You might already know how important it is to exfoliate your face. You just have AWESOME skincare savvy skills my friend, go YOU! If you are also reading this and you’re thinking, ‘I know I should, but I just want to find my way to bed as quickly as possible in the evenings’, I hear you lovely, and you might actually be exfoliating without even realising you are. Yes that can actually happen. See there are LOTS of different ways to exfoliate skin. Some require more commitment and others can be your quick fix. This is the full guide to exfoliation, and will help you to choose which fits into your skincare routine best and which is most suited for your specially unique-to-you skin.
FIRST, DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE 2 TYPES OF EXFOLIATE?
Exfoliation starts off streamlined. There are just 2 ways (or to get friendly, ‘families’) of exfoliate. The first is mechanical and the second is chemical. Sweeping away that ‘techy lingo’, mechanical is when you literally take a brush, or something grainy and rub it on your face. It is as simple as it sounds. Years (and years and years…) ago, this was the only way to exfoliate, BUT now we have another option! The NEW(er) way to exfoliate is to use a skincare product that has a ‘chemical exfoliate’. That means that it contains special ingredients that weaken the glue that hold skin together.
Here comes a food analogy to make that more helpful. Ever seen a steak being tenderised with one of those huge chef ‘hammer things? Usually seen on a TV show which makes you think how awesome that would be after a stressful day! #IWantAMeatTenderizer! Well that is the same concept when it comes to skin brushing or grain rubbing. You are literally tenderising your face, which gets skin cells leaving faster. No wonder your face looks SO yummy after *winks*. The chemical exfoliate is like marinating food overnight, it gets all softened and juicy!
Here is a pinnable breakdown of the MAIN exfoliating options you have to choose from. Now let’s start talking which is best for YOUR awesome skin!
WHAT KINDS OF MECHANICAL EXFOLIATE ARE THERE?
Within the family of mechanical exfoliating, there are just 2 siblings! One is called the BRUSH and the other the SCRUB. They are both going to do very similar things for your skin, so there is not too much to decide here other than ‘how much time do you have to invest?’ Are you a super regimented kinda gurl #MonicaOrganisation OR do you prefer a quick dash in the bathroom before you run to the cosy duvet?
PRO-TIP: Brushing and scrubbing skin is also like brushing your teeth. If you get carried away, you can cause damage to your skin. It’s like putting a silk top in the washing machine. If you think you may get a bit carried away [because we all want MORE of a good thing! Completely understandable!] then choose a brush which has a set speed or pressure cut-out or opt for a skincare exfoliating ingredient.
Scrubs can offer your skin a little more than JUST rubbing and softening skin. Some scrubs contain extra special scrubbing ingredients like Oatmeal or Rice powder. These are 2 of my skin favourites, for something so simple they have a ton of really good, skin loving ingredients. Oatmeal sneaks under the name of Avena Sativa kernel flour in a skincare ingredients list and it can INSTANTLY correct your skin pH (which is vital for skin health), calm irritated skin like superman would rescue it and has a special something up its sleeve called beta-glucan that gives your skins immune system a kick-up the butt. #BecauseSometimesWeAllNeedOne. Rice powder will use spy-worthy skills in an ingredient list as there its name is Oriza Sativa starch powder. But suusshhh! I wasn’t supposed to tell you that *wink* #CoverBlown. So rice, huh, what can that do? This guy is crazy active, from decreasing hyperpigmentation, to increasing blood flow to the skin AND offering some antioxidant protection just because it can! Phew.
WHAT KINDS OF CHEMICAL EXFOLIATE ARE THERE?
The family gets a little bigger in the chemical exfoliate world. There are 4 main types to choose from. AHA’s (alpha-hydroxyl acids), BHA’s (beta-hydroxyl acids), Enzymes and Vitamins. These guys all work in a similar way, so all you have to remember is which one is right for your skin type (trusty pinnable sheet decider below!).
So if we aren’t rubbing away skin, how do these guys work? Chemical exfoliates are like ‘marinating’ your skin to soften it. Skin is like a brick wall, there’s lots of skin cells, and there’s lots of stuff in between them holding those cells together, we like to call that ‘skin glue’. Chemical exfoliates will get that skin glue loosened up like it was teaching salsa!
The great thing about using a chemical exfoliate is that once you have found the right concentration for your skin, there’s not much you can do wrong. That’s why if you might be likely to brush a bit too hard, chemical exfolaites are your winner. PLUS, they can be super time saving as there is no extra step, just find skincare with these ingredients already in them. Some will even be leave on products, so your face can go on exfoliating even though YOU’RE not physically rubbing it! #Awesome
To keep your eyes peeled for these chemical exfoliates we need to meet them ‘ey! Some exfoliating skincare will be packed with a couple of these ingredients. Which is awesome right, super exfoliation for your money! Whichever chemical exfoliate is best for your skin type, make sure that it is higher up on the ingredients list, that means there is most of it in there! So let’s get acquainted, if you are talking AHA’s then that will be Glycolic acid and Lactic acid (hi guys!), the most common BHA is Salicylic acid. When it comes to Enzymes, you get to choose from Papain (ah, hi papa!) and Bromelain. Finally Vitamin A, which has a HUGE LIST of awesome skin benefits, one of which is exfoliating skin!
TIME TO CHOOSE THE MOST PERFECT EXFOLIATE FOR YOUR SKIN
With so many different choices, it’s like being in a skincare candy shop! But better! See, we don’t have to ‘taste’ these guys to know which our skin will like best! They all have different strengths and benefits for skin, so figuring out which to go for is as easy as this pinnable flow decider. You can find this over on Pinterest too!
Which exfoliate works best for your skin type?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.