Hello loves, this week’s post is all about exfoliation!
Exfoliation is simply the process of removing dead skin and allowing the beautiful, bright new skin to shine through. The most common form of exfoliation is physical. Most of us have come across exfoliating scrubs or loofahs or gloves and they all do the same job. Probably less well known is chemical exfoliation which has been made popular by the rich and famous and their chemical facial peels. There are some great pocket (and skin) friendly alternatives to facial peels which I’ll talk about later!
As I wrote earlier, exfoliation is process by which the top layer of skin is sloughed away to reveal the fresh new skin underneath. This leaves you looking brighter, fresher and more youthful. I also find that my make up looks 100 times better on an exfoliated face as it gets rid of any flaking dry skin I may have on my cheeks. Another benefit, I’ve found is that topical treatments such as acne medication (subject to a discussion with your dermatologist) or even face masques and essential oil solutions work better on an exfoliated face. This is because the treatments don’t have to penetrate through layers of dead skin to start working!
Chemical vs Physical Exfoliation
Most of us begin our journey into exfoliation with face scrubs! To this day it’s still my favourite even if not the most effective way to exfoliate. Tiny exfoliating particles, aided by gently rubbing the facial wash into the skin essentially wear away the top layer of skin. I like this because I really feel like I’ve exfoliated, especially when I can feel a slight sting when I put on a face masque afterwards (I’m weird, don’t judge me). My favourite face scrubs are: Lush’s Dark Angels, St Ive’s Apricot Scrub and The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Microdermabrasion.
Another form of physical exfoliation is using a brush or loofah. These essentially do the same thing as a scrub but are not in the form of a cleanser/face wash. The facial loofah, I use when I want a more gentle form of exfoliation. The loofahs expand and soften when wet so please be careful and don’t make the mistake of ripping your skin off by trying to use it dry like me! Electric facial brushes are fast becoming a skincare cult staple thanks to YouTube. On the pricier side, these tools are used with a mild cleanser in circular motions on the face and neck. Some electric face brushes are incredibly soft and are meant as aids to turn a regular face wash into a deep cleanse – these are not technically exfoliators but work brilliantly, Clarisonic is an example. For a more abrasive exfoliation brushes like Rio Sonicleanse Exfoliating, Cleansing and Smoothing System are an excellent choice.
Low percentage acids can work wonders for all kinds of skin complaints and make great exfoliators. Chemical exfoliants can come in a range of forms such as cleansers, toners and serums. They work by breaking down the dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliators can also be a more gentle way to brighten skin as there’s no scrubbing! Please be careful with chemicals if you’re taking any medicated skin treatments and consult your dermatologist.
Skin friendly acids come in two types – AHAs and BHAs. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are great for those of us dealing with hyper-pigmentation and uneven skintones. Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) are better suited for treating large pores and blackheads. Some of the chemical exfoliators I like the most are from the NIP+FAB Glycolic Fix range. Glycolic Acid is an AHA and this is really helping to brighten up my dark marks.
Tips, Tricks and Techniques
While exfoliation leaves your skin smooth and supple, your skin is also a little vulnerable – but I’ve got you guys, don’t worry!
Exfoliation strips your skin of moisture and it’s important to put it back.
Your newly exposed skin needs to be protected, especially if you’ve used a chemical exfoliant so a moisturiser with SPF is imperative. It will help to prevent the new skin from developing new skin complaints.
Your delicate eye area does not need to be exfoliated. The skin around your eyes is very thin and susceptible to wrinkles. Avoid that area completely.
- Neck and Décolletage
Well I would say exfoliate your whole body but like everything in this post that’s completely optional! Exfoliating your neck and décolletage, however, prevents and obvious line of demarcation between an exfoliated face and your neck.
I know that we can sometimes be desperate for our skin to change quickly but we must be gentle and patient. Rubbing your skin raw will do more harm than good. The same goes for leaving acids on longer than prescribed. It is often counterintuitive and can leave you drier and more flaky than you started. Gentle upwards strokes and no more than twice a week. Give your skin time to heal and grow.
- Know Your Skin!
This one’s a little more tricky and I will be doing a post to cover this one. Knowing your skin type means knowing whether you’re normal, dry, sensitive, oily or combination. Knowing which type of skin you have is your best tool in tackling whatever skin complaints you may have. If you’re sensitive, for example, you may want to avoid physical exfoliation. If you’re dry, you may want to use a creamier cleanser with a physical form of exfoliation or try a chemically exfoliating moisturiser.
- Make Your Own!
Coconut oil (or a carrier oil of your choice) melted down with a few drops of rosehip oil (or any essential oil you like) and a dash of lemon with some brown sugar makes an excellent natural and moisturising exfoliator. I would advise you be VERY gentle if you’re using Demerara sugar.
Phew! I hope that gives you an overview of all the different kinds of exfoliation! What products do you use? Do you have any tips that I’ve missed? Let me know!