Best Exfoliation Routine and Top Cleansing Tips
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Hey dudes and dudettes, Mark here! For this article I will be focusing on exfoliation and what is the best routine in which to maximize this process. In addition, I will also describe what exactly exfoliation is; the top five benefits; some top tips, and a whole bunch of other exfoliated related stuff! 🙂
As always, if you have any queries or indeed suggestions, then please feel free to get in touch with me via the contact box given below, or else by visiting our Contact Page. So, enough of the chit chat, let’s get to it, folks!
What is Exfoliation?
Whether it be treating acne, or simply cleansing your face on a daily basis, exfoliation is a vital component if you are to be successful. But what exactly is exfoliation? What does the term actually mean?
Well, simply put, this involves the removal of unwanted substances and agents from your face – both from the surface and from the pores. These substances and agents can include excessive oil/sebum; dirt and debris; dead skin cells; and accumulative elements such as sun damage, air pollution and many more examples.
Only by removing these unwanted undesirables can our faces hope to achieve their healthiest appearance as well as their optimum performance. Next, I’ll discuss some of the key benefits that exfoliation can deliver.
Five Top Benefits of Exfoliating
1 – Superior Complexion & Texture
Healthy skin is something that is visibly noticeable. It’s something that can be spotted a mile away. It’s something that we all want. And it’s most definitely something that we are envious that other people have!!
Skin that is healthy has a glow to it – a freshness and brightness that just screams health and confidence. Exfoliation is vital in giving the complexion of your face this healthy glow. The reason for this is simple and can be explained in two steps: removal and reveal.
As mentioned before, exfoliation is the act of scouring your skin’s surface and removing all that rubbish that builds up over time. It also empties your pores of additional nastiness that is blocking your skin’s ability to breath.
By removing all this unwanted nonsense, this then causes the fresh, youthful, and vibrant skin underneath to be revealed in all its glory. This is what we want – to get rid of the old, outer layer of rubbish so that the new skin underneath can come to the fore. This will greatly help to give your skin complexion that glow that we all crave!
In terms of texture, exfoliation can greatly increase how your skin feels. We all know that when our skin is tired or unwashed, then it has a rough, flaky, and irritated feel to it. Not nice. Cleansing your skin can bring it back to life – proven by how good it feels after being properly cleansed! You feel like a new person after properly treating your skin.
2 – Battles Acne & Lessens Breakouts
Acne is a curse that many people are afflicted with at some point in their life. The causes for acne are numerous, so much so that it’s impossible to avoid it entirely. Whether it be a full blown breakout or just a rogue pimple like a whitehead, acne is something that we all have to battle at some stage.
Exfoliation works miracles in terms of battling acne. Why? Because it helps to remove the bacteria that is the cause of acne. This acne, acne vulgaris to give it its proper name, is the root cause of breakouts. By attacking this bacterium, cleansing helps to remove the acne. Also, by keeping your face cleansed and exfoliated on a regular basis, this will help to prevent future breakouts.
People who have naturally oily skin are susceptible to their acne spreading. This is the last thing that any of us want. You see, if you have naturally oily skin, then this excessive production of sebum can work as a transport for the bacteria to move to different places on your face. Thus spreading the dreaded acne. 🙁
By exfoliating and removing this excessive sebum on a daily basis, this will greatly lessen the chances of your acne spreading. To sum it up….
Remove the acne's means of transport = remove the threat of it spreading = win the war.
3 – Combats Father Time
Father Time is a man that waits for no-one! Every second of every day, we are aging – depressing, yes, but it’s something that’s inevitable.
However, there are things that we can do to combat the effects of aging and perhaps even stall it for a little bit.
One of these things is exfoliation. As we age, our skin’s ability to rid itself of dead skin cells become less proficient.
This is a natural occurrence but one that is quite annoying as it aids the aging process. You see, this lack of proficiency leads to wrinkles and skin lines appearing as your skin accumulates these dead skin cells.
However, cleansing regularly works to remove this buildup of dead skin cells from your face – thus giving your body that badly needed dig out!
4 – Increases Proficiency of Skincare Products
This benefit is especially important when it comes to acne treatment. Using healthcare and beauty products on an uncleansed face is both a tremendous waste of time and money! In order for these products to work properly, the canvas that they are being applied to has to be pristine and at its most receivable.
Why is this so important? Because layers of dirt and grim and other stuff can create a barrier between any products and the skin that these products are meant to be benefitting. Simply put, the product won’t impact the skin as it won’t be able to penetrate the overlying layer of dead skin cells, dirt, sebum and god knows what else! I love a good analogy…so imagine trying to paint a wall that’s filthy!!! Pointless.
This is where exfoliation comes into the equation. A good cleansing session will remove this layer of dirt and grim and leave your face (or wall :)) at its most receivable for whatever health and beauty products that you plan on applying.
5 – Reduces the Size of Your Pores
For those of you unaware, pores are small openings on the skin’s surface in which hair follicles grow from. These small holes can expand and grow in size if there is an excessive build-up of dirt and dead skin cells.
This results in two negatives: firstly, your pores will be noticeably larger which is not something that is overly attractive. Secondly, these larger pores will also be more susceptible to becoming clogged and blocked. This will then increase the chances of pimples and zits forming.
By cleansing, the dirt and dead skin cells are removed periodically which therefore leads your pores to remaining their natural size. This then counteracts the two negatives that I outlined in the above paragraph.
The Perfect Exfoliating Routine
When it comes to exfoliating and cleansing your face, there are two key boxes that you need to tick if you are to be effective. The first is that you choose the correct products in which to incorporate into your cleansing routine. Inferior products can range from being utterly useless to downright harmful, especially if they are acne treatment product.
For more info. on this topic take a look at our comprehensive acne treatment guide.
The second box, and just as important, is the actual physical process of exfoliation. Ok, so you’ve got the best of the best in terms of products, but this will still mean very little if you apply said products incorrectly. This is where a quality application method is needed. Below is what I believe to be the best cleansing routine. Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful!
Step One – Choose the Correct Products
Whether it be cleansers; acne treatment gels; face masks; scrubs; anti-aging products; or moisturizers, it’s vital that you select the ones that are best for your skin. This means that you’ll have to do some research and testing in order to get the products that are best suited for you.
Any skimming or laziness in this area could very well result in you buying a less than effective product. In terms of cleansing and acne treatment, take a look at our reviews on AcneZine and ClearPores – two top product ranges that supply exactly what you’d need for acne treatment and/or exfoliation.
Step Two – Wash Your Face
Do this in a gentle fashion by using lukewarm water. This will begin the actual exfoliation process. Lukewarm water is necessary in order to open up your pores – the warmness in the water will do this. Be careful not to use hot water as you’ll burn that delicate skin on your face!
A colleague of mine at the Health Base – Beth – is an avid believer that you should never touch your hands to your face, even when cleansing. She thinks it’s best to simply splash the water onto your face. I personally believe that once you’ve washed your hands thoroughly then there should be no issue, but splashing water up onto your face is definitely just as effective.
Step Three – Prepare a Clean Towel/Face Cloth
Clean being the essential word here!! There’s no point in using a dirty rag to clean your face, I hope we can all see the sense in that!
The easiest way to ensure that you’re not stuck with a dirty cloth is simply to have a few spares. This way you can use the cloth, throw it in the wash, grab the next one, and repeat.
It goes without saying that this rule of cleanliness also goes for any implements and tools that you plan to use.
Step Four – Bring the heat!!
In order to further open up those pores, drench your face cloth in lukewarm water and place the cloth over you face. Hold it here in place for 30-45 seconds and then remove it.
You will noticeably feel how the heat has affected you face – this is one of the most enjoyable parts of exfoliating I believe. It’s very noticeable that your pores have been opened and that your face is ready to be cleansed. Even before applying the cleanser, your face at this point will already start to feel fresher and healthier.
Step Five – Apply the Cleanser
Now that your pores are open and ready to be cleansed, it’s time to rub in that cleanser. Again, this can be accomplished by using a fresh hand cloth or by using your fingers…even though Beth would never advise the second option!! 🙂
Using gentle clockwise movements, rub the cleanser into all areas of your face. If you’re using a cloth, then make sure that it’s been doused in cold water. It’s important to do this cleansing technique in a gentle manner – the cleanser will do its job without any added force needed from you.
Step Six – Rinse
Once the cleanser has been rubbed into your face, you can then rinse it off. If the cleanser has done its job you will also be rinsing off all that unwanted nonsense that accumulates onto our faces.
The only other thing that I’d say about this step is that you use cold water to achieve this. As warm water naturally opens our pores, cold water does the opposite and causes them to close. This is why we’re always advised to have a cold shower after using a sauna or steam room!!
Step Seven – Apply Acne Treatment
If you are also in possession of an acne treatment gel, this is the time when you would apply it – after the cleanser and before the moisturizer.
Use the same application method as outlined with the cleanser. Or, if you only have a sole zit or two, then apply the gel via spot treatment. This is probably a better application method as it reduces the wastage of your gel.
Step Eight – Dry Your Face
It’s important once again, and obvious, that you use you a clean towel or face cloth for this step. It’s an understatement to say that it’s kind of counter-productive to cleanse your face only to then dry it with a dirty towel!!
Another important thing to remember is that the best method of drying is to pat dry your face. This will minimize the friction caused. Many people rub their faces vigorously to dry it, much the same way as they dry their bodies. This is a mistake. The skin on our faces is far more delicate than that on the rest of our bodies, so only a gentle patting dry technique is required. Any excessive force will cause irritation.
Step Nine – Finish with a Top Quality Moisturizer
I’ll go into this in more depth in a later paragraph, but it’s safe to say that it’s vital that you finish your facial treatment with a good moisturizer. For an example of such a top notch moisturizer, check out the one that can be found in our Zenmed Review - look for the Oil Free Day Lotion in the Table of Contents.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The above cleansing routine is one that I adhere to, as do the majority of the Health Base team. However, it’s important to note that personal preference does play a role in such a routine as exfoliation.
Every person is different and you might find that tweaking my routine works best for you. For example, many people that I’ve talked to wouldn’t use Step Two – instead choosing to apply the heat straight away. This is fine, it really comes down to whatever works best for you! 🙂 As the good doctor says…
“There isn’t a ‘formula’ because we all have different skin types, we live in different climates and we engage in different sports and activities.”
- Brandith Irwin, MD
Top Tip 1 - Frequency of Exfoliating?
In terms of how often you should exfoliate; it really does vary and differ for each person. I know people who cleanse their faces every two or three days, just as I know people who would only cleanse once a week.
A rough method of figuring out how often would suit you, is to figure out firstly what type of skin you have. For example, someone with excessively oily skin would need to exfoliate far more often than someone who has dry skin. This is because that excessive oil needs to be removed lest it clog pores and/or spread existing acne.
On the other hand, people with dry or sensitive skin would only cleanse infrequently. Too much cleansing can irritate and inflame such skin. Therefore, it really does come down to trial and error.
Luckily, we have an innate feeling in regards to our faces and whether they need to be cleaned. Or, at least, I do anyway!! I’ll know when my face needs a good washing – because it’ll feel and look tired and dirty.
Top Tip 2 - Improve Your Shave
This is a tip that I personally treasure. For years, shaving used to be a real hit and miss kind of deal for me. Sometimes I used to have a perfect shave, and other times my skin would be left raw and irritated.
At first, I thought it was the razor blades that were the issue. I thought that perhaps it was the fact that the blades were getting dull or that they were nicked. It got to the point that I started using a different blade every time I shaved!! Not exactly practical or financially economically, I know. 😉
Eventually, and it took me a heck of a lot longer than it should have, I realized that it had nothing to do with my razor – it was the state of my skin that was the issue. If my skin was suitably clean and fresh, then it would adversely affect the quality of my shave.
So, as an experiment, I decided to cleanse and exfoliate my skin prior to shaving. And, well, I haven’t looked back!! My shaving routine became far more productive and effective because my face was more receivable to the blade. Of course, I still have my bad days (I can be quite clumsy!!), but these days are far and few between.
Top Tip 3 - Use Before Applying a Fake Tan
I don’t personally use fake tans, but a friend of mine uses them pretty much every week. When I asked her, she told me that exfoliating before getting the tan done is a neat trick of maximizing the effect of the tan.
She believes that this is because your skin is at its most receivable right after exfoliating and thus the tan goes on smooth and unblemished. Though I’ve never tried it myself, this makes sense as a good cleanse will leave your skin resembling a clean canvas – perfect for the application of something like a fake spray tan or cream.
Exfoliating & Moisturizing – Hand in Hand
It would be remiss of me to not mention moisturizing. Exfoliation and moisturizing are two practices that should always be linked and followed in that order – firstly you exfoliate, then you moisturize.
The reason for this is very simple. Cleansing your face is something that is hugely beneficial for your skin, but it is also something that is mildly traumatic. Why? Because during the cleansing routine, important nutrients and moisture are removed from your face. This leaves you face somewhat lacking in these areas.
Therefore, to return the balance to your skin, it’s vital that you re-hydrate your face as well as restocking it with those key nutrients. By doing this you will also lock in all that goodness and positivity that has come about through your session.
In addition, a good moisturizer will also work as an effective barrier to harmful UV rays from the sun. Though, in saying this, a moisturizer should only be used in conjunction with a top sunscreen and never as a replacement.
As mentioned before, a perfect example of a top quality moisturizer is the Oil Free Day Lotion supplied by Zenmed.
My Final Word
Well, there you have it, folks. That, in a nutshell, is everything that I know about exfoliating and cleansing one’s face!! I hope that you found it enlightening, or at the very least it reaffirmed the knowledge that you already have.
Of course, if there is anything that you think I’ve missed (or god forbid gotten wrong), then please drop me a message below. The only we can create better awareness about health and beauty matters is by sharing our knowledge and communicating with one another! Enjoy, folks. 🙂
To your continuing & ever improving health,
P.S. Please feel free to have a look at our ever growing knowledge base. Our Best Acne Treatment Guide is certainly worth a look.