We talk about exfoliation, how often you should do it, chemical exfoliation versus manual exfoliation, and which ones are best for certain skin types. But all that is mumbo jumbo unless you know what the words mean! Well, beauties, here’s your guide to decoding the wonderful world of exfoliation!
So what exactly is exfoliating? You wash your face, moisturize, occasionally throw in a serum or an eye cream– what more do you need? Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. Why bother? After skin cells form, they trek through the epidermis toward the top layer — drying out and dying along the way. Ick. When cells reach the surface, they build up, making your skin look thick, rough and lifeless. Beauties over 30 years old are more prone to cell buildup, because natural cell turnover tends to slow as we age. Exfoliation takes care of this buildup, replacing the dead cells on the surface of your skin with fresher, healthier cells. Ever see people who seem to have glowing skin? I’ll bet you they exfoliate. Regularly.
Exfoliants are generally classified as two types: physical (also known as mechanical) and chemical. Physical exfoliants use abrasive ingredients to remove dead skin cells, while chemical exfoliants use enzymes or acids. Physical exfoliants have a gritty, rough texture. Some common ingredients are jojoba beads, salt, sugar, coffee grounds, or rice. Chemical exfoliants are often creamy, or smooth in texture. These exfoliants dissolve the bonds between dead cells on the skin’s surface using ingredients like Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), including glycolic, lactic, and citric. Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are also commonly used, includingsalicylic acid. Unlike AHAs, BHAs are more effective at entering oil glands and exfoliating cell residue, which is what helps to treat acne. More natural lines will use natural enzymes, including bromelain from pineapple, pancreatin from certain meats and papain from papaya.
To effectively exfoliate your skin, it’s important to choose a product based on your skin type. If you’re more dry, use products with the chemical exfoliant AHA, because you only need surface exfoliation and don’t want to cause further dryness. A great product is Perricone’s Blue Plasma, which is a chemical exfoliant you can wear day or night! If your skin is on the oily side, look for exfoliants with BHA, because it exfoliates the skin’s surface and inside the pores, breaking up oil and dirt. Try Peter Thomas Roth’s Clinical Peel and Reveal, which has both chemical and physical exfoliants to mak eyour skin super smooth and beauteous. More sensitive? Avoid exfoliating products with a high concentration of glycolic acid — or test the product first to make sure it doesn’t cause irritation. One great exfoliant is Dermalogica’s Gentle Cream Exfoliant, which uses gentle round microbeads to slough away dead skin without being too rough. Generally, you should exfoliate a couple of times a week, but listen to your skin! If you notice your skin looks lackluster, do it more. If your face is red and irritated, skip a few days.
Exfoliation is a key component of every beauty routine and can actually improve the texture, clarity, and tone of your skin. Stop by your local Planet Beauty store and see which one is right for you!