How to Exfoliate Your Face to Achieve Smooth, Radiant Skin

How to Exfoliate Your Face to Achieve Smooth, Radiant Skin

Exfoliation can be incorporated into a regular skincare routine to help you achieve a truly smooth, radiant complexion.


What is exfoliation?

Our bodies naturally shed dead skin cells, but if this doesn’t happen quickly enough, we can be left with a flaky, dry and dull top layer of skin. Exfoliation can speed up the natural shedding process, buffing away the remaining dead skin cells to reveal the smooth new skin beneath.

Not everyone finds exfoliation to be an essential part of their skincare regime. For example, those with very sensitive skin might want to skip regular exfoliation. However, others, such as those with oily skin, might find it necessary to exfoliate a couple of times a week.

What does exfoliating do for your face?

Exfoliation buffs away the surface layer of dead skin cells, as well as impurities, leaving you with a brighter, more even complexion.

Exfoliation provides a number of skin benefits, including:

  • removing dead skin cells
  • refining your complexion for a more even appearance
  • accelerating cell turnover, brightening skin for a radiant glow
  • allowing for optimum absorption of other skincare products
  • stimulating collagen production, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • minimising clogged pores, limiting blemishes and breakouts
  • stimulating blood flow for better skin health and overall appearance

Exfoliation can help those with acne-prone skin by unclogging pores and smoothing skin. However, you should avoid exfoliation if you have broken skin, for example an open blemish, as this can cause further irritation.

Your exfoliation routine

As a general rule, you should exfoliate no more than once or twice a week after cleansing. However, you should always listen to your skin.

If your skin is sensitive or feels overly tight and irritated, try exfoliating less often. Equally, if you feel you have a lot of flaky, dry skin or clogged pores, you could try exfoliating more often – but if your skin gets irritated, reduce the frequency again.

Chemical exfoliation can unclog pores and smooth skin without the need for physical exfoliants that can irritate the skin. Some scrubs with overly gritty formulas can actually cause micro-tears in the skin. Our science-led Face Polish uses Diamond Dust for gentle exfoliation that doesn’t place undue stress on your skin.

We should be exfoliating our entire bodies, but our face needs a more delicate approach than, say, our legs. 

How to exfoliate your face

When it comes to exfoliating your face, follow our step-by-step guide for the best results.

If you’re using an exfoliating polish:

1. Wet your face with lukewarm water.

2. Apply a small amount of the product to your hands.

3. Massage in gentle circular movements from your nose to your cheeks, forehead, temples, jaw and chin. Don’t forget to also move down your neck and underneath your jaw, while avoiding your eyes and mouth.

4. Wash off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry with a clean, soft towel or face cloth.

If you’re using a chemical exfoliant:

1. Apply a small amount of the product to dry hands.

2. Spread the product across your face in a patting motion, starting with the nose and working outwards. Make sure to avoid your eye area and mouth.

Allow the product to absorb into your skin and continue with the rest of your skincare regime.

Face exfoliation for your skin type

Formulas featuring alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) allow for gentle chemical exfoliation, making them appropriate for all skin types.

Those with particularly rough-textured skin may want to try some physical exfoliation.

Everyone should apply a moisturiser after exfoliation regardless of your skin type. This will prevent dehydration and stop rough patches of skin from building up. Our Everyday Moisturiser is the perfect, lightweight way to boost your skin’s hydration.

Exfoliation for dry skin

Those with dry or dehydrated skin should focus on gentle, hydrating formulas that will remove the top layer of flaky skin without being too harsh.

Look out for products containing AHAs that will exfoliate the upper dermis and remove dead skin cells. You might also want to try formulas featuring polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) – the gentlest form of exfoliant.

Exfoliation for oily skin

If you have oily skin, you can opt for more intensive formulas that will remove the build-up of sebum as well as any dead skin cells.

Try using products containing BHAs – these acids are able to penetrate and unclog your pores, something other exfoliating acids cannot do.

Keep in mind that oily skin can still be irritated by exfoliation, so if more intensive BHA formulas cause redness or make your skin feel uncomfortable, always reduce or cease use and try a gentler formulation.

Exfoliation for sensitive skin

If you have sensitive skin, avoid any exfoliating scrubs or formulas with an overly gritty texture. Stick to using gentle chemical exfoliants once a week or less and make sure not to rub at your skin.

Formulas featuring PHAs are also a good idea for this skin type, as they allow for very gentle exfoliation.

Those with extremely sensitive skin may want to avoid exfoliation altogether, preferring to stick to cleansing instead. Similarly, if you have a skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis, you should always consult a dermatologist before trying exfoliation.

Exfoliation for mature skin

Those with more mature skin should stick to gentle formulas that will not pull at or sensitise delicate skin. As we get older, our skin gets thinner and more prone to breakage and wrinkles.

Look for formulas featuring Hydrolysed Collagen to ensure hydration and a strengthened skin barrier. When used as part of a collagen-focused skincare regime, these formulas will ensure a youthful, radiant complexion.

What about double cleansing?

If you are following a regime that includes double cleansing, you can still exfoliate once or twice a week. However, if irritation occurs, try removing one of the steps and considering more gentle skincare.

If you’re looking to achieve beautifully radiant and effortlessly smooth glass skin, double cleansing can help you attain this look. Try using our Cleansing Cream for your initial cleanse to remove impurities and makeup from the top layer of your skin. Follow this with our Cleansing Foam to achieve a deeper clean by accelerating cell turnover for brighter, healthier-looking skin.

Exfoliating with care: dos and don’ts


When exfoliating, you should:

  • wear sunscreen – SPF should be part of your morning routine regardless, but it’s especially important if you’re exfoliating
  • remember to apply a moisturiser
  • use a clean, fresh towel to dry your face if using an exfoliating product that needs washing off be gentle


You shouldn’t:

  • over-exfoliate, as this can make your skin dry and tight
  • exfoliate after a facial treatment
  • exfoliate if your skin is showing signs of irritation
  • exfoliate if you have sunburn or other damage to your skin, such as open wounds
  • use a physical exfoliant if you’re currently experiencing a breakout or acne flare-up be rough or scrub at your skin.



How often should I exfoliate my face?

Exfoliating a couple of times a week is good practice. However, if you have sensitive skin, you might want to exfoliate less, while those with oily skin might want to do so more often. Cell regeneration slows as we age, so those with mature skin may find that they need to exfoliate less.

Over-exfoliation will be obvious: your skin will feel tight and uncomfortable – it may also appear red. Over-exfoliation can cause skin barrier damage, so it’s best to stop exfoliating completely until your skin recovers.

If exfoliation is irritating your skin, reduce the frequency, try a gentler formula or remove the process from your skincare routine for a few weeks. Exfoliating every single day isn’t recommended, because it could damage your skin barrier. 

At what times should I exfoliate?

Incorporating exfoliation into your nighttime routine is a good idea. Most people tend to have more time in the evenings and, as exfoliation can eventually expose a new layer of skin, it can make you more sensitive to free radical and sun damage.

If you’ve recently undergone a specific facial treatment, either at home or from a dermatologist, it’s a good idea to skip exfoliation for the next week. This prevents any irritation after your treatment.

If you’re unsure about which exfoliating formulas to use on your skin after a facial treatment, speak to your therapist to get their recommendations.

Be aware that treatments such as chemical peels can sometimes take longer than a week to fully take effect. You shouldn’t use exfoliants at all until your skin is fully healed.

Should I rinse my face after exfoliating?

Some products that feature exfoliants, such as toners, moisturisers and serums, should be left on the skin. However, cleansers and wash-off exfoliants – such as our Face Polish – should be removed.

Refer to your individual product packaging to confirm whether your exfoliant needs to be washed off your skin.

If your product does need rinsing off, use lukewarm water and pat your skin dry with a clean towel or face cloth.

When in my skincare routine should I exfoliate my face?

Exfoliation is best incorporated into your nighttime routine. It should come as the step after cleansing, but before applying any serums, eye creams or moisturisers.

Discover our skincare collection to build your full skincare regime and ensure your skin remains healthy and radiant.