If you want smooth skin, you’ve probably heard a million times that you should exfoliate. But there’s more to the technique than just scrubbing, especially if you have sensitive or breakout-prone skin where irritation is a serious issue. Well, don’t panic; we tapped NYC-based dermatologist Michele Green for the insider scoop on how to best exfoliate for your specific skin type. Let’s scrub to it.

Brit + Co: Is there anyone who shouldn’t be exfoliating?

Michele Green, Dermatologist:

Exfoliating is appropriate for almost every type of skin and is especially beneficial for patients with oily skin and acne-prone skin. However, if your skin is dry, sensitive, or has a tendency for eczema, you have to be very careful when removing layers, as it may irritate it or dry it out more.

B + C: What are the best exfoliators for each skin type?


There are two different types of exfoliators: mechanical and chemical. If you have blemishes frequently, you can use either a mechanical exfoliator like a facial scrub or clay mask. You can also try a Clarisonic with the right product. Depending on how dry your skin is, you can use a chemical exfoliator like alpha hydroxy acid cream, retinol cream, or even Retin-A. Applying these creams at night turns over dead skin cells and builds new collagen to rejuvenate your skin.

B + C: If you have serious acne issues, can you still exfoliate?


Yes, you can (and should) if you tend to break out. Generally, I would advise a mask of some kind and treatment pads with salicylic acid. In my office, I recommend these amazing


B + C: Should I think beyond my face when it comes to exfoliating?


You can exfoliate any part of your body. If your feet, elbows, scalp, etc. are dry, you can use glycolic washes like

($8) to help. Then “lock in” the moisture with a deep conditioning skin moisturizer like


B+ C: How do you know if you are over-exfoliating?


If you find that you are becoming too dry and irritated after exfoliating, then you know it’s time to take a break!

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