Exfoliation is probably one of the best things you can do for your skin, but for many people this step can be confusing. Exfoliation is necessary for removing excess dead skin and debris from the skin, and keep it turning over to produce new skin cells.
When done right, exfoliation can really brighten and polish the skin, leaving it smooth and prepared to absorb other products. However, when done wrong, exfoliation can be ineffective or worse, damaging to the skin. The good news is that finding your exfoliation sweet spot is easy, when armed with a little bit of knowledge. Here are our top tips for exfoliating and achieving the right results.
TIPS FOR GETTING EXFOLIATION RIGHT
1.) Understand different types of exfoliation
The good news is that you have a lot of options for exfoliation. The bad news is that you have a lot of options for exfoliation. If the variety of products billed as "exfoliating" feels overwhelming to you, you are not alone. Here is a quick breakdown of the two main types:
Manual exfoliation refers to anything that physically scrubs the skin to remove the top layer of dead cells from the epidermis. This includes face scrubs but also exfoliating treatments like dermaplaning, microdermabrasion and skin scrubber tools, which utilize a device to accomplish the same thing.
Chemical exfoliation includes products like cleansers, toners, peels and masks that contain enzymes or acids. Alpha and beta-hydroxy acids like glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid and salicylic are all considered chemical exfoliants. They work by digesting dead skin cells and breaking up surface debris, so that it is easier to shed or remove.
2.) Choose the right option for your concerns
Knowing about the two types of exfoliation, you may be wondering which is best for you. The truth is that this may vary depending on what skin concerns are present. Manual exfoliation is best if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Gentle scrubs are good for teen skin and sensitive skin.
Chemical exfoliation is great for oily skin, acne, skin texture issues and discoloration. Dry or aging skin also responds well to gentle peels or an AHA mask. Chemical blends and strengths will vary greatly from product to product, however. Always follow instructions and remove these products immediately, if they irritate the skin or cause discomfort after applying.
3.) Give your skin rest days
If we could give only one tip for exfoliation, it would be that less is more. Over exfoliating the skin can have some serious consequences and cause permanent damage. As a general rule, at-home exfoliation treatments are only necessary about 1-3 times per week, following cleansing. If you are new to exfoliating or a using a new exfoliation treatment, start with just once per week and work your way up.
You can think of exfoliation as a workout for your skin. Once you've put your skin through the paces, it's a good idea to not only give it a rest but pamper it a little, to encourage recovery. After an exfoliating treatment, it's a good idea to apply only gentle products that are deeply hydrating. Your skin will drink up the additional nourishment.
4.) Change it up from time to time
If you've been exfoliating regularly for awhile and feel like you aren't seeing results, it may be that you need to try a different product or mix up your method. You could try switching from a chemical exfoliant to a manual exfoliating treatment, or vice versa. You can also try alternating between the two. A more advanced exfoliation hack we love is to combine the two. Some ways you can do this include layering an exfoliating scrub underneath an AHA mask, letting both sit for a few minutes before gently buffing off both layers with a washcloth and cool water. You could follow a treatment like dermaplaning with an exfoliating peel pad, or remove your favorite exfoliating mask with a skin scrubber tool.
NOTE: Double exfoliation is not for sensitive skin or something to be done more than once per week. Exfoliation isn't worth it, if it hurts or irritates the skin. Always be mindful of signs that your skin is reacting negatively to exfoliation - excess redness, itching, stinging or flaking - and take those rest days, like we talked about.
5.) Protect your investment
If you are exfoliating your skin regularly at home or with professional treatments, it is especially important that your daily skincare routine includes sun protection with SPF 30 or higher. Because exfoliation removes the upper layers of skin and exposes fresh new skin, it is critical that you protect the healthy skin from sun damage. Think of SPF as insurance for the investment you are making in your skin and protect it at all costs.
GLOWTOCOL EXFOLIATION FAVES
Image by @karihenrichsenmedia courtesy of Sorella Apothecary