Everything you need to know about exfoliation

During the winter months, you might find that your skin is drier than usual thanks to the colder weather outside and central heating inside.  Factors like these can cause your skin cells to dehydrate quicker than usual, leaving them sitting on top of your skin.  Unless you remove those dead skin cells regularly, the newer cells will be slower to emerge.  This can cause your skin to look dull, feel rough and generally not look its best.  Here’s everything you need to know about exfoliation and why it’s an important part of your skincare routine all year round.

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is the process of removing the top layers of the skin, either by physically removing them or by dissolving them.  Not only does it remove dead skin cells on your skin’s surface, but it removes them from inside the pores too.  It also removes the build-up of excess oil on your skin and in your pores, helping to decongest it.

Why should I exfoliate?

Along with removing dead skin cells, exfoliation helps the skin to look brighter and more refined.  It helps your skincare products to absorb deeper into the skin, making them much more effective.  If your skin has lots of sebum and dead skin cells on the top, your skincare products won’t be able to penetrate them, which is a huge waste of money for you.

Regular exfoliation can help to improve collagen production, giving your skin a smoother and tighter appearance.  It can help to reduce blemishes and dark circles, while leaving you with beautifully soft skin.

Chemical exfoliation

Chemical exfoliators are also known as chemical peels.  They use ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids, enzymes and retinols to quickly remove dead skin cells.  Rather than scrubbing the skin physically, they dissolve the dead cells and dirt.  You can book in for a chemical peel at your local Image Skincare Clinic here, where you will notice visible results after just one treatment.

Physical exfoliation

Physical exfoliators involves creams, powders, and gels that include a physical exfoliant like beads or grit, to slough away dead skin cells and impurities.  These can be harsh on delicate skin if too much pressure is used, so to avoid over-exfoliation, use the ILUMA intense brightening exfoliating powder to physically exfoliate the skin.  It’s gentle enough to be used every day when applied correctly.  Use plenty of water to mix with the powder so that it becomes a proper lather and use gentle pressure with small, smooth rubbing motions on the skin.

Should I choose chemical or physical exfoliation?

The best exfoliation will depend on your skin type, as well as any blemishes that you may have.  If your skin is prone to acne breakouts or you have a darker skin tone, then opt for a gentle chemical exfoliator.

If you have oily skin or have used harsher exfoliants in the past, then a stronger chemical peel or physical exfoliating powder might be more suitable.

No matter which type of exfoliation you use, it’s important to apply it to the skin gently.  Avoid exfoliating any sunburned areas of the skin, or if you have any sores, burns or open wounds.

After exfoliation, use a serum or moisturiser like the VITAL C hydrating intense moisturiser to lock in hydration.  This will help act as a barrier on the skin against dryness, which can be a side effect of using stronger exfoliants.

How often should I exfoliate?

Depending on your skin type and the exfoliator you use, you might be able to exfoliate on a daily basis. However you might need to do it twice a week or weekly.

For those with normal skin who are starting out with exfoliation, carry it out twice a week.  You will be able to see what your skin is able to handle.  If your skin is starting to dry out, or is feeling tender or irritated, then reduce exfoliation to once a week until it settles.

Those with oily skin types are generally able to use chemical exfoliators more than other skin types.  Extra sebum production from oily skin can help prevent the skin from drying out.  Use the CLEAR CELL salicylic clarifying pads which include a lilac extract and plant complex to reduce skin from the build up of excess oil while also remove dead skin cells, surface dirt and impurities.

As chemical and physical exfoliants can both dry out the skin to some extent, those with dry skin types should only exfoliate once a week.  This should be extended to once every two weeks if the exfoliant includes retinoids.

Exfoliation of both types can cause some sensitivity.  And as the process of exfoliation removes the top layers of the skin, the skin below is tender and sensitive.  So if your skin is already feeling sensitive, only exfoliate when absolutely necessary.

If you have combination skin, you can exfoliate your skin weekly or twice-weekly.  However everyone’s skin is different, so feel free to adjust this schedule to your skin’s needs to prevent irritation and dryness.  The preferred exfoliator for combination skin is or ILUMA intense brightening exfoliating cleanser, which applies as a cream and lathers into a light foam to clean the skin and pores.  A unique mix of mushroom enzymes and smart-sensing beads leave your skin feeling refreshed.