Exfoliators: Let’s Scrub Away All Your Questions!

There’s nothing like doing a face scrub after a long day. Your skin feels soft and smooth afterward, and when you look in the mirror, you’re glowing! As the third step of the Korean skincare routine, exfoliating is super important!

Exfoliators slough dead skin cells and other impurities off your face. They also stimulate cell turnover and keep your skin clearer and free of flakiness. Getting rid of any gunk on your face also helps your skin absorb skincare products more effectively. After exfoliating, your serums, essences, and other products don’t have to fight through surface impurities to be absorbed, so you’ll see better results overall!

There are two main types of exfoliators: physical/manual and chemical.

Let’s start with physical exfoliators, more commonly known as face scrubs. Physically exfoliating your skin twice a week is plenty. Be gentle when you scrub – the exfoliating agents are already working hard to slough away any surface-level impurities, so don’t scrub the same area over and over again.

A word of caution with face scrubs: Make sure that the scrub’s grains are not too large or they might irritate and inflame your skin! If they’re too large, they could also accelerate aging or cause micro-tears in your skin, among other things. Micro-tears create little “holes” in your skin for bacteria to get in and cause more acne; they can also enlarge your pores, so be careful when purchasing face scrubs! Body scrubs can’t double as face scrubs, either – they’re too harsh, so make sure you get a face-specific scrub.

Now let’s talk about chemical exfoliators! Don’t worry, you won’t be putting chemistry lab materials on your skin. These contain gentle chemicals that are designed to get rid of dead skin cells and help your skin glow! The good part is that you can’t over-scrub with these. The chemicals in a chemical exfoliator can be either alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs).

AHAs work well for getting the surface of your skin clean and are especially good for dry skin because they tackle flaky skin and rough patches. They’re hydrophilic, so they like water; they can’t get into your pores as easily because oil (in the pores) and water (AHAs’ best friend) don’t mix very well. On the other hand, BHAs will help you get a deeper clean and work particularly well for oily skin. They’re more oil-soluble, so they can get into pores and clean out any gunk.

If you’re not keen on using a physical or chemical exfoliator, you can use products that have fruit extracts! These are even gentler exfoliators. One of my favorite products, the Son & Park Beauty Water (pictured above), has papaya extract in it. This is my go-to exfoliator because it’s gentle enough for daily use and it’s a toner – you can’t get any more efficient than this!

What’s your go-to exfoliator? Leave me a comment telling me your favorite(s)!