Our skin naturally sheds layers, but when our systems are lacking or maybe lagging or even in some cases overcompensating it might need a bit of motivation to function correctly.
Exfoliating removes the dead skin cells that are on the surface of our skin, making way for new cells and decreasing the chance of blackheads and blocked pores. This is especially important in aging skin, as these dead skin cells can make your skin look dull and rough. Exfoliation also strengthens your skin’s barrier by speeding up cell turnover. Our skin regenerates every 28-30 days; however, if our skin’s metabolism is good, this will happen faster and therefore reduce the risk of your skin looking dull and unhealthy. Exfoliation is also crucial for those who suffer from pigmentation and acne scarring.
There are two types of exfoliants: chemical and physical:
The physical exfoliants are the facial scrubs and washes that have small beads or grains in to physically remove dead skin cells as well as exfoliation brushes and cloths. The professional versions of a manual exfoliation are things like Microdermabrasion, microplanning, laser.
A chemical exfoliant is, for example, an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid). An AHA (e.g. Glycolic/Lactic acid) is a chemical that loosens the fluid that binds the surface skin cells together, allowing the dead ones to be removed. A BHA (e.g. Salicylic acid) can penetrate deeply into pores, dissolving excess sebum and dead skin. The professional versions of chemical exfoliations are things like peels, chemical resurfacing, high % vitamin A treatments.
Physical exfoliants can be great for your skin, they are great for stimulating full system circulation, the immediate effects of smoothness and the feeling of clean-ness is noticeable right away, but these 2 immediate effects can become almost addictive, we all want to be smoother and cleaner all the time, so it is easy to over exfoliate when using manual products. Its always important to check the ingredients to make sure you are avoiding things that are too harsh for the skin. Avoid products that contain fruit pits or shells in them as they can often cause micro-tearing on the skin's surface, which can eventually lead to thickening of the skin and has been known to speed up the signs of aging.
Chemical exfoliation can be more effective as it can be a more controlled level of removal using enzymes and acids to improve skin on a cellular level. However, chemical exfoliation can cause adverse reactions if not used the way recommended. Using the correct chemical exfoliant ultimately comes down to your skin type and condition as well as your desired outcome. Those with oily skin should use exfoliants with salicylic or glycolic acid to penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin.
Salicylic acid is an ingredient you should be looking for to aid your exfoliation. It deeply cleans the pores without causing any inflammation, so is safe for use on sensitive skin. Any cleanser, exfoliant or serum with 1% or more salicylic acid will do a great job of removing the impurities from your pores. This level of salicylic acid will only be found in pharma grade skincare products, so look out for it in brands such as iS Clinical. Lactic acid also does a great job of acting as a gentle exfoliant; you can find this in Osmosis’ Polish Enzyme Firming Mask along with cranberry enzymes that are a natural enzymatic exfoliant as well as an antioxidant.
If you have sensitive or dry skin, it is even more critical that you be gentle when exfoliating; don’t use exfoliation brushes or harsh face scrubs. Use a gentle chemical (preferably AHA) exfoliator once a week and consider using a cleanser with exfoliating properties like iS Clinical’s Warming Honey Cleanser. This cleanser has papaya enzymes that act as an exfoliator by breaking down the proteins in dead skin.
It is absolutely fine to use both physical and chemical exfoliators; just make sure you aren’t using these on the same day. Finding the perfect exfoliant can be a process, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference and choice. What is important to understand is your skin type and your skin goals. Ensure you’re exfoliating with a good quality product with active ingredients and keep your skin healthy and glowing! If you need any advice on which exfoliation method may be best for your skin, send us a DM on Instagram (@dermoifacials) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!