Professional facials or treatments can exfoliate your skin, giving you a healthy, glowing look, but these aren’t always an option. Most people need a reliable way to exfoliate safely, and regularly at home. With so many products available, it’s difficult to decide which option is best for you. Here are some tips for the best methods of exfoliating at home.
Why is Exfoliating Important?
Exfoliating is important because it helps maintain your skin’s health and an improved appearance. Excess dead skin cells can clog the pores, leading to breakouts, especially for those who have oily or acne-prone skin. For those with dry or combination skin types, dead skin cells can lead to a dull, dry, or discolored appearance. Finally, dead skin cells can cling to the skin’s surface, making it impossible for your skincare products to properly absorb. This also can make it difficult to apply makeup smoothly.
In your younger years, dead skin cells naturally fall away about every 28 days. As you grow older, however, these cells can remain in place for 40-80 days. This makes it even more important to develop good exfoliation habits as you get older.
How Should You Exfoliate?
There are two basic exfoliation methods: physical and chemical. Most people are more familiar with physical exfoliation at home, but we urge you to be careful when using this method.
Physical, or mechanical, exfoliation includes scrubs or brushes that physically force dead skin cells away from the surface to remove them. This process is best for thick skin or rough patches on the body, but is generally too harsh for your face. This is because physical exfoliation can cause micro-tears in your skin, damaging its barrier and causing irritation. It’s especially important to avoid physically exfoliating your face if you have sensitive skin or rosacea. Epicuren offers multiple physical exfoliants, but please don’t be heavy handed when scrubbing. A gentle application is much better for any skin type. Try the Epicuren Apricot Facial Scrub to start. This is best for sensitive, dry and normal skin types. If your skin can handle more abrasive exfoliants, we recommend using the Epicuren Mico-Derm Ultra Refining Scrub 1 time a week, but please do not scrub harshly. A little goes a long way with Physical Exfoliants.
Chemical exfoliation is achieved using gentle acids (like salicylic or lactic acid) that break down the binding that “glues” dead skin cells to the surface. This process is much gentler and more effective than physical exfoliation and is generally better for your skin’s health. When exfoliating your face, we recommend trying a gentle acid and see how your skin looks and feels.
What Type of Chemical Exfoliator is Best?
There are several chemical exfoliating ingredients available in skin care products, and the best option for each person depends on their skin type. There are two basic types: alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) or beta hydroxy acids (BHA).
Alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble, meaning they draw in moisture. AHAs are gentle and preferable for normal, dry, or sensitive skin types, especially if you are prone to redness. Some AHA options include lactic acid, mandelic acid, glycolic acid, and tartaric acid. If your skin is sensitive, lactic acid is a good place to start, as it is usually the gentlest option. Epicuren Pumpkin Apple Spice Peel is a good option for sensitive skin types, and Epicuren Glycolic Lotion Skin Peel 10% is a good AHA option for dry, normal, or combination skin.
Beta hydroxy acids are oil soluble, so they break down oil in clogged pores. This makes them a good treatment option for blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples and a preferable option for those with oily or acne-prone skin. BHA is also known for anti-inflammatory properties. Salicylic acid is the most common BHA option and is often found in acne spot treatments. Epicuren Clarify Exfoliating Astringent uses salicylic acid, making it a good option for those with combination, oily, and acne-prone skin. BHA options can be drying, so start out using these products every three days at most.
How Often Should I Exfoliate?
It’s important to avoid exfoliating daily, as this can make your skin irritated, damaged, and sensitive to the sun. If you have sensitive skin, start out with exfoliating once a week. For other skin types, or as your skin adjusts, a routine of exfoliating 3-4 times a week (about every other night) is recommended. Remember, always apply sunscreen when being exposed to sun, everyday but especially after exfoliating!