If you are on Instagram and a pretty serious skincare junkie you probably would have seen the controversy going on recently regarding a certain company stating that you cannot over exfoliate (they have since revised their post to reflect that you should exfoliate 2-3 times per week). It sparked much discussion and debates regarding the topic as some people exfoliate daily, while some exfoliate weekly, and some do not exfoliate at all. So, how much is too much? In my opinion that truly depends on many factors including: your skins tolerance level, the type of exfoliation, and the current state of your skin. Please keep in mind that this post is based on my own experience and skin, we are all different and that is essential when it comes to exfoliation especially. Listen to your skin, if it red and angry then step away from exfoliation and nourish your skin with calming and soothing ingredients.
I want to make it clear that I am not a skincare professional by any means and I always recommend you consult with a professional if you are unsure of your skin type and skin concerns. My skin type is dry, sensitive, redness prone, and blemish prone. I am pale so redness shows up on my skin with even the slightest touch but fades quickly. With that being said, no matter what I am doing to my face I do it with the absolute lightest touch possible. When I apply a cleanser, serum, exfoliator, moisturizer, etc…. it is always with the softest touch I can get. I don’t believe that being rough or firm with your approach will make the product any more effective. It is on your skin– it will do what it needs to do. That is my personal opinion, again… I know many people believe otherwise.
You won’t find many physical exfoliants in this post just because for my skin I find that physical exfoliators tend to aggravate my skin. But, I do love a physical exfoliator in powder form and two that I have been loving recently are Radiance Boosting Powder by diptyque ($58) which is a gentle powder that is made with white clay, a floral powder made with rose, jasmine, and sweet orange blossom to soften the skin. Another one I am loving is the Enzyme Cleansing Powder by JKosmmune ($26) which is also gentle and is formulated with 99.9% pure beta-glucan as well as aloe. Both mentioned are suitable for sensitive skin and can be used to manually sloth away the dead skin cells on the top layer of your skin. One cleanser that I feel is gentle but provides a subtle manual exfoliation is Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick by Su:m 37 ($19.88) which is formulated with fermented Damascus Rose so you will feel a bit of an exfoliation going on while using this product.
One of my favorite ways to get my exfoliation in is with a cleanser and I have found two brilliant cleansers to achieve that mild approach to getting rid of those pesky dead skill cells that are just dulling out your complexion. The first one is The After Show Treatment Cleanser (Plie’) by Jordan Samuel Skin ($20) which contains sugarcane, apple, and willow bark extracts to provide a gentle exfoliation. This is great to apply and leave on while you shower or watch a bit of tv. It will leave your skin hydrated and smooth. Another one that I love and also use as a mini-mask is Glow Mud Cleanser by Pixi ($18) which contains glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells but also mud to detoxify and hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and avocado oil to plump and nourish. Please do not think this is not suitable for dry skin because it is brilliant for dry skin, especially if you are blemish prone!
I find that using a cotton round saturated with a toner containing glycolic acid is brilliant as well to sloth away the dead skin cells on top but also work to eat away the dead skin cells at a deeper layer as well. The one I recommend for this is Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution by The Ordinary ($8.70) which is basically like Glow Tonic by Pixi on steroids. It should not be used on peeling or compromised skin, so please keep that in mind. I would start with the Pixi tonic first and work your way up to this one.
When I need a quick perk to the skin and am crunched for time I reach for two heavy hitters that I absolutely adore. The first one is Rose Glow by Complex Beauty ($35) which contains two ingredients: glycolic acid and rosewater. It’s applied to clean skin and left on for 5-10 minutes and you’re left with smooth and hydrated skin. I love it. This is for you if you are fuss-free with your skincare. Another great one is AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution by The Ordinary ($7.20) which is for sure more potent, you will feel a bit of a tingle. I would not use this one unless you have used acids for years. You do NOT want to start out with something like this. Again, please consult with a professional if you are unsure.
One product that I have used for years and truly love is Good Genes by Sunday Riley ($105) which is a lactic acid treatment that will leave your skin so incredibly radiant, it’s amazing. I have a deluxe sample pictured here because I am out of my full-size at the moment. I love using this product as a spot treatment for a blemish as well.
Now, some of you might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned any form of retinol and to be honest I just don’t like retinols typically. My skin just always flakes like crazy and I hate that. I have used prescription strength in the past and hated it. I have found two products that I do recommend though. One is Anti-Wrinkle Renewal Cream by Derma-E ($11.96) which contains Retinyl Palmitate, which is a form of Vitamin A and it does not cause flaking or peeling. This cream is divine. Another one that I like is Help Me Retinol Night Treatment by Philosophy ($49) which did make me flake a bit but provides great results. It contains a patented microsponge system to gradually release the retinol. I think this is a great option to a more harsh retinol treatment.
I hope that I have covered a good variety of budgets, ingredients, and types of exfoliators to help anyone out who may not be familiar with exfoliation or is maybe just looking for new options to look into.
Please always keep in mind that your skin will tell you what it needs if you just give it the time and attention it deserves. Always treat your skin with caution and understand that overdoing anything when it comes to your skin can damage it.