Many people ask me about exfoliation. When should I exfoliate? How many times a week should I exfoliate? What's best, a scrub or a peel? How “scrubby” should my scrub be? Here's the thing about it exfoliation, how and when you should exfoliate varies from person to person, as does the type of exfoliant you use. Let me break down the basics for you.
There are three different ways you can exfoliate your skin: a scrub or “manual exfoliant”, a peel or “chemical exfoliant”, and a clay mask.
A scrub is a granular exfoliant that you use to well, scrub away dead skin and debris. Various ingredients are used in scrubs such as ground nuts, seeds, baking soda, coffee grounds, salt and sugar. Polyethylene beads, or “micro-beads” are set to be completely banned in skincare products by 2018. Being that these little plastic spheres are ruining our oceans, rivers, and streams, you can imagine this is very good news to our ecosystem and the animals that inhabit it. Another thing to note on scrubs is that you want your scrub to be scrubby, but not too scrubby! Certain exfoliants on the market have large, jaggedy pieces of seeds, such as a certain apricot scrub you may be familiar with. Scrubs like this can do more harm than good, causing tiny micro-tears in our pores. Lastly, scrubs are not recommended for anyone with active acne, Type 2 or above.
Peels do not have to be as harsh as they sound. Chemical exfoliants can range anywhere from medical strength acid peels only a dermatologist can administer, to witch hazel. What a peel does is gently (or not so gently) dissolves dead skin and debris, unclogging our pores allowing for better penetration for toners, serums, and moisturizers. Chemical exfoliants can be left on like a mask or swiped on like astringent. Fruit enzyme peels are growing in popularity, using Tartaric acid found in grapes, Malic acid from apples, citric acid from various citrus fruits, Bromelain from Pineapple, or Papain, which can be found in both pumpkins and papaya. Chemical exfoliants are great for people with acne or with ingrown hairs.
Clay masks are considered to be the most gentle way of exfoliating, but it's important to understand your skin type when choosing the right clay for you. Bentonite clay is the strongest, perfect for oily/acneic types, kaolin is recommended for normal skin, while rose clay or green clay are great for sensitive skin. There are also lots of other varieties of detoxifying clays out there on the market so read up on what's best for your skin type!
Basic exfoliating tips for everyone:
• Exfoliate 1-3 times a week depending on your skin type, and always at night. Dry, thin skin can stand to exfoliate the least. Exfoliating during the day can expose your skin to debris, as well as environmental stressors, and UV rays.
• You can exfoliate less in the summer. Especially if you're a sun worshiper like myself! I would recommend once a week max but maybe even less, depending on what you exfoliate with.
• Always follow up exfoliating with toner & serum/moisturizer.
Many exfoliants can also be a combination of types. For example, my cleansing clay face exfoliant combines both the scrub (ground Soapwort Root) and the clay (Rhassoul clay), making it versatile to use as well as gentle enough for all skin types, including acneic skin! Whatever exfoliant you choose, do understand that exfoliating is important. Not only does it help to unclog the pores and make our moisturizers work better, it also helps speed up our cell turnover, keeping us looking younger, longer! Now who wouldn’t want that?