Should Teens Exfoliate Their Skin? Why and How Often?

Should teens exfoliate their skin?

Some readers are wondering how early is too early to start exfoliating. Should teens exfoliate or is their skin too fragile? What are the benefits of this and how often should they do it?

These are all valid questions because exfoliating isn’t something that everyone does or knows a lot about.



All the Exfoliating Facts


Exfoliating scrubs off dead skin cells that sit on the outer layer of the skin. There are two types of exfoliating, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. One is mechanical and one is chemical. Mechanical can use something like a washcloth to exfoliate the skin, whereas chemical exfoliation uses chemicals, such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids, to get rid of dead skin cells.

By removing this dead, outer layer, teens reveal the healthy and fresh layer of skin. This can help get rid of whiteheads and reduce the size of pores. The skin care treatment also gets rid of excess oil or irritants that can make teens break out. For example, an exfoliating face wash can get rid of makeup, dirt, and excess oil.

Most exfoliating skin care recommendations include both exfoliating and moisturizing. This way, teens don’t deplete the skin of all oils. Moisturizing after exfoliating helps the skin heal even more than just exfoliating does.

Should Teens Exfoliate, Though?

There are some benefits to exfoliating, especially for teens who might be going through some skin changes. However, the answer to this question depends on the teen’s skin type.

Dry Skin

If a teen has dry skin, then exfoliating can actually help increase moisture on the skin. For example, exfoliating scrubs get rid of the dead skin, which can be the biggest contributor to dry skin problems. If teens exfoliate and wipe away the excess dry skin, then the moisturizer that they apply afterward can absorb better into the healthy skin.

However, it is recommended that people with dry skin use physical exfoliators more than chemical ones. This is to protect the skin from irritation.

Normal or Combination Skin

A teen with normal or combination skin can exfoliate to avoid dry spots and open up their pores. This is the skin type that can explore the most when it comes to exfoliating.

It might require a few rounds of trial and error to find out what product works best on the skin. But for the most part, it can help develop a consistent skincare routine. Teens that exfoliate combination skin will maintain a clean layer of skin, which can keep them acne-free while they go through some hormonal changes.

Sensitive Skin

Teens with sensitive skin probably shouldn’t exfoliate. This can irritate the skin too much, making them break out in redness and pimples. It can also physically hurt to exfoliate sensitive skin. Some products even burn, so it is important to know your skin and what it does and doesn’t like. This skin type should never try chemical exfoliants because they will probably cause problems.

Oily Skin

Oily skin can be tough to exfoliate because it doesn’t need the moisturizer that should be put on afterward. Teens with oily skin don’t want their skin to break out more, so it is important to wash the face every day in addition to exfoliating. A scrub and a cleanser can work together to get rid of clogged pores and reduce excess oil. If a teen’s oily skin is really acne-prone, then they should look into brands of exfoliating wash that contain acne medicine or treatments in them. For example, as the American Academy of Dermatology mentions, this skin type should use stronger, chemical-based exfoliators.  Things like salicylic acid in scrubs can help prevent future acne in addition to cleaning the skin.

How Often Should Teens Exfoliate If They Decide To?

Most sources suggest exfoliating 2-3 days a week, but no more than that. Exfoliating too much can hurt and irritate the skin regardless of what skin type teens have.

Not only does this and the previous information apply to the face, but it also applies to the body. Skin is all over the body, so exfoliating benefits different parts of the skin in the same way. Gentle body scrubs can be used all over the body too in order to remove some of the dead skin that regular soap can’t.

Overall, a teen’s skin will be clean, soft, and fresh if they exfoliate properly based on their skin type. They only have to worry about skin damage or irritation if they have sensitive skin or exfoliate too much.