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  • Oars + Alps

When you think of exfoliation, you might be picturing your face. But your entire body can benefit when you exfoliate away the top layer of skin, too much of which can cause skin issues down the road. In fact, the average person sheds around 500 million skin cells every day.1 That means dead skin and oxidized sebum (your skin’s oil) can build up pretty quickly. So regularly exfoliating your skin is actually crucial to a well-rounded men’s skincare routine. 

However, each part of a man’s body has a different thickness and texture that calls for slightly different treatment.2 So before you start scrubbing away, you should learn how best to approach all of your skin from head to toe. In this article, we’ll break down the ideal tools, products, and timing when it comes to guys exfoliating their whole bodies. 

What is Exfoliation? 

Exfoliation is a technique by which one removes dirt, pollution, dead skin cells, oil (sebum), and other impurities from the skin. There are two types of exfoliation, chemical and physical. With a chemical exfoliant, chemicals like Salicylic Acid break down the bonds between skin cells so they fall away more easily.3 Physical exfoliation is when you use a textured scrub or tool to buff away dead skin and other buildup manually.

What Are the Benefits of Exfoliation? 

There are many benefits associated with regular exfoliation aside from just having clear, healthy looking skin. Here are a few reasons guys should consider adding exfoliation4 to their routine:

  • Unclogs pores
  • Prevents breakouts
  • Helps skincare products penetrate deeper
  • Evens skin complexion
  • Boosts circulation + lymph node drainage
  • Reveals new skin
  • Stimulates collagen production

How Often Should I Exfoliate? 

Your frequency of exfoliation depends on your skin type.5 For dry skin, once or twice a week should do. Guys with oily or combination skin should exfoliate two to three times per week. And if you have mature skin, twice a week is ideal. 

A Guide to Exfoliation by Body Region

In this section, we’ll break down the best skin exfoliation methods for your body, organized by the areas that need different treatment:

  • Face
  • Lips
  • Scalp
  • Body
  • Feet

How to Exfoliate: Face

The skin on your face is more delicate than other areas, so it’s best to use a product with gentle exfoliants that won’t cause redness or irritation.6 Activated Charcoal (found in our Exfoliating Charcoal Face Washas well as Glycolic and Salicylic Acids (found in our Anti-Everything Padsare good examples. Exfoliate your face one to three times per week, depending on your skin type.7 If you're using a physical exfoliant (e.g. a scrub), remember not to apply much pressure or you risk irritating your skin. Always avoid exfoliating broken skin (e.g. cuts, scabs).

The Best Face Exfoliator Products Contain Ingredients Like:

  • Activated Charcoal
  • Glycolic Acid
  • Salicylic Acid

Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Pads

How to Exfoliate: Lips

When exfoliating, don’t forget about your lips. A gentle exfoliant can make your lips smoother, healthier, and more even.8 First make sure your lips are clean and dry. Then use a circular motion to apply your exfoliant. Follow up with a moisturizing lip balm like SPF-18 Shine-Free Lip Balm.9

Best Lip Exfoliator Products Contain Ingredients Like:

  • Sugar
  • Honey crystals
  • Apricot seeds
  • Nut shells

How to Exfoliate: Scalp

Exfoliating your scalp can help reveal younger, healthier skin—and help make your hair healthier too.  But because of the unique texture and thickness of your scalp, it’s unlike exfoliating anywhere else on your body. One to three times per week, exfoliate your scalp with a scrub, like our Purifying Scalp Scrubbefore you cleanse with shampoo. Apply the scrub with your fingertips or with a provided applicator.10 Then rub the scrub in gently by rubbing with your fingertips in a circular motion.

The Best Scalp Exfoliation Products Contain Ingredients Like:

  • Jojoba Esters 
  • Perlite Spheres
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Apple Cider Vinegar

Scalp Scrub

How to Exfoliate: Body

The skin on your body is thicker than that on your face, so it requires a different treatment—plus additional elbow grease. Doing so will allow your other body products to work better.

Starting with once or twice a week, use an exfoliating scrub, bar soap or body wash to help improve the texture of your skin by removing dead skin cells and reducing ingrown hairs.11 If you have extra dry, flaky skin, use a strong exfoliant like our Superfoliant Bar Soap. For regular exfoliation, use our Blue Charcoal Oars Bar Soap or Peppermint Charcoal Bar SoapExfoliate additionally as needed. 

The Best Body Exfoliator Products Contain Ingredients Like:

  • Jojoba Esters
  • Volcanic Sand
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Spirulina

Charcoal Bar Soap

How to Exfoliate: Feet

As some of the thickest skin on your body, your feet can get rough quickly. So, at least once per week, apply a foot scrub directly to your foot and rub to reveal new skin. You can also use a foot scrub brush or sponge to break down tough skin.12

The Best Foot Exfoliator Products Contain Ingredients Like:

  • Jojoba Esters
  • Volcanic Sand
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Spirulina

Other Common Questions About How to Exfoliate

In this section, we’ll answer the most frequent questions we get about exfoliation and how it works. 

Do you exfoliate before or after shaving?

Experts actually recommend exfoliating before shaving your face. Some exfoliants can burn or cause irritation if you use them after shaving and make your skin more sensitive. Exfoliating dead skin away before you shave can also help you get a closer shave.

How often should you exfoliate your face?

It’s always smart to start slow—once per week. If you have dry skin, you might stop there. If you feel you could benefit from more without causing irritation, you can exfoliate twice per week if you have combination or mature skin.13 Oily skin can exfoliate up to three times per week. 

What is chemical exfoliation? 

Chemical exfoliation is the process of using certain acids to break down the bonds between skin cells.14 This allows them to wash away easily without having to use scrubs or exfoliation tools. 

Start Your Exfoliation Routine with Oars + Alps

Now that you know how to exfoliate from head to toe, make sure you choose the right products. For starters, we recommend the following from our lineup:

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