What's the Best Way to Exfoliate Skin?

Doctor Answers 5

Vigorous exfoliation is completely unnecessary. Using a...

Vigorous exfoliation is completely unnecessary. Using a gentle cleanser and a cotton washcloth is all you need for your skin. Exfoliation causes irritation and also drives bacteria and fungus into the skin to cause complications later.

Loofah sponges should be outlawed. They are a bacteria hotel and their guests are waiting to dive down into your pores every time you use them. Once again, I recommend cleansing with a gentle nondetergent cleanser such as Vanicream Cleansing Bar, which has no detergents, fragrances, or preservatives, and using a gentle cotton washcloth.

Minneapolis Dermatologic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

My preferred methods of exfoliation are light peels and...

My preferred methods of exfoliation are light peels and microdermabrasion. At-home exfoliation should be performed one to two times weekly, while a medical exfoliation should be performed monthly.

Exfoliation is a natural process that is normally performed by enzymes naturally found in the skin. Unfortunately, as we age our skin loses the hydration needed to activate these exfoliating enzymes. That explains why a five-year-old child doesn’t require exfoliators and moisturizers, but someone in their 30's does.

Jeannette Graf, MD
Manhattan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Glycolic acid lotions work well

For body exfoliation, there are many "fruit acid" lotions available over the counter.  Generally they contain glycolic or lactic acid.  The concentrations are stronger for the body, and more gentle for facial skin.  Any of the prescription retinoid creams (such as Retin A) will create some exfoliation as well.  You don't want to over-exfoliate and irritate the skin, so start slowly as work up as your skin tolerates it.

Lisa Benest, MD
Burbank Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Clarisonic for Skin Exfoliation

There are many good ways to exfoliate the skin.  A great start is the Clarisonic skin brush.  It has different skin brushes for different types of skin (Acne, Sensitive, Normal), and it allows you to adjust intensity for light or deep cleansing, and to avoid irritation.  Other than the clarisonic, a mild exfoliating scrub is a great way to go to get a refreshed and clean look to the skin.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Skin Type Determines Best Method

Exfoliation is good for the skin.  Your skin type will determine the best form of exfoliation.  In our office we use both light and medium depth chemical peels, microdermabrasion, home use of fruit acids such glycolic or salicylic acids.  At home mechanical exfoliation can be beneficial for many patients.  A microdermabrasion scrub once or twice a week can keep the skin look fresh and more alive 


Jay S. Gottlieb, DO
Fort Lauderdale Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.