Rebuild Your Routine: All Things Exfoliation

Welcome back for the second in our Rebuild Your Routine series! This year I'm breaking down each step of the skin care routine, one building block at a time. Last month we started with Step One: The Cleanse. Now we're ready for step two. Time to exfoliate!


Exfoliation 101: Most people know what I mean when I say a product is exfoliating but not everyone knows why it's important. If they did, chances are, more people would be on board. Exfoliation is really your best defense against so many skin issues. Exfoliating removes not just dirt and debris, but also dead surface skin. Why is this important? It helps keep the skin fresh and healthy but also encourages cellular turnover. As we age, this process slows down. Exfoliating tricks your skin into turning over more youthfully which in turn helps with everything from fine lines to age spots. Exfoliation helps combat acne by preventing buildup. It is also critical if you suffer from dry skin. Sometimes when the skin lacks hydration, it becomes sluggish at turning over. When that happens, breakouts take longer to purge and more blackheads form. By the way, are you sick of the word "exfoliation" yet? Me too. But I use this term vs. scrubbing because it is all-encompassing. Not all exfoliation involves a scrub. Let's break down those options.

Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliation For our purpose there are two main types of exfoliation. Physical exfoliants are your scrubs. These products use crushed particles and/or beads of some sort, which are then used to lift debris, cleanse and scrub the skin. Chemical exfoliants use enzymes, alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids (some examples include glycolic, malic, salicylic, lactic acid and retinol) to help break up the bonds between dead skin cells. This then allows them to slough off or shed, as they would after being manually scrubbed. How Much and How Often: Exfoliation can be tricky in that many people are underdoing it, but just as many are overdoing it. Similar to what we talked about last week with active cleansers, exfoliation is like a workout for your skin. You need to do it regularly to get results, but you also need to take days off to let your skin recover. As a general rule, I tell most clients to start exfoliating just once or twice per week. If that's all you can manage, that's okay! You'll get plenty of benefits just doing that. However, there's also such a thing as too much. Exfoliating daily or more than three times a week can irritate or even damage your skin. When that happens you risk compromising your skin's natural protective barrier, which can lead to a host of issues. Start slow and back off if you start to notice redness, dryness or inflammation. What to look for: All skin types can benefit from a physical and a chemical exfoliation. However, here are some things to take into consideration: Chemical exfoliants work well for oily, acne prone or sluggish skin. Acids and enzymes help target oil, blemishes and blackheads. Chemical exfoliation is also great for aging skin, as the acids work deep within the skin to affect change. Physical exfoliation is great for normal skin and regular maintenance. Using a scrub regularly can prevent build up and breakouts from happening. If you opt for a scrub, it's important to pay attention to what the actual exfoliator is. Look for jojoba beads, fruit seeds and other naturally-derived ingredients. Avoid plastic beads of any kind, but also steer clear of harsh exfoliants like salt, sugar and fruit kernel shards, for the face. These can cause micro-tears which will then aggravate most skin conditions. And whatever you do... PUT DOWN THE ST. IVE'S APRICOT SCRUB.

If you currently exfoliate a couple of times per week, but feel like your results are lacking something, I recommend changing up your exfoliation. If you only use a physical scrub, it might be time to switch to a chemical exfoliant or vice versa. Conversely, if you're an exfoliation junkie (more than 3 times per week), I challenge you to give your skin a break this week. Try cutting back to only 2 or 3 times weekly, and see how your skin responds. You might be surprised to find you experience less dry or tight skin, less inflamed acne or sensitivity. Your other products may even work better, if you give your skin a little breather. A note on scrub brushes: Yes, you can use your Clarisonic or a similar device as your exfoliation. Typically these are used in conjunction with cleanser. I am not a huge fan because they tend to lead to overexfoliating and you aren't getting any ingredient benefits. However, if you aren't ready to trade it in for a scrub or chemical exfoliant, just make sure that you a) opt for soft bristle only, b) keep your brush heads super clean, and c) only use your brush a couple of times per week in place of a scrub or chemical treatment.

Exfoliation options i {heart} :

Physical Scrubs: Retinol 2% Exfoliating Scrub Mask from Skin Script RX, Raspberry Refining Scrub from Skin Script RX, Citrus Facial Scrub from intelligent elixirs

Chemical Exfoliators: Blackberry & Lime Fruitfoliant from Sorella Apothecary, Glycolic & Retinol Pads from Skin Script RX


Hopefully all of this information has you feeling the love for exfoliation and ready to rock this step in your routine. Still have a question? Send me an email at jenny @ and be sure to stay tuned for step three: toner!

Until next time,

<3 Jenny

About the blog:

This is a blog about everyday skin health. As an esthetician I strive to provide comprehensive skin care advice and knowledge to anyone who wants to know more.

Read on and please don't hesitate to reach out! I love educating people about their skin and am always happy to respond to questions.

Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Me
  • Google+ - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • Pinterest - Black Circle
  • Yelp - Black Circle
  • Facebook - Black Circle