Ask Grace: What’s The Best Time Of Day To Exfoliate?

Hi Grace,

I’ve always exfoliated in the mornings but I recently saw a dermatologist on TikTok say that it’s best to exfoliate in the evening. What would you recommend and does it eally make a difference which time of day you exfoliate?

Winnie, 24

Firstly, it’s great to hear that you’re already exfoliating. But for anyone else who is reading this and is totally new to exfoliation, let’s start from the top. Why do you need to exfoliate your skin? The truth is that exfoliation is already a natural process which skin undergoes in order to remove dead skin cells and replace them with healthy new cells. However. Not everyone’s skin sheds efficiently, and if your skin’s natural exfoliation process (known as desquamation) is slow, then you may experience things like a dull skin tone, rough skin texture, clogged pores, and breakouts. Therefore. Exfoliation is a useful step which can help to aid this process, leading to skin that feels smoother, and looks brighter, clearer, and healthier. In addition, it also helps your other skincare products penetrate and absorb well. 

When it comes to exfoliation, you don’t want to overdo it, so most people will only need to exfoliate once or twice a week. Over-exfoliating can actually damage the skin, leading to increased sensitivity, redness, dryness, and breakouts, and it also makes skin more sensitive to UV damage. This leads us to the answer to your question, what’s the best time of day to exfoliate? For most people I would always recommend exfoliating in the evening, since (even if you do wear and reapply SPF) exfoliating in the morning means your skin is immediately exposed to that potential UV damage. In addition, exfoliating in the evening means you can get a really deep cleanse (ideal if you’ve worn makeup), and it means you can make the most of your freshly exfoliated skin by applying your serum and moisturisers and knowing that their ingredients will penetrate effectively and work efficiently throughout the night. If you also find that exfoliation makes your skin quite red, you’ll probably want to stick to evening exfoliation. 

That said, if you find that your skin always looks particularly oily or dull in the morning, then you might want to consider exfoliating in your AM routine instead. However, I’d advise using an exfoliating face wash (usually a cleanser boosted with salicylic or glycolic acid) to gently exfoliate, rather than using an acid-based toner, peel, or a scrub. 

Try these...

Exfoliating Scrubs

Exfoliating Cleansers

Exfoliating Masks & Treatments

Liquid Exfoliants

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