How to Exfoliate for Clear, Glowing Skin

During the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, our skin is often put to the test against the elements. Sun exposure, dirt and debris and excess oil production can all contribute to the build-up of clogged pores and dead skin cells. Especially during the summer months, whose fiery Pitta nature makes us more susceptible to overheating, sweating, oiliness and breakouts, our skin can begin to feel heavy, congested and dull. 

That’s where exfoliation comes in. A process that involves removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, exfoliation is a simple, yet effective way to rejuvenate the skin, leaving it looking brighter, clearer and more even. Regular exfoliation also prevents the accumulation of bacteria, excess oil and clogged pores that can lead to dreaded breakouts. 

However, when we over-exfoliate or use exfoliators with irritating ingredients, we can unintentionally damage our skin, leaving it even more susceptible to inflammation. Especially for those with sensitive, oily, acne-prone skin, harsh exfoliation can worsen pre-existing imbalances.

That’s why it’s important to exfoliate the right way in order to reap the powerful benefits of this self-care technique. Here is a breakdown of the benefits of exfoliation and tips for exfoliating properly to achieve glowing, silky-smooth skin. 

Benefits of exfoliation

It unclogs pores and prevents acne

When dead skin cells accumulate, they clog the pores on the surface of the skin, making it easy for excess oil to build up and for breakouts to occur. When you exfoliate, you slough off these dead skin cells, enabling the skin to more effectively regulate its oil production. It also removes dirt and debris from the skin, preventing those external elements from contributing to breakouts.

It boosts circulation

Like self-massage, using a Kansa wand, and other practices that are detoxifying for the skin, exfoliation boosts circulation, which in turn results in radiant, glowing skin. In addition, exfoliation can also promote lymphatic drainage, which works to expel toxins from the body.

It combats hyperpigmentation and sun spots

The lingering effects of acne scars, hyperpigmentation and sun spots can feel discouraging when we don’t know how to effectively combat them. Fortunately, exfoliation is an extremely powerful tool for evening out skin tone. As research has shown, the removal of dead skin cells stimulates cell turnover, which gradually combats unevenness and smooths out the skin. 

It reduces wrinkles and fine lines

In addition to its circulation-boosting and detoxifying benefits, regular exfoliation also promotes collagen production, which not only boosts the skin’s radiance, but also combats fine lines and wrinkles. As dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, tells Byrdie, exfoliation “"helps stimulate collagen synthesis to improve the skin's texture, integrity, and keep the skin looking plump, tight, and young.” When you exfoliate, the skin looks more taut and youthful, making it an excellent practice for anti-aging. 

It increases the effectiveness of other skincare products

When dead skin cells accumulate and pores become blocked, this creates a blockage that prevents serums, moisturizers and other skincare products from penetrating the skin—thus making them less effective. By exfoliating, you clear up your pores and stimulate the production of fresh skin cells, making the skin much more susceptible to the benefits of other products.

How to Exfoliate Properly for Soft, Radiant Skin

Don’t over-exfoliate!

While getting rid of dead skin cells and promoting cell turnover is usually a good thing, there is such a thing as too much exfoliation. If you exfoliate too often, or use an exfoliator that is too harsh for your skin, you can inadvertently strip the skin of its natural oils, which then leads to the overproduction of excess oil, inflammation and redness. Especially for those new to exfoliation, it’s best to exfoliate 2-3 times a week. In addition, pay attention to how your skin reacts—if you’re using a product that is too harsh, swap your exfoliator out for a more gentle formula. 

Choose natural ingredients

If you have sensitive skin or are unsure of how your skin will react to unknown chemicals, try exfoliating with natural ingredients that are just as potent. In Ayurveda, ingredients like honey, lemon juice, yogurt and oats are all beloved exfoliators. Our UMA Ultimate Brightening Rose Powder Cleanser utilizes powdered rose, chamomile, oats and walnuts in a gentle, yet effective organic formula that exfoliates, hydrates and brightens the skin. 


Use a soft, fresh washcloth

In addition to using an exfoliator with soothing ingredients, it’s also important to use a fresh, clean washcloth to dry off your face. You’ve just done the beneficial work of clearing the skin of bacteria—why introduce new toxins with an unclean cloth? If you can, try to use a new washcloth every time you exfoliate.

Moisturize after exfoliation

After you’ve boosted your circulation and cleansed the skin of impurities, it’s time to lock in and enhance these benefits by applying a moisturizer. Doing so can help the skin maintain its natural softness and radiance. 

Try dry brushing

When we think of exfoliation, we might think only about exfoliating the skin on our faces. But the rest of the body benefits from the detoxifying, circulation-boosting effects of exfoliation, too! One simple, effortless way to exfoliate the body is by using a dry brush. Dry brushing is a practice that involves running a brush against your skin in firm strokes. Its benefits include boosted circulation, the removal of dead skin cells, stimulating the lymphatic system and even reducing the appearance of cellulite. It’s a great ritual to include before you bathe or shower, as it detoxifies and primes the skin for further cleansing. 

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