Saturday, March 28

Make it work for you - How to exfoliate for the best skin of your life!

As soft and silky as our face feels after physical exfoliation, our skin doesn't like it. If we could zoom into our red skin we'd see all the little skin cells looking sunburned and crying! But without it, the new skin cells would be smothered by the old dead ones laying on top and causing all kinds of trouble. Learn to exfoliate right and you'll have clearer pores, less acne and more youthful, smoother looking skin. Read on...

(Click here for the Exfoliation What? Why? How? post)

1. When to exfoliate
2. Salicylic vs Glycolic acid
3. Exfoliation and acne
4. Dos and Don'ts of facial scrubs
5. Establish a routine based on your skin type

When to exfoliate;

Chemically exfoliate in the morning - retinol and vitamin C serums must be used in the evening, but they don't play well with chemical exfoliants so use your chemical exfoliant in the morning.

Physically exfoliate in the evening - your face will probably be red, give it a chance to calm down before make-up time.

Physically exfoliate just before or the day before a facemask,  depending on the type (when should I apply my facemask) to let it work only on the lovely, new, living skin cells.

Salicylic vs Glycolic acid

Salicylic acid is great for blocked pores as it can penetrate and exfoliate inside the pore as well as the surface. However if you have sensitive skin you may well find this to be too irritating and it will make your skin worse; it's quite common for people to experience all kinds of skin issues when jumping into a high concentration of salicylic acid; flaking, dry patches, more spots etc. If you do not suffer with blocked pores or acne, stick to glycolic acid, it is the one favoured by Dr Schultz ( who, we know, is my go-to guy for skincare) and if it's good enough for him. . . .

With chemical exfoliants you can use 'progressive exfoliation' - starting with a low concentration; 1% and move to 2%, 5% even 10% as your skin becomes accustomed to it. See this DermTV video for more.

Exfoliation and acne
If you've suffered with acne - however mild - you've probably gone through a phase of scrubbing your skin everyday with a facial scrub. And, just like me, you eventually learned "I can't scrub away my acne." When you get a spot your pore is already irritated - it is blocked and bacteria is forcing it to fill with pus and swell. When you scrub scrub scrub it will swell even more as the grains irritate it further. Each time you scrub your skin with a facial scrub you damage the 'acid mantle', google it to know more but for now let's just say a damaged acid mantle lets in bacteria and puts the skin out of balance causing irritation and more problems. Let it recover, let your skin heal.
                        Instead stick with a gentle buffing sponge  always rinse it thoroughly, wash it if you have open spots on your face, and choose salicylic as your chemical exfoliant; unlike glycolic, it can penetrate your pores to exfoliate them from the inside.

Dos and Don'ts of facial scrubs

DON'T use large granules - normal sugar grains are way too big!
DO use small beads - no bigger than salt, caster sugar or baking soda, even flour-sized will work
DON'T scrub your whole face, with big motions, as hard as you can
DO take your time with small, tiny, gentle circular motions.
DO spend more time on the areas that need it
DON'T grab a flannel or sponge and scrub scrub scrub some more
DO use a facial buffing sponge to gently concentrate on the areas where you need a little extra time; the centre of the chin, the sides of the nose for example
DON'T scrub just before applying make-up - you'll apply far too much and irritate your skin!
DO exfoliate just before applying a facemask 
DO rinse away with warm to cool water to be extra gentle on your skin

Establish a routine based on your skin type. . .
(Cheat sheet version coming soon, check back here for link) Whether physical, chemical or a lovely mixture get the most out of your exfoliants by knowing your skin type and following this simple rule -

Only exfoliate as much as you absolutely need to then let your skin recover.

For example, my routine;

Combination-oily skin - Chemically exfoliate T-zone every morning with a glycolic serum. Physically exfoliate using the Superdrug buffing sponge about 3 times a week - sometimes upto 4 times depending on the weather and how my skin feels. Use the konjac sponge whenever I feel like it. (see here for a description and review).  If I were using a facial scrub I would physically exfoliate a maximum of 2 times pw.

Here are some more ideas to try out and play with based on your skin type;
NB: these are just starting points, tweak them to suit your skin;

Acne-prone skin and oily skin - Chemically exfoliate with salicylic acid every morning where you need it. If you get acne over your whole face, use it over your whole face (obviously avoid eye area). Physically exfoliate with cleansing sponge every other day.

Normal skin - chemically exfoliate with glycolic/salicylic every other day in the morning, physically exfoliate with a buffing sponge every 2 days depending on your skin, OR use gentle facial scrub once per week, in the evening.

Sensitive skin - chemically exfoliate with low concentration glycolic in the morning, every 2-3 days. Physically exfoliate T-zone with konjac sponge every other day, whole face, once per week.

Dry skin - Chemically exfoliate T-zone with glycolic or low concentration salicylic for acne-prone skin, every 2 days, increasing if needed. Physically exfoliate with buffing sponge every other day.

*Again, these are just ideas and starting points, I am not a medical professional

Exfoliation is a wonderful thing! But it can make or break your skin - only exfoliate as much as you need to and try out lots of different methods to find your skin's favourite.

I wish you soft and bright skin!
Ciao for now

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