There are 2 types of exfoliants: manual and chemical. The most common example of a manual exfoliant is a scrub. This type of exfoliant physically removes dead skin cells that have collected on the surface of the skin. These collections of dead cells I call "li'l bumpies", they feel kinda like braille on your skin. It's not cute, so a scrub is rubbed on the skin to remove them. Scrubs are great for textured skin, however if you overuse them you can cause the skin more harm than good. If you have sensitive or sensitized skin, skin that is red or inflamed, acne or if you are using a medication that thins the skin you should not use a scrub. If your skin's cool to use a scrub don't use it more than 2-3 times a week. Seriously. Scrubbing too often can and will lead to sensitized skin.
My purpose here isn't to promote any specific brand of products. Of course, I have my favorites, but what works for me, won't necessarily work for you. When you are looking for a facial scrub I recommend going with one that lists rice bran or jojoba beads as ingredients. These are are the physical exfoliators and more respectful of the skin's vulnerability than say, ground walnut shells, salt or cement. (I'm totes not joking, some scrubs use sand as an ingredient, personally, I really don't want to rub that on my face.)
I have a ton to say about chemical exfoliants, so I'm going to make a special post just about them. Look for Part 2 tomorrow!