Without question, everyone can benefit from regular use of a well formulated AHA (alpha hydroxy acid such as glycolic and lactic acids) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid, also known as salicylic acid) product. Each provides multiple benefits, including fighting signs of aging and breakouts!
How Exfoliation Works
Our skin naturally sheds billions of skin cells each day. When this natural shedding slows or stops due to sun damage, the natural aging process, dry skin, oily skin, genetics, or different skin disorders, the results are unmistakable: dull, dry, or flaky skin; clogged pores; blemishes; white bumps; and uneven skin tone. Using an exfoliant steps in to help put everything in balance again. When you gently get rid of built-up skin cells you can undo clogged pores, stop breakouts, smooth out fine lines as well as improve texture and tone, even make dry and/or dehydrated skin become a thing of the past by improving your skins ability to retain water!
Exfoliating Can Make Your Skin Look Younger
How is that possible? Think about it in comparison to the skin on your heels before you get a pedicure. The built-up, dead layers of skin on your heels usually looks dry, rough, discolored, scaly, and lines are really obvious. Once that layer is removed, your heels immediately look smooth and healthy! Of course, what causes calluses on your feet is different than what causes skin cells to build up on your face, but the same benefit of exfoliating heels holds true for your face; just don’t exfoliate your face the way you would your feet!
What’s The Difference Between AHA and BHA Exfoliants?
Great question! When properly formulated, both AHAs and BHA are excellent options for exfoliating the surface of skin. Both AHA and BHA work to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, stimulate collagen, and firm skin but each has its special qualities you’ll want to consider when deciding which one to use:
• AHAs are preferred for sun-damaged and dry skin because they exfoliate on the surface of skin and have the added benefit of also improving moisture content.
• BHA is preferred for oily, acne-prone skin and for treating blackheads and white bumps because BHA can get through the oil that’s clogging your pores, normalizing the lining of the misshapen pore that contributes to acne.
• BHA has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action. Those are two more reasons to use a BHA exfoliant if you have acne or sensitive, reddened skin.
• BHA is preferred for those struggling with rosacea. Not everyone with rosacea can tolerate an exfoliant, but it is wise to consult with your esthetician when attempting exfoliation with a BHA product to see how your rosacea responds. It is quite likely you’ll see less redness and a smoother, more even skin with fewer breakouts.
If your skin is sun-damaged and you’re also struggling with acne or clogged pores, adding a BHA product to your routine. If you’d like to use an AHA and BHA at the same time, that is an option, though not really necessary. Some people find they work well when they’re applied at the same time, but if you want to give this a try it is best to apply them separately, one during the day and one in the evening.
How Do I Use an AHA or BHA Exfoliant?
• You can apply an AHA or BHA product once or twice a day. However it depends on the HA product being used! Consult with your Esthetician about what frequency would be the most beneficial for your skin.
• You can also apply either of these around the eye area but not on the eyelid or directly under the eye. A good general rule of thumb would be not to go past your orbital bone (eye socket bone)
• Cleanse your skin, with your professionally prescribed Cleanser, then apply your exfoliant- make sure to follow all directions for use- Once the AHA or BHA has been absorbed, you can apply any other product in your routine, such as moisturizer, serum, eye cream, sunscreen, and/or foundation.
• If you’re using a topical prescription product such as Renova, other retinoids, or any of the topical prescription products for rosacea, apply the BHA or AHA first. NOTE: if you are using a medically prescribed topical discuss with your esthetician which HA exfoliant and what frequency of use is appropriate for your skin! Some medical prescriptions cannot be used in conjunction with an exfoliant without causing potential harm to your skin!!!!
• Should I Use a Scrub to Exfoliate?
Scrubs are certainly an option for exfoliating your skin, but they have limitations you don’t have to worry about with an AHA or BHA exfoliant. Scrubs only deal with the very top, superficial layer of skin. The right scrub made of the right ingredients such as rice bran or corn cob meal are gentle and a great place to start when first introducing your skin to exfoliation. However if your skin is ready for the next step in the world of exfoliation then hydroxy acids are it, as they will be able to reach most of the unhealthy, built-up skin cells that are beyond the reach of a scrub. What is most problematic is that many scrubs have a rough, coarse, uneven texture that can cause skin damage by tearing into the skin as it abrades away the surface, causing tiny tears that damage the skin’s barrier. These types of cheap scrubs often cause more problems than they could possibly solve.
Keep in mind that anyone suffering from fairly active to severe breakouts or acne should not use a scrub as this will most likely make it worse by rupturing pustules and spreading bacteria.
Is it Possible to Exfoliate Too Often?
Exfoliating your skin is great, but how often to use one that works best for your skin type takes experimenting. It is possible to overdo it, and your skin will tell you if you’ve gone too far. For some people once a day works best, for others every other day, or once a week. However, exfoliating does not negatively affect how healthy skin cells are generated in the lower layers of skin. If anything, exfoliating unhealthy dead skin cells on the surface of skin can improve collagen production, increase skin’s ability to hold moisture, and allow pores to function normally!
Find the Best Exfoliant
Now that you know the many ways an AHA or BHA exfoliant can improve your skin, all that’s left to do is find the one that works best for you! You’re on your way toward brighter, smoother, more radiant skin that will look younger, not to mention be free from acne, blackheads, and bumps. Ask your Esthetician which exfoliant is the right choice for you.