Think exfoliation has to mean harsh, irritating, apricot pit-laden skincare? Think again. Exfoliation is one of the most misunderstood elements of a skincare routine, earning a reputation from being unnecessary to damaging.
However, when done correctly and regularly, exfoliation can be one of the best ways to reveal a smoother, brighter and softer complexion -- sometimes instantly! Let’s dive into its benefits and break down how exfoliating could be right for your skin.
Benefits of Exfoliation
Skin cells naturally die and turn over every 28-30 days. When these aren’t cleared away completely through cleansing, they can clog pores, create flaky or rough patches, and otherwise dull down your complexion. Exfoliation helps to remove that top layer of skin, taking dirt, debris and dead skin cells along with it.
This is also why skin might look immediately brighter or feel softer right after exfoliating -- you’ve literally cleared the clutter!
Regular exfoliation can also help prevent breakouts, since less irritants remain on the surface of the skin to harbor bacteria. When done over time, exfoliation has also been shown to increase collagen production, boost elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines. A win both short and long-term for your skin.
Types of Exfoliation
There are two main ways to remove the aforementioned “build-up,” manual and chemical exfoliation.
The first is through manual exfoliation, usually in the form of a scrub, pad, loofah or other microdermabrasion tool. In this case, you remove that top layer through mechanical action, often with the most immediate effect. It’s important to be gentle and start slowly (as with any new treatment) and to follow up your exfoliation with a nourishing oil or cream.
Here are our suggestions for manual exfoliation:
For sensitive skin: Mix one part Sioris My Soft Grain Scrub in with a few pumps of Sioris Cleanse Me Softly Milk Cleanser. The scrub will help lift and remove debris while the milk cleanser keeps things soft and prevents over-drying. Another great option is Dr. Ceuracle's Ganghwa Rice Pack which is perfect for clarifying sensitive skin without irritation.
For oily or irritated skin: Try Neogen’s Green Tea Peel Gauze Pads. Soaked in a calming essence of green tea and Centella asiatica, use the criss-crossed gauze side of the pad to eliminate and remove debris. Then, smooth the softer padded side over the skin so the essence can absorb deep within pores.
For normal or combination skin: An exfoliating mask, like Urang’s Blue Brightening Mask or Huxley’s Sweet Therapy Scrub Mask can be a great way to exfoliate. Both are left on the skin for 15-20 minutes to work. As you wash them off, the mechanical action of the jojoba beads or walnut shell powder helps remove anything that’s been clogging up your skin.
The second way to exfoliate the skin is through chemical exfoliation. These are products (such as acids and retinols) that work on the surface of the skin to dissolve dirt, oil and dead skin cells, with varying degrees of intensity.
As with manual exfoliators, it’s important to begin slowly and build up to a regular routine, remembering to wear sunscreen since chemical exfoliators can make the skin more sensitive to UV damage. You may notice some extra flaking or peeling a day or two after you begin. This is normal.
Here are our suggestions for chemical exfoliation:
For sensitive skin: Start with an AHA like Cosrx’s AHA 7 Power Liquid once or twice a week. This uses glycolic acid from apple fruit water to break up congestion and eliminate debris.
For oily or irritated skin: Try a BHA, which dissolves within oil to work even deeper in congested pores. Cosrx’s Blackhead Power Liquid is a great one to start with, as it has white willow bark tree extract and sodium hyaluronate to keep the skin calm and hydrated.
For normal or combination skin: Use a mix of both AHA and BHA where your skin needs it, aka face map! If you have blackheads and congested pores in the T-zone, use a BHA there and AHA in the places where you’d like skin to look brighter and more even toned. Or try an all-in-one serum that takes care of all your exfoliating needs in one easy serum, Toun28 AHA BHA + PHA Serum. This is a gentle formula great even for sensitive skin to clear away dead skin cells to reveal the fresh new glow. You can also try incorporating a daily toner into your routine that has gentle exfoliating elements, like Heimish’s Refresh Water, which has both AHA and BHAs.
What Not to Do With Exfoliation
The most important thing to remember with any kind of exfoliation is to check in with your skin as you go. As those new skin cells turn over and replenish each month, give your complexion time to show how it’s handling the change. Try not to make any other drastic adjustments with your skincare routine while trying out a new exfoliator. More is not more. Exfoliation shouldn’t feel like a punishment, but a nourishing, loving treatment to get your skin in its healthiest, glowiest state.
Got more questions about exfoliation? Reach out to us anytime at email@example.com.