Exfoliation: Why and How to Do It

Exfoliation: Why and How to Do It

What is exfoliation? 

You’ve probably heard from advertisements and beauty gurus that you either definitely should or absolutely should not be exfoliating your skin, but what does exfoliate even mean--and is it helpful or harmful for your skin? 

Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of the skin--commonly of the face--by physical and/or chemical means. 

The practice of exfoliation has been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians. Though the methods have evolved and new products have been developed since then, the premise is the same. Dead skin cells are removed, leaving the face cleaner and looking younger and healthier. 

There has been a great deal of debate as to whether exfoliation is a good idea or not. Some argue that exfoliation is harsh and damages the skin or leaves it vulnerable. While this can be true, it is usually only the case if the skin is exfoliated too harshly or too frequently. If done properly, exfoliation can be very beneficial to the look and feel--and health--of your skin. 

So how do you exfoliate properly? Keep reading, and we’ll tell you!

Proper exfoliation starts with selecting the proper product(s). First, you have to decide if you want to go for the physical (also known as mechanical) or chemical approach. 

If you have dry and/or sensitive skin, dermatologists generally recommend avoiding mechanical exfoliation. You should instead try a gentle chemical exfoliant. If your skin is oily and/or not very sensitive, it can probably handle a mechanical or a stronger chemical exfoliant. 

Now that you’ve decided on a method of exfoliation, you need to choose your products. If you’re going for a chemical exfoliant, you have several different acids to choose from for the key ingredient of your product: azelaic, carbolic, citric, glycolic, lactic, lactobionic, malic, mandelic...the list goes on!

Though it’s pretty much a trial-and-error process to figure out which acid works best for your skin, we can give you some recommendations based on your skin type to get you started:

For normal skin: glycolic acid

For dry/sensitive skin: lactic acid

For oily/combination skin: salicylic acid

If you want to give mechanical exfoliation a try, you need to choose a brush, sponge, or scrub. When choosing a scrub, keep in mind that many of these products contain microbeads. These tiny, abrasive beads, while effective, can be harmful for the environment. Fortunately, many brands have developed products with more natural abrasive materials, like sugar, that can effectively scrub your skin without harming ocean ecosystems. 


Once you have your product(s), use them to gently cleanse your face with warm water in the morning or evening. And remember: You don’t need to exfoliate every day! Consider exfoliating once a week and then adjusting according to your skin’s needs. 


Finally, apply a moisturizer (we recommend the Esela Daily Moisturizer) to give your newly exposed younger skin cells a boost of hydration. 


And that’s it! Enjoy your smooth, clean complexion!

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