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Exfoliating. It’s an altogether necessary - and easily overlooked - part of any comprehensive skincare routine. And proper exfoliation can be a real game-changer, sloughing away dull skin, evening skin texture, banishing breakouts, and more.
But what’s the right way to do it? And how much exfoliation is too much? Here, we discuss the basics of exfoliation, along with four effective yet gentle ways you can add exfoliation to your daily routine.
Clear, glowing skin - here we come!
First, let’s talk basics.
When it comes to exfoliation, it’s important to remember that less can often be more, and you’re better off consistently using gentle, effective products (rather than more intense, harsh concentrations or ingredients).
Also, keep in mind that there are two basic types of exfoliation: chemical and physical. A good routine will use a combination of both chemical and physical methods since they work in slightly different ways and complement each other when used correctly.
Chemical exfoliants are enzymes or acids like AHAs and BHAs. They work by ungluing the bonds that hold dry skin to your face.
Physical exfoliants, like scrubs or textured surfaces, physically slough off dry, dead skin. Both ultimately produce similar results with regular use, including:
The secret, though, is to find exfoliants that are effective yet gentle for regular use (and don’t go overboard with the scrubbing)! Using exfoliating products too frequently - or products that are too harsh - can strip the skin’s natural barrier, leaving it vulnerable to free radical damage, sun damage, dryness, or even infection.
First, whenever you feel like your skin needs it, detox with a restorative, exfoliant clay cleanser with ingredients like vitamin C, kaolin clay, and French green clay. Kaolin clay, in particular, is known for its ability to gently exfoliate and draw out oils without over-drying the skin, and the vitamin C will also neutralize any free radicals on your face, stopping pollution-related damage in its tracks and soothing red, irritated skin.
Overall, this kind of cleanser will absorb excess oil, unclog pores, and dissolve everyday impurities withoutover-stripping the skin, leaving a fresh canvas for the rest of your exfoliants or active ingredients.
That said, pay attention to your skin and only use it when it feels right. If your skin is feeling a little tight or dry, then switch it up and opt for a more hydrating cream cleanserwith ultra-moisturizing ingredients like mango seed butter and aloe. This one even still has glycolic acid for gentle exfoliation andhydration.
Frequency:Daily or every other day
Next, incorporate a moisturizing AHA serum into your routine. The right serum will contain both exfoliating andmoisturizing ingredients for maximum hydration and safe cell turnover.
Hyaluronic acid and glycolic acid are a particularly well-suited pair, as the glycolic acid can help carry the hyaluronic acid deeper into the skin for profound, lasting hydration.
Frequency:1-2 times a week
For more comprehensive exfoliation, try incorporating a physical scrub into your routine. Be careful, though: many scrub particles can be damaging to your skin (like walnut shells) or to the environment (like microbeads) - so you want to be extra prudent when combing through ingredients (you can find more on our go-to and no-go scrub particles here).
One of our favorites is bamboo powder.It’s made primarily of natural siliconextracted from bamboo sap. Studies suggest that silica can:
You can find a revitalizing bamboo exfoliator here. It also contains antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and vitamin E for extra anti-aging benefits.
Ah, a mask. The biggest, “self-care ritual” part of most skin care routines, a targeted mask can help you address a variety of skincare concerns, including breakouts, dry skin, and even fine lines and wrinkles.
When used weekly, a great mask can also deliver some major exfoliation power. We recommend a kaolin clay face mask that, once again, will both hydrate and detox the skin, delivering soothing minerals as it pulls away any dry skin or impurities. Other rock-star ingredients we made sure to incorporate?
Ready to take your exfoliation game up a notch? You can find all four products discussed here - a cleanser, serum, physical exfoliant, and face mask - in our Exfoliation Heroes Routine.
Here’s to happy, dewy skin!