The Skin Essential to Smoother Skin
There’s an age old adage that says “out with the old, in with the new”. Not only does this apply to week-old Chinese takeout decomposing in your fridge and knit tops with shoulder pads (wait, did I just date myself?), your skin needs to shed the old layers in order to function at its optimal. During our day to day lives, dead skin cells build up on the surface of our faces. If we neglect to clean our skin well, a traffic jam of old makeup, dirt, and oil start to pile up on skin worse than any LA traffic you could imagine. The build-up of dead skin cells causes pores to become clogged which can lead to breakouts and dull skin. The best way to get rid of this build-up of dead skin cells is to exfoliate. Our good friends at Dictionary.com define an exfoliant as “a cosmetic product designed to remove dead cells from the surface of the skin.” Another reason to add exfoliation into the lineup? Exfoliating regularly has the added benefit of making all your other skincare products work better.
Physical vs. chemical Exfoliants
When we talk exfoliants, there are two major buckets - physical and chemical. A physical exfoliant uses a tiny scrubbing particles to manually remove the dead skin cells. It could be a face wash with bits of nut shells or even a facial brush. After a scrub, your face is left feeling super smooth and shiny. But there is a big downside to physical exfoliants in that they are not great for sensitive or acne-prone skin and you run the risk of over-scrubbing your face leading to micro-tears.
Chemical exfoliants are acids that dissolve the dead skin cells and have additional benefits that physical exfoliants don’t offer such as unclogging pores, minimizing the appearance of wrinkles, and increasing hydration. There are two main types of chemical exfoliants that are used for different purposes:
AHA exfoliants (lactic, glycolic, and fruit acids) - are best for sun damaged skin, aging skin and normal to dry skin types. If you want a multi-tasker that doubles as a night cream, try January Labs Retexturizing Night Cream or a wipe and go gel, try Goldfaden’s Fresh A Peel.
BHA exfoliants (salicylic acid) - can penetrate deep into pores and are best for oily/combo skin to help with clogged pores, blackheads, blemishes or enlarged pores. Try Goldfaden’s Facial Detox mask for that twice weekly shedding of the old.
How to Use
According to renowned dermatologist, Dr. Goldfaden, who developed his own line of nature-inspired skincare line, suggests the following:
AM/PM: try one in the morning and one at night. If you’re targeting a skin issue then doubling down can be effective. Make sure to always hydrate your skin properly and pay attention to warning signs such as redness or red or dryness.
Alternate days: Try AHA on day and then BHA a few days later. Listen to your skin and you’ll never go wrong!
Spot treat: If you have combo skin, try using BHA only in t-zone or oily areas while using AHA everywhere else.
Know your limits-not everyone needs both and if you’re particularly sensitive and NOT acne prone then stick to AHAs.
I have used physical exfoliants all my life but have recently switched exclusively to chemical exfoliants. And, I can tell you that it has made a big difference in showing the most visible improvement in my skin over the last 6 months. Pores are smaller, texture is smoother, and breakouts are fewer. I can’t sing the praises of chemical exfoliants enough. It’s the workhorse that works.
Your a-”peelin” maven, Kim