The best exfoliators are designed to reveal smooth, supple, silky skin. And while most skincare-lovers have perfected the cleanse-serum-moisturise trilogy, exfoliation is often a forgotten move in the quest for complexion perfection. However, its benefits definitely highlight the importance of including this step in your skincare routine.
Why are exfoliators actually important, anyway?
With our skincare routines already requiring so many products, is it really worth adding exfoliation into the mix? According to Mardi Johnson, owner of The Skin Club Bowral, the simple answer is yes!
“If your skincare regime doesn’t include regular exfoliation you may end up with clogged pores and a build-up of bacteria which can cause lifeless looking skin,” she says.
Regular exfoliating (up to two to three times a week) will leave your skin looking and feeling fresh and healthy – with the kind of glow generally gleaned after a relaxing overseas getaway. “The best exfoliators help slough away dull, dead, dehydrated skin build-up to solve a multitude of skin concerns including rough texture, breakouts, wrinkles, crows feet, enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, flaky skin, and reveal a fresher face underneath,” says Mardi.
Just as importantly, the exfoliation process also opens the way for products that follow to absorb more deeply into the skin – which improves their effectiveness. To get the most value out of your pricey serums, consider a good exfoliator an investment in your overall beauty routine.
Exfoliation: It’s Spring Cleaning For Your Face (Summer and Winter too)
It’s time to welcome warmer weather … and with it, showcase all the skin that’s been hidden under thick jumpers and your work-from-home best for the past few months. Exfoliation is particularly beneficial if your skin feels sandpaper-dry following months of freezing outside temperatures and indoor heating (hello, lockdown!)
However, while the need to exfoliate will feel obvious to Winter skin, it’s actually an important addition to your skincare routine all year round. Because, although cold weather certainly tests your skin in its quest to look its best, Spring and Summer bring with them their own challenges. One of the primary reasons being that we use more sunscreen during the sunnier months, making a proper exfoliation routine vital to remove product build-up effectively.
Note: This isn’t a hall pass to skip your SPF! Sunscreen is a vital, non-negotiable, do-not-pass-go without-applying product, to protect our skin against UVA and UVB rays, prevent us from burning, wrinkles and other ageing signs and reduce our risk of skin cancers. But it can also damage our skin if not thoroughly cleansed. Enter exfoliation.
“Whether you use a physical sunscreen (containing one of two active ingredients, zinc oxide or titanium) or a chemical one (typically made with aminobenzoic acid, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone which absorbs the sun’s UV rays), it’s especially important to add a good exfoliator to your nightly skincare routine to remove leftover product on your skin, which would otherwise prevent product absorption,” says Mardi.
Which type of exfoliator is best?
Not all exfoliating ingredients are created equal. Some are stronger than others and should only be used on certain skin types. So it’s vital to research and find the exfoliation ingredients best suited for your skin
Exfoliators have definitely upgraded from the old-school apricot kernel formulas of your high school days. Today they are generally categorised as physical exfoliators (traditional formulas that require you to manually – but gently buff it into the skin) and chemical exfoliators (acid or enzyme-based0 exfoliators which work by removing a buildup of dead skin cells by dissolving the glue that binds them together).
Let’s get physical … or chemical
If you have sensitive skin look for physical exfoliation products featuring jojoba beads. This natural, non-abrasive ingredient is often used in exfoliating products designed specifically for delicate skin, but can be used with all skin types. At a microscopic level, jojoba beads are polished, round and smooth to avoid causing irritation to the skin. It is also environmentally friendly.
For skin that is super congested, chemical exfoliation may be a better option. “While the term may sound negative, in this instance chemical simply describes how the ingredients perform the job. In fact, there are plenty of chemical exfoliants actually made with natural ingredients!” says Mardi.
Chemical exfoliation works by dissolving the intercellular glue that holds dead skin cells together – instead of physically removing the dead cells away. As a result, chemical exfoliants generally penetrate deeper into the skin and can be a great option for skin that is more resistive or can’t tolerate physically scrubbing their face. Chemical exfoliation examples include products made with alpha hydroxy acid, beta hydroxy acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, multi-fruit acids, citric and malic acids.
Alternatively, try scrubs made with enzymes. While granular/beaded scrubbing can lead to red, sensitive and irritated skin, enzyme exfoliants are changing the skincare game. Enzymes are bio-active ingredients often derived from fruits like pineapple and papaya. Suitable for all skin types, enzyme exfoliants are especially suited to sensitive skins that react to granular or acidic exfoliators.
Exfoliation with the experts
In-salon treatments, such as those offered by The Skin Club, can elevate your exfoliation experience to another level. While at-home treatments can be enjoyed several times a week, expert exfoliation should be enjoyed more selectively.
Some of the most popular examples include microdermabrasion – a minimally invasive skin treatment that buffs away the outermost layer of the skin. After a session, skin usually appears smoother, clearer and more radiant-looking. This treatment is suitable for most skin types and can be done safely every two weeks
Alternatively, professional chemical peels work when a chemical solution is applied to the skin to remove the top layers safely of the skin. The skin that grows back is smoother. “Chemical peels are used to treat wrinkles, discoloured skin and scars usually on the face. They can be done alone or combined with other cosmetic procedures,” says Mardi. “And depending on the products used by the clinic you can safely do a peel every two weeks for a specific skin concern.”
Ready to scrub up your skincare act? Whether you’re just after an every (second) day exfoliator or need a more targeted treatment there is a range of options available to help you out.
Products we love
Using 100% natural and perfectly spherical Jojoba Beads, the gel formula of this physical exfoliator gently rolls across the skin to lift away dead skin cells and impurities leaving zero damage to the skin (or oceans).
The chemical exfoliator definitely deserves its cult status. It combines 5% Glycolic Acid with a unique low-pH delivery system to stimulate action at a deeper layer of the skin. The process accelerates the skin’s renewal process, dramatically improves brightness and tone, supports collagen production and helps minimise the visible signs of sun damage, ageing and blemishes.
Can’t decide between a physical or chemical exfoliator? ExfoliKate combines both so you don’t have to! Formulated with a unique combination of chemical exfoliants, fruit enzymes, lactic acid and physical granules, this intensive exfoliator take a multi-skilled approach to removes dead skin build-up from the surface of the skin and debris and oil from within your pores.
Ease your way into enzymes – and the kind of skin you could only wish for – with Yo Glow’s Enzyme Scrub. This gentle yet powerful exfoliator is infused with pineapple and papaya enzymes, BHAs, and AHAs to leave your skin with a healthy glow.
These single-use sachets (a great option when travel is back on the cards!) offer the benefits of both chemical and physical exfoliation. Containing botanical brighteners and alpha and beta hydroxy acids – including sugar cane, hibiscus and apple fruit extracts – they work overnight to stimulate cell renewal and cell turnover while gently helping to slough surface cells. For best results use them in conjunction with Daily Microfoliant.
Skinstitut Glycolic Scrub
With fine beads PLUS AHAs, this polishes skin to perfection. Apply in the shower and gently massage over skin, or for a deeper desquamation, apply prior to showering and allow to dry, then buff away before hoping under the water.
Wrinkles Schminkles Liquid Exfoliation Peel
Contains 5 single use deeply exfoliating masks for the next and decolletage.
Removes dead skin cells with gentle exfoliation, leaving brighter looking skin that is healthier and more radiant. it also provides essential antioxidants to minimise the effects of free radical damage.
This dual action, deep cleansing two in one exfoliator brings the spa experience direct to your home. Featuring biodegradable Jojoba Beads, this gentle exfoliator lifts dead skin and encourages cell renewal without causing microtears in the skin thanks to their smooth, spherical shape.
Priori TTC Natural Enzyme Peel & Masque
This ultimate adaptive treatment is an all-natural skin peel enriched with turmeric, papaya and pumpkin enzyme extracts. This face & body mask’s dual action helps to treat dead skin cells, comedones, blackheads and acne that keep your skin from looking its best.
Synergie Skin Micropolish Powder
A fragrance-free exfoliating powder with rice bran granules, betaine, and antioxidants to gently micro-polish, cleanse and brighten skin.
A three-in-one lip scrub that conditions, moisturises, and softens available in a deceptively seductive Negroni.
A specially formulated enzymatic exfoliator with high efficacy designed to gently remove dead skin cells and promote healthy skin renewal in all skin classifications.
Mardi’s customised Cosemlan peel is an in-salon, tailored treatment formulated to mainly treat melisma and pigmentation of all skin types. This is an intense treatment but is designed to give you ultimate results quickly.