How to exfoliate the right way
Not sure how to exfoliate your skin properly? One of our Cosmetic Physicians shares her expert advice for skin exfoliation so you can keep your skin looking healthy and beautiful!
Dr Maysa Abu Laban
What is skin exfoliation?
Skin exfoliation is a process where dead skin cells are removed from the top layer of your skin. As we age, the natural exfoliation process, called desquamation, slows down. This causes the skin to look dull and congested, hence the need for regular exfoliation.
What are the benefits of skin exfoliation?
Some of the benefits of exfoliating your skin include:
- Deeper skin cleanse
- Encourages circulation and cellular turnover
- Enhances absorption of skin products
- Smoother and brighter looking skin
Types of skin exfoliation
- Mechanical treatments: Using exfoliating brushes, sponges, gloves, or scrubs applied directly to your skin and rubbed in a circular motion.
- Chemical treatments: Using skin products that break apart bonds holding the dead skin. The two main products used for this purpose include alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic, lactic, citric and mandelic acids, and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as beta hydroxyl and salicylic acids. BHAs are fat soluble which allows them to penetrate better into skin pores and makes them better for acne-prone skin; they are less irritating to the skin than AHAs.
- In-centre treatments such as microdermabrasion, jet peel, chemical and laser peels.
- If you have sensitive skin (e.g. rosacea), any form of exfoliation can be harmful. Consult your doctor for advice.
- Choose the exfoliation method that suits your skin. If you have normal skin, all the above types of exfoliation can be used. For dry and acne-prone skin, gentle chemical exfoliation is appropriate. Those with oily/thicker skin benefit from stronger mechanical or physical exfoliation.
- Do not exfoliate if you have skin cuts or sunburn.
- Do not over-do it. The number of times you exfoliate depends on skin type and the type of exfoliant used. Once or twice per week is sufficient for most non-sensitive skin types.
- Exfoliation increases skin sensitivity to UV light; make sure you wear sunscreen every day.
- Be gentle to your skin. Regardless of your skin type, stay away from exfoliants containing coarse and irritating particles such as coarse salt, sugar, beads, and nutshells.
- Consider other skincare products you’re using. When using strong prescription retinoids, exfoliation is not usually needed and may cause skin irritation.
- Follow with moisturiser. Exfoliating can be drying to the skin. Apply moisturiser immediately after exfoliating to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.
- Dr Maysa Abu Laban
Cosmetic Physician & Skin Cancer Doctor