EXFOLIATION: The most underrated step in your skincare routine

Exfoliation. It removes dead skin cells, reduces the appearance of pores and breakouts and reveals smoother, brighter, more radiant skin in an instant. It also stimulates collagen production and can help your serums and moisturisers to penetrate more deeply in your skin, making each step in your skincare routine work harder and more effectively for you whilst reversing signs of premature ageing. Really, there is no end to the reasons why you should exfoliate according to leading dermatologists and dermal therapists.

In fact, according to Suzi Robertson, Dermalist’s Senior Dermal Therapist, at-home exfoliation is one of the most important steps in achieving and maintaining beautiful, glowing, healthy skin. She shares “Most people know the skin is comprised of three layers; the Epidermis, the Dermis and the Hypodermis. But most don’t know that top layer alone (the Epidermis) is then comprised of 5 individual layers, and the top layer of that (called the stratum corneum) is then comprised of approximately 25-30 tiny individual layers. Yes that’s a lot of layers! The skin has a natural desquamation process to help shed any excess layers, but genetics and ageing will effect how your skin cells shed on their own. Regular exfoliation will help your skin remove the accumulation of dead skin cells promoting the skin glow we all love and crave.”

So it’s safe to say that exfoliation is an integral step in any skincare routine but many still don’t exfoliate regularly or skip it altogether. Why?

Maybe you stopped because you didn’t want another step in your skin care routine or maybe you’re still having flashbacks to the time you p*ssed off your teenage skin with an aggressively scented and abrasive apricot facial scrub. Either way, we are here to change your mind and persuade you to put exfoliation up the top of your skincare to-do list!

Well, that’s all great you say. But how should I exfoliate for the best results? Specifically, what type of exfoliator should I use? Seemingly it’s easy enough, however with so many varieties on the market it is much more complex than that. To keep it simple, there are two main types of exfoliation being:

Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation uses active ingredients to dissolve the proteins or ‘glue’ holding the dead skin cells together on the surface, to reveal more youthful looking, healthy, living cells underneath.  The gentlest chemical exfoliants contain fruit enzymes like pomegranate and pineapple (bromelain) to gently and naturally breakdown and digest large proteins (dead skin cells) making them perfect for sensitive skin. 

Gentle AHA ingredients like Lactic, Mandelic and Glycolic Acid are also coveted chemical exfoliating ingredients which are considered a step up from fruit enzymes known to deliver incredible exfoliating results and a brighter complexion with little irritation.  The strongest and potentially harshest chemical exfoliants also incorporate BHA’s such as Salicylic Acid which is a smaller molecule meaning it can reach deeper into the layers of the skin and produce great results, but should be used in caution by those with a more sensitive skin or compromised barrier function.

As for how to incorporate chemical exfoliation into your routine? 

Our Dermal Therapist Suzi shares “at home chemical exfoliation can be performed once or twice a week depending on the strength of the product being used so long as it is to clean, make-up free skin.  Adjusting the frequency of use and the time left on the skin, based on what your skin is telling you is important too, because unfortunately there can be too much of a good thing with chemical exfoliation as over-exfoliation can lead to tightness, dryness, dehydration and damaged capillaries.”

Physical Exfoliation

Physical exfoliation, as the name suggests, involves using products containing small, tactile particles to physically whisk away dull, dead skin cells and to polish the skin’s surface. As chemical exfoliators have become nom de jour and cheap physical exfoliators containing synthetic, plastic-beads have proven to be a burden on the environment, physical exfoliators as a category have been somewhat unfairly overlooked in recent times. That said, we believe that physical exfoliation is still a very important part of the deep cleansing process as it remains the single, most effective way to remove dead skin cells once the bonds holding them together have been dissolved through chemical exfoliation. 

When considering incorporating physical exfoliation into your routine Suzi suggests “Just like in-clinic microdermabrasion treatments, regular physical exfoliation is the key to getting that beautiful, just- walked-out-of-a-salon glow. The action of physically rolling beads over your skin not only removes the dead skin cells, but also increases microcirculation which delivers nutrients to where your skin needs it, thus resulting in that healthy rosy glow. Just make sure to perform this type of exfoliation no more than twice a week and that when you do it you are incredibly gentle - do not scrub at your face but instead simply roll the product across your skin’s surface instead.  Also, make sure that any physical exfoliating product you do choose has small and soft natural biodegradable beads so as not to cause micro-tears or irritation to the skin or impact to the environment.” 

So which type of exfoliator should you choose? 

Ultimately, you need to choose what’s right for your skin. If you have sensitive skin or active acne – it is best to play it safe with less aggressive enzyme and AHA options initially and work your way up to stronger active ingredients.  If you have oily skin, stronger chemical exfoliants may be suitable for you, whereas if you have normal to dry skin all exfoliation methods will work for you.

For us, both methods of exfoliation go hand-in-hand and together deliver simply incredible results that neither type of exfoliation can alone.

That’s why we developed Ultra Smoothing Facial Exfoliant, our holy grail ‘all-in-one’ exfoliant that contains fruit enzymes as well as four AHA ingredients and super gentle dual-sized natural biodegradable beads for both chemical and physical exfoliation in one easy-to-use weekly exfoliating product.  Put simply, it is the best, most foolproof exfoliating treatment you will ever experience.

Containing calming natural extracts to reduce skin stress and inflammation and anti-microbial properties to combat breakouts and acne its suitable for all skin types and can be used as a regular exfoliator or as a once-weekly 3 minute chemical mask for an extra glow.