Exfoliation has been the talk of the year in the skincare world. Some people swear that it has changed their skin and make it feel much softer and smooth like never before, but on the other hand, some people were complaining how raw and stinging their skin feels after the exfoliate (maybe a little too much). Exfoliation can provide multiple benefits for one’s skin but it has to be done properly. In this article we are going to talk about all the options you have and how to exfoliate properly.
What is exfoliation
Exfoliation is the process of removing the outermost layers of dead skin cells. It is a naturally occurring process on our skin and we shed dead skin cells for new skin to resurface generally for over 2 weeks. This process is also called desquamation. When we are young and our skin cells are still at their prime, they can generally shed pretty normally and your skin will look soft and smooth all year round. However, as we age, hormones, lifestyle and change of weather the process slows down.
When our skin loses its innate ability to exfoliate itself, it may show as rough patches, dull skin, clogged pores and flakey skin. As your skin shows any of the following signs, maybe it’s time when exfoliating skincare steps can benefit you the most to prevent any of that issue.
Types of exfoliators
In general, there are two types of exfoliation: physical vs chemical exfoliators. They each come with its own good and bad that can be adjusted based on your skin needs and preferences.
A. Physical exfoliation:
Means by scraping away dead skin cells with mechanical force. It ranges from gentle to harsh depending on the type of particles and how hard you scrub them on your skin. Some of the advantages of physical exfoliation is that it provides quite immediate results and has a lower chance of causing any allergic reaction since it is available on rinse-off type of product.
However, some of the disadvantages of physical exfoliation is that it only works on the outermost layer of your skin and they are easily misused by the users. The thought of being able to scrape off dry and flakey skin with the scrubbing particles, people tend to scrub their skin too hard and too many times leading to irritated skin.
Types of physical exfoliation:
a) Non-skincare products
- • Face brushes, dry brushes
- • Face cloths
- • Konjac sponges
- • Loofahs
b) Skincare products:
- • Peeling gels / gommages: create clump of gel-like product that contain cellulose
- • Salt and sugar grain
- • Oatmeal
- • Coffee grounds
- • Jojoba beads
- • Plastic microbeads
Skincare tips: physical exfoliation is not the devil. Believe it or not, sometimes people with very sensitive skin can benefit more from a physical exfoliator since it mostly provides short-contact therapy with less probability for an ingredient to actually cause irritation to the skin as long as it is used gently on the skin.
B. Chemical exfoliation:
Chemical exfoliators on the other hand involves the usage of ingredients in a skincare product that help to break the bond between the dead skin cell layers. The good thing about a chemical exfoliator is that it usually works more evenly, gives less room for error and usually can be formulated together with other ingredients to counteract the side effects or even provide benefits for the skin.
However, chemical exfoliators provide a higher chance of irritation reaction since it involves several other ingredients in one product.
a) Hydroxy acids
- • AHA: pH of AHA should be lower than 4
- → Glycolic acid (from sugar cane)
- → Lactic acid (from milk / pickled vegetables)
- → Mandelic acids (from apples)
- → Citric acids (from citrus fruits)
- → Tartaric acids (from grapes)
- • BHA (salicylic acid): pH should be lower than 3.5 – 7 / LHA (lipohydroxy acids)
- • PHA
b) Lactobinoic acid
- • AHA: pH of AHA should be lower than 4
- • Azelaic acid
- • Fruit enzymes
- • Pineapple (bromelain)
- • Papaya (papain)
- • Pumpkin enzyme
FAQ about exfoliation
- Q. Is exfoliating a must step in one’s skincare routine?
A. Only when your skin shows any of the following signs: flakey skin, dullness, and clogged pores.
- Q. Can you combine more than one exfoliation method in one skincare routine?
A. Definitely! Sometimes two make the dream work. However, we should remember that everyone has different skin tolerance to combinations of methods. Always be mindful and try to listen to what your skin really needs.
- Q. Tips for first timer?
A. Start slowly and remember that your skin is unique. It is better to under exfoliate than over exfoliate your skin.