Should You Cleanse Your Skin or Scrub it First?

Should You Cleanse Your Skin or Scrub it First?


Maintaining healthy and radiant skin is a goal that many individuals aspire to achieve. With the myriad of skincare products and techniques available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when deciding on a proper skincare routine. One common debate in the skincare world is whether you should cleanse your skin or scrub it first. Both cleansing and exfoliating are essential steps in any skincare regimen, but the order in which you perform them can significantly impact the health and appearance of your skin.

Understanding Cleansing and Exfoliation

Before delving into the question of which step should come first, it’s important to grasp the purposes of cleansing and exfoliation.


Cleansing is the foundational step of any skincare routine. It involves using a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, oil, makeup, and impurities that accumulate on the skin’s surface throughout the day. Proper cleansing helps maintain the skin’s pH balance and prepares it for subsequent skincare products.


Exfoliation, on the other hand, involves the removal of dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. This process can be achieved through mechanical exfoliation, which uses granular substances like scrubs, or chemical exfoliation, which employs acids to dissolve dead skin cells. Exfoliation promotes skin cell turnover, unclogs pores, and enhances the skin’s texture and radiance.

The Argument for Cleansing First

Proponents of cleansing as the initial step in a skincare routine argue that it’s crucial to start with a clean canvas. Cleansing the skin before exfoliation ensures that you’re not scrubbing away dead skin cells and impurities that have already been loosened by the cleansing process. This approach prevents the accumulation of dirt and oils that could potentially be pushed deeper into the skin while exfoliating.

Cleansing before exfoliating also allows the subsequent skincare products, such as serums and moisturizers, to penetrate the skin more effectively. When the skin is clean, these products can better target specific concerns and deliver their active ingredients.

The Argument for Exfoliating First

On the flip side, advocates for exfoliating as the initial step contend that removing dead skin cells before cleansing allows for a deeper and more thorough cleanse. Exfoliation opens up the pores and eliminates the barriers created by the accumulation of dead skin cells, allowing the cleanser to penetrate more effectively. Ponds Bright Beauty Face Scrub is one such product that is enriched with the goodness of Vitamin B3 and E that helps to remove dirt and impurities.

Exfoliating before cleansing can also enhance the benefits of exfoliation itself. By eliminating the layer of dead skin cells first, the exfoliating agents can work more directly on the fresh skin beneath, promoting a smoother and brighter complexion.

Finding a Middle Ground

While the debate over whether to cleanse or exfoliate first continues, skincare experts often suggest a middle-ground approach that combines the benefits of both steps. This involves alternating between cleansing and exfoliating on different days or times of the day.

For example, in the evening, you might start with a gentle cleanser to remove makeup and impurities. On the following evening, you can opt for exfoliation to slough off dead skin cells. This rotation allows for a comprehensive skincare routine that addresses both cleansing and exfoliation without overburdening the skin.

Tailoring the Routine to Your Skin Type

Ultimately, the decision to cleanse or scrub first should take into consideration your individual skin type and needs. Those with sensitive skin might lean towards cleansing first to avoid potential irritation that can come from exfoliating on freshly cleansed skin. On the other hand, individuals with oily or acne-prone skin might find it beneficial to exfoliate first to help manage excess oil and prevent breakouts.


The question of whether to cleanse your skin or scrub it first is not one-size-fits-all. The optimal order depends on various factors, including your skin type, concerns, and preferences. Both cleansing and exfoliating play crucial roles in maintaining healthy skin, and finding the right balance between the two steps is key.

A well-rounded skincare routine considers the benefits of both cleansing and exfoliation and adapts the order to suit your skin’s unique needs. As with any skincare decision, it’s important to listen to your skin and observe how it responds to different approaches. Consulting with a dermatologist can provide personalized guidance to help you achieve the glowing and healthy complexion you desire.