For many of us, our first experience with exfoliation will have been in the form of a harsh scrub, designed to leave skin tight and red raw to give the impression it had succeeded. We know this can be off-putting, but we promise exfoliators can be gentle as well as effective.Why do we need to exfoliate at all? While it’s true that our skin cells do shed naturally, sometimes they need some encouragement. The rate at which new cells are produced to replace the old ones varies between people, and typically slows with age. In our early 20s, the cycle takes around 14-21 days to complete, which increases to around 28 days in middle age, and can slow to 60-90 days in our 50s and 60s. A slower skin cycle leads to an increased accumulation of dead cells on the surface of your skin. These can accentuate fine lines and even trap bacteria, leading to more blemishes. It’s important that we choose products that promote a healthy skin cycle and boost cellular renewal to provide a plethora of new healthy skin cells to replace the old. Equally, it’s important that we help our skin cycle along by gently breaking down the bonds that bind dead skin cells together, leaving the fresh cells underneath free to shine.
When choosing an exfoliant, you first have to decide what sort of exfoliation you want to use: physical or chemical. Both will help to separate dead skin cells from the healthy ones, so it really depends on your preference. Physical exfoliants are great if you’re looking for an instant fix: they use a scrubbing agent like sugar or coffee grounds to buff away the dead top layers of skin, and leave you feeling radiant and glowing. Both our (aptly-named) Radiant Glow Organic Face Mask and our Tropical Blossom Body Polish make use of physical exfoliants. Most exfoliators you’ll find for the body will be physical ones, as the skin in other areas tends to be less delicate than your facial skin. Ingredients like coffee, though too harsh for your face, can be useful for dealing with tough spots like elbows and knees, and offer a caffeine boost to boot that can increase blood flow which can reduce the appearance of cellulite and even out skin tone. Win win!
While some physical exfoliants are too aggressive for facial skin, there are others that work well: our newly-reformulated Radiant Glow Organic Face Mask makes use of upcycled blueberry particles that are the leftover product from the juicing industry. Not only are these particles eco-friendly, they’re gentle enough that they won’t cause microtears in your skin. Then there’s the sugar, which contains natural Glycolic Acid, so you actually get some of the benefits of chemical exfoliation as well! Combined with the other nourishing ingredients in the mask - Sweet Almond Oil to moisturise and heal, Raw Cacao to protect the skin from free radical damage and improve hydration - this mask is sure to leave your skin feeling dreamy.
Glycolic acid brings us around to the second exfoliating option: chemical exfoliants. If they sound like something you’d use to strip paint, don’t worry: chemical exfoliants are actually surprisingly gentle. In most cases, they’re actually gentler than physical exfoliants, so those with sensitive skin may wish to try them out - though you should always try a small area and potentially weaken the dose if it’s an ingredient you haven’t tried before. Glycolic acid falls into the Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) category: AHAs sink into skin and break the bonds that hold skin cells together. This allows the dead skin cells to be removed easily, instead of being kept in place, tethered to other cells. AHAs work on a more surface level than their counterpart Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), which penetrate deeper and help to unclog pores. BHAs are recommended for those with oily skin, as they’re drawn to the oil and help to break through. AHAs, on the other hand, work best on sensitive and dry skin, as they moisturise as they exfoliate. You might even have been using a chemical exfoliant without even realising it. One example of a BHA is salicylic acid, and if you’re prone to oily skin and breakouts you’ll likely be familiar with this one already. Our Rainforest Rescue Blemish Serum makes use of the natural salicylic acid derived from willow bark to boost cell turnover and smooth out your complexion. Thanks to the de-clogging properties of BHAs, you’ll see a reduction in congestion and fewer blemishes!
Another of our favourite exfoliating products is our Miracle Organic Face Mask. Formulated for all skin types, this gentle mask makes use of AHAs to remove dead skin from the surface of your face, and the papaya extract contributes Papain and Vitamin A, which act as natural exfoliants. Peruvian Maca then stimulates cell renewal, ensuring you have a healthy skin cycle and young cells on the surface, meaning you’ll stay glowing for longer. Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to work its magic!
While some people prefer physical and some chemical exfoliants, others enjoy a mix of both! A regular chemical exfoliant in your skincare routine can mean your skin is healthier and happier in the long run, while incorporating a physical exfoliant when you need an extra boost means you’ll leave the bathroom glowing. Hello perfect skin!
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