Skincare 101: The Ultimate Guide to Exfoliating Your Skin

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I think we all grew up using that one facial scrub. You know the one that made your face raw and burn? Yeah, that one! At least we grew up and now know better. Right?! Or are you still using the same facial scrub you had back in middle school? Well throw that beast in the trash and buckle up. Let’s learn all about exfoliating your skin.

What is Exfoliation and Why is it Important?

We all want smooth and glowing skin right? Well exfoliation is a key step in your skincare routine to making that dream a reality. Your skin is constantly repairing and replacing itself. As cells are turned over and new ones created, the old dead skin cells rise to the surface of your skin. Exfoliation is the process of removing these dead skin cells. Without exfoliation your skin will appear dull and lifeless. When we don’t exfoliate the dead skin cells can lead to dryness, clogged pores and prevent your skincare products from working as well as they could.

Exfoliation will remove the dead skin cells, helping to reveal brighter, smoother and younger looking skin. Overall, exfoliation helps to improve the health, tone and texture of your skin.

Types of Facial Exfoliation

There are two main types of exfoliation – manual and chemical.

Physical or manual exfoliation is usually done with a tool like a brush, cloth or a tool like the Clarisonic. Scrubs also fall under this category. Facial scrubs are usually a liquid, gel or cream with granules such as microbeads, crushed nuts, salt or sugar to smooth and refine the skin. Generally, I am not a fan of manual exfoliation as most people are far too harsh when using facial scrubs. These granules can cause micro tears in the skin that can lead to infection and damage to the skin’s surface. I recommend that you try a chemical exfoliant instead.

Chemical exfoliants include different Alpha Hydroxy Acids or Beta Hydroxy Acids (see my post on these here). Chemical exfoliants include different acids like salicyclic acid, glycolic acid or lactic acid; these are enzymes that are used to loosen the glue-like substance that holds dead skin cells together so they are easily removed. These acids are often natural ingredients that are sourced from different fruit acids to aid in exfoliating the skin.

The Right Exfoliator For Your Skin

As I mentioned, I highly recommend using a chemical exfoliant. Different ones work better for different skin types so let’s find the right one for you.

  • Oily Skin – oily skin will do really well with a BHA like salicyclic acid. Derived from Willow Bark this is the only chemical exfoliant that can actually penetrate deep into pores to remove dead skin and other debris that can clog pores and cause breakout.
  • Acne Prone Skin – Acne prone skin types will do well with a mix of salicyclic and glycolic acids. Exfoliation is key for acne prone skin, as it removes the dirt and debris that often leads to clogged pores and there for, breakouts. A lot of brands are now creating exfoliating cocktails that work for a variety of skin types and a multitude of skin concerns. I personally love this Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum.
  • Dry Skin – drier skin types can do well with both glycolic and lactic acids. I much prefer lactic acid as they can also hydrate skin while removing dead skin. I personally love the new Herbivore Prism Glow serum.
  • Sensitive Skin – I am a dry and sensitive skin type with eczema so the only chemical exfoliant that works well for me is a lactic acid. It helps to keep the skin hydrated while removing dead skin. Most companies now add hydrating ingredients to these like Hyaluronic Acid. My favorite is The Ordindary 10% Lactic Acid with 2% Hyaluronic Acid.

When and How Often to Exfoliate

I think one to two times a week is the perfect amount of time to exfoliate the skin. I prefer to use my chemical exfoliants at night. Pay attention to any irritation that may come up. With some of these, paticularly Glycolic acid, there might be some tingling or a burning sensation as it is the strongest of the acids.

If anything causes too much irritation or inflammation, discontinue use and try another product. I also highly recommend patch testing on the skin before trying a new product out for the first time. Over the counter exfoliants can only be purchased in smaller percentages and lighter strengths, but you can always get deeper peels through your Esthetician or Deramtologist.

Check out the video below to learn more about how to exfoliate your skin and as always, if you have any questions, please leave them below. I’m here to help and be a resource for all things skincare for you.

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