With all the different exfoliants on the market it can be confusing to know which one is best for your skin type. This post is going to help break it down so you can choose your exfoliant like a skin care expert.
There are two main categories of exfoliants, physical exfoliants and chemical exfoliants. Physical exfoliants use manual particles such as almond shells, jojoba beads or oatmeal to exfoliate the skin. They only exfoliate the very top layer of visible skin. Chemical exfoliants use chemicals that can penetrate the skin's surface to target the deeper layers resulting in more profound effects.
The most common over the counter chemical exfoliants are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) which will be the focus of this discussion. Here's a closer look at each of the most commonly used and which skin type they are best suited for.
Mandelic acid is an AHA from almonds and has the largest molecule of the AHAs, making it the gentlest and least irritating on the skin. This makes it an excellent option for those with sensitive or rosacea-prone skin, as well as for those with darker skin tones, who may be at a higher risk for developing hyperpigmentation from other exfoliants.
Lactic acid is an AHA from milk and has a medium-sized molecule that can penetrate deeper than mandelic acid but still be gentle enough for most skin types. It is especially effective at hydrating, brightening the skin and improving the skin’s barrier function. This makes it a good choice for those with dry, dull or dehydrated skin since it can help to improve the skin's moisture levels while also exfoliating.
Salicylic acid is a BHA from willow bark. It is oil-soluble, which makes it highly effective at penetrating deep into the pores to clear out excess oil and impurities. This makes it an excellent option for those with oily or acne-prone skin, as it can help to unclog pores, reduce the appearance of blackheads and prevent breakouts.
Glycolic acid is from sugarcane and has the smallest molecular structure of all the AHAs. This makes it the most potent at penetrating the skin, providing a deep exfoliation, improving skin tone and texture and reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. However, it can also be more irritating, so it's best suited for those with non-sensitive skin.
Hopefully this post will give you more confidence when selecting the best exfoliant for your skin type. And don't forget to use a daily sunscreen when using these exfoliants since they WILL increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun. Keep glowing...
Some of you may have heard all the hype around skin cycling and wonder, "What is this all about?" Well no more need to wonder because I'm here as your Esthetician to spill the tea. Skin cycling, which was named by Dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, is a four day cycle that's a very effective way to exfoliate the skin in a way that can help avoid the notorious irritation that can come from using exfoliants such as redness, flakiness and sensitivity (signs that you're disrupting the natural skin barrier). It can help greatly increase the glow of your skin, smooth the skin's texture, help reduce hyperpigmentation and diminish breakouts. So without further ado, here is the breakdown of how to skin cycle.
NIGHT ONE, EXFOLIATE:
Wash, treat the skin with an exfoliant, then moisturize. The key here is to use a chemical exfoliant such as an AHA or BHA based exfoliant. There are a few main different types of AHA's and BHA's which are suitable for different skin types. They are mandelic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid and glycolic acid. We'll do a deep dive on the different types of acids on another post.
NIGHT TWO, RETINOID:
Wash, treat the skin with a retinoid, then moisturize. If you have sensitive skin and find that the retinoid is causing flakiness or redness, you can "sandwich" the retinoid by using a first layer of moisturizer, then retinoid, then another application of moisturizer. You may only have to sandwich the retinol in certain areas such as the crows feet area below the eyes and the marionette lines beside the nose and mouth. Pro tip, apply the retinol to dry skin not damp. If you apply the retinol to damp skin it can increase the chances of sensitivity.
NIGHTS THREE AND FOUR, RECOVERY:
Wash, treat the skin with a supportive serum, then moisturize. A supportive serum will include ingredients that help support and repair the skin barrier with anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, niacinamide, resveratrol, ceramides or hyaluronic acid.
As you begin the skin cycling process, you may notice a period of purging if you are inclined to breakouts. The reason for this is because it's increasing the speed of which your skin cells shed which bring the breakouts under the skin to the surface faster.
Have you jumped on the trend of skin cycling? What have your results been? I'd love to hear how it's worked for everyone. If you want to try skin cycling but don't know what products to use, I'd love to recommend some for you. Just shoot me an email or a text and I'll give you my professional recommendations for your specific skin type.
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