Exfoliation 101: How to Exfoliate Your Way to Glowing Skin

Out with the old, in with the new - and no, this line isn't just for your wardrobe. To reveal your best glowing skin, getting rid of dead skin cells should be in order. There's no wonder why skincare fans can't say no to exfoliation - this cosmetic process is the secret to eliminating impurities that could make a face look dull and tired.

The process of exfoliation is a step you can't miss - especially if rocking that ever-blooming skin is one of your #skincaregoals.


What You'll Learn From This Guide



What is Skin Exfoliation

Think of your skin as a canvas. If you skip stripping old paint off the canvas, the new color will look sloppy and dull.

The benefits of exfoliation do not stop at giving you glowing skin - it makes sure dead skin cells don't wreak havoc on your face.

The skin accumulates dead cells at a regular interval. In a perfect world, the skin can naturally shed off dead skin cells. However, as one matures, the natural way of skin renewal becomes more difficult. Exfoliation prevents dead skin cells from causing skin problems like acne, blocked pores, dry patches, and aging skin. Another bonus: exfoliating allows your skin to absorb other products effectively!

Skin that looks healthy, supple, and young? Exfoliate, stat!


Two Types of Exfoliants

You can exfoliate with a physical exfoliant and a liquid exfoliant. Most of the time, choosing between these two types of exfoliants depends on your type of skin, the results you want to achieve, and the length of the time you want to achieve them.


Liquid Exfoliants

Also known as AHA, BHA, and enzymes, liquid exfoliants dissolve grime and pollutants and loosen dead skin cells from the healthier skin. In some cases, liquid exfoliants contain granules to help strip dead skin from the face once loosened. Compared to physical exfoliants, liquid peels work deeper on the skin's surface.

For those who are nervous about the term 'chemical'- most AHAs, BHA, and enzymatic exfoliants are derived from plants and fruit, so really, it’s all natural.

Types of liquid exfoliants and what they are usually made from:

  • Glycolic Acid: sugar cane
  • Lactic Acid: milk
  • Malic Acid: apples and pears
  • Mandelic Acid: almonds
  • Enzymes: papaya, cranberry, pineapple, pumpkin, papain
  • BHA: willow barks


Physical Exfoliants

Physical exfoliants come in different names – mechanical exfoliation, peel-off masks, cleansing brushes, microdermabrasion, and face scrubs or physical scrubs. These exfoliants work to remove dead skin cells when physically rubbed on the skin. It may sound harsh for the skin, but for some women this can be a better option depending on their skin type and lifestyle.


Exfoliation for Different Skin Types

Exfoliation for Oily Skin

When you are dealing with an oily skin type, exfoliation can be done safely with physical and liquid exfoliants. Face scrubs can help shake off the build up of oil on your skin. If you want to buff off dead skin cells in a gentler way, go for liquid exfoliants. 


Liquid Exfoliants for Oily Skin

Oily skin that isn't sensitive can enjoy the benefits of exfoliating two to three times a week. Skincare enthusiasts consider liquid exfoliants for their higher efficacy in dissolving impurities on oily skin without the irritation. Exfoliants with jojoba, and BHA components are also great options for oily skin!


We Recommend:
liquid exfoliant oily skin
A dual effect enzymatic exfoliating mask for deep exfoliation. Perfect for clogged, dull skin, this mask uses fruit enzymes to dissolve excess dead skin cells so that the jojoba beads can gently remove them. Jojoba beads are spherical, so they don't scratch the surface of the skin, making them the perfect ingredient for sensitive skins.

    face peel

    A gentle exfoliating mask that absorbs oil and promotes skin rejuvenation. Continuous use lightens and smooths out imperfections. Contains thyme extract, Salicylic acid, and imperfection diminishing zinc for glowing skin!


    Physical Exfoliants for Oily Skin

    A physical exfoliant can be an oily skin’s holy grail as it can buff out dead skin that clings like crazy. Just be careful not to over-exfoliate - use physical exfoliants twice a week, max.


    We Recommend:
    FOREO cleansing brushes combine cleansing, exfoliation, lymphatic drainage, and anti-ageing into one clever device. Recognised as a physical exfoliant as you need to manually use it to exfoliate. The silicone bristles are medical-grade - this means they are easy to disinfect and don't tend to harbour bacteria, unlike many traditional cleansing brushes. 
    Bonus: The Luna 3 has an inbuilt massage function to de-puff and tighten the face - goodbye to bad face days and hello cheekbones!

    Exfoliation for Dry Skin

    Skip the mechanical exfoliants if you have dry skin as they can cause irritation. Opt for gel or liquid exfoliants that can encourage cell skin turnover without the micro-tears.


    We Recommend:

    gentle peeling cream

    Ga-De Gommage Eclat Gentle Peeling Cream | $38

    A gentle exfoliating gel that smooths away dead skin cells and impurities. The product features the exfoliating benefits of clay, and the hydrating effects of olive and raspberry oil. Use consistently for the youthful, fresh glow.



    Exfoliation for Sensitive Skin

    If you have sensitive skin, skip the scrubs that can cause increased redness. For mature skin, opt for a gentle exfoliant that won't cause your skin to be stretched.


    We Recommend:

    enzyme peeling exfoliant

    Dr Irena Enzyme peel is a hydrating, non-abrasive exfoliant suited to ageing or sensitive skins.The silky texture and hydrating properties leave the skin soothed, calm, and glowing. It also smells AMAZING!


    Exfoliation for Combination Skin

    If you have combination skin, it also needs combo care. Combination skin requires a good mix of physical and liquid exfoliants. Use a liquid exfoliant to the job on dry areas. If your skin is feeling relatively oily, go for a gentle scrub. Avoid using both the same day, and always moisturise after exfoliating.


    Physical Exfoliants for Combination Skin


    We Recommend:

    A face scrub that contains sunflower seed oil for that mild, effective exfoliation. Instantly gives the skin smoothing, and softening effect!


    Liquid Exfoliants for Combination Skin


    We Recommend:

    A mild powder enzyme that’s mixed with water. This peel contains no mechanical exfoliants making it compatible for all skin types. It includes almond glyceride - a component that gently loosens dead skin cells, and absorbs excess sebum.



    Take the extra mile and exfoliate - it'll lead you one step closer to flaunting healthy, plump, radiating skin. Not sure where exfoliation falls in the order of your skincare routine? Try our skin quiz!

    Beauty Affairs Skin Quiz Image

    Alexis Adrienne

    Alexis Adrienne

    Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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