Are You Exfoliating Correctly?

Exfoliation is a key step in any skincare routine, but it’s also a) severely misunderstood, and b) frequently performed incorrectly – so let’s go back to basics.

The aim of the game is to tackle lurking blemishes, blackheads, rough texture, clogged pores, and any other nasties lurking beneath by buffing away dead skin cells. If skin isn’t exfoliated properly and regularly, these cells build up and cause congestion, leading to breakouts, defined wrinkles, and dull skin – a major roadblock to the smooth, radiant skin we’re aiming for, right?

If you’re new to the exfoliation game, note that exfoliants don’t necessarily need to be tactile, physical scrubs – many come in the form of liquid, chemical versions. Both essentially play the same game, but in very different ways. It might seem like the kind of supplementary skincare step you easily pass over, but dermatologists advise that exfoliating can help ingredients to penetrate skin up to 20 percent better. So basically if you want to give your serums/oils/creams an added boost, you’re gonna want to get buffing…

The thing is, successful exfoliation is equal parts good product and good technique. From an exfoliation enthusiast, here are my top tips and fave products recs.

• Wash your face before you exfoliate to clear the surface layer of skin of makeup, grime, and pollutants.

• When exfoliating, use warm water, which will help to open the pores and loosen build-up.

• Gently scrub in circular motions, avoiding the delicate eye area. As with any facial massage, work your way from the centre of your face to the edges in order to drain away toxins.

• Don’t press too hard – caress the skin lightly and let the product do the work here!

• It is possible to over-exfoliate skin. Start with bi-weekly exfoliation and if you feel like your skin can handle it, amp things up.

• If your exfoliant is too abrasive, mix it with a cream cleanser to dilute the scrub factor.

These super-smart formulas won’t leave your face scratched, ruddy, and imbalanced – instead they’ll selectively buff away debris and dead skin cells, leaving healthy skin to glow through.

For those who have super-sensitive skin, but do prefer a physical scrub, this is the best of both worlds – exfoliating jojoba seeds suspended within a gel-to-milk formula. Unlike granular scrubs, the jojoba seeds are rounded, so they roll over skin, offering a gentler form of exfoliation that won’t tear skin. 

The OG chemical exfoliant, setting the bar for resurfacing toners since 2000 – ideal if your skin doesn’t react well to abrasive scrubs. With all the power of a professional peel, Liquid Gold employs 5%(!) glycolic acid to slough off dead skin cells and enhance cell turnover, resulting in smoother skin texture and noticeable clarity after a single use.

More gentle than it looks, thanks to nourishing botanical extracts, this will take your skin from dull to radiant, asap. It’s a great product if you want a clearer, brighter, smoother complexion without using something that feels too aggressive for daily use. Plus (thanks to ginger, green tea, and coconut), it smells incredible.

All the benefits of a professional peel served up in pre-loaded pads that make exfoliation effortless and gives you the kind of skin that looks Photoshopped – seeyah, pores! Formulated with four naturally-derived exfoliating acids which work together to break down the bonds between dead skin cells and cause the cells to detach, these get the job done – without the irritation.

There are everyday scrubs, and then there are superpower scrubs that are basically the equivalent of vacuuming your face. If you’re in the market for something that is satisfyingly (but not alarmingly) abrasive, meet your match. The magic ingredient is honey, which is well-served to accompany exfoliation since it’s so gentle and soothing (and has bonus healing properties) – it helps to cushion skin whilst you scrub it clean.

Overzealous exfoliation can lead to dry skin if you don’t moisturise well, but fortunately this oil-based exfoliant offers a dual-pronged approach, marrying physical exfoliation with a nourishing balm base – perfect for skin that needs a little extra TLC. The scrub granules are few and far between (and gentle), so no matter how hard you scrub, no irritation occurs, and it dissolves grime without stripping away skin’s natural oils.