Do you belong to the over-scrubbers facial club or just don’t know when to stop exfoliating?
Well, the tricky thing about exfoliation is that it can either make or break your skin. It can work wonders if you do it correctly. When you use the right product, exfoliating can smooth out rough patches, fade acne scars, dark spots, and even reduce redness and brighten overall skin complexion! However, it can even destroy your skin barrier when you overdo it.
Let’s break down what you should look for and avoid in your exfoliator and exactly how to use it in the right way!
Why do you need to exfoliate?
Exfoliation sloughs out the dead skin cells residing on the top layer of our skin. As dead skin cells accumulate, it prevents newer cells from regenerating, resulting in duller looking skin. These dead skin cells can block your skincare products from absorbing properly, and furthermore, smooth foundation application is never gonna happen when the surface of our skin is rough from these microscopic dead cells.
Due to slower cell turnover, regular skin exfoliating is especially helpful as we age to maintain the renewal process at a good speed.
Two main types of exfoliators: Mechanical VS Chemical
• Mechanical aka ‘Physical’
Think of exfoliating brushes (like a Clarisonic brush or a washcloth) or grainy scrubs; anything that requires a physical force to remove the dead cells. Contrary to its hype and popularity, physical facial exfoliators can cause more damage as the abrasiveness creates micro-tears on your face that slowly destroy your skin barrier.
Point to note: Stay away from this method if you tend to have a lot of active acnes or sensitive skin. This is because physical exfoliants are literally ’scrubbing’ your skin, making it more vulnerable than ever.
Chemical exfoliants use gentle acids to dissolve the ‘glue’ that binds dead cells to slowly reveal a brighter, smoother, and even-toned complexion. These are much gentler and more effective than physical exfoliants. Essentially, there are two main types of chemical exfoliants: alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). Both have different skin enhancing properties, depending on your skin type.
Ideal for: normal, dry, sensitive or redness-prone skin
Comes in different forms: lactic, mandolin, glycolic, and tartaric acid. Being water soluble, these acids are able to exfoliate the skin surface, drawing in moisture while keeping your face still hydrated.
Tip: if your skin is sensitive-prone, start with lactic acid as this form is the gentlest of all AHAs. If your skin is normal or with no real sensitivity issues, use glycolic acid as they are slightly strong and faster acting.
Ideal for: oily or acne-prone skin
Being oil soluble, BHAs are able to penetrate the skin and unclog congested pores to treat blackheads, whiteheads, and zits. Another benefit is that BHAs have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to mitigate some irritation effects on skin.
For Combination Skin
A common occurrence for Asian skin and in our humid weather, you have some oily areas and some not-so-oily areas. The best way to exfoliate is using AHAs on drier areas, followed by BHAs on oilier areas.
If it sounds like too much of a hassle, incorporate a more streamlined chemical exfoliation; where combining acids into one multitasking formula. There are many products that are formulated with a blend of AHA and BHA for such purposes.
How often should you exfoliate?
The million-dollar question, and of course less is more.
For sensitive skin: Be extra gentle and exfoliate using a warm, wet washcloth or a mild chemical exfoliant with lower active ingredients. Do it once or twice weekly and skip physical exfoliants (eg: beady scrubs) that are harsh for your skin.
For oily skin: Kudos to your skin as you are generally able to tolerate heavy-duty stuff. Exfoliate up to five times a week with such routine: use a cleansing tool like Clarisonic for AM, and an exfoliating peel/serum for PM.
For normal to combi skin: Use either of these methods up to three times a week!
Anyway, the golden rule is to remember not to exfoliate till you turn beet red or feel a stinging sensation. Unfortunately, if you still manage to overdo it, give your skin a break for a few days or try these facials for a deeper cleanse & exfoliation:
- Deep Cleansing Facial (75 minutes, $169)
Focuses on exfoliating and cleansing of pores to clarify and detoxify your skin. Works directly with the body tissues to correct imbalances. Helps to remove dead skin and debris from the skin surface, giving you a new youthful glow.
- Microdermabrasion (90 minutes, $179)
The diamond microdermabrasion vacuum massage intensively stimulates microcirculation. The exfoliating tip gently nudges away roughness and flakiness more effectively than when manually done.
*Accepting facial appointments after 13th June 2021 (subjected to changes). Kindly note that we will be monitoring the latest updates and regulations from the Ministry of Taskforce. Facial appointments’ availability are subjected to changes in compliance to the latest COVID-19 advisories.