Picking the best exfoliator depends on several things: what you’d like your exfoliator to do, what kind of ingredients you’re looking for, and most importantly, what kind of skin type you have. Although exfoliation is one of the most important, beneficial steps in skin care, it’s one many people don’t understand--and therefore, skip! It’s a shame because if anything can really make skin glow like a firefly, it’s exfoliation!
The key to exfoliation is picking the best exfoliator that’s right for you which is why in this article, we’re going to talk about ingredients in exfoliators, the different types of exfoliators, the benefits of exfoliation, and which exfoliators are best for which skin types. By the end, we think you’ll have a good, solid idea of how to choose the best exfoliator for face!
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: It’s important for everyone to exfoliate, but whether or not you use a physical or chemical exfoliant and how often you use it depends on your skin type.
Good to Know: Plant enzymes like papaya and pineapple gently eat away at the top layer of skin removing dead skin cells and revealing new, healthy skin.
Recommended Products: Prince Charcoal Detox Mask.
What Does Exfoliation Do?
Exfoliation is the process of sloughing off dead skin cells to reveal healthy, new skin. Because it gets rid of all the old, dull skin, not to mention a lot of dirt and oil, exfoliation drastically improves the appearance of skin tone and radiance. It’s one of the easiest, fastest ways to renew the look of beautiful skin!
Best Exfoliators for Different Skin Types
One of the keys to choosing the best face exfoliator is knowing what the best exfoliator is for your skin type. Here’s a breakdown of which skin types will most likely want to use which exfoliators.
Best exfoliators for normal skin
Lucky you, with your dependable, predictable skin, you can pretty much use whichever face exfoliator you want--physical or chemical. Our advice would be to use both to make sure you’re getting all the advantages of each, and don’t use them so often that you start overworking the skin. We recommend alternating methods and only exfoliating every few days. As for ingredients, you pretty much have your pick of the litter, although exfoliators with bentonite clay or charcoal are perfect for maintaining your healthy, issue-free skin!
Best exfoliators for oily skin
So, assuming your skin is just oily and not necessarily sensitive, you, too, can probably go ahead and use both physical and chemical exfoliation. The acids in chemical exfoliants will help dig out all that excess dirt and oil, making sure to get your pores, which are probably prone to clogging, nice and clean! Glycolic or salicylic acid are perfect for controlling the oil in your skin!
Since you have extra oil, a good scrub from time to time, either with a grain of some kind or just a cleansing brush, is totally fine. Like normal skins, however, you want to make sure you’re not overdoing it so just look out for any signs of irritation.
Best exfoliators for dry skin
Depending on how dry your skin is, we recommend dry skins stay away from physical exfoliants which can really irritate already dry skin. A chemical exfoliant will actually help your moisturizer go on better which is crucial for dry skin. Gentle exfoliants like kaolin and lactic acid are great for dry skin.
Best exfoliators for mature skin
If you have mature skin, your instinct might be to stay away from exfoliators all together, but that’s a really bad idea. A good, gentle, chemical exfoliator will help restore mature skin’s natural glow and will really help revitalize dull skin (as mature skin often is). Like dry skin, you want to go for the most gentle possible ingredients so look for something with kaolin and/or lactic acid.
Best exfoliators for sensitive skin
Like those with dry skin, people with sensitive skin should really stay away from physical exfoliators as they can further irritate the skin. Chemical exfoliants that help unclog pores and keep skin clean are crucial to sensitive skins if they want to maintain calm, smooth skin that glows with health, not irritation. An exfoliator with lactic acid or kaolin clay is just perfect for sensitive skin!
Different Types of Exfoliators: Physical vs. Chemical
One key to picking the best face exfoliator is to understand the different kinds of exfoliators out there. Although there are a lot of different exfoliating products on the market, there are two major types of exfoliant: physical exfoliants and chemical exfoliants.
Physical exfoliants are actual objects or ingredients that exfoliate the skin, for example a dry brush, a washcloth, grains, sugar, beads, nuts, granules, powders, or any other physical tool. One potential drawback to physical exfoliation is that it can cause micro tears in the skin. These tears can cause irritation or even, in very extreme cases, infection.
Chemical exfoliation involves using an acid to exfoliate the skin that dissolves the bonds that allow the dead skin cells to stay on your skin. If you’re freaking out right now over the idea of putting an acid on your skin, fear not! The acids we’re talking about are totally safe to use on skin!
In addition to acids, plant enzymes also make great, gentle, chemical exfoliators as well. These natural exfoliators essentially eat the top layer of dead skin off the face, leaving it glowing and vibrant. Think of plant enzymes as the Pac Man of exfoliation! Because they only work on the top layer of skin, they’re considered to be more gentle than many acid exfoliants. Plants such as pineapple, papaya, and even pumpkin all make great enzyme exfoliators!
Whether you decide the best exfoliator for you is a physical exfoliator or a chemical one, the important thing is to use the one that’s right for your skin. Or even the exfoliator that’s right for your skin right now! Skin changes for all kinds of reasons--weather, hormones, age, etc., so when you choose a face exfoliator, make sure you’re listening to what your skin is telling you at the time.
Ingredients in Exfoliators
From oatmeal flakes to acids, there seems to be as many ingredients in exfoliators as there are stars in the sky! Let’s have a look at some of the ingredients you’ll find in exfoliators so you can make the best possible decision about which exfoliator you want to use.
Ingredients found in physical exfoliators:
- Jojoba beads – Jojoba beads are basically little wax beads made from jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is very similar to the sebum, the natural oil in your own skin so it actually nourishes the skin as it exfoliates. Also, jojoba beads are smooth and round so they won’t cause micro tears in the skin.
- Olive seed powder – Not surprisingly, olive seed powder is derived from olive pits but it’s very, very finely ground so it’s not damaging to skin when used as an exfoliator.
- Walnut shells – If you follow skin care at all, you’ve probably heard about walnut shells used as exfoliators. Although it obviously depends on individual skin type, for some, walnut shells are just a little too abrasive for many skins, so if you want to try them, proceed with caution!
Ingredients found in chemical exfoliators:
As we discussed above, chemical exfoliators are acids that help renew the look of beautiful skin. There are two main groups within those acids: AHAs or Alpha-Hydroxy Acids and BHAs, which are Beta-Hydroxy acids.
AHAs are considered to be the more gentle of the acid groups. They exfoliate the top layer of skin (the epidermis) by basically destroying the bonds that hold skin cells together. These natural, water-soluble acids are found in everything from milk to fruit.
A few AHAs commonly found in exfoliants are:
- Lactic acid - Lactic acid not only helps brighten the skin by exfoliating, it also helps even skin tone, soften rough skin, and reduces the appearance of pores.
- Glycolic acid - This gentle exfoliant helps smooth skin’s surface.
- Citric acid - As you may have guessed from the name, citric acid is found in fruits like lemons, grapefruits, and oranges. In addition to breaking up the bonds that hold skin together, citric acids also help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
BHAs, on the other hand, are considered more powerful exfoliants for their ability to really get in the skin and get the gunk out.
The most commonly used BHA in skin care is salicylic acid. If you’re not familiar with it, salicylic acid is a fast, powerful exfoliant that will soften skin like a baby’s bottom!
One of the best exfoliators for face, both for effectiveness and just the refreshing feeling it gives, is clay. Clay does a phenomenal job of really getting in the skin and unclogging those pores, restoring skin’s natural glow and vibrance.
Two different kinds of clays that work beautifully as exfoliants are bentonite and kaolin. Bentonite comes from volcanic ash and really pulls out all the dirt and oil from skin that regular cleansing left behind, leaving skin healthy-looking and even.
Kaolin clay also unclogs pores and exfoliates the skin but does so on a slightly more gentle level. For that reason, it also has a reputation for being able to calm the skin as well.
Charcoal is one of those skin care ingredients that’s really been getting a lot of attention lately and its powers of exfoliation have a lot to do with that! Not only does charcoal exfoliate the skin, it works like a vacuum cleaner to suck up dirt and oil from the skin which helps to even out skin tone.
Benefits of Exfoliating
Like cleansing or moisturizing, there are so many benefits to exfoliating. Those who are religious about exfoliation know there is almost no better, faster way to give your skin back its glow and renew the look of beautiful skin.
- It gives your skin a glow - Dirt and oil stuck on the face can really make skin dull and lifeless. Exfoliate your skin and you’ll see it instantly return to radiance.
- It keeps your skin clean - One primary function of exfoliation is to get all the gunk out and off your skin.
- It helps moisturizer and serums perform better - Without exfoliation, other products like serums and moisturizer just go on dead, unclean skin. Exfoliation allows those products to really sink in and do their job.
- It helps even out skin tone - Dead, dirty skin makes it look uneven. By exfoliating the skin, you’ll make it look much more even!
- It helps soften skin - If you’ve never exfoliated before, you’ll see how, from the very first time you do, your skin feels much, much softer. In fact, we recommend trying a “before and after” to really see--and feel--the difference!
- It helps self-tanner go on better - OK, this is a big one! Whatever you do, do NOT self-tan without exfoliating first! Please trust us when we say that putting self tanner on skin that hasn’t been exfoliated is like putting up wallpaper OVER pictures hanging on a wall! The only way to avoid streaks and clumps is to exfoliate your skin!
- Exfoliating also helps make-up application - For the same reason it helps self-tanner go on smoothly, exfoliation helps make-up go on properly!
- It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles - All those little lines and wrinkles are made much worse by dirt and oil getting in them. Exfoliate, and you’ll be much less likely to see them!
- It helps minimize the appearance of pores - You know what makes pores look much bigger? Dirt and oil! Clean your skin out by exfoliating, and you’ll find your pores look much smaller.
- It revitalizes the appearance of mature skin - Want an instant pick-me-up? Exfoliate! It will instantly give your skin a fresh and revived look.
How to Exfoliate
Exfoliation is easy to incorporate into your skin care routine! Here’s how we like to make sure we’re getting the job done!
- Cleanse the skin. As you probably know, this is the basis of any good skin care routine! Skip it at your peril! We like a great, natural cleanser that removes dirt and make-up and won’t dry out the skin! If you really want to get in a little extra exfoliation, clean your skin with a gentle facial brush, preferably one with natural bristles. A good, gentle konjac is a great way to get in a little physical exfoliation as well!
- Exfoliate the skin! A great, natural mask that draws impurities out of the skin, cleanses pores, and really nourishes the skin is the cherry on top of a great, effective skin care routine. How often you exfoliate the skin will depend on the product and how sensitive or not sensitive your skin is. There are many exfoliants you can use every day or a few times a week like our Prince Charcoal Natural Detox Mask, just be sure to read the instructions on your exfoliator.
- Tone the skin. A quick, refreshing spritz of toner will help hydrate the skin and balance oils. It’s a great follow-up step to cleansing!
- Apply serum. If you’re exfoliating, chances are, you want your skin to really glow. One great way to do that is to make sure you’re using a serum that really brings out your natural radiance. That’s why we love serums with vitamin C that make skin really radiate!
- Moisturize with a great moisturizer and eye cream. Serums are great for making the skin feel smooth but you still need to hydrate the skin further with a good moisturizer that will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and brightens skin tone. And don’t skip the eye area which needs extra hydration as it doesn’t produce a lot of oil!
When to Exfoliate
As we mentioned above, the best time to exfoliate is right after you’ve cleansed the skin and before you’ve used any other product. If you’re using a gentle mask, you can exfoliate one to three times a week to start. If your skin is strong enough, you can increase that to three-to-five times a week, or even every day if you feel you need it.
So that’s how to choose the best face exfoliator for your particular skin. As you can see, once you break it down into skin types and mission, it’s pretty simple! And once you’ve gotten on the face exfoliator train, you won’t want to ever get off!