Exfoliation is a critically important step in skin care. When you use the right type of exfoliant, the difference in the appearance and texture of your skin improves over night.
With consistent use, exfoliation will maintain the health and youthfulness of skin. But how you exfoliate is incredibly important because using the wrong exfoliant will end up hurting your skin and causing serious problems.
Why should you use an exfoliant?
Everyone needs to exfoliate because over time, due to unprotected sun exposure, pollution, age, and some skin disorders, skin can no longer exfoliate (shed dead skin cells) as it once did naturally when we were young. When skin can’t exfoliate on its own anymore, it causes an adverse build-up of dead layers of skin that can result in clogged pores, breakouts, having dry or combination skin, making skin look and feel rough and dull, and impeding skin’s ability to heal and repair itself.
Many people think using an abrasive scrub or a rough cleansing brush, or a loofah is a way to exfoliate skin but those are truly terrible because they create micro-tears in the skin’s surface which causes a litany of problems including collagen breakdown, redness, dehydration, and destroys skin’s protective barrier, so skin becomes more susceptible to environmental damage.
Gentle is the key for any skin care step, including exfoliation
Another problem with using abrasive scrubs for exfoliation is they simply can’t reach where the layers of built-up dead skin reside. Scrubs can only impact the very surface of skin. If the scrub is gentle, that may be good for cleansing, but it won’t help skin shed dead skin the way young skin does.
The absolute best way to exfoliate is by using a leave-on AHA exfoliant (such as glycolic or lactic acid) or a leave-on BHA exfoliant (which is only salicylic acid). When an AHA or BHA leave-on exfoliant is formulated without any irritating ingredients such as witch hazel, alcohol, or essential oils, the results can be amazing. Both AHAs and BHA minimize the appearance of wrinkles, clarify dull, uneven skin tone, improve skin discoloration, smooth rough skin, strengthen the skin’s barrier, reduce breakouts, unclog pores, and even hydrate skin!
BHA is considered best for normal to oily or combination skin and AHA is considered best for normal to dry skin. Adding a leave-on AHA or BHA exfoliant to your skincare routine is simple.
Once or twice a day, after you cleanse and tone apply the exfoliant all over your face, neck, chest, and even your hands and arms. You would then follow with your other skincare products.
Remember that during the day the last product you apply is always sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater.
Here are a few other tips for how to exfoliate:
You can exfoliate around the eye area, but not the eyelid or directly under the eye (along the lower lash line).
You don’t need to wait for your BHA or AHA exfoliant to absorb or dry; you can apply any other product in your routine—moisturizer, serum, eye cream, or sunscreen—immediately afterward.
Experiment with using different types of exfoliants and gauge what frequency of application works best for you. Some people do great exfoliating with an AHA or BHA twice a day, whereas others find that once a day or every other day is a perfect balance. Note how your skin responds and adjust accordingly.