There are three main types of exfoliates : the mechanical ones with the little scrubby beads; enzymatic ones made from the acids of fruits such as pineapple or papaya; and AHA's (Alpha-hydroxy Acids).
Mechanical exfoliates have little spherical granules (avoid anything not round such as crushed nuts or pits because they can cut the skin.) Stay away from sensitive eye areas. Apply the exfoliate 2 to 3 times weekly or more often for extra oily or thick skin. Massage gently using a little bit of water. Don't be too aggressive. Let the product do the work. Being too harsh can make your skin worse by shocking it.
The next type of mechanical exfoliate is the gommage. You need to apply a thin layer. More is not better; you will just be using up your product faster. Once it is dry you massage it off the skin, removing the dead skin cells in the process
Other unique exfoliates use movement and motion to exfoliate; for example, one has the texture of a sticky gel when applied, but as it dissolves the intercellular cement of dead skin cells, it turns oily and can be wiped or washed away.
Enzymatic exfoliates are usually made from the acids of fruits and dissolve dead skin cells. Use a thin layer—more will not accomplish more. Leave on for about 5 to 7 minutes, according to the product and delicacy of the skin.
AHA's brighten up the skin and increase circulation. A tingling feeling is normal and means the acids are working. Burning is not okay. There may be a very slight amount of redness after using the product.
Exfoliating should never be uncomfortable. If it is, you need to switch products or re-evaluate how you are applying the product.