Exfoliation: What Works and What’s Safe?


Your daily skin care routine probably looks something like this: cleanse, tone, apply a treatment serum, moisturize, apply sun protection, repeat. But what about exfoliation? Is it necessary?

Well, that depends on whether you want to combat signs of aging with what we like to call our “anti-aging weapon.” If so, here’s more about the positive benefits this important technique can provide for your skin.

What is Exfoliation?

Exfoliation is a crucial step in your facial regimen. As our skin ages it can become dull, lackluster and wrinkled. This buildup can also clog your pores. Exfoliating helps you to do away with dirt, oils and impurities — out with the old and in with the new!

Types of Exfoliation and Recommended Frequency

Here are two different methods of exfoliation, we have:


Mechanical Exfoliation

This involves the use of a textured tool (i.e. facial brush, sponge, or something fancy like the Clarisonic) when cleansing. Other forms include a facial scrub—ideally, our Kaolin Micro Exfoliant.

Not only do these skin-polishing companions help to exfoliate, they can help improve the tone and plump the skin. Manual exfoliation is encouraged 2-3 times each week, rubbing either your tool or scrub in a light and circular motion.


Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation goes a bit deeper, utilizing chemicals such as hydroxy acids (lactic, salicylic, glycolic) and natural enzymes. The word ‘chemical’ should not be confused with something that is harmful to the skin, unless overly or improperly used. In fact, these chemical acids are essentially derived from fruits, nuts, milks, sugars, and plants. What an amazing chemical reaction these provide for the health of our skin!

While alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) help exfoliate, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as salicylic acid (derived from white willow bark) have the ability to clear out excess dirt, oil and impurities. This is one of the many reasons we include it in our Herbal Facial Oil for Oily Skin.


Natural is best!

Enzymes, on the other hand, have the fascinating ability to help too. Fruits such as papaya and pineapple contain these enzymes. If applied topically, they can leave your skin feeling incredibly soft and renewed.

Just remember: It’s important to be conscious of the ingredients you choose in skin care products. Naturally derived is best, so try the following do-it-yourself exfoliating mask at home.

Natural Lactic Acid Mask

Lactic Acid has a very smoothing effect on the skin. It increases hydration and balances the skin’s pH. Fortunately, powdered milk is a natural source of lactic acid. And you thought it was just a pantry staple!

This mask is a must-try.


1 tablespoon of organic powdered milk
Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV contains natural alpha hydroxy acids)


  1. Place the powdered milk into a bowl and add a few drops of apple cider vinegar. You will want to form a paste with these two, so keep adding enough ACV until the mixture is smooth. If it gets  too watery, simply add more powdered milk to create a good consistency.
  2. Apply the mask to your freshly cleansed face with either a mask brush or your fingers.
  3. Let the mask sit for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove with warm water and a soft washcloth.
  5. Follow up with your desired facial moisturizer. Enjoy this mask 1x per week.

*Note: You may experience a slight tingling sensation upon application and a little redness post removal. This is normal and lets you know the ingredients are working.

Other Benefits of Exfoliating

Exfoliating also:

  • Optimizes the penetration of other skin care products, allowing them to travel into the deeper layers of the skin.
  • Nourishes your skin cells making your skin feel revived!
  • Evens skin tone.

One Last Tip

The body needs some love, too! Try the Dry Brushing method or use any of these wonderful eco body tools recommended by our team!

Happy and safe exfoliation, everyone!

Every skin type can benefit from exfoliating – how do you exfoliate? Share in the comments!

comments (5 and counting)


Reader Interactions


  1. Pau;a Calloway says

    The negative reviews that I have read about annmarie products, Let me say that the people who get clogged pores is because it draws all of the toxins out of your face or body, But if you will stick with it at least 2 weeks it will not only take the toxins out but will help your clogged pores and you will be amazed how your skin looks. I’m not trying to get people to buy anything at all. I’m just telling the truth as I had to learn that the hard way. I will take natural against chemicals any day. Thanks P.C.

  2. Judith Driscoll says

    Thanks for your recipe for the mask. However, I need BHA’s instead and your recipe was for AHA’s. Please publish one that applies to aging skin that needs sloughing off stuff like whiteheads, large pores, and deep cleansing.

    • Annmarie Skin Care says

      Thanks for the feedback, Judith! We will pass that along to our editorial coordinator 🙂

  3. Lidia says

    Tks, great tip, I’ll try the lactic acid mask next time. I have dry skin and I exfoliate by first putting a handful of hazelnuts in the blender, pulverizing it, and keeping it in a covered jar. To use, I take 1 flat teaspoon of nuts and place it in the palm of my hand, I make a paste by adding rice bran oil or yogurt. If I’m in a rush, I just add my fruit cleanser to the powder, but the final effect is not as radiant.

  4. carol caramagno says

    could you print this info in a manner that I could copy it? Then I could paste it on the inside of my medicine cabinet. That is the area in which I do facial care.

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