Exfoliation – the removal of dead skin cells!
This is one of the most important steps in your skin care routine. The frequency of this step depends on your skin type and the product you use. Exfoliation takes care of removing the dead skin cells off of your face and unifies its texture. There are two types of exfoliation:
- Mechanical exfoliation: involves using a product with small particles to rub off dead cells.
- Chemical exfoliation: uses an acid-based liquid to weaken the lipids that bond the top layers of skin together, thus eliminating dead skin-cells.
Today we will discuss only chemical exfoliants and other common acids, as they have proven to be safer to our skin. If you choose however to use a mechanical exfoliant you should pay close attention to the ingredients and how they have been processed. If the particles are not the same size they could potentially create micro-tears in your skin, thus damaging it long-term. If you suffer from acne DO NOT use a mechanical exfoliant as it will only irritate the skin further. Never use body exfoliants on your face!
The two most common chemical exfoliants are AHA (alpha-hydroxyl acid) and BHA (beta-hydroxyl acid). The word ‘acid’ might sound alarming, but the products are very safe as long as you use them according to instructions.
Alpha-hydroxyl acid, usually found as: Glycolic acid, Lactic acid or Malic acid. These are usually made from sugar cane and vegetable enzymes from fruit extract, such as apple, papaya and pineapple. AHA works the surface more than BHA and is a fantastic option to treat wrinkles and sun-damaged skin.
Beta-hydroxyl acid usually found as Salicylic acid is excellent for oily skin or if you suffer from acne. It penetrates the pores to dissolve sebum and dirt, leaving the skin radiant and the pores reduced in size. It also helps in battling hyperpigmentation.
Azelaic acid – an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial compound used to treat acne and hyperpigmentation issues.
L-ascorbic acid – common form of Vitamin C, which provides antioxidant, brightening, anti-acne, and anti-ageing benefits.
How to Apply:
1. Mechanical Exfoliation: -After double cleansing, massage a little of the exfoliant onto wet facial skin, avoiding eye area. Rinse off with tepid water.
2. Chemical Exfoliation: – After double cleansing, use a cotton wool pad to apply the exfoliant to the face, avoiding the eye area. Wait for the product to dry and proceed with the remaining steps of the facial routine.
Warning: You must be careful with chemical exfoliants and avoid abusing acids or using them if unnecessary. They must not be combined with other aggressive ingredients or those with high proportions of other acids, as this can damage or dry the skin. AHA and BHA can be used together without any problem, as long as you don’t overdo it. Start by trying them a couple of nights a week and observe how your skin reacts. If you use them in the morning, do apply a sun cream afterwards because the acids reduce the skin’s natural protection barrier.