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...
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