two women getting facial exfolation treatment at a spa

Exfoliation 101

The purpose of exfoliation is to remove superficial layers of dead skin cells, revealing the smoother, younger-looking skin beneath. A face exfoliant is an essential component of a good skincare routine for several reasons. During exfoliation, the skin is cleansed more deeply than during a simple face washing. In addition, buildup in the skin’s pores can be dislodged and dead skin cells are removed, refining the skin’s texture.

Why Should You Exfoliate Your Skin?

Your skin experiences constant regeneration. As new skin cells forms, old, dead skin cells are pushed up to the upper layer of the skin. These dead skin cells can gradually flake off but often accumulate, giving your skin that dull, lusterless look we prefer to avoid. Exfoliation helps to shed the old layers of dead skin cells. Not only does your skin look better immediately, it can better absorb quality skincare products as a result.

What’s Your Skin Type?

Skin types are classified into five categories:

  • Normal
  • Oily
  • Dry
  • Combination
  • Sensitive

How Does Exfoliation Benefit Different Types of Skin?

  • Dry skin benefits from exfoliation because it removes the layer of dead skin cells that can prevent absorption of your skincare products into your skin.
  • Oily and acne-prone skin can be helped with mild exfoliation help break up debris, clear excess oil, and remove dead skin buildup that can cause inflammation, pimples, and breakouts.
  • Sensitive skin can benefit from the use of a gentle, short-contact exfoliator that helps remove dead skin build-up.
  • Normal skin, which is often a combination of an oily T-zone and dry cheeks, can benefit from gentle exfoliation to clear excess oil and remove dead skin cells.

Types of Exfoliants

The depth of the exfoliation depends on the type of exfoliant you use: a physical exfoliant or a chemical exfoliant. Physical exfoliants are generally composed of fine granules and have a gritty texture. A brush, a towel, or a scalpel can also be used to mechanically rub the skin. A physical exfoliator is massaged or rubbed against your skin, rubbing off dead skin cells in the process. This method is usually advised for sensitive skin, as it is less gentle than chemical exfoliation.

Beauty face of beautiful woman with clean fresh skin - isolated

A chemical exfoliant typically uses AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) or BHAs (beta hydroxy acids). These are especially beneficial for acne-prone and oily skin types, as it penetrates the skin’s surface and the pores to remove blackheads and whiteheads. AHAs such as glycolic acid or lactic acid are more beneficial for dry or mature skin as AHAs work on the skin’s surface and soften fines lines and wrinkles.

You will want to be sure to avoid the use of synthetic exfoliants like plastic microbeads. These can not only harm your skin, they can also cause significant damage to the environment. There are many high-quality skincare products that use natural alternatives to synthetic exfoliants. Eminence Organic’s Pear & Poppyseed Microderm Polisher uses natural ground poppy seeds and fine walnuts. And Eminence’s Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser provides rejuvenating benefits, and provides more skin hydration for those in drier climates. All of Eminence’s products are cruelty-free and formulated without parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, animal by-products, phthalates, GMOs and triclosan.

If your skin feels irritated and sore from a sunburn or allergy, it’s best to skip exfoliation. Any type of irritation or redness can be further inflamed by exfoliating. It’s best to let your skin calm down before utilizing this type of skincare.

Use Caution When Combining Eminence’s Exfoliation Treatments

Although some exfoliation treatments work well together, there are some skin care combinations that should be avoided. When using prescription or OTC retinol treatments, it’s advisable to avoid applying VitaSkin™ Exfoliating Peels. We recommend the Bamboo Firming Fluid as an alternative. This concentrate contains a natural retinol alternative that is safe to combine with other exfoliating products.

beautiful skin after exfoliation

Some exfoliation treatments can be combined safely. A great combination we can recommend is Eminence VitaSkin™ Exfoliating Peels with a product such as the Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant and the Eminence Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel 5%. These exfoliants can actually boost results when used prior to the exfoliating peels.

After Exfoliation

It’s important to moisturize after exfoliation. You’ll also want to use sunscreen consistently after exfoliation, as the fresh, new skin that has been revealed will be more susceptible to sun damage or damage from other environmental elements. Be careful not to exfoliate too often or overdo it in your application. Over-exfoliating the skin can damage the outermost layer of your skin, which is the skin’s natural moisture barrier. It helps our skin retain moisture and provides protection from environmental threats. A compromised barrier can result in redness, irritation, or inflammation. It can also cause an overproduction of oil and sebum, which can lead to pimples and acne breakouts. Avoid undergoing procedures such as waxing eyebrows, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser treatments immediately after exfoliation to irritating your skin or damaging the moisture barrier.