Want to wake up with baby soft skin that reflects the morning glow? Then it may be time to make exfoliation a staple in your weekly skincare routine. Most of us have been told over and over again that exfoliation is an essential step in an effective skincare routine and crucial to achieving the imminent glow so many of us lust over. However, there’s much more to exfoliation than just removing dead skin cells. It offers a whole host of skin benefits that range from clearing pores to smoothing fine lines. And it doesn’t stop there! Keep on reading to learn about the amazing benefits exfoliation has in store for your complexion.
But is exfoliation really an essential skincare step? Absolutely! One reason exfoliation is so vital to a healthy-looking complexion is that sometimes skin needs our help. Wether it’s due to age or sun damage, our skin may be sluggish in shedding dead skin on its own, requiring our assistance. On average our skin regenerates every 27 days. Therefore, without proper exfoliation, we can end up with clogged pores and congestion if not removed.
What Is Exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. This process helps to decongest pores, minimize frequency of breakouts and reveal a brighter, more even-looking skin tone.
Exfoliation products are popular and plentiful, but just because a product is marketed as an exfoliant, doesn’t mean it’s going to be right for your skin. While exfoliating is essential in keeping your skin looking and feeling its best, choosing the wrong type of exfoliant or over-doing it can do more harm than good.
So, how often should you exfoliate and which method is best for your skin? These are all questions we should be asking ourselves. Everyone’s skin is unique and with the numerous options available, it can be overwhelming sifting through the infinite options. So let’s break down exfoliation and make it simple. There are two types of exfoliants, chemical and physical (manual). We’ll review the pros and cons of both, along with answers to all of your burning exfoliation questions below.
Types Of Facial Exfoliants:
Chemical exfoliants utilize acids to break the bonds that hold on to dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliants typically come in the form of toners, serums and cleansers. Not all acids perform the same. The type of acid used will determine the type of exfoliation it provides and skin benefits it offers. It should be noted that chemical exfoliants can cause photosensitivity, meaning your skin is more susceptible to sun damage. Therefore, it is vital that you wear sunscreen and avoid direct sun exposure (you should be doing these regardless). There are numerous types of exfoliating acids available on the market and the most commonly used are:
Alpha-hydroxy Acid (AHA): AHAs are water soluble and exfoliate the uppermost layer of skin. AHAs are primarily used to address mild hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone and fine lines. AHA’s can be used by all skin types, but if you have dry or sensitive skin always perform a patch test.
Beta-hydroxy Acid (BHA): There is one form of BHA used in skincare and that’s s salicylic acid. It’s ideal for oily, combination and blemish-prone skin. BHA is oil-soluble, therefor it penetrates deeper than AHAs. BHA is able to make its way into pores to break up hardened sebum and debris, making it an excellent option for those looking to decongest clogged pores and prevent the onset of blemishes.
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Treat Your Skin To A Natural Face Exfoliant Powered By Superfoods.
Physical exfoliation involves manually removing dead skin cells from the surface. This can be performed with a tool such as a brush, washcloth or a physical exfoliating formula, such as our Polish. Some common ingredients found in physical exfoliants include rice flour, oatmeal, clay and jojoba beads. Physical exfoliants help speed up our skin’s natural cycle by helping remove dead skin cells that clog pores and cause skin to appear dull. The benefit of using a physical exfoliant is that it does not cause photosensitivity and the results are instant. It’s crucial that any physical exfoliant you choose is properly formulated with gentle and finely ground ingredients. We recommend avoiding ingredients such as salt, sugar, fruit pits and nutshells that have not had their edges rounded for skincare formulation.
Top 6 Benefits Of Facial Exfoliation
1. Exfoliation Evens the Appearance of Skin Tone
Regular exfoliation helps to remove buildup of dead skin and impurities, which make your skin tone appear uneven and dull. When you remove dead skin and debris from the top layer of your skin through exfoliation, your skin’s ability to reflect light is improved and in return it appears brighter and more even. We recommend staying away from ingredients that cause sun sensitivity or harm the planet, such as citrus oils and plastic microbeads. Instead, opt for gentle exfoliants supercharged with antioxidants, such as our superfood exfoliant Polish.
2. Exfoliation Prevents Pore Congestion
Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and surface impurities that can cause congestion in your pores. If not properly removed, it can lead to blackheads and irritation. Weekly exfoliation relieves your pores of excess sebum and dead skin build-up, which also helps to reduce their appearance. You can’t change the size of your pores, however, keeping them free from build-up does help them appear less noticeable.
3. Exfoliation Keeps Blemishes At Bay
In addition to preventing whiteheads and blackheads, exfoliating can also assist with reducing the onset of breakouts. While this is a good option to prevent breakouts, you should always use caution around active breakouts, as excessive scrubbing can aggravate them further. You may want to start with a natural leave-on exfoliant such as a clay mask or a mild BHA chemical exfoliant for active blemishes. When your skin is experiencing issues such as blemishes, its always best to pay close attention to your skin and observe how it responds to products. You want your skincare to work with your skin, not against it.
4. Exfoliation Helps To Firm The Appearance Of Skin
Exfoliation helps to stimulate collagen production, which in return plumps the look of skin (some may find that it helps to reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles). Whether it’s a chemical or physical exfoliant, removing surface impurities and dead skin cells helps to promote skin cell turnover, which in return leaves skin looking smooth and firm.
5. Exfoliation Smooths Skin Texture
This one may seem like a given, but is just as great a benefit as all the other ones in this list. With consistent exfoliation, you can improve the look and feel of skin while improving texture. Many will experience texture issues at one point or another and we know it can be frustrating. Especially if rough texture is caused by dry skin, you may think you only need to moisturizer, but exfoliation may be the one crucial step you’re missing. By using an exfoliant, you’re removing build up from dry, flaky skin, revealing the softer, smoother skin underneath.
6. Exfoliation Preps Skin For Topical Treatments
Exfoliation preps your skin to receive ingredients in skincare products, such as brightening vitamins and protective antioxidants. By removing surface build-up, there is less of a barrier, therefore topical treatments such as serums and oils penetrate deeper into skin. Exfoliation ensures that your products are are able to do their job with ease.
Natural Ways To Exfoliate
Use A Clay Mask 1-2x Per Week
Clay masks binds to surface build-up and absorbs impurities from pores, without causing photosensitivity or harsh scrubbing. Photosensitivity is a heightened sensitivity to the sun’s UV rays and can be a result of using acids or over exfoliation. Clay masks double as exfoliants and absorb any excess oil and impurities that can clog pores and lead to the onset of blemishes. With consistent use, clay masks are an effective (and fun!) way to exfoliate your skin gently. Depending on the type of clay mask you use, you can add additional skin-nourishing ingredients such as honey or yogurt.
Use A Natural Face Polish
We may be biased when it comes to our preference for a powder-based face polish, but the love originates from the stellar results it provides. Plus, powder exfoliants are free from liquid, therefore naturally inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold, which means fewer preservatives and a longer shelf-life. However, not all facial polishes are created equal. Look for a gentle, skin-loving ingredient such as rice flour, clay, and skin-loving herbs such as marshmallow.
Use Honey As A Face Mask
A honey mask is one tried and true face treatment that’s withstood the test of time. And it just may be within arm’s reach, ready to indulge your complexion in all of its natural goodness! Honey is chock full of enzymes, antioxidants, peptides, and flavonoids. Plus, it’s naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which means it may help to reduce the appearance of blemishes and irritation. If you’re looking for a natural DIY option, honey is not to be missed. Simply apply raw honey (preferable local) to clean skin and leave it on for 15-30 minutes. Then gently splash face with warm water to remove, massaging to create a gentle exfoliation treatment as you rinse.
Ingredients You Should Use With Caution
Photosensitizing ingredients are those that cause skin to become increasingly sensitive to sun exposure. When using a product with photosensitizing ingredients, such as exfoliating acids, without proper protection eg. a hat or sunscreen – it can result in sunburn, sunspots, rashes, and blisters. Common photosensitizing ingredients found in exfoliants include citrus oils, acids, retinol and hydroquinone. If using a product with any known photosensitizing ingredients, it’s important to either use it at night or if you plan on being in the sun, make sure you take the proper precautions such as using a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ along with protective clothing.
Large particles in exfoliation products should be used with caution. It’s no secret that microbeads are not good for the planet, so it’s best to opt for biodegradable earth-friendly alternatives such as jojoba beads. DIY ingredients such as baking soda, sugar, coffee grinds and salt are not appropriate for use on the face and may cause micro-tears. And any product marketed towards the body should never be used on the face.
Artificial Colors And Fragrance
As a rule of thumb, you should avoid ingredients in skincare formulas that do not benefit skin, such as colorants and fragrance. Sometimes these ingredients can do more harm than good, especially fragrance.
Frequently Asked Exfoliation Questions
How Often Should I Exfoliate?
Most expert recommend exfoliating 1-3 times per week. The frequency you land on should be based on your skin type and the kind of exfoliant you are using. Sensitive skin beauties should pay close attention to how their skin responds, starting with 1x per week and gradually increasing in frequency. If you are using a gentle exfoliator, you can use it more frequently, but as a general rule of thumb, the more intensive the product, the less often it should be used. More is not always better, and over exfoliating can leave your skin susceptible to irritation and sun damage.
How Do I choose The Best Type Of Exfoliant For My Skin?
Depending on your skin type and concerns, there are numerous types of exfoliants to choose from. If you are dry or sensitive, you may benefit from a gentle face polish or a mild chemical exfoliant that contains AHA’s. Those with oilier and combination skin may benefit from a clarifying clay mask or BHA chemical exfoliant. As always, you should be gentle with your skin. Take the time to observe your skin, if it doesn’t feel good, then maybe it’s not a the right product for your unique skin needs. And always start slowly by patch testing if you are unsure how your skin will react.
How Do Powder Exfoliants Work?
Powder exfoliants can be incredibly gentle when formulated properly. They sweep away dead skin using small rounded granules and when clay is present, absorb surface impurities and excess oil. When using a powder exfoliant, simply activate it with water and mix until you achieve your desired consistency. Always use gentle pressure when applying to the face, massaging in an upward, circular motion to stimulate circulation.
How To Use A Powder Exfoliant
1. Dispense into hand or bowl.
2. Add water or liquid of choice.
3. Mix until creamy paste forms.
4. Apply to your face using gentle, circular motions.
5. Rinse with water and apply a moisturizer.
Do You Exfoliate Before Or After Washing Your Face?
You can exfoliate before or after washing your face, that’s completely up to you. However, if you are wearing makeup or SPF, we recommend cleansing before exfoliating.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Root Science nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any skincare, nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program. The views and products expressed are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Image Sources: Light Reflections via Charlota Blunarova / Person Holding Bottle and Cucumber via Daria Shevtsova