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The process of exfoliation works both ways. When done properly, exfoliation can gift you with the smoothest, softest skin while exfoliation gone wrong can wreak havoc on your skin, too. One important thing to remember when it comes to skin exfoliation is that you aren’t limited to using gritty and grainy facial scrubs. If you fail to choose an exfoliator with the right blend of ingredients, you end up damaging your skin more so than giving it the nourishment it deserves. 

If you choose the right product, face exfoliation works wonders in smoothening rough patches and reducing the appearance of acne scars and blemishes. The good news is that there are many other benefits that can be derived from exfoliation. When done properly, face exfoliation can banish redness and improve your overall complexion. If you haven’t been seeing these results while using your preferred exfoliator, you’re simply using the wrong product and using the wrong exfoliation technique. 

Learning how to properly exfoliate the face is a gentle and complicated process. In this article, we will give you step-by-step instructions on proper exfoliation and the things to look for when choosing an exfoliator for your face. 

When should you exfoliate?

The rate of shedding of dead skin cells is based on your age. For younger people, dead skin cells sloughs off every 28 days. On the other hand, dead skin cells in older individuals sheds at a slower rate, with some dead skin cells hanging onto the skin for up to 80 days. Although they are too small to see, dead skin cells that stay on your skin for a long time can make your overall skin complexion look dull with breakouts from time to time. 

Dead skin cells that fail to shed can cause problems as they can block the absorption of skincare products into your skin. You can have the most expensive skin care products that money can buy, but with pores clogged with dead skin cells, those products render useless altogether. The same concept applies to makeup application. If your skin is riddled with dead skin cells, it will be impossible to create a smooth and even foundation application. 

When you exfoliate your face, you are strategically removing dead skin cells to make way for brand-new and healthier skin cells. With the proper exfoliator and the right exfoliation technique, you get glowing and radiant skin. 

How should your exfoliate facial skin?

There are two types of exfoliators namely chemical and physical exfoliators. These exfoliators utilise totally different approaches of shedding dead skin cells from the surface. Here is a brief explanation on how these two exfoliators work:

  • Physical or mechanical exfoliators require the use of tiny, grainy beads and exfoliating brushes that make use of physical force to remove dead skin cells. It is the traditional method of sloughing off dead skin cells, but is also known to result in more serious damage to the skin. 

The abrasive quality of this exfoliating process creates microscopic tears on the skin which destroys the skin’s protective barrier. Mechanical exfoliators work best on thicker skin, such as those on your back and rough patches on some parts of the body. 

If you have sensitive skin or if you are suffering from skin conditions such as acne or rosacea, it is not ideal to use physical exfoliators.

    • Chemical exfoliators make use of gentle acids that dissolve the substances that bind dead skin cells, so you can reveal smoother and healthier skin at a slow rate. Chemical exfoliators are not only gentle but are proven to be more effective than mechanical exfoliators. They come in two basic types and are used depending on your specific skin concerns.

What is the best way to exfoliate the face?

Now that you understand the difference between physical and chemical exfoliators, and discovering the latter is more effective in removing dead skin cells, we now proceed to learning how these two chemical exfoliators work. 

  • Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) is ideal for normal ,dry, sensitive skin. It is also recommended for people who are prone to redness and other skin pigmentation issues. AHAs are water soluble in nature, which means that it exfoliates the skin’s surface whilst drawing in moisture to keep your face adequately hydrated. With regular use, it sloughs off dead skin cells to reveal smooth and even skin. 

Examples of AHAs are mandelic acid, glycolic acid, tartaric acid, and lactic acid. For first time users, skin experts recommend the use of chemical exfoliators with lactic acid. For normal skin, you may use glycolic acid instead. 

  • Beta hdyroxy acid or BHA is oil soluble in nature, us best for oily and acne prone skin.  BHAs can breakdown pores that are clogged with oil or sebum such as blackheads, whiteheads, and dry acne. They have the added anti-inflammatory benefit so your skin does not suffer from irritation, a common issue associated with BHA use. One of the most common type of BHA on the market is salicylic acid most commonly found in acne spot treatment products. 

If you have tough skin, you can switch between BHA and AHA application for best results. Make sure to use them in gentle concentrations as overdoing it may cause irritation and dry skin. 

How often should you exfoliate?

Dead skin cells accumulate on the surface every single day. With this in mind, you need to perform exfoliation at least three to four times a week. For beginners with sensitive skin, you may start with exfoliating once a week. It is recommended to begin your regimen with a milk exfoliant that contains AHA such as lactic acid. Increase the frequency of chemical exfoliation at least four times a week for best results. 

If you don’t notice any change in the texture and appearance of your skin after a month of using lactic acid, you may then switch to BHA such as salicylic and glycolic acid. Ideally, these BHAs are applied for three consecutive nights during your first week of us. If you don’t suffer from irritation or dryness, you can then increase frequency every other night. For best results, make sure to apply a moisturiser after exfoliation. 

To achieve beautiful skin, check out our other clinically-proven and tested Mayerling skincare solutions here