Now, here is another step that some might want to skip, but trust me it’s an essential habit to include in your skincare. It’s something that should be done at least 2-3 times a week. Once you’ve built up your skin’s tolerance, you can exfoliate every single day without any problems.
Our top layer skin is made of a ton of dead skin cells that need to be gently pushed away to make way for our young and fresh skin cells. These dead cells also tend to accumulate and clog the skin. When poorly exfoliated, skin is locked away in a “mask of dead skin cells”. The result: potential pimples and a poor absorption of your skincare. Indeed, you might be wasting your money trying to apply skincare with potent ingredients if a mask of dead skin prevents those ingredients to reach the deeper layers of your skin. This mask of dead skin could also prevent dry skin from absorbing the moisture you are trying to deliver to it.
Rubbing too hard while cleansing your face won’t do the job (don’t, it’s bad). You need an actual exfoliating treatment. And oh will you be satisfied, I promise you. Baby soft skin like you never had since you were a baby: this is what you can easily achieve with exfoliation, but more precisely chemical exfoliation.
1 〉 What is chemical exfoliation?
Yes, chemical exfoliants are called acids. I know, it is a scary word. But, apart from a potentially irritated skin from over-exfoliation, nothing dramatic will happen if you use these products… As long as you wear your sunscreen every day!
It is a safe and very effective way to remove dead skin, without scrubbing it and therefore damaging it. Instead, chemical exfoliants gently do their job over the day or the night by “ungluing” dead skin cells. No need to rinse them off, simply apply regular products afterward. You won’t see any skin peeling directly after application. I would recommend waiting 5-10 mins before applying other products. Why? Because applying them will be more comfortable after full absorption of your chemical peel. Also, chemical peels might be more effective at a lower PH level (just like vitamin C), so why not be safe.
I strongly discourage you to use manual exfoliants (you know, just scrubbing your face). Watch out for the skin damage!
2 〉 Two popular types of chemical exfoliants :
AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acid) :
• Water soluble. They gently remove (“unglue”) the top layers of your skin, made of dead skin cells. They are also said to have anti-aging properties because they would increase cell turnover rate and collagen production level.
• Advised to treat uneven skin tone, fine lines, sun damage and to allow better hydration of the skin.
BHA’s (beta hydroxy acid) :
• Oil soluble. They actually penetrate the pores of your skin in order to unclog them.
• Advised to treat acne, blackheads, oily skin, enlarged pores (not a miracle!), redness of the skin (anti-inflammatory properties).
√ COSRX sells a popular 4% BHA lotion, as well as a 7% AHA lotion:
- Good BHA and AHA concentrations.
- Simple, effective product formulations.
- Available @Amazon
√ Peter Thomas Roth proposes a clearing gel combining 10% AHA with 2% BHA
- Good, effective formulation.
- Convenient since it combines 2 in 1.
- Available @Sephora
3 〉 Is it safe to use both types?
Yes! Some products even include both in the same product. Although it is not necessary, you can choose according to your main concern.
In my case, I use AHA daily (or once every two days, depends). It’s the most effective at removing the top layers of the skin. I unclog my pores with BHA once in a while, when I feel like it. This is because I don’t have any problem with acne or blackheads. My main concern is to ensure optimal absorption of my skincare and to act on sun damage.
4 〉 Enzyme peels ♥♥♥
Enzyme peels constitute another category of exfoliants. Typically made of natural fruit ingredients, these peels do not contain acids and are amongst the gentlest methods of exfoliation. Like AHA’s, they remove the top layers of skin, minus the possible irritation. So please try this out if you have hypersensitive skin. I think you will also love.
For me, the coolest thing about those is that the exfoliating effect is immediate. Enzymes instantly react with skin, producing little balls of dead skin cells all over your face. It is super satisfying to see. Also, these products are a great way to instantly and gently do some extra exfoliation if desired. I like to do it in the morning after cleansing, instead of my regular AHA.
Here are two options that have been tested, and that both deliver a nice enzyme peel:
√ Exfoliating Peel Gel by Boscia
√ FIRMx Peeling Gel by Peter Thomas Roth