Exfoliating might just be the best way to get your glow on, but you can’t exactly just whip out an exfoliator and be blessed with oh-so-beautiful skin. You might have even had better skin before you picked up an exfoliator.

See you want the dead skin cells to come off, but you shouldn’t be experiencing side effects as a result – it’s not a catch 22 situation. Flaky, blotchy, or red skin isn’t a sign it’s working, but a sign you’re doing something wrong. Or very wrong. Here are all the ins and outs of exfoliating so you can do right by your skin – cya redness.

DO Follow Up with SPF

After buffing away the outer layer of dead skin cells, your skin is instantly more sensitive from the moment you put your exfoliator down, especially to UV rays. Think sun damage, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Applying SPF daily post-exfoliation will ensure you’re protecting your skin and its brand-new skin cells that you’ve just put in arm power for.

DON’T Exfoliate More Than 2-3 Times a Week

Every time you exfoliate your skin you leave it temporarily more sensitive than it was before, so if you’re scrubbing at it day in, day out, your skin will feel and look hella raw. And if you live your life like the fast forward button on The Sims, exfoliating full speed ahead more than 2-3 times a week will damage your skin’s protective barrier, leading to all sorts of problems like bacterial infections, breakouts, and rashes.

DO Exfoliate at Night

You’re probably grateful for this one as who really has the time to exfoliate in the morning? Not us that’s for sure! But there’s more to it than just having a few extra minutes in bed. As we mentioned earlier, the skin will be more vulnerable to environmental aggressors than usual. Exfoliating at night will give your skin more recovery time before exposure and minimise the risk of damage.

DON’T Exfoliate Before You’ve Cleansed

Order. Matters. Without removing dirt, oil, and bacteria on your skin before going in with an exfoliator, it’ll have to work twice as hard to get past all of this gunk to reach the dead skin cells. And even then, they can be tricky to remove when they’re being weighed down by other impurities, most likely leaving dead skin cells behind.

DO Choose an Exfoliator for Your Skin Type

There are a bazillion exfoliators out there and it’s not just to confuse us, even though it definitely does. An exfoliator rarely ever just exfoliates the skin, they usually come with additional benefits to enhance your skincare routine. So, to make the most of exfoliating, choose an exfoliator that covers other skin concerns you may have.

For example, if you suffer from dry skin that’s also oily (hi there, let’s be friends), it’d be a total waste to sleep on an exfoliator that’s rich in moisture and limits sebum production.

Investing in an exfoliator that speaks to your skin type will also avoid running into problems. If your skin is dry but your exfoliator doesn’t target dry skin, it can strip the skin of essential oils and cause even more dryness.