Skincare Heroes: Exfoliants

There's nothing quite like the ultra-clean feeling your skin has after a good ol' scrub. 

Exfoliation is gonna be the next topic in this little skincare series, from physical to chemical, it's benefits, and things to keep in mind to avoid making mistakes. You might think that you're too lazy and that this sounds like a lot of work, or that you haven't got time, or you're just not that into skincare. Hey I get it, but you need to hear this anyway, exfoliation is super important!

Before I delved into the skincare world exfoliation used to intimidate me, I mean using micro beads to remove layers of skin sounds horrific, right? But the more I read the more I learned that it is essential for my skin type, as I tend to suffer with flaky skin all year round, so removing the layers of dead skin has to be done manually!

Physical Exfoliants

These are the old-school, traditional scrubs that spring to mind at the mention of the word 'exfoliation'. Your standard St Ives Apricot scrub or some bog-standard Clean & Clear. However harsh those used to be, scrubs have come a long way since our acne-ridden, teen skin days of the early 00's.

Even 10 years ago it was common practice for face scrubs to contain actual micro beads made from plastic or nut shells and other materials which are WAY too large and abrasive to use on the face - causing actual micro-LESIONS in the skin. Now, plastic micro beads are banned from being used in toiletries produced and distributed in the UK and EU - phew! Think of all the plastic waste that was making its way into the ocean that is now substantially reduced. Since this ban many scrubs have been reformulated and have become more gentle, so much safer to use on our delicate skin.

Something to bare in mind when using micro beads (water soluble or not) is that it is physically working the dead skin off your face so if you're suffering from acne, I would personally shun scrubs to avoid possibly spreading the bacteria throughout your temporarily weakened skin. If your skin isn't particularly sensitive and you don't really get breakouts then I would recommend face scrubs - a good way to get two benefits in one is with the L'Oréal Glow Clay Mask; the clay helps extract impurities and the scrub particles remove dead skin!

Since physical exfoliants aren't limited to face scrubs, you might prefer them depending on the sensitivity of your skin, a gentle way to remove dead skin manually is using a konjac sponge (definitely on my list to try!). Or if you're hardcore, the infamous charcoal peel masks not only pull out blackheads but they also remove the top dead layer of skin too.

Chemical Exfoliants

Now if micro beads don't sound scary then applying acids to your face certainly does, right? Not to worry! Acids are generally at such a low concentration that they're actually milder than using scrubs, and therefore more suitable for sensitive skin. They generally work by weakening the bonds between the dead skin cells to remove them, but there are two different types - AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids).

AHAs work at the surface layers of the skin so work best for flaky skin, pigmentation and uneven texture - lactic or glycolic acids are great AHAs (my personal faves). BHAs are more suited to blackheads, milia and enlarged pores as they penetrate the pores to remove clogging material, its something I need to look into more and try for myself! Salicylic acid is the most well-known BHA, also super common in acne treatments - why not kill two birds with one stone, eh?

What are your favourite products to exfoliate with? Let me know!

Until next time,


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