The act of rubbing gritty scrubs on our skin may sound as though it may do more harm than good, but exfoliating is actually one of the most important steps in any skincare regime - as long as you’re doing it right. The type of products used and the number of times a week you should apply all depends on the skin type you have. But before picking your perfect exfoliant, understanding why it should be a critical part of your routine is the first step to glowing skin.
If you would like any advice on how best to care for your skin, why not check out our skin care guides? They offer expert advice tailored to you and your skin type.
Why Exfoliating is Essential
Ever wondered if there’s a cheat code for brighter, smoother, more youthful-looking skin? Exfoliating is the answer. Without regular exfoliation, a layer of dead skin cells can build up on our epidermis - the outer layer of the skin - which can lead to clogged pores, resulting in acne and blemishes. That layer of dead cells will remain on the skin, making it look dull, and will also stop our other products from penetrating the skin and working to their fullest extent.
Additionally, our skin is exposed to harmful substances on a regular basis, namely UV rays, wind, dirt, bacteria and pollution. Exfoliation helps keep the skin healthy and protects against the damage these can cause.
The Different Types of Exfoliators and the Ingredients to Look Out For
There are two main types of exfoliators: physical, such as your typical granular scrub, and chemical, which are tonics made up of plant based acids. Both work in the same way in that they remove the dead skin cells to reveal healthier-looking skin, but as you’ll discover, some can work better for different skin types. Physical exfoliants often include granular ingredients that buff away at the dead skin cells. These ingredients could include:
- Jojoba beads, which are round, smooth beads that gently remove dead skin cells
- Coffee grounds, which do not dissolve in water, ensuring an efficient scrub
- Pumice crystals, a strong exfoliant that increases the skin’s smoothness and brightness
Rather than physically buffing away dead skin cells, chemical exfoliants work to break down the intercellular glue that keeps them intact. Chemical exfoliants often include a lot of skin-loving acids, such as:
- AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), which involve a number of different plant-sourced acids - including lactic, glycolic and multifruit - to clear congested skin
- BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) - often referring to simply salicylic acid - which dive into pores to remove impurities
Exfoliation is key to everyone achieving the healthy-looking skin we all crave, but depending on your skin type, there are different exfoliants you should be adding to your basket straight away, and some you definitely shouldn’t.
For Dry and Sensitive Skin
For skin that is already a bit flaky and irritated, products that are too harsh will not do you any favours. Chemical exfoliants are the way to go. Products containing AHAs are a dream for the most dry and sensitive of skins, as these acids not only gently exfoliate, but also brighten, reduce fine lines, increase moisturiser absorption and treat acne. Casa Mencarelli’s Acqua di Miele Honey & Orange Toner is rich with AHAs, offering a smooth exfoliation and noticeable results. The addition of honey in this toner also helps to ensure dry skin is immediately moisturised and treated.
To minimise product, a great all-rounder for dry and sensitive skin is the Gummy Facial Cleanser. Abundant in AHAs - as well as phenolic acid, which has fantastic anti-aging properties - this product gently breaks down the dead skin cells for an instantly brighter complexion.
While products like these are incredibly soft and gentle, it’s still recommended that those with dry and sensitive skin types only exfoliate around once or twice a week. Quickly moisturise with your favourite organic moisturiser afterwards while the skin is damp to help the product reach more layers of skin.
For Oily Skin and Combination Skin
Exfoliants that have salicylic acid on the ingredient list - including Codex’s Beauty Bia Exfoliator - will work wonders for oilier skin, as the acid dissolves excess oil. The Codex cream also helps to cleanse and tone the skin, with elderflower water, grapefruit, safflower and milk thistle oils added to keep up the skin’s cleanliness - a perfect option if you’re on the hunt for a more traditional scrub for oily or combination skin, but perhaps have skin too sensitive for the Bumi Naturals polish.
Those with combination skin have the luxury of choice - both chemical and physical exfoliants will work! Oily and combination skin will be more receptive to exfoliation than dry, sensitive skin, so exfoliating around two-to-three times a week should do the trick. Now that you’ve buffed away the dead skin, you’re bound to notice your organic moisturiser making much more of a difference. Water-based and/or oil-free moisturisers are good friends of those with an oiler skin type.
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Whilst we hope the pages are informative it’s important to remember we’re organic beauty enthusiasts not scientists so the information is detailed here to the best of our knowledge or research we have conducted from third parties. Whilst we are continually updating our content based on new research, it may not always be up to date and as such it is the readers’ responsibility to conduct their own research in order to independently verify the information and make an informed decision on their beauty regime/lifestyle. Any opinion expressed on the efficacy of a product is based on tests performed by our team. As everyone has different skin types and concerns, please be advised that what works for them might not work for you but we try to give as much subjective information as possible which we hope you will find useful. If in any doubt, please consult a medical professional.