Physical exfoliation is the process of manually sloughing away dead skin cells via scrubs, washcloths, facial brushes, or any other tool that rubs at the skin. Can this help fade dark spots? The answer is two-fold: “It is a myth that if you have dark spots, that scrubbing the skin will scrub them away,” Suarez says. So harsh, salt-like scrubs are a no-go.
However, if you must exfoliate using physical means, do so with care. “A washcloth is a good option for gentle physical exfoliation, provided you are gentle and don’t rub too hard,” Suarez explains.
Physical exfoliation will not help lighten dark spots quite as well as the options mentioned above, but should you decide to use a physical product, be sure not to overdo it. If your skin is red and tender afterward, that’s a surefire sign you should ease up on the pressure. Here, a guide to exfoliants 101 if you’re not sure which mode to pick.