while it’s true that exfoliation is more or less the same process across your body, the needs of your skin vary across your body. your skincare isn’t the same head to toe, so your exfoliation routine shouldn’t be either.
to give a little tlc to your face, legs, chest, and everything in between, tailor your exfoliation routine specifically to the needs of your body’s skin.
the basics of body exfoliation
before you can tailor your exfoliation routine to your body’s different needs, you’ve got to have a basic understanding of all the process endures. from hanni’s experts to you, consider this your intro-level course to exfoliation.
exfoliation methods come in many shapes and sizes (and skincare products), but they all serve the same goal: polishing your skin by removing dead skin cells. like other forms of buildup, dead skin cells can clog your pores and weigh down your skin.
not only do they visibly dull skin, but, over time, they can lead to skin concerns like dermatitis neglecta (which is literally Latin for neglecting your skin). to avoid these problems, maintaining a healthy exfoliation routine is key.
but, a lot of the time, that’s easier said than done.
remember that exfoliation is not one size fits all. how your remove dead skin cells from your face should be different from how you remove them from your legs. but that doesn’t mean you need a 15-step exfoliation routine for just your left elbow.
when it comes to exfoliation, break your body into three key zones: your face, your pubic area, and the rest of your body.
exfoliating your face
starting at the top, let’s talk about exfoliating your face. despite being a popular skincare step, there is a lot of information out there about how to exfoliate your face –– and not all of it is accurate. there are many misconceptions when it comes to exfoliating your face, so let’s set the record straight once and for all.
how do you exfoliate your face?
before you exfoliate your face – or any part of your body – you need to clean the skin first. using a good cleanser, rid your face of all its surface-level impurities. with the most obvious dirt and grime gone, you pave the way for your exfoliant to tackle the deeper buildup clogging your hard-to-reach pores.
when exfoliating your face, keep these three key tips in mind:
do your research. skin comes in different types, and so do exfoliants. whether you have dry skin that never stays hydrated or oily skin that is prone to breakouts, there is an exfoliator out there for you.
use warm water. like when you wash your face, you should use warm water while exfoliating. the water’s heat will relax your skin, naturally opening your pores and making your exfoliator much more effective.
be gentle. though this tip may seem obvious, it’s perhaps the most important. your skin is naturally sensitive, and even gentle exfoliants can do some real damage if you’re not careful. so go slow as you exfoliate, working in circular motions to gently work the product into your skin.
how often should you exfoliate your face?
like much else, how often you should exfoliate your face depends on your skin type and needs. exfoliants are like extra-strong cleansers, which means they can dry out your skin over time if used too often. if you have dry skin, use your exfoliator sparingly, reducing your routine to only once a week.
however, that number is very different for people with naturally oily skin. considering the purpose of exfoliation is to rid your skin of its buildup, and skin oil is a type of buildup, it only makes sense that people with oily skin should exfoliate more often.
while you should still be careful not to dry out your skin, bumping up your exfoliation routine to two to three nights a week can help prevent excess oil from collecting on your face.
exfoliating your pubic area
exfoliating your pubic area is very different from exfoliating your face. while we like to think of our facial skin as sensitive, nothing can compare to the sensitivity of the vulva.
the skin around your down there bits is structurally different from other body skin. it has different moisture levels, elasticity capabilities, and bacterial requirements than other skin. because of these differences, your pubic area has entirely different exfoliating needs from the rest of your body.
it’s important to note here that we’re talking about the skin near your genitals, not your actual genitals themselves. when we talk about exfoliating your pubic area, for women and female people, we’re talking about the vulva only.
you should never exfoliate your vagina or even the deeper labial tissues. your genitals are naturally lubricated to avoid dryness, so there are no dead skin cells to remove. if you’re experiencing flaky skin from your vagina, you should read out to your doctor.
never use drugstore exfoliants (physical or chemical) on your genitals without express permission from a dermatologist and/or gynecologist.
okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the tips.
how do you exfoliate your pubic area?
when exfoliating your pubic area, tenderness is key. from the products you use to the touch of your tools, you should be gentle above all else. remember that, unlike your facial or body skin that is in constant contact with the outside world, your vulva is much more private. the skin of your pubic area is constantly protected and therefore more sensitive than normal skin.
use natural exfoliants whenever you can on your pubic area. choose skincare products with natural ingredients, or make your own exfoliator at home with sugar and honey or olive oil. how you exfoliate your pubic area is entirely up to you –– just be sure to avoid highly fragranced synthetic scrubs or harsh chemical exfoliation creams at all costs.
how often should you exfoliate your pubic area?
your genitals are a well-oiled machine. like how your vagina self-regulates its own pH levels, your vulva maintains naturally moisturized skin. beyond your regular cleaning, your pubic area does not require exfoliation.
however, if you plan to shave or wax away your pubic area, engaging in a gentle exfoliate before hair removal can save you a lot in the long run. when done right, exfoliating your pubic area pre-shave can prevent razor burn, ingrown hair, and general irritation on that sensitive skin.
if you choose to remove your pubic hair, we recommend using a gentle physical exfoliator before each shave.
exfoliating your body
apart from your genitals, the rest of your body’s skin is not as sensitive as your pubic area. but that doesn’t mean you can be careless. despite its increased durability, skin is still skin, and it deserves to be treated with care.
how do you exfoliate your body?
because your body’s skin is more durable than its sensitive counterparts, you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to the products you use to exfoliate. generally speaking, you have two options: chemical exfoliants and physical ones.
chemical exfoliants contain active ingredients that target buildup on your skin at a molecular level. containing with an alpha hydroxy acid (like glycolic acid) or a beta hydroxy acid (like salicylic acid), these topical creams and serums provide a deeper clean than other exfoliators. but, while they are powerful products, they can be harsh on your skin, so they’re not suitable for people with sensitive skin that is easily irritated.
physical exfoliants take a manual approach to exfoliation. using your standard sugar and salt scrubs, these products require a bit more elbow grease to carry away the impurities from your skin. however, because of their manual nature, physical exfoliation allows for more control compared to chemical ones. for people with sensitive skin who cannot handle so much roughness, a manual product is the best one.
but no matter what product you use to exfoliate, the same general rules apply when it comes to technique. like with your face, do your research, and use warm water. and like with your pubic area, be gentle.
how often should you exfoliate your body?
like your bones and muscles, your skin is responsible for protecting your organs, so the skin on your body is naturally thicker than other, more sensitive areas. with more skin comes more skin cells – and, eventually, more dead skin cells.
to prevent these cells from building up on your skin, you should exfoliate your body regularly. for most skin types, twice a week is perfect for starting your full-body exfoliation routine.
listen to your skin
when it comes to exfoliating, your body is not a one-stop shop. your skin is structurally different across your body, so it is going to have different cleansing needs. just like you wouldn’t use body wash to clean your hair, don’t use the wrong exfoliant on your skin. your body deserves better.