Cleanse, tone, moisturize, exfoliate, treat and protect. If you practice all of these skincare steps, then congratulations! You're taking the best possible care of your skin. Exfoliation is a key component in keeping your skin glowing, even and free of breakouts, but did you know the exfoliant you're using may actually be damaging your skin? It turns out there are actually two types of exfoliants: mechanical and biochemical. Mechanical exfoliants are what we commonly use to rid our skin of dead skin cells: scrubs, brushes and loofahs. Biochemical exfoliants, on the other hand, employ acids (such as beta and alpha hydroxy) or enzymes to dissolve or devour dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.
What's great about biochemical exfoliant mechanisms is that they remove all of the unwanted junk on the surface of the skin without removing the protective aspects. Mechanical exfoliants certainly do their job as well, but can be stripping and damaging to certain skin types, and there are even some that with prolonged use can tear your skin up over time.
Mechanical exfoliants can actually be great for dry, flaky or mature skin, but it's important to choose a scrub that contains perfectly spherical exfoliator beads; products that contain nuts or grains as the mechanically exfoliating ingredient will tear the skin over time which can cause inflammation and increase your chances of premature aging.
Personally, I cast mechanical exfoliants aside a long while ago after realizing that using them to treat my acne-prone skin was actually exposing acne bacteria and spreading it to the rest of my face, causing increased and inflamed breakouts. Since using biochemical exfoliant, my skin has never been better! If my skin does get flaky, though, I will bust out a mechanical exfoliant to encourage the immediate removal of dead skin scales.
Check out some of my favorite exfoliants!
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Lovelies, what do you exfoliate with?