Exfoliating does wonders for the skin when done properly, but it becomes tempting to overdo it, which may unfortunately result to irritated, sensitive, and overly dry skin. You may be using that wash-off mask or slathering on that acid liquid more often than recommended! Here’s everything you need to know about exfoliation before doing a deep-dive.
In essence, exfoliation is sloughing layers of dead skin cells and naturally occurring lipids for more rapid regeneration of skin to reveal softer and brighter skin. But we’re not trying to remove everything. Too much exfoliation and your skin won’t be able to retain moisture or protect itself from external irritants.
It’s an effective solution to clogged and enlarged pores, pesky breakouts, and dull skin. Knowing the difference between the types of exfoliators allows you to discern which is best to try out for your skin and issue you’re trying to remedy.
There are two types of exfoliation: chemical and physical. You may have started out with physical exfoliators early on, even as a teenager (hello, St. Ives Apricot Scrub!). This category involves the use of an abrasive product like a multi-purpose peeling pad, a wash-off mask, or a gentle scrub to slough off dead skin cells for a brighter, smoother complexion. As with anything, too much of a good thing is bad. We highly recommend physical exfoliators to be used once or twice a week!
Don’t know where to start? Try the Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Washoff, or choose from a variety of peeling pads: the Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine, Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Lemon, Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Green Tea, COSRX One Step Moisture Up Pad, and the holy grail product which started it all, the COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad.
On the other hand, chemical exfoliators work by breaking down dead skin cells on a cellular level, allowing deeper penetration into skin for a long lasting effect. There are different types of acids under this category, which eliminate the build up of dead skin cells and natural oils:Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs).
AHAs are soluble in water and work best for exfoliating at the surface of skin for a smoother texture and even skin tone. It even helps the treatment of fine lines and closed pimples! BHAs on the other hand are oil-soluble and work best for clearing open, enlarged pores. Lastly, PHAs are considered humectants (attracts moisture), which clean the surface of the skin. Dry skin benefits the most from AHAs and PHAs, meanwhile oily skin works well with BHAs.
Shop from our selection of gentle chemical exfoliators, the SOME BY MI AHA BHA PHA Set featuring the 30 Days Miracle Toner, 30 Days Miracle Serum, and 30 Days Miracle Cream plus the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid and COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner.
We hoped this quick guide to exfoliation helped, but if this brief guide is overwhelming, just remember not to overdo it!