Your complete guide to skin exfoliation

A step by step guide on how to get that glow

February 27, 2021

Have you ever tried to get your glow on with a cool new scrub or exfoliating tool, only to end up with a raw face just in time for date night? We all have stories from the time we over scrubbed our face before an important event and ended up with raw skin. Yes, it’s not a good place to be in.

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is a skincare technique where you remove dead cells from the top layer of your skin. By removing this layer of dead and dry skin, fresh layer of skin is revealed. Exfoliation helps brighten your complexion, and lets your skincare products penetrate deeper into your skin (making them work better). It’s especially helpful as we age and cell turnover slows down to prevent skin from looking dull, by keeping the process moving along at a good speed.

Types of exfoliation

Mechanical Exfoliation

In simple words, mechanical exfoliation involves a tool (like a Clarisonic brush or even a washcloth) or face scrub that physically removes the dead skin cells.

Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation on the other hand consists using ingredients like alpha - or beta hydroxy acids (think a face wash with salicylic acid, or a facial peel pad with glycolic acid) to dissolve cells.

When should you skip exfoliation?

Not everyone is meant to exfoliate their face. Exfoliation in a lot of my acne patients does more harm than good. If you have cystic or chronic acne, your skin is already inflamed, exfoliation would further irritate it. Harsh exfoliants can leave behind dark marks known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The marks can last even longer (and happen more often) in people who have tan to deeper skin tones. You should also hold off on exfoliation when you have any kind of cut or open wound on your face, if you have an infection on your face like a cold sore (it’ll spread!), or if you’re sunburned. Moisturiser and TLC is more what your skin needs during those times.

Mechanical Exfoliation

  • Use a clean brush or your favourite scrub and gently scrub it in small circular strokes around your face.
  • Keep your movements light.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water so your freshly exfoliated face isn’t irritated by hot water.
  • Pat face dry and apply moisturiser.

Chemical Exfoliation

  • Take your favourite chemical exfoliant and apply gently in small, circular motions after cleansing.
  • If it’s a product that sits on your face (like a peel), follow the package directions for how long you should wait before rinsing off your face.
  • If it’s a face wash, lightly rinse your face with lukewarm water.
  • Pat face dry and apply moisturiser.



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