Beauty 101

Exfoliation Hacks For Smooth Skin

Dr.Ingky Dermatologist
Exfoliation Hacks For Smooth Skin

Differences between scrub and exfoliation. 

The main difference between a scrub and an exfoliator is that scrub is a cream-based skincare product that contains tiny exfoliating particles while an exfoliator is a mechanical or chemical agent you apply to the skin to remove dead cells from the surface of the skin.

There are two types of exfoliators as mechanical/physical exfoliators and chemical exfoliators. And, scrub is a type of mechanical exfoliator, which uses friction to cleans the skin.

Exfoliating: chemical VS physical exfoliator, the differences and what's best for you?!

The difference between chemical and physical exfoliants is all in the name. Physical exfoliants use something physical, like the bristles of a brush or particles in a sugar scrub, while chemical exfoliants use acids (such as lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, and salicylic acid) to remove dead skin cells.

Dr Ingky Lim, the founder and CEO of SkynFyx, says chemical exfoliants work to break down the cellular bonds of dead skin cells rather than physically buffering away the top layer of dead skin. Both chemical and physical exfoliants have their pros and cons.

A pro for using a physical exfoliant is, you can control the amount of pressure used to better suit your skin's sensitivity level. However, it's worth mentioning that physical exfoliants require a certain level of caution. Dr. Ingky reminds that some physical scrubs contain larger, more abrasive particles that can cause micro tears to the skin and could lead to irritation and inflammation.

For this reason, many experts prefer chemical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliants are often overall safer, more controlled, and more effective with regular use. Plus, they can help minimize and treat acne as well as even out your skin tone for a glowing and bright complexion. When considering what method of exfoliation to use, it's most important to take into account your skin type.

How to exfoliate according to your skin type

Normal or combination skin:

You likely experience both oiliness and dryness in certain areas. Regular exfoliation can address both concerns by helping to reduce an excess of oil, unclog pores, and remove dry, dead skin. It is recommended to exfoliate once to three times a week with a glycolic acid-based cleanser or toner. When introducing an exfoliating product into your routine, start out using it just once a week and increase the frequency if your skin tolerates it.

People with normal or combination skin may want to consider microdermabrasion, a minimally invasive physical exfoliation process that involves gently sanding the skin to remove its outermost layer. You can head to an aesthetician for these treatments every eight to ten weeks or invest in an at-home microdermabrasion tool.

Sensitive skin:

Look for gentle physical exfoliation which work to lightly scrub away dead skin cells and can be used with your regular facial cleanser. If you want to take the chemical route, Dr. Ingky suggests using an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)-based chemical exfoliant product before bed so that the skin has time to "relax" overnight. On the days when you exfoliate, he cautions to avoid mixing with other active ingredients, like retinol, since this can increase the risk for irritation.

Oily skin:

Oily skin tends to have the highest tolerance for exfoliation since it's the least prone to dryness and irritation. So, it is recommended to exfoliate three to five times a week with a glycolic or salicylic acid product in order to reduce excess oil production and keep pores from becoming clogged. 

Dry skin:

If you have dry skin, it is recommended the same exfoliation practices shared above for sensitive skin. This is because dry skin, like sensitive skin, can easily become irritated when further dried out, so it's important to use gentle methods and products when exfoliating to support the skin barrier.

Dos & Don'ts – Exfoliants: The top 5 myths about exfoliating, debunked! 

Most people agree that exfoliating is one of those steps that are consider important in beauty regime. However, there are few myths that has been circulating around that can lead us to exfoliate in the wrong way.  Therefore, we have discovered the best ways to exfoliate for healthy and glowing complexion.

Myth #1:  You should exfoliate every day

It depends on the type of exfoliator and your skin type. For most individuals, daily use of exfoliators would be too much for the skin to handle. It would likely lead to irritation because you’re not giving your skin a chance to heal in between exfoliating sessions. Most professionals will tell you to keep your exfoliation to two or three times a week, less if your skin is super sensitive or if you prefer a physical exfoliator.

Myth #2: A body exfoliant can also be used on the face.

Not only do different body parts require individually tailored exfoliating products, but the intensity applied when scrubbing various areas of the skin should change too. You can take a more intense approach below your chin, as the skin on your body is thicker.

When it comes to more delicate areas like the face, try to use a finely ground, natural material that removes dead skin cells and acts as a physical exfoliant. Apply facial exfoliators 2 or 3 times a week to slightly damp, makeup-free skin and massage for 30 to 60 seconds before rinsing thoroughly.

Myth #3: Problematic skin requires frequent, harsh scrubbing motions to properly exfoliate pores.

Fact: Scrubbing is definitely not the answer. Excessive washing only strips the lipid barrier, which increases inflammation.

Myth #4: Avoid exfoliating if you have problematic, sensitive skin.

Fact: Even sensitive skin may benefit from gentle exfoliation. Instead of daily physical exfoliation, choose a gentle weekly exfoliation that bathes skin in oxygen, as it rapidly exfoliates, smooths and hydrates to help brighten skin and clear away dead skin cells. This allows your treatments and moisturizers to work more effectively, while leaving the skin healthy. 

Myth #5: Regular exfoliating is time-consuming and dries out skin by removing its natural moisture.

Proper, regular exfoliation can help diminish the visible appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by removing the dull, dead skin cells and environmental debris that clouds your complexion and often compromises skin’s natural moisture barrier. And the amount of time to exfoliate usually just take about 3 to 5 minutes.

Skincare 101: How to exfoliate face?

Mechanical Exfoliation

  • Using a clean brush or your favourite scrub, move in small, gentle, circular strokes around your face.
  • Keep your movements light. Think of it more like caressing flower petals rather than rubbing a stain out of your favourite shirt.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water so your freshly exfoliated face isn’t irritated by hot water.
  • Pat face dry and apply moisturizer. Don't skip moisturizer because exfoliation is always a bit drying.

 Chemical Exfoliation

  • Take your favourite chemical exfoliant and apply gently in small, circular motions after cleansing.
  • If it's a product that sits on your face (like a peel), follow the package directions for how long you should wait before rinsing off your face. If it's a face wash, lightly rinse your face with lukewarm water.
  • Pat face dry and apply moisturizer. Again, don't skip this step!

Exfoliator reminder! Your body skin is important too! Here are TEN all-natural exfoliators for your body's skin.

  1. Salt

Salt can be a wonderful choice when you want a good overall body exfoliation, eliminating the rough, dry patches of dead skin. Salt can be used as the perfect scrub for your feet, a requisite place to exfoliate with a scrub. Keep in mind that some people with sensitive skin or breaks in their skin will experience a burning sensation from a salt exfoliator, so it isn’t for everyone all the time.

  1. Sugar

Sugar can also be used to exfoliate your body, especially if you tend to shave your legs and scrub at the same time. That’s a good time to choose sugar over salt to avoid the expected sting.

  1. Oats

If your skin tends to lean to the sensitive side, you might want to check out the gentle effectiveness of organic oats as a physical exfoliant. You can use oats for a gentle body scrub or even as a facial scrub alternative.

  1. Apples + Apple Cider Vinegar

Alpha hydroxy acids are extremely beneficial for loosening dead cells and revealing the new skin beneath. Malic acid, found in apples, is a fantastic choice for an exfoliating mask.

  1. Coffee

Coffee may be in the running as a favourite choice when exfoliating your body. It’s a good antioxidant that also promotes collagen formation, the building block of your skin. Ground coffee can treat cellulite as an exfoliant or be moulded into cubes to battle stretch marks. Feet can also benefit from a thorough scrubbing with coffee grounds.

  1. Exfoliating Bars

When combining body and skincare tasks, exfoliating does not always have to be a separate step in the shower. You can easily create an exfoliating soap bar that is gentle on the skin, using ingredients like seeds, cornmeal, coffee, or oats. 

  1. Milk

The lactic acid in milk can quickly go to work to remove dead skin cells. To use on your face, pour a small amount onto your palm and massage into your skin. You can also combine whole milk with a whipped egg for dry skin or add aloe vera for sensitive skin.

  1. Flaxseeds

For a gentle exfoliation, try ground flaxseeds, which are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds also help hydrate and are safe for acne-prone skin. Add a tablespoon or two to this super soft daily cleanser.

  1. Baking Soda

One of the most versatile items you probably already have in your home is baking soda. It can be used to lighten underarms, to make deodorant, in a bath soak, or to whiten your teeth. This easy cleanser recipe is great for all skin types. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda into your facial cleanser or make a paste of just baking soda and honey.

  1. Rice

Rice flour is coarse enough to exfoliate all the dead skin cells without causing any tears in your skin. This scrub is perfect for those with oily skin. While the rice flour exfoliates, the honey adds moisture to the skin.

How to exfoliate your body the right way: Exfoliation by body part

Arms and legs

The easiest way to exfoliate your arms and legs is with a brush, sponge, or glove. This can help get rid of dead skin cells and stimulate circulation. Look for a body scrub at your local pharmacy or online and lather with it in the shower. You can also try dry brushing.

Feet and hands

There are scrubs and peels available to exfoliate feet and hands. You can also use a pumice stone to exfoliate feet.

Pubic area

You can use a loofah or body brush to exfoliate your bikini line and pubic area. Always do this in a warm shower to soften skin first. Apply scrub gently and wash thoroughly afterward.

Would you like to know more? We are here to help! Dr Ingky is the founder and CEO of SkynFyx, Malaysia's first Digital Skin Doctor platform. Skynfyx is run by a group of skin doctors and skincare experts who want you to achieve flawless skin at the cheapest possible rate. With Skynfyx, you can customise a skincare range that’s made exclusively just for your skin. 

Aside from providing you with personal care education that is completely free, you can also have a medicated cream specially concocted for your skin concern, be it breakouts, blackheads, wrinkles or others.

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