Exfoliation 101

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  • What are the benefits of exfoliating?
    • Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin by using a chemical exfoliant, mechanical exfoliant, or both! Exfoliation is very beneficial for the skin as it sloughs off excess skin cells, removes oils and impurities from the skin, assists in product penetration, increases cellular turnover and circulation. 
  • What is chemical exfoliation?
    • Chemical exfoliation is the process of exfoliating by using acids or enzymes to help chemically break down and remove dead skin cells and impurities by reacting with the epidermis. Chemical exfoliant ingredients include AHA’s and BHA’s. 
  • What is mechanical exfoliation?
    • Mechanical, or manual, exfoliation is the process of exfoliating the skin through motion. Most mechanical exfoliants will contain an ingredient that helps assist you in removing those dead skin cells. Mechanical exfoliants range from using a handheld device, such as a Clarisonic, or utilizing a product that includes granules, such as jojoba seeds. 

  • How to Exfoliate:
    • Exfoliation should be performed 1-3 times a week, but no more. Americans are notorious for over-exfoliation, which can actually cause skin issues such as dehydration and sensitivity. Both mechanical and chemical exfoliation techniques will be started once the skin has been thoroughly cleansed and patted dry. With a mechanical exfoliant, you will apply a small amount onto your fingertips and apply to the face. You will want to massage the product into your skin with circular motions, avoiding the eye area. Finish by rising the face with lukewarm water and pat dry. With a chemical exfoliant, you will apply a small amount to your fingertips and massage into the face. Always follow your product instructions; most chemical exfoliants need to be left on the skin for 15-30 minutes. After the product has been massaged into the skin and left on for the appropriate amount of time, you may wash your face with lukewarm water and pat dry. Following your exfoliation, you may use a toner or essence and finish with moisturizer. 
  • Do you need to wash your face before using an exfoliator?
    • Yes! It is so important to prep the skin before exfoliation. If you live in a big city with pollution or you wear a lot of makeup, a double cleanse may be best. 
  • What skin type(s) is chemical exfoliation best for?
    • Chemical exfoliants are great for any skin type, but drier skin types may want to use a combination exfoliant or a simple mechanical exfoliator. 
  • What skin type(s) is manual exfoliation best for?
    • Again, manual exfoliants work on almost any skin type. Although, most people assume if they have acne-prone skin that they need an exfoliant with granules to help mechanically scrub off dirt, debris, and sebum, but a harsh mechanical exfoliant might be too rough on the skin and may actually spread bacteria. 
  • Can you use a combo of a manual/chemical exfoliator?
    • Yes! Combination exfoliants are becoming increasingly popular. These exfoliators combine the use of a chemical exfoliant as well as granules or microbeads to assist in removal of dead skin cells. SKINNEY Medspa in NYC has a fantastic combo exfoliant product, ‘Microdermabrasion In A Bottle’. Their product uses pumpkin enzyme as the chemical exfoliant while perfectly symmetrical bamboo beads mechanically exfoliate the face without causing any micro-tears in the skin. 

  • Which type of exfoliation is best for sensitive skin? How often should you exfoliate?
    • Chemical exfoliant, look for something with a natural enzyme derived from fruit or a lactic acid to gently exfoliate the skin without irritating. Exfoliation should be down 1-2 times a week.
  • Which type of exfoliation is best for dry skin? How often should you exfoliate?
    • Dry skin types should look for an exfoliant with AHA’s, BHA’s, and a small granule to assist in the exfoliation process. Dry skin is prone to having issues with absorption, so try and find something that can exfoliate the skin while replenishing your skin’s moisture. Exfoliation should be down 1-3 times a week.
  • Which type of exfoliation is best for oily skin? How often should you exfoliate?
    • Oily skin is typically more resistant to exfoliation, so look for an exfoliant with an AHA and BHA. Oily skin types may actually exfoliate 3-5 times a week depending on the strength of the product and how they skin tolerates it. 
  • Which type of exfoliation is best for combination skin? How often should you exfoliate?
    • Combination skin works great with combination exfoliants! You can exfoliate anywhere between 1-3 times a week. 

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