Are you a diehard fan of those $5 apricot scrubs from the drugstore? Nothing feels better than having baby-soft skin when you step out of the shower.
But what if we told you it was doing more harm than good? Exfoliation is important... but it’s more important to do it correctly.
“Those products can actually cause microtears in the skin because the exfoliating beads aren’t spherical,” says Madison Noakes, Senior Medical Aesthetician at HealthOne. “Coffee scrubs, walnut scrubs, volcanic ash scrubs – they can all compromise your skin.” Many people also think exfoliation is only physical, she adds. In reality, it’s only half the puzzle – chemical exfoliants are an important skincare step, too.
If you’re curious about exfoliation including what it is, the different types, and how to do it without damaging your skin, read on! We interviewed Madison to get all the nitty gritty details.
What Is Exfoliation?
“Exfoliation is the process of removing superficial debris on top of the skin or inside of the pores,” Madison explains. “It’s used to keep the skin working, functioning, glowing, enhanced, to increase cell turnover, and increase collagen and elastin.”
Essentially, exfoliation does a little bit of everything. That’s why it’s such an essential step for healthy, glowing skin! Whether your skin is dry, sensitive, oily, or combination, exfoliation deserves a spot in your routine – the key is to do it correctly.
As we mentioned, there are two main types of exfoliation. We asked Madison for a breakdown of each.
The type of exfoliation that most people are familiar with is physical exfoliation. “These work on the surface of the skin to remove superficial debris and dead skin cells,” Madison explains.
You can look for skincare products that are physical exfoliants, but you should stay away from abrasive scrubs. “You want to make sure the texture portion of the physical exfoliant is spherical so they don’t cause microtears in the skin. That can slow down the healing if you have a blemish, or just damage the skin in general.”
Physical exfoliation can also be done by a professional like Madison. The main way she performs this at our clinic is through microdermabrasion. It's a step in many of her customized facial treatments where she’ll use a handheld device to remove the outer layer of your skin. It can help with scarring, discolouration, and even sun damage.
She adds that if you have acne or rosacea, you should steer clear of physical exfoliants. It can spread bacteria, further exacerbate the area, or even tear off acne scars. Instead, you can opt for the second kind of exfoliant: chemical.
In comparison to a physical exfoliant which only works on the surface of the skin, chemical exfoliants go a layer deeper. They work both on the surface and within the pores. “Anybody can use them unless you’re highly reactive or have very dry skin. If you’re dry, I would opt for the physical to remove dead skin cells and then add hydrating serums and moisturizers after,” Madison shares.
Chemical exfoliants can also be used in the form of a product, such as those containing BHA or Glycolic Acid. It’s important to use these as directed – or better yet, under the guidance of a professional – to avoid overuse and damaging your skin.
Madison includes chemical exfoliation in her customized facials as well. The advantage to doing it this way is that she’ll select the best option, such as Salicylic or Glycolic acid, in a strength that’s suitable for your skin. She will also make important recommendations for post-treatment care.
“For example, sometimes chemical peels can be intense and require downtime,” she explains. “From day 2-5 there can be texture, flakiness, and dryness, and you should also avoid sun exposure for a full 2 weeks.” When you visit a professional Aesthetician, you can minimize the risk of skin damage and exfoliate in a safe, effective way.
How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Face?
By now, you might be wondering which type you should use and how often you should do it. Madison recommends using a combination of physical and chemical (as long as it’s safe for your skin type). Pairing them together will give you the best exfoliation possible and allow for your other skincare products to work more effectively.
At-home exfoliation can be done 2-3 times a week with either a chemical or physical product. In terms of professional exfoliation, like microdermabrasion or stronger chemical peels, Madison recommends coming in once a month for proper maintenance.
She compares this combination of at-home care and professional treatments to living a healthy lifestyle. If you go to the gym once a week, for example, you still need to eat well and stay active during the rest of the week for the best possible outcome. “It’s the same thing with skincare – if you come in for a treatment once a month, you want to make sure you’re maintaining those results by exfoliating at home with chemical, physical, or both.”
Exfoliation in Toronto
We hope after reading this blog you’re feeling inspired to revamp your skincare routine! If you want a healthy, radiant, and glowing complexion, you definitely shouldn’t be snoozing on exfoliation.
We recognize that figuring out your skin type and the best products can feel overwhelming. That’s why Madison offers complimentary skincare consultations at our MediSpa & Skin Clinic!
“This is a great opportunity for me to learn about your skin and make personalized recommendations for your routine,” Madison concludes. “Whether you’re hesitant about booking a facial treatment or just unsure if you’re using the right products, we can figure out the best ways to add exfoliation into your routine.”
One Life. Live Inspired.