Definition of exfoliate in English:



  • 1 (of a material) be shed from a surface in scales or layers:

    ‘the bark exfoliates in papery flakes’
    • ‘Within networks surfaces are exfoliating in more and more complexity.’
    • ‘Most of the fossil is covered with a thin layer of matrix, but this has exfoliated enough to reveal some of the carapace, whose texture and color is quite close to that of Esmeraldacaris.’
    • ‘I was then exfoliated from top to toe with nice scrubby stuff which left me all a-tingle.’
    • ‘Tshudy and Feldmann made such observations on the counterpart of concretions containing macruran decapods in which the exocuticle did not exfoliate, and they recognized serpulid worms and oysters that had encrusted the host.’
    1. 1.1[with object] Cause (a surface) to shed material in scales or layers:
      ‘salt solutions exfoliate rocks on evaporating’
      • ‘This ingredient exfoliates the surface of the skin and reduces inflammation in the hair follicle, helping the hair to break through.’
      • ‘The salicylic acid helps exfoliate the scalp.’
      • ‘Lemons contain citric acid, which helps exfoliate dead skin cells and promotes the growth of healthy, new cells.’
      • ‘Enzymes in the sanitized droppings help remove dirt and exfoliate dead skin cells.’
      • ‘Gently dry-brushing your skin just before every shower exfoliates the dead skin that traps those odor-causing wastes.’
      • ‘These two ingredients work synergistically for a greater effect, and will both exfoliate follicle walls and calm oil secretions.’
      • ‘Waxing also exfoliates the skin, leaving it ultra-soft and smooth.’
      • ‘I would watch them dying from the edge, oversized lifejacket forcing me to stand, salty Atlantic air exfoliating the face.’
    2. 1.2[with object] Wash or rub (a part of the body) with a granular substance to remove dead skin cells:
      ‘exfoliate your legs to get rid of dead skin’
      • ‘A spa manicure and pedicure will transform your hands and feet - if you're wearing sandals on holiday, continue to exfoliate and moisturise your feet.’
      • ‘I use a high-quality moisturizer and exfoliate frequently.’
      • ‘So I shaved, brushed my teeth, deep-conditioned my hair, exfoliated, moisturised, filed and buffed my nails, and yet it still wasn't enough.’
      • ‘Take 20 minutes a day to exfoliate, moisturise, and listen to a meditation CD for positive affirmation.’
      • ‘Further questioning revealed that she'd started to use exfoliating agents on her face about three weeks earlier.’
      • ‘Make sure to exfoliate and moisturise well before the appointment to prepare a good, even base.’
      • ‘When you're younger, you don't listen to your parents, so I really want to say it: hydrate, exfoliate, moisturize, exercise and floss!’
      • ‘Every inch of me had been cut, filed, steamed, exfoliated, polished, painted, or moisturized.’
      • ‘The therapist identifies areas affected by cellulite, then exfoliates the body.’
      • ‘First of all she exfoliated my body, then slopped cream all over me, rubbing it in while I asked her about her two pregnancies.’
      • ‘Your whole body is exfoliated before being vigorously massaged with a special balm.’
      • ‘The session starts with a luxurious foot bath followed by a foot and leg massage with exfoliating granules.’
      • ‘‘You're supposed to moisturize and exfoliate before using a self-tanner, but most people don't do that until right before they apply the product,’ she says.’
      • ‘The body is exfoliated and anticellulite cream applied.’
      • ‘Then exfoliate all over, and apply two layers of St Tropez fake tan.’
      • ‘Mild exfoliating cleansers and scrubs also may be used but ask your doctor first.’
      • ‘She showed me how to exfoliate, moisturize, and the art of a facial mask.’
      • ‘The fact is, real men do moisturize, tone and exfoliate.’
      • ‘To treat it, add exfoliating products to your skin-care arsenal every day.’
      • ‘I can't even exfoliate my face, because I know it is going to hurt too much.’
    3. 1.3[with object] Shed (material) in scales or layers:
      ‘diagnosing cancer from cells exfoliated into the intestine’
      • ‘Similar to 8 - OHdG, the predictive value of micronuclei in exfoliated cells for eventual cancer development has yet to be definitively established.’
      • ‘Species from the Czech Republic were represented by one or more small, slightly exfoliated fragments extracted from larger specimens.’
      • ‘Because the specimens are all composed of delicate, partially exfoliated cuticle in a hard matrix, preparation of the fossils was considered likely to damage them and was not done.’
      • ‘Three small, exfoliated fragments of cord-impressed collars also were collected that are definitely identified as Point Sauble Collared.’
      • ‘Furthermore, the incidence of HPV DNA in exfoliated cervical cancer cells increases during pregnancy when estrogen levels are highest.’
      • ‘This activity results in the outward displacement of higher cells toward the free surface until they, too, are exfoliated.’


Mid 17th century: from late Latin exfoliat- stripped of leaves, from the verb exfoliare, from ex- out, from + folium leaf.