Everything You Need to Know About Skin Exfoliation

Girl exfoliating face

Exfoliation is an important step that should be added into your skin care routine at least once a week. Exfoliation helps remove the dead skin cells that cover your skin, making it look dull and less smooth in appearance. As we age, our skins natural exfoliation process slows down, reducing cell turnover which results in accumulation of dry skin cells giving your skin a dull, lack-luster, unhealthy, or wrinkly appearance. In order to rejuvenate and keep your skin glowing and looking smooth it’s important to exfoliate which in turn promotes healthy cell turnover. Not only does exfoliation promote healthy skin, it also aids in the process of proper absorption of other things you apply to your skin as part of a routine such as a daily moisturizer.

There are two types of exfoliants, mechanical and chemical exfoliants.  Each one has it pros and cons as to their use and what will work best for your skin. It’s important to understand what is going to work best for you if you have any current skin conditions as exfoliation can lead to more irritation and inflammation if the wrong system is implemented.

Mechanical Skin Exfoliants

Mechanical meaning you apply and you do the work! Mechanical exfoliants are easily available at your local drugstore or online and are super easy to use. These type of exfoliants are great for people with oily or acne prone skin as they remove skin cells and debris that clog the pores. It’s important to note with mechanical exfoliants not to scrub too hard or this could lead to further irritation which is the last thing anyone with acne prone skin wants.

When looking for a mechanical exfoliant be sure not to choose anything that appears to have sharp edges as this puts you at risk for further irritation by the products cutting into the skin. OUCH! Exfoliants can be harsh on the skin so be sure to consult with a dermatologist to find out what the best exfoliant for you will be, especially if you have sensitive skin.

One of our favorite tools for exfoliation is The Clarisonic! Although the price tag is hefty, flawless glowing skin is worth it. Clarisonic has a brush head for everyone!

Chemical Skin Exfoliants

Chemical skin exfoliants use gentle acids to aid in dissolving the bonds hanging on to your outer layer of dead skin cells for dear life. There are two main types of chemical exfoliants which include your AHA & BHA!

AHA- Alpha Hydroxy Acid

AHA’s are derived from different foods such as apples, grapes, and even milk. The most common to look for on labels are:  glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, alpha-hydroxyoctanoic acid and triple fruit acid. Alphas are best for people with dry or thickened skin. (1)

BHA- Beta Hydroxy Acid

Betas are the close cousin of the alphas but are more oil-soluble and better for those with oily or acne prone skin. The best know BHA is salicylic acid. Things to look for on labels: salicylate, sodium salicylate, beta hydroxybutnoic acid, or tropic acid. (1)

Chemical skin exfoliates tend to be less harsh on the skin than mechanical exfoliates. They help rejuvenate the skin in ways that mechanical exfoliates cant. Chemical exfoliates help balance your skins pH levels and smooth, improving the look of your skin. (1)

Some say finding the right formulation for your skin involves some trial and error and while this may be true to an extant why not make the decision a little less stressful and consult with one our online board certified Dermatologists. Want to learn more click here.

When to Exfoliate?

When it comes to exfoliation you should most definitely not exfoliate every day! Your skin needs time to regenerate its top most layer. If you have dry skin you should only exfoliate once or twice a week max. If you have oily skin you should be able to exfoliate 2-4 times just make sure you spread it out instead of exfoliating back to back. If your skin starts to become irritated or you develop a rash stop exfoliation and consult with a board certified Dermatologist.

As always remember to moisturize to keep your skin from drying out!


  1. http://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-and-beauty/skin-care-101/whats-an-exfoliant.aspx
  2. http://blog.reneerouleau.com/the-importance-of-skin-exfoliation/
  3. http://beauty.about.com/od/cleansers/a/How-To-Exfoliate.htm

One Comment on “Everything You Need to Know About Skin Exfoliation

  1. Pingback: 10 Skin Mistakes you're Making Right Now | Virtual Acne

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