16 Aug

How to Basic – Exfoliation 101, the Only Acids You Should Be On

Let’s talk acid, you know, the skincare related one. If you’re all about maintaining glowy, baby soft skin, then you probably already know that exfoliation is key. It’s necessary to slouch of all those dead skin cells, to reveal a smooth layer. When it comes to exfoliation there are two ways of handling it.

You either opt for physical exfoliation, where you literally scrub off the dead skin cells with the help of those beads you find in scrubs. However these can be quite harsh and can even cause microtears. But there’s another way, the chemical way, which can be a lot more effective and gentler if you do it the right way.

AHA, BHA – what?

Chemical exfoliation can be done with the help of either enzymes or acids and it’s the latter that we’ll be tackling here. There are three acids that are the most common in skin care, these three belong in either the AHA or the BHA category. There is only one BHA that is known as salicylic acid. This acid will penetrate below the skin surface and get rid of all that excess sebum you got going on. If you have blemish-prone skin, now is the right time to cheer. Then we have glycolic and lactic acid, these belong to the AHA category. And even though these only work on the surface of the skin, they do get rid of dead skin cells and are often used to help get rid of those fine lines, acne scars and hyperpigmentation.

Don’t go in overdrive

It’s so tempting to start using these acids on a daily basis as you’ll start seeing amazing results. But trust me, using these too often will only take away from the miraculous results. Be gentle, if you’ve never used an acid to exfoliate, start off slowly and even do a patch test first. Generally, acids should be used once or twice a week depending on your skin. See what works for you and make sure to listen to your skin. If you notice any kind of irritation, take a step back for a while.  

Finding your one true acid

Just like with everything that is skin care related, it can be a long trial and error process. Some people will have amazing results with lactic acid and totally break out when using glycolic acid. You can even get different results by using different products of the same acid. It’s all about the right percentage, pH-level and what your skin can tolerate.

The dreaded horror of purging

This is the tricky part. When using acids in your skincare routine, you might have to go through a purging period. This is where all the junk that was hidden in your pores, will come to the surface in what usually looks like little whiteheads. The tricky part here is that it’s often not obvious whether you’re just purging or breaking out. Purging is a good thing, it means that you’re clearing your skin from all the dirt. The only solution is to wait it out for four weeks. If your skin looks worse than when you started, then you should probably stop using the exfoliator and continue looking for the right product for your skin.

Don’t play yourself, use SPF

You should always be using SPF, but it’s even more crucial when you’re including acids in your skin care routine. These products will increase your skin’s sun sensitivity, so going out without using SPF could cause some permanent damage to your face. There are plenty of great options these days that won’t cause that horrible white cast, or even worse, clogged pores. So, there is absolutely no excuse for you to skip the SPF part.

Entering the world of chemical exfoliation can be quite overwhelming at first. There’s a lot to learn and even more to try out. But it’s the best way to include that facial-result into your 89-step skincare routine. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later for all that effort when you’re walking around with the kind of skin where even Bella Hadid would stop you to ask about your skin care routine.  

Photo credits: Sarah Feingold, Tom Newton

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