Practicing proper skin care is essential for healthy, glowing skin.
However, with so many different products and steps, it’s easy for a beauty routine to feel overwhelming.
One common question in skincare is whether you should cleanse your skin before, after, or even instead of using an exfoliant.
To help answer the question, we asked skincare expert and dermatologist Ally Wheeler.
Do you cleanse or exfoliate first?
You should cleanse first and then follow up with an exfoliant.
Dermatologist Ally Wheeler says, “cleansing is the first thing you should do as it removes all of your makeup and daily dirt and other impurities.
Next, exfoliate with a physical or chemical exfoliant. Physical exfoliants often come in the form of a scrub, whereas chemical exfoliants often contain salicylic acid.
Doing this helps remove dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, leaving you with a glowing complexion.”
What’s the benefit?
1. Cleansing helps clean your skin
Using a cleanser first means that you’re removing all your makeup and excess dirt and oil before you exfoliate.
Makeup, dirt, and sebum (the oil our skin naturally produces) can clog your pores, so you want to make sure they don’t sit on the surface of your skin any longer than necessary.
Removing them first means your exfoliant will be able to penetrate deeper into the skin and cleanse it more thoroughly.
2. Exfoliating helps breakdown dead skin cells
Exfoliants are great for helping to remove dead skin cells on the surface of your face.
Not only does this give you a more even skin tone, but it also keeps your complexion glowing and helps other products to penetrate deeper into the skin.
If you were to use an exfoliant first before you cleanse, you’d likely find that you don’t get all the dirt and makeup off your skin, meaning your exfoliant wouldn’t be able to work as well.
3. Gives you a more effective treatment
Some exfoliants work best when left on your skin for a period of time before you rinse them off.
An example of this is some chemical exfoliators that contain salicylic acid.
These exfoliants help to break down the bonds between cells, encouraging them to shed naturally.
If you were to use a cleanser after you exfoliate, it would mean your exfoliant would be removed before it had the chance to work fully.
How often should I wash my face?
You should wash your face morning and night, according to Dermatologist Ally Wheeler.
“I recommend washing your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser, once in the morning and once before you go to bed at night.
This will help to prevent acne-causing bacteria from forming.
By cleansing twice a day, you are also removing all makeup and impurities that have built up during the day.”
She also adds, “many people think that they can skip washing their face at night, but this is not recommended.
Think about how long you’re asleep. That’s a very long time for makeup, oil, and dirt to stay on your skin.
The result of not cleaning your face at night is often breakouts and other skin issues.”
How often should I exfoliate my face?
You should exfoliate your face once or twice a week, according to Dermatologist Ally Wheeler.
“Exfoliating once or twice a week will help to remove dead cells that have built upon the surface of your skin, revealing brighter and more flawless skin beneath.
By exfoliating your face every day, you run the risk of your skin becoming dry and irritated, so I recommend doing it twice a week max.”
“Our skin needs time to recover and rebuild from the exfoliating process, so if you exfoliate your skin more than twice a week, your skin will become red, dry, and irritated,” Ally adds.
Do I wet my face before exfoliating?
It depends on the type of exfoliant you’re using.
Some physical exfoliants work best when applied to wet skin, whereas some chemical exfoliators work best applied to dry skin.
As a general rule, always follow the instructions for your product because it will include information on whether or not to apply it to wet or dry skin.
Should I exfoliate morning or night?
It depends on whether you are using a physical or chemical exfoliant.
“If you’re using a physical exfoliant like a scrub, it’s best to do this in the morning because you want to remove the dead cells from your skin.
Chemical exfoliators, such as glycolic and salicylic acid, are best applied at night,” says Dermatologist Ally Wheeler.
She also adds, “the sun can have a drying effect on the skin, so applying a chemical exfoliant in the day is not recommended.”
You should always cleanse your face before you exfoliate because it will rid your skin of any makeup or dirt that may hinder the effectiveness of your exfoliant.
Exfoliating twice a week will help remove dead cells, giving you brighter and healthier skin, but don’t exfoliate more than twice a week because your skin will become dry and irritated.
We hope you found our article helpful.
What’s your favorite way to exfoliate?
Let us know in the comments below.