To exfoliate or not exfoliate?

Which type of exfoliant should I use?

Everyone should be exfoliating their skin but what is the right amount for you? Well that comes down to what you use, your skin type, and your specific skin. The consensus seems to be that you should exfoliate 2x a week on average, but this can vary depending on the factors mentioned above. Lets start with the types of exfoliators available. You have the old school physical exfoliators, and you have the more uber popular chemical exfoliants. Either of these types can be used on any skin type, it just depends on the exfoliators strength. Physical scrubs often contain either rice as the exfoliating ingredient, or a nut of some kind; for example walnut. Chemical exfoliators can be (AHA’S) alphahydroxy acids (BHA’s) betahydroxy acids, or (PHA”s) polyhydroxy acids.

Before diving into that tub of exfoliant, know what your using. It is great to exfoliate your skin, but you can do more harm than good if you use the wrong kind.

AHA’S: Naturally occurring acids often referred to as acids of fruit. 6 common aha’s are glycolic, lactic, malic, tartaric, and citric acid.

BHA’s: Salicylic acid reigns supreme in this acid category for its acne fighting power. Its important to keep your skin hydrated when using any acids but especially with salicylic acid because it is drying to the skin for many users.

PHA’s: Milder than AHA’s because of their larger molecular structure. This makes them a safe choice for sensitive skin types and conditions such as rosacea and eczema. Polyhydroxy acids are also moisturizing because they naturally function as humectants, as well as exfoliating the skin.



Exfoliate For Your Skin Type

Oily: AHA’S and BHA’S are you’re besties! This skin type can usually handle more exfoliation than others, so 2x or 3x a week is in the safe zone. You could even use a milder exfoliant daily if you wanted to. Salicylic acid, glycolic, and lactic acid are great for exfoliating the epidermis and cleaning out the pores of oily skin.  Monthly or bi monthly peels are often recommended by dermatologists too if you prefer a luxurious spa day.

Dry: While you may be tempted not to exfoliate your skin because you feel its already to dry; you still need to slough off the dead stratum corneium cells so that your skin can breathe properly. Because your skin is already dry, its important not to dry it out anymore. This skin type should stick to milder acids such as AHA’S malic, tartaric, and lactic acid. PHA’s are also a great choice because of their double duty as humectants. BHA’s can be used sparingly when the strength(PH) is on the lower side. Depending on dryness, and or sensitivity dry skin is usually fine with exfoliating 1x a week.

Normal- Ah, the holy grail of skin types, and rarest to have unless you are a baby, or little kid. Once puberty hits, bam! Say hello to your real skin type. Normal skin is defined as having a balance between hydration and oil production. You can still aggravate your skin though, so no… you can not just toss all your acids in a bowl and make a beauty witches brew. You do have more leeway with trying out any acid, and exfoliating 2x a week is usually enough for normal skin. Your skin is naturally plump, and hydrated looking but with too much use of harsh acids, you can create problems that could’ve been prevented by having patience.

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