Please Avoid Making These Exfoliating Mistakes
Regular exfoliation is literally the difference between glowing, healthy skin and dull, congested skin that’s more prone to breakouts. In short: it’s an essential skincare ritual that everyone should get on board with… at least twice a week. However, like a lot of skincare practices, there’s A LOT of confusion about exfoliating, which can cause mistakes that can ultimately lead to increased skin sensitivity. But don’t stress, we’re here to set the record straight – we’re outlining five common mistakes and what to do instead, plus some hard-hitting exfoliation myths and truths. Consider this your crash course in exfoliation.
Mistake #No 1: Not Exfoliating Enough
If you’ve ever wondered why your skin looks dull or if feel like there’s a bumpy texture underneath the surface, chances are you’re not exfoliating enough. Skipping exfoliation will lead to a buildup of dead skin cells, which can lead to clogged pores, blackheads, and breakouts.
The solution: As per usual, the amount you should exfoliate will vary depending on your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, limit exfoliation to once or twice a week and use an extremely gentle scrub and avoid harsh chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid. Other skin types can exfoliate more regularly. If you have normal or dry skin, we recommend 2 to 3 times per week, and up to 3 to 4 times a week for oily and acne-prone skin.
Mistake #No 2: Using Too many Exfoliating Products in Your Routine
While regular exfoliation is essential, you also need to be careful not to use too many exfoliating products in your daily or weekly skincare routine. For example, if you’re using a cleanser, toner, or serum that also contains exfoliating ingredients like AHAs or BHAs, or if you’re using retinol, you might find that you don’t need to use a stand alone exfoliator as often and can scale back your exfoliating regimen.
The solution: To ensure you don’t over exfoliate, curate a weekly skincare plan. Map out the days of the week you will exfoliate and then slot in your other exfoliating products around those days. For example, if you exfoliate Mondays and Wednesdays, you might want to skip your exfoliating toner on those days.
Mistake #No 3: Using Harsh Scrubs & Applying With Too Much Pressure
While it may be super satisfying to exfoliate with a physical scrub, they can be extremely harsh on your skin and can lead to a myriad of skin issues. Physical exfoliators (also sometimes referred to as mechanical) utilize small particles to buff away dead skin cells and dirt. However, done too often or too vigorously, you won’t just end up removing dead skin, you could cause micro-abrasions on the skin surface or end up damaging your skin barrier. This can then lead to skin sensitivity, soreness, or even breakouts.
Solution: Stick to using strong physical scrubs on your body and BE gentle! If you love a physical scrub, opt for a cellulose scrub. Cellulose is a natural compound that clumps together as you rub the formula into your skin, gently removing dead skin that is ready to come off. It is the most gentle type of physical exfoliator, and although it may look like you’re literally rubbing dead skin off your face, in reality, it is mostly the formula balling together as it combines with dead skin cells.
The WISHFUL Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub, $39, combines cellulose, as well as chemical exfoliants and offers a super gentle yet effective exfoliation. It’s actually so gentle it can be used daily, although for those with sensitive skin, twice a week is plenty.
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Mistake #No 4: Not Hydrating Post-Exfoliation
Exfoliation removes surface dead skin cells, but some can also sap oils from your skin, which means your skin can tend to feel more dry after exfoliation. This is why it’s so important to amp up hydration after exfoliating to help maintain a healthy skin barrier.
The Solution: Every time you exfoliate make sure you follow with a moisturizer. If you really want to reach max hydration levels, follow with an essence, serum, and moisturizer, and lock it all in with a facial oil.
Mistake #No 5: Exfoliating Before Going Into The Sun
We’ll admit, we were guilty of making this criminal exfoliating mistake on a recent trip to Zanzibar, and boy, did we pay the price. Moral of the story: you should NOT exfoliate before going into the sun. When you exfoliate, you buff away the top layer of dead skin cells that can help act as a ‘barrier’ for the your new skin cells, therefore leaving you albeit glowing skin more vulnerable and likely to burn.
The same goes for your body, and while you may want your skin to be super soft we say don’t go wild with the exfoliator just before sun exposure, even if you are using sunscreen.
Solution: The solution is simple – exfoliate at least one day (preferably two) before going into the sun, and as always, use a stand-alone sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 and a 5-star UVA rating. Check out our fave sunscreens here.
Okay, so now you know the common mistakes, here’s a quick fire-round of myths and truths. Get ready…
Myth 1. You can scrub away blackheads: A blackhead is a pore that’s blocked with oil, dead skin, and debris. Scrubbing them won’t get rid of them, you need to use blackhead busting ingredients like salicylic acid to dissolve the contents of the pore and prevent them from building up.
Myth 2. The harder I scrub, the cleaner my skin will be: When it comes to your skin, less pressure is normally always better. Never tug, don’t pull, and don’t apply too much pressure when you scrub.
Myth 3. You shouldn’t combine different types of exfoliators: Some of our fave exfoliators have a combination of enzymes, AHAs and BHAs. You just need to make sure you’re not using too many different exfoliating products in one routine.
1. Regular exfoliation helps prevent blackhead buildup. Consistent and gentle exfoliation is the one!
2. Strong pressure + harsh physical exfoliators = skin irritation: Like we said, avoid it at all costs.
3. Enzyme + chemical + gentle physical exfoliators = effective surface & pore exfoliation: Our Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub, $39, combines gentle physical, enzyme, and chemical exfoliation for the most amazing yet gentle exfoliation that will buff away dead skin cells, even skin tone over time, and deliver the most radiant glow.