Are You Choosing The Right Exfoliator For Your Skin Type?

Stevi Incremona
Stevi graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Drama. When she's not auditioning and running around New York, she's escaping to her original home at the Jersey Shore and most definitely lying on a beach somewhere equidistant between the ocean and tiki bar. She's a coffee snob, craft beer enthusiast, technology nerd, and obviously (most importantly) has a very real addiction to buying and trying affordable beauty products.

This Exfoliation Situation.

Personally, I’m obsessed with the feeling of freshly exfoliated, baby soft skin. So, for a period of time I was diving hard core into the world of exfoliators–both physical and chemical kinds–thinking they were going to solve all of my skincare problems. While a bit of exfoliation is super important, turns out you actually can overdo it. Here’s the low down on the what, why and when to exfoliate.


Exfoliation 101:

Exfoliation is removing dead, dried skin cells (ew) from your body. You should exfoliate at least once or twice a week to get rid of the hardened cells to show your healthy, glowing skin that’s hiding underneath. This step in your skincare routine is extremely important because when dead cells are left on your skin, they can easily clog your pores, leading to breakouts and other avoidable tragedies. When it comes to exfoliating, you have two options:

  1. Physical Exfoliants
  2. Chemical Exfoliants


The Low Down on Chemical Exfoliants

These are made of a chemical concoction that works to actually allow the dead cells to fall off by dissolving the “glue” that is holding them together and clinging on to the healthier skin. They are generally a bit gentler than physical exfoliants because there’s no actual buffing involved with granules that could irritate fragile skin.

So while they can totally be used by everyone, chemical exfoliants are definitely the better option for people with skin that’s prone to irritation. These technically can be used to exfoliate the body, but they’re more magical when its used on the face.

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    For Dry or Sun-Damaged Skin –Pick up an exfoliant with an active ingredient of either Lactic or Glycolic Acid. In addition to getting rid of the dead skin cells, they also work to help restore moisture. Try Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid Toner – $18

  • For Acne Prone or Oily Skin –Find an exfoliant with Salicylic Acid as its active ingredient. This will both exfoliate the surface of the skin and the inside of the pores, which will help to prevent clogged pores that leads to break outs. Try Clearasil Daily Clear Refreshing Superfruit Pads – $6


Physical Exfoliants

This type of exfoliator works by mechanically removing dead cells on the surface of the skin. They’re usually granular scrubs that are made up of small natural granules like oatmeal, sugar, or sea salt. Be cautious when choosing your physical exfoliant. You never want to use a scrub with particles that are too large or uneven and could tear up the skin.

Physical exfoliants are immediately effective and therefore my preferred exfoliation, but due to the literal scrubbing and skin removal, you don’t want to do this too often (only once or twice a week) because it could make your skin too tender. If you’re new to physical exfoliant, start slow with a wash cloth and your favorite face wash. Move in circular motions and buff the product into the skin.

  • High End Recommendation: The Clarisonic Mia – $99 
    The first time my sister saw my Clarisonic she mistook it for a vibrator. It is not a vibrator, but it does vibrate. This skincare tool calls itself a “skincare cleaning system” that is supposed to clean up to six times better than anything else. It’s a rotating round brush that vibrates to get deep within your pores and pull out all of the problem causing… junk. Pair this with your favorite cleanser and not only will your skin feel insanely clean, but you will get a very even exfoliation done with minimal effort. It does the work for you… once you press the button. 😉



Other Affordable Options:

For a simpler, but equally powerful option, try St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub – $5. This is a super gritty, creamy scrub that feels amazing when buffed into the skin. It’s a bit rough, but it makes your skin feel ridiculously soft afterwards.

If I want a slightly gentler option, I grab my Garnier Invigorating Daily Scrub – $8. This is such a nice one to use in the morning because of it’s fresh scent and cooling properties. It’s a gentle wakeup call.

Finally, I prefer to use a stronger, more fragrant scrub when exfoliating the rest of my body. My go-to is the Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Hand and Body Scrub – $10. I honestly can’t even adequately describe this wonderful thing but it’s amazing and my skin is never softer than post use. Do your glamorous self a favor and get it! Get it! Get it!