Our skin has regenerative properties that allow for the new cells to grow every month and replace the old and dead outer layers. However, external elements like the sun, pollution and internal factors like ageing and stress can affect this process.
The process of removing this external dead layer of skin cells is exfoliation. There are 2 ways to go about it–physical and chemical.
Exfoliation helps in the removal of dead cells and leaves behind supple and glowing skin. If you exfoliate regularly, you can also keep your acne and blemishes in check. Exfoliating also helps to unclog congested pores in the skin.
We are all familiar with the 3 essential components of physical exfoliation – cleanser/face wash, scrub, and moisturizing cream. It is a clean-up that you can do manually and see excellent results. As you follow your daily skincare routine and improve it, you gradually realize that this might not be your best set. Especially if you are not careful with the scrub.
Excessive or aggressive scrubbing can cause micro-tears in your skin. It can also lead to inflammation, redness and hyperpigmentation. So, always be careful with that scrub, folks!
Now, let’s see what chemical exfoliation is all about?
There are 2 commonly used chemical exfoliators, i.e., alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids. Using them is a safe and gentle way of opening up your clogged pores and helping your skin breathe. It is suggested that you use acids during the night to avoid photosensitivity. Do a patch test before committing to chemical exfoliators and adding them to your nighttime routine.
It is essential to note that most of the exfoliators are strong and hence must be used only once a week, or until your skin develops a tolerance for the same.
AHAs (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids) are natural, water-soluble acids that work on peeling away the uppermost layer of your skin. Leaving behind a layer that is soft and smooth to touch. It is important to note that people with dry or sensitive skin should use a lower concentration. You need to build up your skin’s tolerance to these acids. AHAs help with pigmentation, fine lines, and enlarged pores.
Glycolic Acids are the smallest AHAs. They penetrate deep into the skin and provide you with internal exfoliation. Derived from sugarcane, they are great for handling breakouts, dealing with acne, and healing your skin with antibacterial properties.
Lactic Acid is derived from lactose in milk and is great as an anti-ageing agent when applied to the skin. They help to reduce pores and deal with hyperpigmentation too. Start with a product concentration of 5% to 10% and then go higher as per your skin’s requirement.
Mandelic Acids are the gentlest exfoliators. They are derived from almond extracts and are suitable for every skin type. They help reduce pore size and smoothen the skin texture.
BHAs (Beta-Hydroxy Acids) are good for oily and acne-prone skin. These are oil soluble and go deep inside the skin to reduce sebum, unclog the pores and remove dead skin cell layers. Beginners should use them once a week and build tolerance. Apply sunscreen with them to avoid sun damage.
You might have heard a lot about salicylic acid and its benefits recently. They are heaven-sent for people with acne-prone skin and help reduce inflammation too. They are a type of BHA.
- PHAs or Poly-Hydroxy Acids are the latest addition to skincare regimens. They are gentle, non-irritant, and provide optimum hydration to your skin. They can be used individually or in combination with other exfoliators.
While AHAs help improves your skin tone and combats mild discolouration, BHAs are what you need to deal with acne-prone and oily skin. A PHA exfoliator might be your best bet if you have hypersensitive skin.
Keep in mind that you need to moisturize and apply sunscreen after exfoliation without fail. This is because most of these acids are photosensitive, and using sunscreen after application ensures that our skin does not get affected by the same. However, also remember that exfoliating daily is not advisable since it might also damage your skin. So exfoliate at least once every 2 weeks, but never daily!
Now for the best part. Top 10 ways to include chemical exfoliation in your skincare routine
- Start with a gentle face wash with mild exfoliators
- Use a water-based cleanser to hydrate your skin and remove the dead cells
- Use a hydrating mist or a mild toner to keep your skin hydrated
- Start your acid treatment - focus on your current skin requirement and choose accordingly
- Apply a serum or elixir and wait for some time before you start the spot treatment
- Now apply a hydrating balm and relax for a while
- Next comes the under-eye cream
- Apply light oil on the face and massage
- Top-off your routine by layering up with a potent Sunscreen with at least SPF 40
- Use an Active Facial at least once every 2 weeks to reset your skin
Follow these 10 steps for healthy-looking and glowing skin. Chemical exfoliators should be a part of your skincare routine but ensure that the quantities are balanced. Use a soothing moisturizer to close up any pores left open during the cleansing. Exfoliators are an investment worth making. Talk to an expert or use Dermatologist-formulated skincare. So, what are you waiting for? Begin your journey to healthy skin, today.