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  /  Acne   /  How Often Should You Exfoliate Acne-Prone Skin?
exfoliating skin in shower

Most people are aware exfoliation is an important part of a healthy skin care routine. But if you are dealing with acne, your skin care needs are different. You may be wondering: “How often should I exfoliate my acne-prone skin?”

Experts typically recommend exfoliating 2-3 times per week if your skin is prone to acne. Depending on the severity of your acne, you may need to reduce that to 1-2 times per week.

Each individual’s skin has unique needs, so there’s no simple answer. Read on to gain a clearer understanding of what your unique needs may be.

Can Exfoliating Cause Acne?

Typically, exfoliating does not cause acne. In fact, in most cases, exfoliating can help minimize acne when performed properly as part of an acne treatment program. Beware though, if exfoliating is done improperly or too often, it can bring on problems.

If you use a scrub, use as directed and be gentle.  Scrubs can irritate your skin and compromised your skin barrier if abused or used incorrectly.

AHA’s and BHA’s are also good choices for exfoliation, They should be introduced initially 1-2 times a week or as directed by your acne specialist. 

How Can I Tell If I’m Exfoliating Too Often?

While it may feel tempting to exfoliate frequently, too much exfoliation can cause problems. Here are a few indicators to look for that may indicate you are exfoliating your acne-prone skin too often:

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Skin becomes more oily (to compensate for loss in natural oils)
  • Red, sensitive skin
  • Increase in pimples, especially small ones

What Is The Best Exfoliator For Acne-Prone Skin?

An exfoliating cleanser with benzoyl peroxide is often recommended for use when exfoliating skin that has acne, as long as the acne is not inflamed.

Benzoyl peroxide is a topical antibiotic that works by delivering oxygen to the areas of your skin where bacteria from acne are thriving, and since acne can’t survive in an oxygen-rich environment, this essentially eliminates acne at its source. Applying this antibiotic, along with the manual action of gentle scrubbing and exfoliating, can work wonders in many individuals with acne-prone skin.

Another option is Exfoliating Mandelic Cleanser, Mandelic acid is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and it provides antibacterial and antifungal benefits, making it ideal for treating inflamed acne.

However, since each person’s skin has unique needs, we recommend consulting with an acne treatment specialist to help you decide what type and frequency of exfoliation would be best for your skin.