When you’re not paying close attention to the terms, cleansing and exfoliating can seem like the same thing, but they serve very different purposes. And if there’s one thing that we’re learning through new techniques in skincare, it’s that order matters. So should you exfoliate or cleanse first? And does it matter? Let’s find out.
What is Exfoliation?
Before we get into it, we have to know what exactly exfoliation is and how it differs from cleansing. Both processes are aimed at cleaning the skin but they differ in how they do it and to what extent.
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells, deep debris, and other impurities from the top layer of the skin and pores. Exfoliants can be either physical or chemical. Chemical exfoliation uses mild acids and other compounds to dissolve the dead cells, oils, and skin impurities that accumulate throughout the day or week, whereas physical ones use scrubbing action to physically slough away these compounds. Physical exfoliation products often use ingredients like sugar, sand, or ground nut shells to provide a gentle scrubbing action.
What is Cleansing?
Cleansing is generally a more gentle and mild process than exfoliating. It involves mild soaps and surfactants to gently lock onto and rinse away the surface oils, makeup, and accumulated debris that can become lodged in pores but may not necessarily be stuck yet. There are many different types of facial cleansers out there, and Epicuren’s catalog of cleansers runs the gamut from highly effective for oily skin types to rich and gentle cleanser for sensitive skin:
- Apricot Cream Cleanser: Dehydrated, Dry skin, For sensitive skin
- Silk Radiance 3-in-1: Dehydration, compromised barrier
- Herbal Cleanser: All skin types, Sensitive, congested, aging, sun damage
- Citrus Herbal Cleanser: Combination, oily skin
- Clarify Cleanser: Oily and acne-prone skin
Benefits of Cleansing First
In the vast majority of skincare routines, people should cleanse before exfoliating. You may have come to that conclusion on your own, knowing that the distinction between cleansing and exfoliating is essentially “clean” vs. “deep clean,” respectively, but here’s what makes cleansing a commonly better choice.
First, cleansing frees your skin's surface from a lot of the day’s oil buildup, not to mention makeup, that would otherwise clog up and hamper the exfoliant from doing a good job. Not only that, but many of our exfoliators are really good at opening up the pores to then be infused with our high-quality serums, especially those like our Instantlift Tightening Serum.
Keep in mind that each cleanser, serum, and exfoliator has its own instructions for proper use, so make sure to use your products as directed and not over- or under-exfoliate for the best skincare routine.
When to Exfoliate After Cleansing
Most people should not exfoliate every single night. Most of Epicuren Discovery’s professional formulas are designed to be used once or a few times per week. Check your product label for instructions on how best to use your given exfoliant.
- Micro-Derm Ultra Refining Scrub: Only use once a week after cleansing, use sunscreen and limit time in the sun while using..
- Fine Herbal Scrub: Use no more than three times per week, limit sun exposure while using.
- Apricot Facial Scrub: Use after cleanser up to three times per week as needed, and always use sunscreen during the day and reapply every two hours or as needed.
Professional Exfoliators and Cleansers from Epicuren Discovery
You want your skincare routine to be as efficient and customized to your needs as possible, which is why Epicuren Discovery is here to help. Our cruelty-free formulas and sustainable sourcing for our formulas make us a guilt-free option for incredibly potent additions to your regimen. Check out our catalog of cleansers and exfoliants by browsing our site or take our Skin Quiz to get matched to products that fit your skin type and goals.