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Exfoliate Your Way to Glowy Skin

Best at home skin exfoliation

Exfoliation is your friend. If you’re not exfoliating your skin regularly (or at least semi-regularly), now is the time to start! This is something that everyone, whether you are 15 or 50, should incorporate into their skincare routine. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite products to gently exfoliate my skin to just the right glow!

What exactly does it do? Removing some of the outer layers of the skin will help encourage your skin to create more skin cells (helping your skin to look fresher and younger), evens out your skin’s tone and texture as well. The goal is fresh, glowy skin that looks smoother with more even color tone.

There are many ways to exfoliate your skin at home, with varying degrees of exfoliation. You can exfoliate as often as every day or as infrequently as every 2-3 weeks. There are 2 main ways to exfoliate your skin: Physical or Chemical. Physical is just what it sounds like, physically scrubbing the outer layers of your skin off. Chemical exfoliation uses chemicals, most often Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), to loosen and then remove the dead skin cells. All of that sounds complicated, but it really is simple! And best of all, you can buy everything you need for exfoliating, no matter how you chose to do it, from your local Sally Beauty.

The best at home physical skin exfoliation

Physical Exfoliation

This is probably the easiest (and cheapest) way to exfoliate your skin every day. Whether you’ve chosen an in-office microdermabrasion treatment or you’re using a gentle scrub in the shower, it is really easy to customize your level of exfoliation when you’re using physical exfoliation. And because it’s physical, not chemical, this is a great way to exfoliate when you’re pregnant! Many of the popular chemical exfoliating ingredients aren’t well studied in pregnancy, so it is recommended to avoid them.

A few different ways to physically exfoliate:
• Washing Tools: This can be as simple as a coarse washcloth, or something more complicated like a deep cleansing brush (such as the Beyond Belief Facial Cleansing Brush). It’s amazing how much makeup doesn’t get removed from your face if you only use your fingers when washing your face a night! I like to have a tool that removes all of my makeup and is gentle enough to use nightly on my sensitive skin.

My picks:
Face Secrets Professional Exfoliating Cleansing Sponges: These sponges are very flexible and get into all the nooks and crannies! It is very gentle but removes everything.
Face Secrets Facial Cleansing Buffs: These textured woven sponges are a bit more aggressive than the other ones, but still pretty gentle.

• Scrubs & Microdermabrasion: I am very picky about scrubs that I’ll use. In medical school I was taught that a harsh scrub will actually cut and abrade the surface of your skin! Now I look only for very small, evenly shaped grit that is not sharp at all. I also want there to be a decent amount of the grit in the scrub, if there isn’t enough you won’t be able to evenly exfoliate your skin. Surprisingly few live up to my expectations, but there are 2 good ones at Sally Beauty that I use! That’s pretty amazing.

My picks:
Derma E Microdermabrasion Scrub With Dead Sea Salt: This one is full of very small, fine grit and it smells amazing! It’s my current favorite! It is very easy to get a very light, even exfoliation all over or a more intense treatment.
Beyond Belief Vita C+ Exfoliating Facial Scrub: If you want something that is a little more like a traditional scrub, this is my next favorite. The grit is even and not sharp, there’s enough of it to get the job done. It also has some suds, so you feel like you’re really cleaning your face. I leave this one in my shower.

The best at home chemical skin exfoliation

Chemical Exfoliation

There are many different active ingredients found in chemical exfoliators, most are AHAs and BHAs. I’ve reviewed how hydroxy acids work previously, here talk about a few of the different forms and strengths available.

Chemical exfoliation is a tricky thing. Since everyone’s skin is different, something that seems gentle on a friend’s skin may be too harsh for your own sensitive skin. Sometimes that is related to the active ingredient, and sometimes it is due to the formulation of the product. Really, finding the best product for your skin can be trial and error, and with chemical exfoliators I recommend doing a small patch test before applying all over your face! If you tend to have sensitive skin, stick with products that are lower concentration and gentler to avoid irritation.

Chemical exfoliators (in order of their general strength):
• Face Washes: Because you’re rinsing it off, face washes tend to be the most gentle of the chemical exfoliators.
My pick: Beyond Belief ABH Facial Foaming Cleanser

• Moisturizers: Moisturizers can contain a very small amount of active ingredient or be quite strong. Look for key words on the label such as “gentle” or “sensitive”. You can also look at the ingredient list, those that appear first are found in a higher concentration.
My pick: Beyond Belief ABH Facial Moisturizer: This is a morning moisturizer with just a bit of AHA and BHA in the formulation. Used daily it will continue to exfoliate your skin without adding an extra step to your skincare routine.

• Serums/Treatment Products: Serums are usually the highest concentration of active ingredient that you can buy in a product line, and given their formulation they often penetrate deeply into the skin. Go for a serum if you have skin that is able to tolerate more abuse.
My pick: Beyond Belief ABH Facial Serum: This serum is stronger than the moisturizer, and when used every day will keep your skin looking fresh and smooth.

• Peels: If you’re honest with yourself, you’re probably like me. Afraid of peels because of that Sex and the City episode where Samantha gets a peel and has to attend an event with a veil. Because her face is red and irritated. While a professional level peel can get such results, the at home versions are usually much more gentle! Even my sensitive rosacea skin can tolerate using these peels.
My picks:
Beyond Belief Microdelivery Acid Peel System: I can use this peel about once every 7-10 days, usually at night. I do get some redness and tingling, but it is gone by the morning.
Derma E Overnight Peel With Alpha Hydroxy Acids: Yes, an overnight peel! It sounds scary, but it isn’t. I use this peel in place of a nightly serum about once a week, and in the morning I wake up to smoother, irritation-free skin!

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

Leave a Comment


  1. 1.14.20
    Ms said:

    Hi!! What is the best exfoliating product while pregnant besides doing the physical exfoliation? Thanks so much!

    • 1.17.20
      15mins said:

      I don’t have a pregnancy safe option with chemical exfoliation, only physical. sorry!

  2. 9.16.21
    Rashi said:

    Hi, may I know which chemical exfoliants are pregnancy safe? I was not able to find the information.

    • 9.17.21
      Christine said:

      For chemical, pretty much only lactic acid.