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Which Comes First: Cleanser Or Exfoliation?

Which Comes First: Cleanser Or Exfoliation?

This is a hotly debated topic for those who follow skincare routine development and skincare research. The beauty (and curse) of skincare is that what works for you may not work for someone else; keep that in mind as you read through this blog and even as you develop your own skincare routine. At the end of the day, what you need to do is pay attention to how your skin responds to certain products and the order in which you apply them. That being said, let’s take a look at how often you should cleanse and exfoliate; we’ll also address both sides of this “order of operations” argument.

How Often Should I Cleanse?

Cleansing your skin should be a daily part of your skincare routine一 perhaps even twice daily. Most people clean their faces at night before bed, but some also cleanse in the morning before applying products and makeup for the day. While your skin might not necessarily get dirty overnight, it can still help to remove excess oils in preparation for other products. So, cleanse your skin with a high-quality cleanser at least once a day, if not twice a day一 depending on the products you use, and how oily your skin gets.

Picking a Great Cleanser

Here at Rejuvaskin, we’re in love with our Anti-Pollution Cleanser, but any high-quality cleanser will leave your skin feeling refreshed and renewed. For more information about why a great cleanser is a must, read “3 Reasons Why You Need A Good Facial Cleanser In Your Daily Skin Care Routine”.

How Often Should I Exfoliate?

Exfoliation occurs naturally, just not always at the rates we’d like to see. Since forced exfoliation can cause the skin to look smoother, feel softer, and allow products to penetrate the deeper layers of your skin more easily, you may want to try exfoliation techniques. Some people have extremely sensitive skin, so less frequent (or none at all) exfoliation is better for their skincare routine. 

Now here’s the big money question: do you cleanse or exfoliate first? Let’s take a look at the benefits of each option.

Team Cleanse First, Exfoliate Second

First of all, it’s uncommon for individuals to need to exfoliate more than once or twice a week. (Which is why we generally don’t recommend it.) Cleansing, on the other hand, is something that should be done daily. If you exfoliate on Sundays, for example, it can be helpful to know what should come first when adding in this step to your routine: cleansing or exfoliation. Some benefits to cleansing first include:

  • There is less oil and dirt to compete with when using an exfoliation product.
  • Some cleansers open up the pores and loosen dead skin.
  • Cleansers like Rejuvaskin’s Anti-Pollution Cleanser lift microscopic particles from the skin, making your other treatments more effective.

Team Exfoliate First, Cleanse Second

Exfoliation can be harsh on the skin, depending on how sensitive your skin is. That’s why if you want to exfoliate and then cleanse, you may want to do this in the morning. With this method, some other benefits come into play:

  • Exfoliation removes the difficult-to-penetrate layer of dead skin cells from your face; this allows your cleanser to work more effectively一 especially an Anti-Pollution Cleanser like ours.
  • Exfoliating in the morning with fresh, relaxed skin can help minimize irritation.


Regardless of the order in which you choose to exfoliate and cleanse, make sure you follow up your exfoliation with some type of moisturizing treatment. The dead skin cells on the outer surface of your skin may not be soft and supple, but they do serve a purpose一 holding in your skin’s moisture. Make sure to replenish this natural moisture and lock it in with a barrier of some kind. And, above all, do what feels right for your skin; your skin is unique, after all!