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Should You Exfoliate Blemish Prone Skin?

The 411 on scrubbing and getting stubbourn blemishes under control.
Should You Exfoliate Acne-Prone Skin Skincare Library

Exfoliation: the can’t-skip skincare step for baby-soft smoothness and a refreshed glow. But if you have blemishes, you might be hesitant. Can exfoliation clear the way? Or will it make breakouts worse? Read on for all the blemish exfoliation 411.

Blemishes & exfoliation
The short answer is yes, you should exfoliate blemish-prone skin! Regardless of your skin type, exfoliation helps lift away dulling surface debris. For blemish-prone skin, this helps sweep away dulling surface debris that could otherwise clog the pores and create a breeding ground for blemish bacteria. Exfoliation also drives newer, healthier cells to the surface which can help skin recover.

Identifying your blemishes
First, let’s talk about the stages of blemish, as that will influence the blemish exfoliant that’s best for you. Stages of blemish range from congestion (Looks like: enlarged pores, blackheads, concentrated oiliness (typically chin, sides of nose, center of forehead), to breakouts (consistent formation of whiteheads of varying sizes and stages of healing/inflammation, typically found in cluster formations).

Meet the exfoliants
Now that you know you should be exfoliating your blemish-prone skin, it’s time to meet some of the best exfoliation for blemishes.

Options for blemish exfoliation include chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid and glycolic acid. Physical options for blemish exfoliation include scrubs with abrasives like jojoba beads. Chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid are often recommended as exfoliation treatments for blemishes because they can penetrate the pore to sweep out the oil and debris that creates the breeding ground for blemishes.

Glycolic acid is also a beneficial exfoliation treatment for blemish because it removes dull surface cells to increase smoothness and clarity. And lifting away dulling surface cells helps keep pores clear.

While not all dermatologists rule them out, physical exfoliants may increase aggravation and redness on cystic and bumpy types of blemishes.

How to exfoliate blemish-prone skin
To begin: Follow the same rules as all skin types: start slow and easy, then build up once you’ve assessed your skin’s tolerance.

Exfoliate clean skin only: Clean skin sets the stage by sweeping away oils and debris that could get in the way and impede exfoliation’s results.

Follow the directions: Some products are meant to be applied and rinsed off, while others might work like a leave-on treatment. Stay true to the usage directions provided.

Finish with a moisturiser: This is the ideal time to put essential hydration back into skin, so finish with a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturiser. 

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