The journey to soft, clear skin can be a difficult one to trek. With an array of different products and tools you can introduce to your skincare regimes, it can be all too easy to feel flooded with decisions.
Arguably one of the most popular steps of the skincare routine is exfoliation. You can choose to use chemical or physical exfoliants, which include exfoliating tools like gloves.
But can you use exfoliating gloves on your face? Unfortunately, we would advise against it. Not only are these gloves incredibly abrasive, but they can tear the delicate skin of your face, aggravating it and potentially emphasizing existing skin issues.
If you’re in a pinch, using one may offer relief (but only if used correctly). Read on to find out how to use one effectively, and what other options may be worthwhile.
What Are Exfoliating Gloves?
For those with dull, dry skin all over the body, you’re probably in constant search for products that can offer some relief. You may lean towards using moisturizing body washes or cream-based lotions, but, unlike the delicate skin of your face, your body can benefit from regular physical exfoliation.
Enter the exfoliating glove, which is a mitten you can wear on your hands that have the feel of a loofah or body sponge. They’re textured with some grit, effectively scrubbing away dead or dry skin.
Used in the shower, you can pair your gloves with a body scrub or exfoliating body wash to double the sloughing experience. This technique effectively promotes healthy blood circulation to the skin, encouraging a softer, more supple surface.
You may think that your facial skin can benefit from this method but trying it out may do you more harm than good.
Is Facial Skin More Delicate?
Your facial skin is undoubtedly the most sensitive form of skin on your body and there are a multitude of reasons for that. Not only is it underneath constant exposure of the sun (which changes the skin over time), but it also moves the most, is most effected by bodily/hormonal changes, and is just generally thinner.
Unfortunately, this means it lacks resilience. While the rest of your body is able to heal itself quite well following damage, the skin on your face may take some time to bounce back (or it may not bounce back at all). The distinct lack of skin cells in the face is to blame for this.
This means that you should be especially picky about the products you use on your face, especially when it comes to physical exfoliants.
Why Exfoliating Gloves Can Hurt Your Face
The bottom line is, exfoliating gloves and mitts are meant for the body. Your bodily skin is generally thicker, and can handle the rough texture of the glove in a way your face can.
If you regularly use an exfoliating glove on your face, you may not see a notable amount of damage to begin with, but you could be unknowingly micro-tearing your skin.
Microtears are invisible, but dangerous, rips that occur on the surface of the skin. These are caused by large or abrasive particle rubbing the top of your face, and can compromise the health of your skin immensely.
These rips open your skin up, making it a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, potentially causing deeply impacted acne. Not only that, but you’re damaging your skin’s moisture barrier, which is the first line of defense against outside aggressors.
Damaging this fragile layer can make skin hypersensitive, exacerbate rosacea, and can even make your skin look drier and flakier (which is what we were trying to remedy in the first place).
Chemically Exfoliating Your Face
You may feel defeated knowing that exfoliating gloves can hurt your facial skin, especially since they can surely scrape off dead skin like no other beauty tool. But, just like most things in life, slow and steady truly wins the race.
If you have the time and patience, we recommend opting for an AHA or BHA formula to exfoliate your skin. These are chemical exfoliants, coming in a range of strengths and prices.
Over time, these chemical compounds will allow your cell renewal process to speed up, so you can shed dead skin cells and replace them with healthier ones.
Of course, this is a lengthier process. Lengthier still if you’ve never used AHAs/BHAs before and need to start with a lower percentage to acclimate your skin.
While you can use these products at home, you can also have a chemical peel done by an esthetician, who will use higher grade formulas, leaving you with softer skin faster.
Using AHAs And BHAs
If you’re going the chemical route, you should be aware of the risks of being too trigger happy with your exfoliant! While these products are nothing short of magical, the possibility of a chemical burn is very real, especially if you abuse these formulations.
Let’s break down some of our favorite chemical exfoliating products, and let you know how to use them to make the most of your skin:
1. Paula’s Choice BHA Formula
This miracle product is the current favorite chemical exfoliator of skincare aficionados, and we have to admit that we love it too.
With a 2% potency, this BHA formula is a perfect introductory formula to the AHA/BHA world. While not as concentrated as other products on the market, when used correctly, this bottle is unbelievably effective.
For those with sensitive skin, we highly recommend using this product only 2x a week to begin. If you see no negative effects, you can move up to using it every other night. Though it says it’s safe enough for daily use, we believe this may be too strong for most skin types, so proceed with caution!
To use, simply soak a cotton round with the product and wipe around the entire face.
2. The Ordinary AHA/BHA Mask
You may recognize this product from when it blew up on social media in the past year or so. This red liquid face mask is basically the salon experience in bottle and is loved by many for its strong formula and quick results.
The biggest note we have for this product is that it’s easy to overuse. While it may seem tempting to cover your face in this bloodred formula, 3 drops is all you need.
Simply drop the product onto your fingertips, and massage it throughout your entire face. It will be a sheer coverage, but trust us when we say that it’s more than enough.
Using this product once a week for 5 minutes at a time is good to start, but you can graduate to twice a week for 7 minutes after a couple of weeks of use. Make sure to use a heavy moisturizer afterwards to replenish your skin!
3. Murad AHA/BHA Cleanser
If toners and masks aren’t your thing, this Murad exfoliating cleanser is equally effective and incredibly easy to use.
Perfect for the beginner exfoliator, simply use this cleanser in face of your traditional face wash 2-3x a week to slough off dead skin and reveal a healthy, fresh face.
This face wash contains salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acid, making it a great pick for those with oily, acne prone skin.
4. REN Clean Skincare Glow Tonic
For those with mature skin, exfoliation can greatly reduce wrinkles and fine lines, but since your skin is even more sensitive than other skin types, your skincare needs to revolve around your older skin type.
For chemical exfoliants, we recommend something gentle and light, like this toner from REN Clean. Not only is it cruelty free and vegan, but it’s gentle enough to use every single day after cleansing.
This formula is made with AHAs and BHAs found from nature (willow bark, yeast, and grains), and can brighten the skin after just a couple of uses. Continued use can also lessen the look of aging.
Soak a cotton pad with the toner, and swipe along your face and neck. For those with extra sensitive skin, only use for a maximum of 3x a week.
5. Urban Skin RX BrighterDays
For strong skin types, or for those who rarely experience side effects, you can use stronger formulas with more confidence.
When it comes to using chemical exfoliants though, we still recommend heading utmost caution and using products from trusted brands.
Urban Skin is known for their skin clearing recipes, and this product has the added benefit of added grit for texture!
Featuring 8% AHAs and a polishing finish, you can use this cleanser up to 3x a week. Gently rub the desired amount gently into your skin, and let it sit for 5 minutes before rinsing.
Physically Exfoliating Your Face
Physical exfoliants are a controversial option to add into your regime, but when they’re made for the face (and when used correctly), they can be a safe and welcome addition.
For those with buildup and visibly clogged pores, using a physical exfoliant can aid in lifting these obstructions from your skin. If your skin concerns seem to live on the surface of the skin, or they don’t seem to be cystic or deeply impacted, a physical exfoliation can be immediately beneficial.
These types of exfoliating tools can provide quicker results than chemical formulas, but, just like AHAs and BHAs, they should be used with extreme caution (arguably more caution than a liquid exfoliant).
Using Physical Exfoliants
There’s something unbelievably satisfying about the feel of a physically polished face, but it’s definitely something you can have a little too much of.
Here, we’ll break down our top 3 picks for physical exfoliants to keep skin feeling smooth, while also keeping it safe!
1. INNERNEED Silicone Facial Cleanser
A perfect tool for daily use! This pack of silicone facial cleansers are gentle enough to use whenever you wash your face, but mighty enough to deep clean your pores.
The bristles on this brush move with your skin, making it safe enough for ultra-sensitive skin types.
The other side of the brush has finger slips to make the scrubbie comfortable to hold.
If you feel like your cleanser isn’t cleaning your skin as deeply as it should, we highly recommend introducing one of these into your routine.
2. Olay Facial Cleansing Brush
Olay is a beloved skincare brand known for their range of moisturizing cleansers and creams, so it’s no surprise why their cleansing brush is so beloved in the community as well.
Unlike the silicone scrub listed above, this brush has a slightly tougher bristle, and is powered by batteries for a motorized clean.
It’s water resistant, so it’s safe to use in the shower, and comes with 2 speeds depending on what product you’re using it in tandem with (the stronger setting is fantastic when used with a cleansing oil for removing makeup!).
3. Swisspers Exfoliating Rounds
If you have extra sensitive skin, or just wanting to maintain smoothness in between stronger treatments, using these exfoliating rounds is a must.
The cotton pads feature tiny bumps that scrub away dead skin with a single swipe.
You can use these rounds to remove makeup when used with micellar water, or you can use it to apply toner, astringent, or other treatments.
They’re easily disposable and come in packs of 50-100.
4. Exfoliating Gloves On Your Face
If you’re looking for immediate relief, or if you’re in serious need of exfoliation with only gloves on hand, the good news is you can use exfoliating gloves on your face. We must warn you though, this is not a technique to replace other forms of exfoliation and shouldn’t be used regularly (not even once a week).
The first step to this method is ensuring that you have the correct type of glove to exfoliate your face. Using the mitten type (the one that covers the entire hand with no finger placements) isn’t recommended, as it covers such a large surface area.
When used, it could be difficult to direct even pressure, and difficult to see any potential damage you can be doing.
Using a glove type exfoliator can keep you in control of exfoliation, as well as able to limit the areas coming in contact with the grit. Our biggest piece of advice with this technique is ensuring that you don’t scrub the face in the same way you scrub the skin on your body.
How To Properly Use Exfoliating Gloves On Your Face
1. Cleanse Your Face
Never exfoliate dirty skin! You’re risking pushing bacteria, germs, and other irritants deeper into your pores. This can cause acne or other skin concerns.
Make sure your face is freshly washed and still damp! The same goes with your hands. While they won’t be directly touching your skin, they will be touching the gloves, so staying squeaky clean is a must!
2. Prep Your Gloves
Since exfoliating gloves are particularly rough, we want to soften their edge as much as possible. Prep your gloves by getting them nice and wet so they aren’t as gritty on your skin.
3. Pull Skin Taut
When choosing an area to exfoliate on your face, pull the skin taut with your other hand. We suggest keeping one hand degloved specifically for this purpose.
Be gentle when doing this! You don’t want to cause premature wrinkling. We just want to expose any buildup and make it easier to reach.
4. Gently Rub
Work in downwards strokes only. Never scrub up and down or back and forth, as that could be too harsh on the skin. Simply scrub down, lift your finger, and scrub down again.
Use one finger when exfoliating to protect surrounding areas that aren’t in need of polishing and use an extra light hand. Make sure to take periodic breaks between strokes to check out your skin and make sure it’s not looking overly irritated. If it hurts, stop.
Because this technique is aggressive, the best areas to use it on are fleshy, like your cheeks or jaw. Areas near the eyes are a definite no-go.
After an abrasive treatment, it’s best to treat your skin gently for a while. If your skin feels warm or red, applying some aloe vera is a great soother that contains an immediate cooling effect.
If you don’t have that on hand, simply rubbing an ice cube over affected areas can help sooth angry skin. If you choose to do the ice cube method, place the ice in a zip up bag to provide a barrier between you and the cold.
A good cream or moisturizer can provide your skin with some serious TLC. Doing this method at night is recommended, as your skin does most of its healing while you sleep.
Try looking for a soothing or cooling formula to speed up your skin’s healing process, and never use an AHA or BHA after doing this method!
Our favorite pick for a soothing moisturizer is La Roche-Posay’s Lipikar Soothing Cream.