sensitive
  • Combination

People with dry or sensitive skin should exfoliate no more than twice per week. If you have oily skin, aim for closer to three times per week. People with a combination of these traits (relatively blemish-free skin with problem areas such as an oily t-zone, for example) may benefit from exfoliating different areas at different times.

2. Choose the Right Tools and Products

There are two general categories of exfoliation tools and products: mechanical and chemical.

Mechanical exfoliation tools include textured scrubbing solutions, sponges, washcloths, and brushes. People with sensitive skin may benefit from gentle exfoliation with one of these products.

Chemical exfoliation products include anything that breaks down dead skin cells on a molecular level. These can be great solutions for people with oily or acne-prone skin. For example, many chemical exfoliation tools contain salicylic acid, an oil-soluble cleanser that penetrates excess oil.

Consult a dermatologist if you’re concerned how a product may affect your skin. While exfoliation is an integral part of any skincare routine, the wrong product used too often may make your dead skin problem worse.

3. Gently Scrub

No matter your skin type, you should start by exfoliating gently. Scrub the affected area in a circular motion for about 30 seconds.

4. Moisturize

Even if you exfoliate gently, the process can strip moisture from your skin along with dead skin cells. Keep it radiant by putting that moisture back in, even if you have typically oily skin.

Exfoliation Services Offered by a Dermatologist

If at-home exfoliation isn’t getting the results you want, talk to your dermatologist about one of these professionally-administered techniques.


A skincare professional uses a sterile surgical blade to remove two to three weeks-worth of dead skin. A form of mechanical exfoliation, dermaplaning can also remove peach fuzz, smooth acne scars, and even out skin tone.

Chemical Peels

If your skin has been left dry and red from frequent breakouts, chemical peels can be longer-lasting additions to your exfoliation arsenal. For people with combination-type skin, a chemical peel may leave a more even appearance.


Microdermabrasion uses a minimally-abrasive instrument to scrub off the thick, uneven outermost layer of skin. If you’re starting a new exfoliation routine, this could be a great way to get started.

Professional Exfoliation in New York City

Whether you’re intrigued by the long-lasting results of professional exfoliation or want guidance when starting a new exfoliation routine, Vanguard Dermatology of New York City can help. Make a skincare appointment at one of our four offices for clearer pores, more glowing skin, and newfound confidence.

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