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Have a party to go to? Want to look amazing for holiday photos? Then you need to grab an acid exfoliator and wipe away dead skin cells on your skin’s surface to reveal your youthful glow.
When most of us think of skin exfoliation we think of little pieces of something in the product that will scrub the skin. My mind always goes back to my high school days of St. Ives apricot scrub. Did you know that there is another gentler type of exfoliation?
It’s called acid exfoliation and it will change the way you think about exfoliating.
Sounds harsh though doesn’t it? It’s actually less harsh than using pieces of almonds, salt, rice flour or sugar to mechanically scrub your skin.
Acid exfoliation comes in two varieties: Alpha Hydroxy Acid & Beta Hydroxy Acid
Alpha Hydroxy Acid – often labeled as AHAs are derived from citric acid from citrus fruits, glycolic acid from sugar, lactic acid from milk, malic acid from apples, tartaric acid extracted from grapes. AHAs are water soluble and can gently break down and remove the top layer of skin cells to reveal the fresh cells underneath.
Beta Hydroxy Acid – often labeled as BHAs are derived from willow tree bark in the form of salicylic acid. These acids are famous for pain relief as salicylic acid is what is used to make aspirin. BHAs are great for oily skin as they dissolve oil and blackheads, while reducing hyperpigmentation. Because salicylic can dry out the skin you always want to pair it with a hydrating substance such as hyaluronic acid which is perfect for acne prone skin as it won’t clog your pores like other hydrating substances.
Acid exfoliators are more potent and much more gentle than mechanical scrubs, creams or lotions to dissolve surface skin to reveal glowing skin underneath. Exfoliators not only work on removing dead skin build up they give you smoother skin and stimulate new cell growth.
By using acid exfoliation on a regular basis you will be able to maintain your youthful glow, reduce or eliminate acne and lighten your skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. You will also help your skin to be able to absorb serums better and increase your skin’s ability to protect itself from environmental toxins.
Other benefits from acid exfoliators are increased hydration and boosting of collagen production, lightening of dark spots, unclogging of pores, reduction of oil production that causes acne and reduction in the appearance of fine lines.
How do these acids perform their magic? The acids dissolve the proteins that hold together your skin surface cells. AHAs work specifically on the epidermis and the BHAs work to unclog pores.
If you are finding your mechanical exfoliator to be too harsh for your skin look for an acid exfoliators instead. If you have dry or oily skin with acne, oily skin or oily hyperpigmented skin look for the beta hydroxy acid exfoliators and if you have sensitive skin or sensitive and drier skin go for alpha hydroxy acids.
Want to try an AHA or BHA out? – check out some of my favorite products:
- SAIAN’s Pure Hyaluronic Acid Toner and Serum – for dehydrated acne prone skin and acne prone skin in general
- Pevonia’s Lacto-Flora Peel with pyruvic flower, lactic, glycolic, citric and malic acids – great for hyperpigemented, photodamaged and mature skin or anyone looking to get their glow on!
- Sanitas GlycoSolution 10% – this is a great product for pretty much all skin types – I love this one for aging skin the best.
- Cinq Mondes – Phyto-Peeling Lotion – best for hyperpigmented, photo damaged aging skin
How do I use these products?
For special events: use acid exfoliators the day of or day before a holiday party, photos or whatever even you want to look amazing for. If you have sensitive skin you might want to try out a product a few weeks before the event to ensure you won’t have a reaction. Most of the products I mention above can be used either once a week up to three times a week.
Most of us think just about our face when we use these products. If you are not wearing a turtle neck to a party you’ll want to think about using it on your neck too. And if you are wearing a dress – consider exfoliating your back as well. Plus don’t forget your hands – they take the most beating of all of our skin – let them glow as well!
For skin maintenance: use acid exfoliators at night to reduce sun exposure after application. Exfoliate at least once a week as exfoliating allows for serums and moisturizers to penetrate deeper in to the skin to be more effective. Note that oilier, thicker skin can tolerate up to 3 exfoliations a week.
There are some precautions though…
- Avoid acid exfoliation if you are pregnant, have sunburn or extremely hypersensitive skin
- Stop retinols/retinoid products for 48-72 hours prior to exfoliating
- Don’t exfoliate 48 hours prior to a peel
- Do not use acid exfoliate if you are taking an oral isotretinoin or similar medications for at least 6 months after stopping the medication
- Avoid the sun after exfoliation – so best to do the exfoliations at night – if you are going out you need sunscreen with zinc in it
- Darker complexions may not tolerate acid exfoliation and it may cause hyperpigmentation if an SPF product is not used after exfoliation