Exfoliating the skin is important to keep it healthy, smooth and young-looking. Body exfoliating products fall into two categories — chemical and mechanical — and are designed to remove dead skin cells and help control blemishes, which can result from pores clogged with dead skin and oil. Body exfoliating products that use chemicals include lotions, creams and ointments that contain alpha hydroxy acids. Mechanical exfoliating products include things such as pumice stones and exfoliating scrubs, pads and masks.
Chemical exfoliating products generally contain alpha hydroxy acids, such as citric acid, lactic acid, phenol and salicylic acid. They usually are used once every few months on the face only. Such acids exfoliate the skin by breaking down dead skin cells, sweat and oil on skin's surface. The product's directions should be followed carefully so that the chemical exfoliants are not scrubbed off, and care should be taken in order to avoid burning the skin when using this type of product.
Exfoliating face and body scrubs contain rough particles for manually exfoliating the skin. Dead skin cells are removed because of the friction of these abrasive scrubs against skin surface. Rougher scrubs generally are reserved for exfoliating the body, and milder scrubs often are used on the face. A circular motion should be used when applying these scrubs, and it is recommended that they be used twice a week, although different skin types may need more or less cleansing. Scrubs that contain natural exfoliants such as cornmeal, ground nutshells, rice powder or oatmeal are recommended.
Pumice stones are reserved for the roughest skin on the body, the bottoms of the feet. These solid stones work by buffing away dead surface skin and are best used right after showering, when skin is at its softest. Exfoliating pads and loofahs usually are used for keeping the elbows, upper arms, lower legs and knees soft and should be used with great care if they are used on the face.
Exfoliating masks often are used for exfoliation because they deep clean skin to remove impurities and keep the skin smooth and the pores unclogged. Masks that contain natural fruit enzymes are among the best for exfoliation, because such enzymes digest dead skin cells on the skin's surface. Fruit enzymes such as fresh papaya and pineapple are used to get rid of rough patches and small bumps on the skin.
The eyes should be avoided when using any body exfoliating product, and the skin under the eyes should not be scrubbed, because it is too delicate. Enzyme exfoliation is better suited to older skin, so younger skin should be treated with scrubs and masks, which help with oily skin and acne control. Most body exfoliating products can be found at a drugstore, and they should be chosen based on the particular needs of the user's skin.