Time to learn how to choose the best exfoliant for your skin type! Exfoliation is the removal of the dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. If you’ve ever been to an esthetician for a facial, exfoliation was part of the process. Exfoliation can be achieved one of two ways- mechanical or chemical.
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Mechanical exfoliation involves physically scrubbing the skin with substances such as salt, sugar, pumice, volcanic rock, apricot kernel, microbeads and almond shells. I think we can come to a consensus that all of these things are too harsh for the face, but there are more gentle options available, like microfiber cloths, exfoliation sheets, micro bead scrubs, and brushes like the Clarisonic.
Fun fact- St. Ives was slapped with a $5M lawsuit, claiming the cult fave, St. Ives Apricot Scrub, is too harsh on the skin. Read more here.
Chemical exfoliation involves applying a chemical to remove dead skin. Chemical exfoliants include salicylic acid, glycolic acid, fruit enzymes, malic acid and citric acid. Chemical exfoliants work by loosening up the glue like substance that holds skin cells together.
Fun fact- Wine was the chemical exfoliant of choice in the Middle Ages. Read more here.
Now that you understand the difference between the two, which is right for you?
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If you have dry skin, you have the widest variety of exfoliants available for your use. A chemical exfoliant, like Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid is best, but if you like manual exfoliants, try something that is hydrating with a fine grit.
Normal skin is the rarest skin type, but if you are one of the chosen few and feel the need to exfoliate, use a scrub that is fruit enzyme based.
Sensitive skin types should use the least abrasion and this means using gentle mechanical exfoliants or exfoliating cloths to control the abrasiveness.
Because combination skin is a little bit of dry and a little bit of oily, you need something strong enough to blast the dry spots without aggravating the oily spots. Pick an exfoliant with fruit enzymes or a chemical exfoliant, like BHA.
If you have oily skin, you have to be very careful how you exfoliate. Over-exfoliating your skin can trigger it to produce more oil. This means chemical exfoliants are going to be your best friend.
Additional exfoliation tips
- Acne prone skin should avoid all mechanical exfoliants. Look to BHA to exfoliate your skin and heal acne. Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid is the only thing I personally recommend.
- Aging skin is typically sensitive and dry, so invest in a gentle exfoliant that contains AHA, BHA, or a little bit of both.
- If your skin is sun-damaged, do not exfoliate manually at all. Focus solely on hydration.
- Incorporate exfoliation into you night routine, when you apply treatments. Your skin responds better to retinol and serums after a good exfoliation session.
Now that you have discovered different types of exfoliants, which one is right for your skin? Do you already own the exfoliant of your dreams?