Skin Exfoliation Part 3: Choosing An Exfoliant

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What’s The Right Exfoliant For You

When choosing an exfoliant it is important to assess the purpose of the treatment. As stated earlier, exfoliation is a wonderful treatment to deal with acne.  In addition, it is also a terrific treatment to deal with the aging process. When dealing with mild breakouts, commedones and oily skin, salicylic acid is always a great choice. It exfoliates from the outside in and results in a thinning of the Stratum Corneum – which in turn leads to stimulating cell renewal. This allows for easier extraction and removal of impurities in the skin. It is not as effective of a treatment for hyper pigmentation, and does not hydrate the skin like lactic acid. Lactic acid not only removes the dull surface skin, but also brightens the skin, helping to reverse the signs of damage from the environment. It is very receptive to active ingredients which are meant to fortify the skin’s moisture barrier function. It is used to also stimulate collagen synthesis, the replenishing of collagen in our bodies which repairs and replaces damaged collagen tissues. Studies have shown that the application of both Salicylic and Lactic Acid are more effective in stimulating cell turnover than the use of Glycolic Acid. Glycolic Acid has also proven to be slightly more irritating with a lesser result.


Enzymes have been used for years both naturally (Papaya) and in skin care preparations. These ingredients digest dead skin cells similar to having a “Pac Man” effect. Physical forms of exfoliation like “sea salt scrubs” and “nut shell scrubs”, in various forms, have been on the market for years.  They are applied to the skin by hand with a rotating motion to whisk away dead cells. Although mildly effective, there is no comparison to an AHA or Microdermabrasion form of an exfoliant. Retinol (Vitamin A) is an ingredient found in many skin care preparations today. It has been proven to reverse the visible signs of aging from the sun, as well as our natural chronological aging.

Other Exfoliant Treatments

Currently there are many methods used by doctors to exfoliate and regenerate collagen. There are also peels meant to diminish hyper pigmentation and eliminate brown spots on the face.  While there is not enough room to write about all the different methods, a few are defined below.

  • The Cosmelan peel is applied at the doctor’s office and worn home for several hours, with removal by the patient. These peels have been proven to be very effective, and are available in medispas as well as doctor’s offices.
  • The IPL photo facial treatment has also proven to be very effective and exfoliates the skin in a gentler way than Dermabrasion and Co2 lasers. This fairly new “light therapy” not only exfoliates, but stimulates collagen so fine lines and wrinkles seem less apparent. It is also effective in treating Rosacea, reducing the redness and blotchiness that is common with this condition.
  • Another laser called the “Fraxel® Laser treats pinpoint areas on the skin, penetrating small fractions by 400 to 700 microns — just deep enough to stimulate significant collagen regeneration.

While a more dramatic result can be achieved with these treatments, the cost and the downtime are significantly more than a typical salon exfoliant treatment.

By | 2017-12-01T18:30:17+00:00 June 6th, 2013|Categories: Skin Care Advice, Skin Care Products|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

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