Why Exfoliation is the Foundation for your Skincare Regimen

| Mar 22, 2023

From wrinkles to congested pores and discoloration to uneven texture, it’s hard to find a skincare solution that targets many concerns at once—but exfoliation comes close. Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface through either chemical or physical means. 

This treatment has a variety of benefits. Removing dead skin cells helps unclog pores and eliminate impurities giving a deeper clean than washing alone. Additionally, it promotes cell growth to reveal new layers of skin and helps improve discoloration and uneven texture. The result? Soft, radiant skin.

Finally, exfoliating primes your complexion for other treatments, like serums and moisturizers. Skincare products penetrate deeper when they are applied to the new skin rather than having to work through a layer of dead skin cells. This makes serums and moisturizers more effective in the long run.

But what kind of exfoliation should you do? How often should you do it? And are there any special considerations to keep in mind? Below, we’ll break down each of these questions to ensure you get the glow you want.

What Is Physical Exfoliation?

Physical exfoliation uses either a mechanical or granular application. Mechanical exfoliation would be scrubbing your face with a washcloth or using a specialized beauty tool, such as a vibrating brush. Granular exfoliation refers to a product that contains granules, such as jojoba seeds, sugar, or ground kernels, to buff away dead skin cells.

Physical exfoliation is effective, but it can also be slightly harsher on the skin than chemical exfoliation. While it is possible to gently exfoliate using physical methods, you need to do it carefully. Limit this step to two or three times per week to avoid overdoing it, apply minimum pressure, and use products that won’t tear the skin. For example, jojoba seeds are perfectly round and smooth, while ground or crushed kernels may have rough edges that can irritate the skin and make it more prone to bacteria and acne.

For a gentle but deeply effective physical exfoliation, hydrafacials can be beneficial. This type of exfoliation is normally done by a professional and involves a device that essentially vacuums out pores and then flushes them with water or a moisturizing agent.

Physical exfoliation tends to work better for oily skin than for sensitive or dry skin. Remember to be gentle, using small circular motions and plenty of water to give the product some slip. Always follow up with moisturizer and stick to the schedule your skin tolerates best. 

What Is Chemical Exfoliation?

Chemical exfoliation uses naturally occurring acids, like Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and Beta-hydroxy acids (BHA), to remove dead skin cells. Glycolic and lactic acids are AHAs, while salicylic acid is a BHA. 

AHAs tend to be gentler and more moisturizing, so they’re best for combating wrinkles or dry skin as they have moisturizing properties. By comparison, BHAs are stronger and penetrate deeper to unclog pores, which makes them also effective for acne-prone skin. The acids in over-the-counter products tend to be in lower concentrations, so they can be used safely at home while still being effective. 

The acids gently dissolve dead skin cells, resulting in the same renewing effect as physical exfoliation without the risk of microtears. You can usually use chemical exfoliants more often than physical exfoliants, but you should always start slowly. Incorporate them into your routine once or twice a week for a few weeks to see how your skin handles the product. Additionally, you may be a little more sensitive to the sun while using chemical exfoliants, so always use sunscreen. 

While chemical exfoliation can be done at home, you may want to jump-start the process or get longer lasting results without changing your daily skincare routine. Professional chemical peels are made for these exact purposes. These peels use a stronger concentration of acids to target specific skincare concerns at different layers. Please note that this treatment should always be administered by a professional because it can burn or damage the skin if not done correctly. 

How to Get the Best Results From Your Exfoliation

As with any skincare product or tool, remember that less is more. Trust what your skin is telling you: If you see inflammation, excessive or lasting redness, or increased sensitivity, then exfoliate less often or switch approaches.

Always be gentle and remember to moisturize and use sunscreen when spending time outdoors. With these simple tips, you can have smooth and glowing skin in no time.

Exfoliating treatments have evolved since the first time you bought a scrub to try at home. If you have questions about finding the right method for your skin, Modern Age is here to help you put your best face forward. Visit us in-office for a complimentary consultation and get to know your skin, and ask about our recommended AHA/BHA cleanser for beautiful results at home.