Exfoliation - how much is too much?
Facial exfoliation, is the removal of surface dead skin cells to reveal fresher, younger skin. So how much is too much and which are the best facial exfoliation techniques and products?
Acid Toners/Exfoliating Toners/Clarifying Lotions
The term acid toners is very common now and Caroline Hirons has been a huge advocate of them. They usually contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA's) and others such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. Some feel harsh and drying and can redden the skin. That is why we formulated Gentle Exfoliating Toner™ It contains full strength AHA's, balanced with Hyaluronic Acid and Betaine, so that it is super gentle, hydrating and removes the 'ouch!', while still delivering brilliant results.
The difference is, Retin A (retinoic acid) is an unstable form of vitamin A and is prescribed, while Retinol (retinol palmitate) is a stabilised form of Vitamin A used in over the counter treatments. They have a 'renewal' action on the skin and are used to improve signs of ageing and help acne skins. They are very effective for most people, though it is very important to use a high SPF every day, as they can cause sensitivity. Generally, they are a night treatment. Watch this space - MERUMAYA have just completed the testing on a new formula that is superbly balanced and has less irritation. The reviews from consumer trials are excellent.
Scrubs and Peels
Contain granules or 'beads', (or half a pound of crushed hazelnuts!) and rely on the mechanical action of you, massaging them into your face (or body). Because of that, it is difficult to get a completely even exfoliation. They can sometimes feel scratchy on the skin, irritating sensitive skins and can 'open' up spots and acne. I believe that using a peel method, such as Skin Brightening Exfoliating Peel™ is a far superior and a kinder method of treatment. Containing both glycolic acid and pomegranate enzymes to remove dead skin cells, with an intense calming complex, even the more delicate skins can benefit. SBEP gives a more even exfoliation than a scrub as it lays on the entire surface of the skin. No mechanical action is required, it wont accidentally knock the 'head' off a spot either. Peels are generally better for addressing signs of skin ageing too e.g lines, dark spots, enlarged pores etc.
Cleansing Brushes/Muslin Cloths/Cleansing Cloths
Muslins and Daily Cleansing Cloths™, slough off surface dead skin cells along with cleanser when removing make up. Electric Cleansing Brushes can be harsh, even disturbing our skin's natural moisture barrier. They can be one of those 'toys' we buy ourselves - enter cross trainer that became a clothes rail, thigh master...need I go on? With foaming cleansers, such as Luxury Facial Wash™, I think it is much better and safer to use a Manual Cleansing Brush™ which is much more gentle, especially on sensitive and acne-prone skins.
Especially those for oily and acne prone skins, may contain exfoliating ingredients to help keep spots at bay. Foaming Cleansers are often criticised for stripping the skin. That does not have to be the case and certainly, Luxury Facial Wash™ contains pomegranate enzymes to give a low level, gentle exfoliation and uses very gentle surfactants to leave the skin feeling comfortable too.
Often salicylic acid is on the ingredient list. They work by 'peeling' the skin so that you get rid of the spot quicker. Our Concentrated Spot Treatment™ is so effective because it contains three active ingredients rather than just one. I use multiple ingredients to ensure efficacy because different ingredients, have different success in each of us.
May contain acids, granules, enzymes and clays. For example, Mud Marvels Mask™ contains AHA's as well as volcanic ash and oxygenated charcoal and is then balanced with natural oils and butters so that the skin is cosseted at the same time.
How, which, when - Maleka recommends
First I must say that you should listen to your skin and dial up or down, as you need. The following should be good for most skin types;
- Acid Toners - start with once per day. Use in the morning if you are using overnight retinol treatments
- Retinol treatments - evenings only. Start with 2/3 times per week and build up to daily.
- Peels/exfoliating Masks - If you are using retinol, once per week should be sufficient. If not 1-3 times per week
- Exfoliating Cleansers - 1/2 per day, depending on the severity of acne and how drying the formula is. Still remove make up with a 'balm' cleanser such as Melting Cleansing Balm™ at night before washing your skin.
- Spot treatments - directly on the spot twice per day or as needed.