Exfoliation can really brighten up your skin and make it look brand new. But using the wrong exfoliator, or exfoliating too much, can do the opposite and damage your skin. Do your research and make sure you’re using the right exfoliating products for your skin type.
The exfoliating step in your routine works by removing dead cells from the top layer of your skin. This can be done physically, by using a brush or scrub to remove the skin, or chemically, with a product that dissolves the dead cells.
The brightening results from exfoliation are immediate as taking away dead skin can make your face appear like new. Products will also penetrate better on skin when the dead cells are gone.
Most people can benefit from exfoliation. It can be a great anti-ageing step, and can also help prevent acne. However, there are some important cases where you should stop exfoliating.
Those with inflammatory acne, or other sensitive skin conditions such as rosacea, might want to steer clear of exfoliation as it can increase redness and might irritate sensitive skin.
Choosing how to incorporate an exfoliating step into your regimen can feel complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
The first step is deciding if you should be using physical or chemical exfoliation. Those with dry or sensitive skin tend to be better with mild chemical exfoliators because physical exfoliation can be very abrasive and cause irritation.
Those with dry or sensitive skin might also find that once or twice per week is enough exfoliation, as more than this can be too much for easily irritated skin.
Normal and oily skin types can experiment a bit more and use exfoliators more often. Both physical and chemical exfoliation can be good for these skin types, but those with oily skin are able to exfoliate more often.
When choosing an exfoliator, it’s also important to know that there are different chemical exfoliators and they are suitable for different people.
There are a variety of physical exfoliators as well as chemical ones. The exfoliator you probably recognise is the typical exfoliating scrub, but there are so many others.
Konjac sponges are a gentle choice for physical exfoliation. This is a Korean sponge that you can use as an exfoliating tool as you cleanse. They are very soft and so get rid of dead skin without damaging your face.
AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) are typically harsher than BHA (beta hydroxy acid), but some people with dry skin might find that they are helpful as some of them have a humectant action.
The AHA ingredients to look out for are lactic acid (mild) and glycolic acid. BHA products always use salicylic acid, which can be good for acne-prone skin as it also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Exfoliating your skin on a regular basis can really help your complexion. As well as making an instant difference to your skin, exfoliation can increase your skin’s cell turnover over time, meaning that your skin can become clearer.
However, it’s important to find the right exfoliator for you and not use it too often, as over-exfoliation can make your skin more sensitive.