The Best Time to Exfoliate

If you’ve got questions about the best time to exfoliate, we’ve got good news. First, you’re not alone. And second, there’s really no wrong time. (Early birds and night owls, rejoice!) However, that doesn’t mean you can’t perfect the process. Getting the most out of an exfoliation regimen requires paying attention to ingredients, adjusting for your skin type, and following up with the right products. Read on for more details.

Let’s back up. What is exfoliation?

Here’s the deal: your skin is constantly renewing itself. That’s a good thing—but it means that as older skin cells are replaced by newer cells, they die off and linger in the top layer of your skin. Exfoliation is basically the process of getting rid of those dead cells. As any skincare lover can attest, doing so not only reveals a brighter, smoother complexion—it can also help other products better penetrate your skin.

Who needs to exfoliate?

The short answer: everyone. The long answer, as you can probably guess, is slightly more complicated. Most people can and should add some sort of exfoliating product to their face and body skincare regimen. This is particularly true as you age and the skin renewal process begins to slow down. However, if you have any kind of inflammation or skin condition—including eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and (yes!) acne—you should steer clear from the exfoliating process until you can get your dermatologist’s approval. Also worth noting: some medications or even over-the-counter skincare products, including retinol and benzoyl peroxide, can increase your skin’s sensitivity and/or negate the need for exfoliation. Our tip? Whether or not you have a skin condition, always start with a patch test when testing a new skincare product.

New Moroccanoil Body Polishing Scrub - find out the best time to exfoliate with it
NEW Body Polishing Scrub

What kind of ingredients should I look for?

Simply put, there are two kinds of exfoliants: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliants include brushes, beads, or natural elements, whereas chemical exfoliants include things like acids or fruit enzymes. Which is best for you is often a matter of preference and skin type. However, because physical exfoliants require you to exert pressure, it’s easy to accidentally overdo it. For that reason, it’s important to look for gentle options and small, evenly sized exfoliating particles. Our new Body Polishing Scrub, for instance, contains argan shell powder and lava stone pumice, both of which gently buff away dead surface cells. It also has a blend of six precious oils to simultaneously soothe and hydrate skin, preventing that tight, dry sensation that sometimes results from over-cleansing or exfoliation.

What’s the best time to exfoliate?

Some dermatologists will tell you morning, some will tell you evening. So, our answer: the best time to exfoliate depends entirely on what’s best for you and your skin. Fortunately, there are advantages to both AM and PM exfoliation. The skin renewal process largely happens at night. (Beauty sleep, anyone?) That means that if you exfoliate at night, any products you apply before bed will better penetrate your skin, essentially amplifying their effects. And if you exfoliate in the morning, you scrub away the dead skin cells that result from the overnight repair process. While doing both would be a bit too aggressive (we’ll get to that in a moment), we encourage you to experiment to see what works best for you.

How often should I exfoliate?

In addition to time of day, there’s also the question of frequency to consider. This varies by person and product, so our best recommendation is to check the packaging. For instance, Body Polishing Scrub can be used 2 to 3 times a week. However, we also advocate listening to your skin. What it can tolerate is constantly changing depending on the seasons, your hydration levels, whether or not you’ve been on plane recently, and more. Just remember that over-exfoliation can have the opposite effect you want it to—so when in doubt, give your skin a rest.

Moroccanoil Body Polishing Scrub and Dry Body Oil, the best products for exfoliating in the morning, morning skincare routine
Body Polishing Scrub + Dry Body Oil

What products should I use afterward?

That depends on what you decide your best time to exfoliate is. A useful rule of thumb is to use your morning skincare routine for protection and prevention and your evening skincare routine for correction. So, let’s say you shower in the morning. Use Body Polishing Scrub in the shower, then dry off and apply a lotion or cream to lock in moisture. Personally, we love Body Soufflé as your daily go-to or Dry Body Oil for mornings when you’re in a hurry. (That spray applicator is a major time saver.) If you’re going to be outside a lot, make sure to cover any exposed areas with SPF—and remember that SPF for your face is a non-negotiable regardless.

If you shower at night, exfoliating with Body Polishing Scrub will help maximize the overnight treatment benefits of Night Body Serum. It’s designed to work in sync with your skin’s overnight repair processes and has a high concentration of powerful ingredients, including Vitamin C ester to smooth and strengthen the skin, Holy Basil extract to help protect skin from environmental stressors, and argan and tsubaki oils to address loss of firmness and moisture.

Moroccanoil Body Polishing Scrub and Night Body Serum - the best products for exfoliating at night, night skincare routine
Body Polishing Scrub + Night Body Serum