January 21, 2020 7 min read

Exfoliating is becoming a real part of the skincare routine and for the good reasons. It helps the skin to get rid of dead cells, it increases the cells renewal and makes your skin glow and fresh. However, as the purpose of exfoliating is to actually desquamate, it is very important to use the right product at the right frequency.

In this article, we will cover all the questions you can ask yourself (yes “all of them” 😊) about these methods to guide you into a new glowing skin.

As the notion of “all of them” is pretty large, let’s start with a summary to help you find your way:

all you need to know about exfoliation
  1. What do you actually exfoliate on the skin?
  2. Do I really need to exfoliate?
  3. The 3 types of exfoliation
  4. Which exfoliant per skin type?
  5. Can I use the same exfoliant for my face and my body?
  6. How should I exfoliate?
  7. How often should I exfoliate?
  8. When is the best time to exfoliate?
  9. Which product apply right after the exfoliation?
  10. What about the lips?

1. What do you actually exfoliate on the skin?

The visible part of our skin (stratum corneum) is actually made of billions of dead cells. Those cells (keratinocytes) were born in the basale layer (stratum basale) of the epidermis and by the time they reach the upper layer, they die and create a protective layer to prevent water loss and external aggressions.

To make it simple, the visible skin is mainly composed of dead cells.

Exfoliating tips

2. Do I really need to exfoliate?

The short answer is: yes.

If you don't get rid of dead cells, they can cause ingrown hairs, clogged pores and acne. It stimulates cell renewal which tends to slow down over the years and also remove the toxins and other pollutants.

On the other hand, exfoliating too much risks to dehydrate your skin or create an inflammation and erythema.

Like all of things in life, it is all a matter of balance 😊 But don’t worry, we’ll help you find yours.

Exfoliation guide

3. The 3 types of exfoliation

a. Mechanical Exfoliation

This is the classic process that is still found in 95% of exfoliating products. The grains can be synthetic agents (polyethylene beads). [These now have a bad reputation because they are accused of damaging the ecosystem by passing through the pipes and then into the marine environment.] Or natural agents (nuts shell, spraying fruit pulp, plants, etc ...).

The size of the grains generally defines the use → the more abrasive large grains (sugar, salt) are intended for exfoliation of the body, the finest for exfoliation of the face.

b. Chemical Exfoliation

This process tends to develop more and more and is inspired by the professional methods practiced in dermatology. This time it is acidic agents that will attack the dead cells of the epidermis to eliminate them by desquamation. Fruit acids or organic compounds are generally used. These acid agents must be chosen according to the type of skin concerned and dosed so as to produce the desired exfoliation while reducing the risk of irritation.

The most common chemical peeling are AHA’s and BHA’s.

We have synthetized for you a concentrate version:

AHA (Glycolic acid/ Lactic acid) BHA (Salicylic acid)

Recommended for

Dry skin
Skin damaged by sun

Oily skin

Sensitive Skin

Acne

Skin with Rosacea

Actions

Remove dead cells on the skin

Anti aging properties

Moisturizing and lightening action

Remove the dead cells on the skin and inside the pores

Fight against acne, dilated pores

Sooth micro inflammation

Directions for use

Less suitable for extra-sensitive skin prone to pimples and blackheads

To avoid in case of allergy with the acid acétylsalicylique

c. Mechanical Exfoliation

This process is often combined with acid scrub (also chemical). Here, the exfoliating agents are enzymes from fruit (Papain for papaya, Bromelain for pineapple, Ficin for fig, etc.). Enzymes are also present in certain yeasts.

They are also called "proteases" because they attack proteins (dead skin) to eliminate them by dissociating them from healthy skin.

Their action therefore is similar to the acids. It is important to note that enzymes are fragile and not very stable molecules. Thus, it is estimated that papain in solution (in a lotion, a cream, a milk, a cream scrub) loses its properties in a few weeks.

In other words, without any specific formulation to guarantee their stability (in dry form for example), enzymes such as Papain or Bromelain (the most common) have only a marketing action in most of the products containing them.

how to exfoliate gently

4. Which exfoliant per skin type?

As you may have understood by now, your skin type will determine which exfoliator to use. The more sensitive your skin is and the gentler the exfoliant needs to be.

a. Dry Skin

Do not use mechanical exfoliant on a dry skin because the process is already drying in itself. Prefer a soft chemical exfoliant containing AHAs or glycolic acid.


Removing the dead cells of your skin will reduce its capacity to prevent water loss resulting in a risk of dehydration. You must be very careful on how often you exfoliate. If you notice that your skin is getting dryer, stop exfoliating for a few weeks. Most importantly, make sure to always apply a strong moisturizer and cream protector right after exfoliating.

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tips for exfoliating

b. Sensitive Skin

Avoid scrub and mechanical exfoliant as they can create inflammation, redness and erythema.

Use a mild chemical exfoliant and apply it gently.

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c. Oily Skin

Oily skin can use either mechanical or chemical exfoliant as their upper layer of skin is thicker. Do not forget to exfoliate on regular basis as the risk of acne and inflammation is increased with oily skin.

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ultimate guide of exfoliation

d. Combination Skin

You can actually use a mix of mechanical and chemical (not on the same day though)

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e. Normal Skin

If your skin doesn’t have any complications, you can choose any method of exfoliation. Manual and chemical exfoliation are both safe for this skin type. You may need to experiment to find out which method works best for your skin. You will find below our best sellers.

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Best tips for exfoliating

5. Can I use the same exfoliant for my face and my body?

We usually do not recommend to use the same exfoliant for the face and body. Although the risk of using your face exfoliant on your body is pretty limited (the only thing is that you might have little action as the body skin is thicker) the use of your body exfoliant on your face is definitely not a good idea.

The grain size (for mechanical exfoliant) or acid concentration (for chemical exfoliant) is usually more important for the body to ensure an efficient action. The skin of your face is more sensitive and it could therefore create irritation, dehydration and inflammation.

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how should i exfoliate

6. How should I Exfoliate

In order not to attack and damage our skin, it is best to make the facial scrub by hand or with fairly soft brushes.

In order to remove the most impurities and dead skin, the best thing to do is to make small circular movements. By making circular movements we massage at the same time as exfoliating increasing the micro circulation and therefore the skin regeneration and radiance.

We especially insist on the cheeks and we avoid the eye area which is too sensitive.

7. How often should I Exfoliate

Again, it all depends on your skin type. For a normal skin, we recommend to exfoliate once to twice a week.

The frequency should be lower for sensitive and dry skin and more for an oily skin. The exact frequency will depend on the product you are using, the season, your sensitivity…So try to find your own balance 😊

how often should i exfoliate

8. When is the best time to exfoliate?

It is important to understand that, even though exfoliating has a lot of benefits for your skin as we explained, it will reduce your skin’s defense for a few hours. Therefore, it makes much more sense to exfoliate the evening to leave your skin some time to regenerate and get ready to face external aggressions again stronger than before.

Similarly, avoid exfoliating too much when your skin faces harder external aggressions: for instance, during the hottest days of the summer or the coldest days of winter.

9. Which product apply after the exfoliation?

One of the mistakes you can make is to actually end your beauty routine with the exfoliation. You must apply at least a moisturizing cream and at best a protector and moisturizing mask.

The reason is that the exfoliation will reduce the thickness of your protective layer leading to an increase in water loss (the water you are losing from inside out which is the cause of most of dehydrated skin). You have to hydrate and moisturize while your skin is being renewed.

Also, it is the perfect moment to apply serum and concentrated product as the skin penetration will be easier. The active molecules will get through the deeper layer of the skin for an enhanced action.

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how to exfoliate

10. What about lips exfoliation?

You may already have heard of it but exfoliating your lips is essential. Indeed, what good will a lip balm do if your lips are covered with dead skin cells? Do you want to end up with cracked, chapped and painful lips?

If you want nourish and beautiful lips then you need to involve a lip scrub in your routine. The frequency will vary depending on the lips and the season but a lip exfoliation once a week is definitely a good start.


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