Your morning routine can easily take a turn for the worst if just seconds after applying face cream, you notice dry, flaky skin appear. Naturally, anyone will go into defense mode and re-up the hydration, but those patchy spots could be a sign that you've skipped a critical cleansing step: Exfoliation.

A face scrub is essential for three reasons, according to Ole Henriksen, founder of the eponymous skin care brand. "Firstly, it deeply cleanses the skin, dislodging build-up in the pores and helping to break up white heads. It also smooths and refines the skin’s texture, giving it a soft, supple look. And lastly, it enhances blood flow to the face, giving the appearance of a fresh glow," explains Henriksen.

Now that you know why you need to exfoliate your face, read our three-minute guide on how to slough away all that dead skin.

Minute 1: Get familiar with your face ... again
You see the excessive dryness, but you should set aside time to thoroughly examine. Henriksen says, "Go outside in the daylight with clean skin and bring a mirror. This will help you to understand what is going on and the areas where you might need help. I believe that everyone should be their own skin care expert, and this is an essential step in getting to know your skin."

Minute 2: Start scrubbing away
Twice a week before you go to bed, splash warm water onto skin and gently exfoliate, using upward, circular motions. "I think the biggest mistake people make is being heavy-handed," says Henriksen. "A little goes a long way -- let the exfoliating particles do their job. You just want to facilitate the glide across the face, that way your skin feels great and you don’t overtreat it."

If you have frail capillaries, he suggests applying a face oil prior to using your scrub to act as an extra layer of protection for your skin. And if you notice sensitivity or redness, only exfoliate once a week.

Looking for a scrub that won't wreak havoc on your face with harsh beads? Henriksen believes that jojoba beads are extremely gentle. "What you want to be sure of is that the beads are perfectly round spheres," Henriksen adds.

Exfoliating brushes have become very popular lately thanks to Clarisonic, as well as their frequent use in various spa treatments. Be sure to keep a close eye on how your skin reacts to this tool, and cut back on use should you see an unsettling change, such as irritation or redness.

Minute 3: Rinse off and moisturize
Wash off exfoliant with warm water, then gently pat face dry with a towel. You'll want to lock in moisture with a hydrating cream or your favorite anti-aging serum before heading off to bed. Take it from us, your mornings will be much brighter (and your skin significantly smoother).

Meanwhile, find out how to apply blush in under 3 minutes without looking clown-ish.

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  • Ole Henriksen Walnut Complexion Scrub

    $16, <a href="http://www.olehenriksen.com/p-72-walnut-complexion-scrub.aspx">olehenriksen.com</a>

  • Clinique Exfoliating Scrub

    $20, <a href="http://www.sephora.com/exfoliating-scrub-P122718">sephora.com</a>

  • Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

    $36, <a href="http://www.murad.com/aha-bha-exfoliating-cleanser">murad.com</a>

  • Kate Somerville ExfoliKate

    $85, <a href="http://www.katesomerville.com/exfolikate-intensive-exfoliating-treatment/">katesomerville.com</a>

  • Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

    $50, <a href="http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=prod2152621">ulta.com</a>

  • Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System

    $119, <a href="http://www.clarisonic.com/shop/sonic_skin_cleansing_systems/sonic_skin_cleansing_system_mia/">clarisonic.com</a>

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