What is exfoliation?
Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin using a chemical, granular substance, or exfoliation tool.
Why do we need to exfoliate regularly?
Your skin naturally sheds dead skill cells to make room for new cells every 30 days or so. Sometimes, dead cells don't shed completely or the process is slowed down due to sun exposure and ageing. This can result in dry, flaky patches and clogged pores. Exfoliating can help prevent this.
Benefits of Exfoliation
- Helps speed up the natural process of removing dead skin cells
- Draws out congestions eg. blackheads and whiteheads, excess oil and skin cells that clog pores and cause blemishes
- Regenerate new skin cells, encourage cell turnover and growth of new skin tissue
- Helps with uneven skin tone, pigmentation as well as post-breakout, red and dark marks
- Skin appears smoother and skin texture improves
- Allows better absorption of skincare products
Types of exfoliation
Physical Exfoliation - nudges the loose dead skin cells from the topmost layer of the skin physical friction.
- Scrubs - physical particles to remove dead skin cells
- Peeling Gels - contains natural cellulose which exfoliates without stripping the skin's moisture
Chemical Exfoliation - work by breaking the bonds that hold skin cells together. As those bonds are broken, the top layers of the skin cells shed, revealing regenerated skin.
- AHAs (Alpha-hydroxy acids) - water-soluble, exfoliates uppermost layers of dead skin
- BHAs (Beta-hydroxy acids) - oil-soluble, penetrates deeper into the skin and pores
- PHAs (Poly-hydroxy acids) - have similar effects with AHAs, but are less likely to cause stinging or burning due to larger molecules which cannot penetrate as deeply
Choosing an exfoliant
With so many kinds of exfoliants in the market, how do you know which is the most suitable for you?
The effects of AHAs are primarily felt on the skin’s surface. If you have surface-level skin concerns like red marks from past acne, this constant sloughing off of dead, dull skin cells is helpful for hyperpigmentation.
AHA is also good for dry skin. It’s made up of molecules that love water, and it helps improve the skin’s moisture content.
AHA & BHA
Can you use both at the same time?
Yes, you can use both AHA and BHA together, as long as they are coming from the same product. Products that have both AHA and BHA in their formula usually contain a balanced percentage that is generally safe for all skin types and with low risk of over-exfoliation.
Best for acne-prone skin and those with deeper skin concerns since BHA penetrates further into the skin. While AHAs love water, BHAs love oil. They can bypass the oil that clogs pores and dissolve the mix of sebum and dead skin that leads to acne, as well as stabilize the lining of the pore (which contributes to acne). BHAs clear up blackheads, whiteheads, and have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
These have similar effects to alpha-hydroxy acids but are less likely to cause stinging or burning, so they may be a better option for those with sensitive skin.
Why is it not recommended to use scrubs?
The abrasives in the scrubs cause micro-tears in the skin which gradually weakens the skin's barrier, making skin more prone to dry, flaky patches, redness and signs of sensitivity. Common ingredients include ground-up shells, fruit pits or volcanic rock.
A greater alternative would be to opt for a gentler form of physical exfoliation:
How many times should I exfoliate in a week?
- Exfoliation should be limited to up to 3 times a week, as over-exfoliation may cause depletion of natural oil levels which should be present and damage the skin's protective barrier.
- This is also why some people find that their skin gets oily as the skin reacts by producing more oil due to over-exfoliating.
- If you have never used an exfoliator before, ease into it and start with exfoliating once and week, and increase the frequency as your skin manages to tolerate it more.
How do I know if I have over-exfoliated?
When you have over-exfoliated, your skin may start to peel. This causes irritation, burning, redness, inflammation, congested pores, pimples and increased sensitivity to other products in your routine.
What should I do if I have over-exfoliated?
Pause your usage of actives or exfoliants. Stick to a basic routine of double cleansing, moisturizer and sun protection. Include ingredients which are soothing, calming and repairing such as Centella Asiatica, Green Tea, Panthenol and Ceramides.
Despite having a good daily skincare routine with regular exfoliating, our pores will still tend to clog up again. Exfoliating does minimize the occurrence of clogged pores but there might be some stubborn blackheads which exfoliating might not be sufficient to remove.
Doing extractions by yourself at home may not be ideal as you could risk spreading bacteria to other parts of your face, picking and squeezing your face will also lead to scarring. There are specific types of pimples that can only be treated successfully with expert help. Extraction, when done properly and safely, can actually help get rid of pimples and blackheads very effectively.
A Detox Me Facial (Facial for Him/Her) at Fickle+ would address this issue.
Detox Me is a deep pore cleansing facial to help rid the skin of unwanted build up of excess sebum, toxins, dirt and dead skin cell debris - all of which contributes to unwanted skin conditions like acne and premature ageing.
Make an appointment for a Detox Me Facial (Facial for Him/Her, $88) at Fickle+ now!