What if you could just peel away fine lines, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and dullness to reveal healthy, glowing, and velvety soft skin? Sounds amazing, right? Well, exfoliation does just that. It’s a skincare fundamental that can dramatically improve the appearance of your skin. Keep reading for all the lowdown on exfoliation – what it is, how to do it safely, so it doesn’t damage your skin, and how to take it to the next level for a head-turning radiance to your skin.

What is exfoliation?

Simply put, exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the upper layer of the skin. The skin naturally sheds dead cells every 4 weeks or so. But it sometimes does a poor job of it, leaving dead cells sitting on the surface. This can lead to dry, flaky skin and clogged pores. Exfoliating the skin helps to get rid of these dead cells to reveal a smoother, brighter complexion underneath.

You can perform exfoliation on your face as well as on other parts of the body. There are various ways to accomplish this. Mechanical exfoliation involves using an abrasive tool like a brush, sponge, glove, or loofah to remove the layers of dead cells. Chemical exfoliation is done with acids such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and glycolic acid that break the bonds holding dead cells to the surface.  At Pittman Plastic Surgery, we offer all of these types of medical-grade exfoliation techniques for our patients.

How does exfoliation benefit my skin?

By getting rid of dead skin cells on the surface, exfoliation leaves your skin looking brighter and more radiant. It also improves the effectiveness of your skincare products by allowing enhanced penetration into the skin. Regular exfoliation helps prevent clogged pores, and as a result, you have fewer breakouts. Exfoliation also improves blood circulation and encourages skin turnover, resulting in more luminous skin. When you exfoliate regularly, it stimulates collagen production in the skin, promoting hydration and elasticity and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and sagging.

Exfoliation at home

The biggest advantage of exfoliating at home is the convenience and relatively low cost. You can exfoliate at home with simple tools and skincare products and see immediate results. Any abrasive material can be used for manual exfoliation, including scrubs, mitts or gloves, pumice stones, loofahs, brushes, and derma-rollers. If you’re feeling especially experimental, you can even make a DIY scrub at home with ingredients like ground oatmeal, brown sugar, honey, and coconut oil.

While it has multiple benefits, exfoliation is not for everyone. If it isn’t done properly, it can cause more harm than good, including causing acne breakouts and increased redness. Here are some tips on exfoliating safely at home:

  • Choose an exfoliation method that is appropriate for your skin type. People with sensitive, dry, or acne-prone skin should stick to mild exfoliation with a washcloth or a mild scrub. Those with oily skin may need stronger exfoliants or more aggressive mechanical exfoliation.
  • Never use a body scrub on your face. Use light, circular strokes to apply the product for about 30 seconds, and then rinse with lukewarm water (never hot water). Do not exfoliate near open wounds, cuts, or burns.
  • Apply a moisturizer after you exfoliate. It will be absorbed well after the exfoliation has removed the layer of dead skin cells and will protect your skin and keep it hydrated.
  • Always use one exfoliant at a time. Combining more than one product can damage the skin. You may need to test several products before you find the one that works for you. Also, as your skin changes with age, for example, it may become dryer as you grow older. You should switch exfoliants accordingly.
  • Find an exfoliation schedule that works for you, depending on your skin type. In general, people with oily skin require more frequent exfoliation. However, keep in mind, some strong exfoliants may not be suitable for use more than once a week.
  • Discontinue exfoliation if your skin is red, inflamed, irritated, or peeling. Also, speak to a skincare expert, like our aesthetician, before using exfoliating skincare products if you have sensitive skin or you are using acne products such as retinol or benzoyl peroxide because the combination can make breakouts worse.

Professional exfoliation

While at-home exfoliation works reasonably well and is a good thing to include in your daily skincare routine, it cannot achieve the same dramatic improvement in skin quality as professional treatments. Several non-invasive and minimally-invasive aesthetic procedures essentially perform exfoliation through various methods. These cosmetic treatments can take your skin to the next level, correcting problems like fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and sagging skin.

Chemical peels

Chemical Peels are usually performed on the face. They are a type of chemical exfoliant. The treatment involves applying chemical solutions (acids), which come in various strengths, to the skin. This makes the top layer of “peel,” revealing smoother, brighter skin underneath.


Microdermabrasion is performed in the office with a hand-held instrument. The treatment involves spraying tiny crystals on the surface of the skin to exfoliate it. The instrument simultaneously scoops up the crystals and dead skin cells.


DiamondGlow, also known as a dermal infusion, is an innovative new procedure that combines the benefits of microdermabrasion with a customized infusion treatment. The microdermabrasion part of the procedure helps to get rid of dead skin cells that prevent the absorption of beneficial nutrients into the skin. The second part of the procedure delivers nourishing serums to the skin, which can be customized based on your skin type. For example, if you have sun-damaged or dry skin with signs of aging, an anti-oxidant moisturizing infusion may be recommended. Our aesthetician, Tabatha, may suggest using a lactic acid solution if you have acne-prone skin. If you have fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin, an infusion of pentapeptide may be given to stimulate the skin’s repair mechanism and generate new skin cells and collagen. Besides the face, a Diamond Glow procedure can be performed on other parts of the body, including the decolletage, neck, hands, and back.  In a continuing effort to bring our patients the best products and procedures, we offer DiamondGlow here at Pittman Plastic to our patients seeking the best in medical-grade exfoliation.

Professional exfoliation can give you refreshed, glowing, more youthful-looking skin, often with a lunch hour procedure and no downtime. The results are far superior to any at-home exfoliation you can do, yet safe and gentle for all skin types. What’s more, you can also combine an exfoliating treatment with other therapies to address specific skin concerns.