Once and for All, These Are the Best Ways to Exfoliate Based On Your Skin Type

Because it's *literally* the secret to great skin forever.

Most Popular

Once upon a time, Cate Blanchett's wisdom changed my skin forever.

When asked her top anti-aging secret, Blanchett's answer was simple: exfoliation. "Look at men in their 40s, and then look at women in their 40s—for men, their skin looks really good because they shave every day," she told Byrdie. Damn. Have well-groomed exfoliated men held the secret to the fountain of youth all along?

Whether it is actually as simple as that or not, it stuck with me. I mean, has she aged a day since the '90s? If so, there's nary a fine line to show for it. So since then I've become a devout exfoliator. I not only upped my exfoliation routine from every once and while to a few times a week (daily would be overdoing it), but also did a 180 when it came to the type of exfoliator I was using.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

And months after making these adjustments, I've watched my complexion go from dull, dry, and breakout-prone to brighter, smoother, and more evenly-toned. This is not an exaggeration, I promise.

In fact, one of my best friends recently complimented my "glow" and asked me what I'd been doing differently. I immediately launched into a Blanchett-inspired speech on the importance of exfoliation and I could tell by his expression this was very new information.

More From Beauty Advice You Need Right Now
20 articles
It's Official: The Hills Are the New Hadids
6 Beauty Hacks from Backstage at Victoria's Secret
Exclusive: Taylor Hill on the Victoria's Secret Sh
GIF
Frost Yourself: The Best Highlighters for Winter
Cheetos (Yes, the Snack) Is Now Making Makeup

Because I myself was in the dark for far too long, I looked to celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau for an all-encompassing pro breakdown of all things exfoliation.

Different Types of Exfoliators

What it comes down to is physical versus chemical. A physical exfoliator is a face scrub with rough little bits of material that buff away the layer of dead skin cells. A chemical one will use different types of chemicals, like AHAs and BHAs (AKA hydroxy acids), to gently dissolve away dead skin cells and debris in uniform fashion.

The Importance of Exfoliation

"By removing dry skin cells, you make way for new, healthy, and plump skin cells," explains Rouleau. "It also helps to reduce breakouts, lessen clogged pores, rid the skin of dryness, and lighten hyperpigmentation."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

As for catering to your skin type, you can't just boil things down to normal, dry, or oily. "It's far too limiting," she says. "From adult acne to rosacea, or brown spots to oil production, every person's skin has different needs. One size never fits all."

This is why she categorizes her treatments and products based on nine different skin types.

The Best Exfoliator for Your Skin Type


1. If your skin is oily with clogged pores and experiences severe all-over breakouts.

Rouleau's Pro Tip: "For clearer, smoother skin, avoid heavy oils or pore-clogging ingredients."

Recommended Exfoliator Type: Both chemical, including salicylic, lactic, or glycolic acid, as well as a facial scrub using small, round, and non-plastic beads. Never use them on the same day—facial scrub two times week, chemical exfoliator three times a week.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

2. If your skin is oily with occasional breakouts and you want to anti-age.

Most Popular

Rouleau's Pro Tip: "Avoid harsh products, which makes skin tight and irritated. Use a careful blend of non-drying, pore-clearing exfoliants with hydrating anti-oxidants and skin brightening botanicals."

Recommended Type: Both chemical, including lactic or glycolic acid, as well as a facial scrub using small, round, and non-plastic beads. Never use them on the same day—facial scrub two times week, chemical exfoliator three times a week.

3. If your skin is oily, sensitive, and has consistent breakouts.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Rouleau's Pro Tips: "This type requires a blend of antibacterial and smoothing BHAs to clear blemishes without drying or irritating the skin. Use a facial scrub three times a week to keep pores clear."

Recommended Type: Both chemical, including lactic or glycolic acid, as well as a facial scrub using small, round, and non-plastic beads. Never use them on the same day—facial scrub two times week, chemical exfoliator three times a week.


4. If your skin is oily, sensitive, and has occasional breakouts.

Rouleau's Pro Tips: "The goal is to control breakouts without drying out skin. Avoid harsh products, which will cause skin to produce more oil due to water loss.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Recommended Type: Both chemical, including lactic or glycolic acid, as well as a facial scrub using small, round, and non-plastic beads. Never use them on the same day—facial scrub two times week, chemical exfoliator three times a week.

Most Popular

5. If your skin is normal with some sensitivity/redness and you want to anti-age it.

Rouleau's Pro Tips: "This skin type requires smoothing exfoliants and calming ingredients to soothe and strengthen. Avoid products that contain synthetic fragrance and do a patch test on the side of the neck when using a new product."

Recommended Type: Chemical—lactic acid is best for sensitive skin—three times a week.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

6. If your skin is normal and you want to anti-age it.

Rouleau's Pro Tips: "Normal, dehydrated skin that's showing the signs of aging requires products that boost cell turnover and contains antioxidants that brighten/prevent environmental damage."

Recommended Type: Both chemical—lactic and glycolic are best—as well as a facial scrub using small, round, non-plastic beads. Never use them on the same day—use a facial scrub two times week and chemical exfoliator three times a week.


7. If your skin is dry/tired and you want to anti-age it.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Rouleau's Pro Tips: "Use a high concentration of AHAs to boost cellular turnover and peptides to allow a tightening deep within the skin."

Recommended Type: Both chemical (lactic, malic, and glycolic are all good), as well as a facial scrub using small, round, and non-plastic beads.Never use them on the same day—facial scrub two times week, chemical exfoliator three times a week.

Most Popular

8. If your skin is dry/sun-damaged and you want to anti-age it.

Rouleau's Pro Tips: "This skin type craves anti-aging formulas powered by firming peptides to stave off loss of tone and elasticity, while also addressing hyperpigmentation. Instead of over moisturizing, increase exfoliation to remove dry skin."

Recommended Type: Both chemical (lactic, malic, and glycolic are all good), as well as a facial scrub using small, round, and non-plastic beads.Never use them on the same day—facial scrub two times week, chemical exfoliator three times a week.


9. If your skin is dry, sensitive, red, and you want to anti-age it.

Rouleau's Pro Tips: "Look to lipid-rich oils like jojoba or rosehip and comforting botanicals to soothe and strengthen for barrier repair. Avoid over-exfoliating the skin."

Recommended Type: A chemical exfoliator (lactic acid is best for sensitive skin) three times a week.

Follow Marie Claire on Facebook for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.

Read Next: