Do you exfoliate or cleanse first?

Both cleansing and exfoliating are necessary parts of every skincare routine. However, many people wonder, "Do you cleanse or exfoliate first?" While there isn’t necessarily a correct or incorrect answer, there are benefits to either order, and even benefits to cleansing and exfoliating simultaneously!

When to exfoliate really depends on your unique skin type and the exfoliation method you use. Below, we will help you understand why exfoliation is important, the types of exfoliation, and the difference between cleansing first or exfoliating first so you never again have to ask the question, "Do you exfoliate before or after cleansing?"

Why exfoliation matters

Acne forms when dead skin cells and other impurities on your skin mix with excess oil (sebum) from your skin to clog your pores. Exfoliation helps to clear away the buildup of dead skin cells and impurities, to help prevent acne formation.

Exfoliation comes in two forms: chemical and mechanical. Chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid work to help clear your skin of impurities, while mechanical exfoliants work physically on the surface of your skin to clear away the dead skin cells and debris.

Proactiv® offers exfoliation in different formulas and steps with each system:

The first is the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator, which cleanses and exfoliates at the same time and is the first step in the Proactiv+® Acne Treatment System. It uses benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, and exfoliating beads to help remove impurities and dead skin cells while it cleanses, without the rough treatment caused by some exfoliants.

The second is the Renewing Cleanser in the Proactiv® Solution Acne Treatment System. It combines benzoyl peroxide and smooth exfoliating beads to help remove dead skin cells and actually physically exfoliates during the cleansing process.

Both cleansing and exfoliating are vital parts of a balanced skincare routine, but the most important decision isn’t: ‘Should you cleanse or exfoliate first?’. Simply doing both consistently is more important than setting rules about when to exfoliate. If you are using one of proactiv’s acne treatment systems, you can be sure your skin will reap the benefits of consistency.

Benefits of using cleanser first

When you cleanse your face before exfoliating, your face becomes a fresh slate to receive the exfoliating solution. Rogue elements like makeup get washed away first, so the path is clear for your exfoliant to take care of business deep in your pores.

Benefits of using exfoliant first

When you exfoliate before cleansing, you are lifting the dead skin cells, excess oil and impurities away from your skin. Then the cleanser comes through to help wash it all away, along with other things like makeup and acne-causing bacteria.

If you cleanse first, the cleanser helps you exfoliate better, while if you exfoliate first, the exfoliant helps you get a deeper cleanse. That’s why proactiv’s systems are built to deliver both steps at the same time or in quick succession.

Benefits to cleansing and exfoliating simultaneously

An exfoliating cleanser allows you to cleanse and exfoliate at the same time. That means you’re removing sweat and grime, while sweeping away dead skin cells with just one product and one step. Less products, less time, and less guesswork. Who doesn’t love a good multi-tasking product?

Exfoliation based on skin type

Generally speaking, oily skin requires more exfoliation to clear out excess oil, while dry skin requires a bit less to avoid stripping your skin of its natural, hydrating oils. But not to worry — proactiv’s comprehensive systems are balanced to allow for daily use.

The bottom line

Exfoliating and cleansing are crucial steps in your skincare routine. Whether you do it in a certain order or simultaneously, doing both consistently is the key. Make it easy by picking out the right proactiv acne treatment system for your skin so cleansing, exfoliating, treating and moisturizing your skin become easy in a simple, 3-step system!