In an earlier post on how to build a skincare routine from scratch, I discussed four key steps that make up any routine. These include three core steps - cleansing, moisturising and protection with SPF - and one supplementary step - treating specific skin concerns with active ingredients. I also recommended limiting the treatment step to at most three active ingredients where one - which should also be the first one you add - should be a chemical exfoliant. These wonderful ingredients have a lot to offer to almost everyone after they’ve hit puberty.
In part 1 of this series I covered what exfoliation is and how it benefits the skin, while in part 2 I defined the two major categories of exfoliation and the ingredients available to us in each category. If you haven’t yet read those, you can read them here and here. In this part I’m going to cover how to incorporate exfoliation into your skincare routine for maximum benefit. I’m going to start with general recommendations and end with detailed guidance for anyone looking to incorporate one of the exfoliants in our range into their skincare routine. I’ll also summarise our product related guidelines for you in a table at the end to make all the information easier for you to process.
At present, we have four products that contain chemical exfoliants: our Salicylic Acid Cleanser, Resurfacing Face Wash, Salicylic Acid Pore Cleansing Emulsion and Salicylic Acid Moisturiser. The first two products in this list are exfoliating cleansers and combine two skincare steps in one. And yes, as you’ve probably guessed, we love salicylic acid. Given our strong relationship with acne, we’re huge believers in its skin-clearing powers.
As you read what follows, bear in mind that there is no one size fits all formula. While you’re welcome to start with my recommendations as is, it might take some hit and trial to find the perfect exfoliation routine for you.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of physical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation has a lot more to offer and given the huge range of available exfoliating chemicals in different product formats available, it’s usually easy enough to find a product that works well for you, even if your skin is sensitive. However, if you do opt for physical exfoliation, the process of doing it is simple enough. Here’s how.
Choose a product that has soft scrubbing particles or scrubbing particles with smooth edges. Depending on the consistency of the product, apply it on wet to damp skin and then massage it in small circles using low pressure. Resist the temptation to scrub too hard and to keep scrubbing for an extended period of time. Also try to not go over the same area more than five times. Start by using a scrub twice a week and slowly work your way up but don’t do more than your skin can tolerate - this threshold varies from person to person. Overdoing it will compromise your skin barrier and result in skin dehydration. It will result also result in skin thinning, redness, sensitivity and irritation - all symptoms that no one wants.
If you’re new to chemical exfoliation, start slowly with a product that has a low concentration of acids and then work your way up.
Some initial tingling that lasts for a few minutes after you apply the product is normal, especially if you’re new to acids.
If you’re using a mild leave-on exfoliant, starting by using it twice a week is a good idea. If it’s a mild wash off one, you might even be able to use it 3-4 times per week without irritating your skin.
Err on the side of caution when starting to exfoliate as despite the numerous benefits that exfoliation has to offer, overdoing it can have some unpleasant side effects.
Always moisturise after you exfoliate to maintain a strong skin barrier. If your skin feels sensitive, tight or dry the next day, take a break from exfoliation till it recovers and then cut back on either the frequency with which you exfoliate or on the strength of the exfoliant that you’re using.
You can use more than one exfoliant in your routine, but introduce them one at a time and avoid using them at the same time to avoid any unwanted reaction.
While all skin types can benefit from exfoliation, it’s always a good idea to patch test products, especially if you’ve experienced product allergies in the past or have overly sensitive skin.
Exfoliating makes your skin more sensitive to the sun so don’t forget to wear broad spectrum SPF daily.
Incorporating Exfoliants From Our Range - Recommendations By Skin Type
Start by using our Salicylic Acid Cleanser twice a week and then slowly build up to as much as your skin can tolerate. Here’s an example of what your basic skincare routine with added exfoliation could look like:
Morning: Wash your face with the Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser. Apply the Million Dollar Moisturiser while your skin is still damp right after cleansing. Follow up with SPF.
Night: Wash your face with the Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser. Substitute this with the Salicylic Acid Cleanser as often as required. Apply the Million Dollar Moisturiser while your skin is still damp right after cleansing.
Ageing Skin | Pigmentation-Prone Skin | Dry, Dehydrated Skin
I’ve lumped ageing, pigmentation-prone and dry skin together skin pigmentation usually tends to be associated with skin ageing - or premature skin ageing - and because as the skin ages, it tends to become drier. Given this, it’s a good option to rely more on AHAs for exfoliation since they also have hydrating and moisturising properties, while high concentrations of salicylic acid can often make dry skin feel drier.
Our Resurfacing Face Wash contains 5% AHA and 0.5% BHA along with turmeric, honey, grapeseed oil and almond oil. This allows it to exfoliate your skin while moisturising and with 0.5% salicylic acid, you can experience some of its pore clearing and anti-inflammatory effects without any associated dryness.
To incorporate it into your skincare routine, start by using it twice a week and build up to daily use if your skin is able to tolerate using it that frequently. If you’re using it daily but still feel like you can exfoliate more without irritating your skin, leave it on for up to ten minutes as a mask a few times a week before rinsing it off. Here’s an example of what your basic skincare routine with added exfoliation could look like:
Morning: Wash your face with the Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser. Apply the Carbamide Intensive Hydration Cream while your skin is still damp right after cleansing. Follow up with SPF.
Night: Wash your face with the Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser. Substitute this with the Resurfacing Fave Wash as often as required. Apply the Carbamide Intensive Hydration Cream while your skin is still damp right after cleansing.
Oily Skin | Acne Prone Skin
Contrary to popular belief, acne-prone skin doesn’t require aggressive treatment, it requires gentle care. Being aggressive with your skin trying to fix your acne quickly can irritate it further and make matters worse than they were to begin with.
As I mentioned in part 2, salicylic acid is the gold standard in treatments for acne. If your acne is mild, I’d recommend using our Salicylic Acid Cleanser. Start by using it three times a week and slowly build up to daily if your skin able to tolerate daily use. If your acne is more severe, you might benefit more by switching to our Salicylic Acid Moisturiser or Salicylic Acid Pore Cleansing Emulsion, which are stronger products, after finishing your first tube of the Salicylic Acid Cleanser. Once again, start by using these 3 times per week before working your way up. Here’s what your routine could look like if you’re using the Salicylic Acid Cleanser:
Morning: Wash your face with the Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser. Apply the AccuHydra Gel Cream Moisturiser or the Million Dollar Moisturiser while your skin is still damp right after cleansing. While the AccuHydra is more lightweight than the Million Dollar one, both are designed to not be comedogenic or pore-clogging, so choose the one with the kind of texture you prefer. Follow up with SPF.
Night: Wash your face with the Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser. Substitute this with the Salicylic Acid Cleanser as often as required. Apply the moisturiser you’ve chosen while your skin is still damp right after cleansing.
And here’s what your routine could look like if you’re using the Salicylic Acid Moisturiser or Salicylic Acid Pore Cleansing Emulsion:
Morning: Wash your face with the Hydrating Gentle Daily Cleanser. Apply the moisturiser you’ve chosen while your skin is still damp right after cleansing. Follow up with SPF.