“I’ve been exfoliating my face incorrectly all these years.”

Image: iStock.

During a delightful facial recently (the kind where I ended up jolting awake suddenly, hoping the beauty therapist didn’t notice) I asked a question:

“When you used the exfoliator just before, why did you just sort of press it on rather than rub it in?”

“That’s how you’re meant to use it,” she explained in that soothing facialist voice I assume they’re taught at facial school.

“But aren’t you meant to just gently massage it onto your face?”


“You know, in a circular motion?”


It turns out she was right. And I was wrong. So very wrong. If you’re someone who’s massaged or rubbed your exfoliator onto your face, you’ve apparently missed the memo.

“By ‘rubbing’ exfoliator too vigorously over the skin’s surface we can damage the protective layer. A gentle gliding or ‘press and release’ action with wet fingertips should be all that is required,” explains Danielle Williams, Jurlique’s Education Specialist. (Post continues after gallery.)

“If we are overly zealous with either our technique or frequency, we can deplete the hydrolipidic barrier that prevents moisture loss, as well as contributing to ruptured capillaries by thinning the surface layer.”

Sure, exfoliating is fantastic for removing dead skin cells. It leaves your skin smooth and more able to soak up the goodness from serums and moisturisers but we don’t need to grind the product into our skin to achieve this.

And if, like me, you thought your exfoliator should be used all over that mug of yours to keep pimples at bay, prepare to watch another beauty myth shatter: this could actually be contributing to your skin woes.

Have you been exfoliating the right way?

“Ironically, the reasons why we want to exfoliate more (like acne, blackheads, lines and wrinkles) are exacerbated by harsh exfoliation,” explains Williams.

Honestly, you try to do something good for your skin and then this happens? 

Hold off on banishing your exfoliator from your beauty squad just yet, the key here is down to:

a) Technique. Repeat after me: No More Rubbing; and
b) Balance. Choose an exfoliator for your skin type (a dermatologist can help you out with this if you’re unsure) and a frequency that doesn’t irritate your skin.

“The most important aspect to remember is that regular gentle exfoliation is most effective in keeping your skin soft and glowing, and that ‘over-exfoliation’ will leave skin dehydrated and potentially sensitised,” explains Williams.

Got it.

How have you been exfoliating your skin?