We’ve heard it from the experts: Exfoliating is a crucial part of your skincare routine. However, the idea of shedding skin does not always sit comfortably with everyone, especially those with certain skin types. People with sensitive skin are worried about damaging their already delicate face. While those troubled with dry patches prefer to avoid signs of flaking all together. You all have your concerns, and we totally get you – exfoliation seems risky! Not to worry, we’re here to save the day (and your skin).
Join us as we give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about exfoliating for different skin types. By the end of this article, you’ll leave eager to start your day with an exfoliator in hand and a bright future ahead! But before you get too excited, take some time to read through this guide and understand what is best for you. We promise it will be worth the wait. Let’s get started!
What Does Exfoliating Do For Your Skin?
First thing on the agenda: Debunking that fear of yours. While the term sounds daunting, exfoliation is actually a lot less scary and a lot more beneficial than you think. It is simply shedding dead skin that prevents you from looking as fresh and flawless as you can be. With those pesky dead cells gone, you’ll be able to produce fresh skin cells for overall clean, bright, and healthy skin. Now, who wouldn’t want that?
Here’s an even more interesting fact. Did you know that the exfoliation process actually happens naturally in our bodies? Many are unaware that we shed at least 30,000 dead skin cells every minute. In our teen years to late twenties, 28 days is all it takes for our topmost skin layer to be completely renewed. Although it takes longer the older we get, natural exfoliation still occurs, and we don’t even see (or feel) a thing!
Now, you may be thinking – if skin rejuvenation happens naturally, then why do we need all these exfoliation products and treatments? Unfortunately for us, many factors affect our skin, so much so that our natural bodily functions cannot always keep up. Exposure to sun, pollution, stress and even the wrong skincare products can cause our skin to lose equilibrium and manifest different skin conditions. Some experience dry and dull skin, while others produce excess oils that clog their pores. Plus, let’s face it – we’re all aging by the minute, and that means our cellular turnover is naturally slowing down. Whatever the case may be, regularly exfoliating helps to renew the skin back to its optimal form. That leads us to our next question!
Is Exfoliating Safe For All Skin Types?
Yes! Exfoliating can be as gentle or as strong as your skin needs it to be. Thanks to the ever-evolving beauty industry, we now have access to countless skincare brands, facial treatments, and even DIY product recipes to help us exfoliate safely and surely.
If there’s anything to be concerned about, it’s two simple things, and they are well within your control: (1) Understanding what kind of exfoliation is best for your skin type, and (2) knowing how often to do it.
Don’t know where to start? We’ll guide you through them!
1. Types of Exfoliation: How should I exfoliate?
Most of us are familiar with mechanical and chemical exfoliation, but the real magic starts in knowing which between the two is best for you. To save you some time, we’ll skip the scientific jargon and cut straight to the chase.
Or sometimes called physical or manual exfoliation. As the term suggests, mechanical or physical exfoliators remove dead skin cells through physical and instant means. Products like an exfoliating scrub, cleansing brush, or a konjac sponge are directly rubbed against your skin’s surface. Goodbye gunk, hello fresh face!
This is particularly helpful for those with dry, flaky skin. The sensitive skin type, on the other hand, may want to opt for what’s next.
This method is the reason behind a lot of the misconceived negativity surrounding exfoliation. It involves acids that penetrate deep into your skin layers and trigger the renewal of skin cells from within. Commonly used acids are AHAs or alpha hydroxy acids (i.e. glycolic acid, lactic acid, tartaric acid, and citric acid), and BHAs or beta hydroxy acids (i.e. salicylic acid and beta hydroxyl). If not used properly, they can be too much for your skin to handle.
That being said, we want to set the record straight: Chemical exfoliants or chemical peels will NOT harm your skin, as long as you pick one with the suitable concentration of acids for your skin problem. If you’re unsure about what acids may be best for you, we recommend consulting with a dermatologist or a skin therapist first. Perhaps start with chemical peels and see how they affect your skin. If you’re interested to learn more, you can check out our skin therapy facials here.
2. Frequency of Exfoliation: How often should I exfoliate?
This is a must-know! You can have the best exfoliating tool or get the best treatment for your skin but still experience irritation and damaging results. This is often the case with over-exfoliating. Knowing when to start and stop is already winning half the battle! Exfoliate only when needed, and you’re sure to see positive results. Depending on your skin type, you may need to do it daily or just once every 1-2 weeks.
Now that you have an idea of the two factors you should consider, let’s get to the exciting part!
The Best Exfoliation For Your Skin Type
Remember: Safe and effective exfoliation ultimately relies on the type and frequency fit for you. Make sure you properly determine your skin type before applying our tips below. While they are all tried and tested by dermatologists and beauty fanatics alike, they are just general rules of thumb. We all have unique skin compositions, so adjust according to your skin reaction if you have to.
The age-old battle of oil vs. man. Too much of it can be bad for us – oily food, oily hair, even oil for your car’s engine. But hey, that’s a whole different topic. Let’s stick to what we know best: oily skin.
Too much oil in our skin can cause clogged pores, deep-set impurities, and an overwhelming fear of looking shiny in all the wrong places. For those of you with this problem, exfoliating should be a staple in your routine. Chemical exfoliants will help remove the grease and grime that have settled a little too comfortably inside your pores. Once you’re free from the junk, your skin will feel extremely clean and oil-free. The best part is, you’ll look absolutely radiant – minus the oil!
How to exfoliate oily skin
- Type: A chemical exfoliant with BHA like salicylic acid. Unlike other hydroxy acids, this type of BHA is oil-soluble, which is ideal for oily skin. Moreover, it is said to be milder than most AHAs, making it a great option for people battling both excess oil and sensitivity.
- Frequency: As many as five times a week. However, to be on the safe side, you can start with two to three times a week. Stick to this schedule if it is enough to keep your sebum production at bay. If you feel like you could do more, go up to four or five times a week.
On the other side of the fence sits this group of people: Those not producing enough sebum. Flaking, dull skin, itchiness, and rough skin texture are common telltale signs that you might have this problem. You may think it wise to avoid exfoliants out of fear that they’ll dry out your skin even more. While this may make sense, exfoliating is actually not the problem. Picking the right way to exfoliate is.
If done correctly, it will help slough off your dry skin and smoothen out those rough patches. More than that, it will up the rest of your skincare game. With all those dead skin cells out of the way, other products finally stand a chance of penetrating your skin and working their magic. The result? Overall smoother, brighter, and more hydrated skin that will get you off the fence and out flaunting your newfound glow!
How to exfoliate dry skin
- Type: A physical exfoliant like a face scrub or a face mask. We personally find it best to use products that contain superfine particles like Jojoba beads or fruit enzymes. Apart from buffing those unwanted skin cells, we love the satisfaction of feeling it literally come off! However, if you’re nothing like us and this may be too much for you, you can also opt for chemical exfoliators with AHAs. Glycolic acid will help do the trick by peeling off dead cells while still retaining the skin’s natural moisture. Some scrubs offer the best of both worlds, which is even better. Skin renewal inside and out – definitely a win-win!
- Frequency: Two to three times a week. If you have both dry and sensitive skin, exfoliate your face once a week for starters. Also, keep in mind that physical exfoliants cause friction against the skin, so scrub gently in slow, circular motions. This is a MUST regardless of how often you do it.
Excuse our honesty, but this next type is like having oily and dry skin on overdrive. While acne is mostly known to be caused by excessive oil production, overly dry skin plays a huge part too. It can block your pores from releasing trapped oil, dirt, and bacteria. Combine the two, and it’s an acne breakout waiting to happen! And just like a stack of dominoes, it can eventually lead to even worse things like acne scars and dark spots.
Get your hands on the right exfoliator, and it will work wonders for you. More than just reducing acne, it will help smoothen out your scars and lighten any dark spots left behind. Keep this routine up, and it’s adios acne!
How to exfoliate acne-prone skin
- Type: Chemical exfoliators with any kind of AHA or BHA. Salicylic acid at high concentrations can act as a peeling agent for effectively removing acne, scars, and skin discoloration. We recommend starting with a 0.5% product and working your way up to the maximum 2% if needed. Glycolic acid is another option. While it is most known for its anti-aging benefits like reducing wrinkles and fine lines, it also helps with acne problems. Its highest concentration is 10% but as always, be conservative and start small. You may get even better results from a chemical peel with a customised combination of acids. Weigh your options, and see what works for you.
- Frequency: Two to three times a week. Then again, this will depend on the concentration and combination of acids used in your skincare product or treatment. When using acids for acne, take note that the higher the potency, the less you have to use it. If overdone, it may cause irritation that ultimately outweighs the benefits. In such cases, once a week may be enough.
One of the biggest lies in exfoliation is that those with sensitive skin can never get in on the action. If you’ve heard this before, forget what you know for a second, and hear us out. Contrary to popular opinion, you can greatly benefit from this added step on your regimen.
While your skin may be easily affected by just about anything, it still acts like everyone else’s – prone to dirty pores, dull complexion, and yes, dead skin cells. In reality, avoiding certain products or routines may be causing more harm and sensitivities than you think. The key is to look for a product or treatment that works, without causing skin damage. Take it from us – we are proud members of this skin group, and we enjoy exfoliating just as much as the next person. So to all our fellow skin buddies: Trust us, it is a game-changer!
How to exfoliate sensitive skin
- Type: A mild chemical exfoliator with lactic acid. This type of AHA is mild yet effective, offering all the same benefits without irritation. Use a product with a concentration of 10% at most, or try a lactic acid peel from a professional skin clinic. While some people may experience redness or uneasy sensations, just be patient and don’t panic. You’ll see it lighten, brighten, and tighten – you name it, you’ll get it! While it is generally safe for skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, it is best to be extra cautious and first consult an experienced skin professional.
- Frequency: Once or twice a week. And stop there! Don’t overdo it just because you got the go signal to join the exfoliating gang. Wait for the results, and your skin will thank you later.
Normal to Combination Skin
And alas, the target of all our envy – the normal skin type. For the few of you fortunate enough to not suffer from any skin condition, we’re sure you don’t need much convincing. Perhaps most of you are regularly exfoliating by now. And if you’re not, start today! You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Exfoliating will simply aid in your already healthy cell turnover.
A close second best is combination skin – oily on the t-zone and dry on the cheeks. If you occasionally struggle with these unpredictable changes in your skin’s texture, finding the right skincare routine can be extra tricky. You may need to juggle between products, but never skip exfoliating! It will help even out your skin texture and lessen both oil and rough patches where needed.
How to exfoliate normal to combination skin
- Type: Any mechanical or chemical exfoliator. Luckily for you, you can get away with exfoliating any way you want to! If you prefer mechanical methods to exfoliate, use a mild facial scrub. Just make sure to lather gently and focus on the dry parts of your face. For acid products or treatments, use a light chemical exfoliant. We recommend one with low doses of salicylic for oily areas and lactic acid for flaky areas. They are generally known to be less irritating than glycolic acid, a good fact to know for those who experience the occasional rash.
- Frequency: One to three times a week. Because combination to normal skin is generally healthy and well-hydrated, make sure you do not over-exfoliate. A few times a week is enough to reap the rewards.
Can’t find your skin type here? We’re sorry we missed you! You can book a consultation with us to get advice on your specific skin concern. This way, we’ll be able to recommend the best product or treatment for you.
We hope this article helped you appreciate what exfoliating can do for your skin. Now that you’re up to date on all the tips and tricks, go and try them out for yourself. We wish you luck and a lifetime of glowing skin!
Professional Exfoliation Treatments
If you’re still on the fence about exfoliating on your own, there are tons of treatments offered by skin clinics and salons. They may even be a better option as you are assured that these professionals know what they’re doing.
Here at Lovoir Skin Body &Beauty, we have a range of services that specialise in exfoliating and removing dead skin cells. Whatever skin concern you may have, our team of expert clinicians will assess your needs and customise the best treatment for you. Check out our beauty treatments, and feel free to contact us with any questions.