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This is a short guide about several varieties of exfoliation FOR USE AT HOME that everyone can buy and use on her/his own. Because of this I want to refer to only a few beauty-salon-peelings, because they’re not available everywhere and not everyone can use them.
As I started to use chemical peelings and was about to read plenty of reviews. it wasn’t simply for me to find suitable cosmetics. Why? Because I didn’t know about all the certain ways of exfoliation and which of them is suitable, say better in my special case. And because nearly all of the reviews were about the same products and these were mostly highends. No, I do not think cheaper cosmetics are better than luxury, but I was looking for some in medium price segments.
I this post, I’m going to explain why the skin needs exfoliation, give short explanations about several kinds of peelings and make a recommendation list at the end of those I have already used
Why the skin needs to be exfoliated?
Human skin on face and body needs to be exfoliated for:
Skin renewal and regeneration, anti-aging – The skin consists of several layers which undergo a process of renewal. Within every 28 days new skin cells build in deeper layers, grow, go over to the outer layer and die. It’s essential to remove them from time to time to make the skin’s surface free. Chemical peelings are essential for anti-aging care to remove little wrinkles and stimulate skin’s own collagen production for a smoother and firmer skin.
Cleansing – Besides dead cells, on skin’s surfaces accumulate dirt, skin’s own sebum, makeup and cosmetic residue. All these remainings need to be removed, thus if not, they clog the pores and lead first to black- and whiteheads, inflamme sebaceous glands and lead so to breakouts.
An exfoliater removes the dead cell layer together with the dirt, makes it free and able to breath, smoothes skin’s surface that makes it more even and last but not least reduces the appearance of impurities.
Brightening, better complexion – Chemical peelings are highly recommended to remove post-acne spots and scars, to brighten hyperpigmentation of freckles. Also, regularly peeling procedures even and improve skin’s complexion.
Pre-salon-peeling – Fruit acid peelings and other chemical peelings for home are recommended as preparation for stronger salon peeling procedures, but in that case consult your cosmetician.
Contraindictions – chemical peeling is not recommended to use in some cases:
– in case of deseases (skin or body)
– pregnancy and lactation period
– during sunny seasons
– allergy, inflammations, couperose, hyperpigmentation (big moles, not freckles)
– taking medications
What kinds of peelings are there?
There’re many ways of exfoliation. In this post I am going to look at two main ways suitable to use at home: the mechanical and the chemical.
1. Mechanical way of exfoliation
Exfoliatings on skin’s surface with gel including abraisive seeds or through items.
The most famous of this way is the old good scrub.
A scrub is a wash-off gel or a wash-off cream with small abrasive particles, mostly of crushed walnut shells or apricot kernels, which are supposed to remove dead cell layer by rubbing the skin. Nowadays, there’re a lot of varieties of scrubs:
– facial scrub
– body scrub
– hand & foot scrub
All the scrubs above are made and work in the same manner.
– lip scrub – gentle kind of scrub so not to injure soft skin of lips, mostly on base of sugar.
– scalp scrub – is like body scrub in texture and consistency, contains little scrubbing seeds or particles. For use after hairwash on wet hair and scalp massaging and rinse good off. This type of scrub is necessary for those who use a lot of styling stuff for hair to remove its remainings from hair and clean scalp skin.
Farewell, facial scrub!
Meanwhile, nearly every beauty blogger I have watched or read in the past few years is advising against using facial scrubs. First because the hard particles are able to injure the skin. Second, because this type of a peeling works only on the surface, that means scrubs don’t help to get rid of blackheads or clean deeper in the pores. Those of you who want to make your skin clearer and prevent impurities (important for oily skin) should choose chemical peelings for sure. I don’t really know how many of you are using a facial scrub, but I said farewell four years ago.
(A small advice from me: please, don’t remove your makeup with scrub! This is not it’s purpose. I mention this simply because I’ve read about girls doing like that. I have never done something like this. Maybe there’re some scrubs close in their texture to cleansers, but it’s not their purpose to clean, only to smooth the skin. And anyway, the right way of exfoliation is always on clean skin.)
A conventional gommage is a gel or paste enriched with exfoliating acids or ferments, to be left on skin like a mask till dry and removed by rubbing.
Though, according to an established opinion, peeling gel/gommage belong to mechanical kinds of exfoliation, but in my opinion they’re rather chemical peelings. Why? Because, they contain fruit acid and ferments like AHA, which is enough for me to count them to chemical peelings. Peeling gel is less strong than AHA and peels gently on surface. Because of this it is more suitable for young skin, normal till dry.
Meanwhile there’re many of non-conventional gommages on the market, namely a mix of peeling gel and scrub. These exfoliators consist of an acid gel with added abraisive seeds for scrubbing. Such products I’ve seen only by western producers. If you want a conventional gommage, then look by K-beauty.
This category contains all the objects which are used to exfoliate the outer layer of skin like:
– peeling gloves, loofah, konjak sponge – there’re a big variety of cleansing sponges with peeling effect for body and face made of synthetic or natural fibres.
– foot file (electric or with laser cut) – another solution to remove rough skin on feet.
I haven’t used an electrical yet, but the file with laser cut isn’t bad. I like it better than foot scrub, but for feet I personally prefere peeling socks.
2. Chemical way of exfoliation
The chemical peeling – This is the more effective way to exfoliate not only on the surface, but also deeper in the skin. As exfoliators in this case work fruit acids or plant extracts like willow bark extract. There’re several forms of acids used in cosmetics: AHA, BHA and PHA.
AHA (or fruit acids, belong to a group of alpha-hydroxycarbon acids). Most of them are derived from fruits or vegetables. Many of them are used in cosmetics to treat skin problems or deseases. The common types of AHA in cosmetics: Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Mandelic Acid, Tartaric Acid. Most of AHAs have big molecules and work on the surface (the biggest molecule has the malic acid), except of glycolic acid. It has the smallest molecule and can penetrate deeper in the skin. This is because glycolic acid is the most strongest among fruit acids. Fruit acids generally exfoliate only on skin’s surface and remove the dead-cell-layer, In addition the are seen as mild exfoliators and don’t irritate the skin. This is the reason why they are perfectly suitable even for sensitive skin (glycolyc acid in high concentration can be very strong for dry and sensitive skin).
BHA (or beta-hydroxy acid) is a type of acids used in cosmetics related to alpha-hydroxy acids. The common type of BHA found in cosmetics is Salicylic Acid usually extracted from willow bark. BHA has some similarities to AHA. Like AHA it peels the outlayer and removes dead cells. And some differences: BHA is so called, lipophilic (fat loving 🙂 ) acid, that means it can penetrate the skin’s own lipid barrier and workd deeper in the skin than AHA. BHA has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties, fights impurities. It cleans deep in the pores from sebum and debris and reduces sebum production. This is because it’s perfectly suitable for combination, oily and impure skin.
PHA (or polyhydroxy acid) – another kind of fruit acids. PHA is similar to AHA it has got big molecules, hence exfoliates on the surface. To PHA belong Lactobionic Acid and Gluconolactone. PHA is known to be a milder exfoliator than AHA and perfectly suitable for sensitive skin. Unlike AHA/BHA, cosmetics with PHA can be used even in summer during sunny days, but even in that case it is better not to go out without wearing sunscreen.
LHA – (lipohydroxy acid), was first founded by L’Oreal and is found in the products belonging or related to this concern. Like BHA, LHA belongs to lipophilic acids and has similar anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, though it doesn’t work on the skin as deep as BHA and LHA is milder than BHA.
Enzyme peeling – is very similar to AHA peeling, because it contains usaually fruit acids and fruit ferments. Ferments are organic substances transformed by bacteria into alcohol, gas or acids. The common ferments here are Papain (an extract from papaya) and Bromelain (coming from pineapple). Enzymes exfoliate on skin’s surface and don’t cleep in the pores. They are even milder than AHA and similar to PHA.
After Peel: – Neutralizers after chemical exfoliation
Not everyone knows that after strong chemical peeling there’s a need for a neutralizer. In fact, chemical peelings are made of acids to burn the skin’s surface for cleansing and stimulating skin’s renewal. Normally, acid peeling has a definite time of reaction on the skin, if let on skin after this period, it continues to work and can cause strong complications: reddnes and burn. To neutralize the acids and to restore skin’s pH balance is necessary to use an alkaline neutralizer, usually cold post peel or after peel solution and neutralizers. Unfortunately, by plenty of acid peelings on the market there’re not as many after peel neutralizers. I’m looking for a suitable, but there’s a DIY recipe with baking soda. Dissolve baking soda (10 g) in a glass of lukewarm water. Rinse your face with the solution or soak a cotton pad and wipe over your face, the rinse with clear water.
What kind of remedy?
This category contains all kinds of exfoliators to be rinsed off after using, like:
– facial cleansers and shower gels
– toners and tonics
– exfoliating wash-off masks for face and body
– exfoliating socks – the peeling solution has to be washed off after the procedure.
– gommage – I’ve already mentioned it above. It’s a peeling gel (rare a paste). Gommage is a French word and means translated simply to scrub or to peel. Gommages are usually made or contain fruit acids like lactic, mandelic or malic acid, which don’t penetrate deeper in the skin, but peel only on skin’s surface. A gentle way of facial exfoliation. Gommage is a gel to be applied on clean and dry skin and to be left for 1-2 minutes to dry, then remove by rubbing the face.
Pay attention, not every tube with a gommage written over is a real gommage. The beauty market is oversaturated and brands are looking for new ways to stay competitive coming out with products to be innovative and often use words to be in style or fancy. When I was looking for a gommage, I found every kind of remedies named gommage, but after reading the review it get clearer that this was simply a facial scrub.
Include items soaked in solution based on acids, like:
Peeling pads – cotton pads infused in a solution usually containing exfoliating ferments, enzymes, AHA, BHA or both. To use after cleansing on dry face. Could be used instead of toner.
Peeling towelettes – tissues moistened with exfoliationg solutions to swipe face and body.
The peeling towelettes from Comodynes are a mix of mechanical and chemical exfoliation having two sides: smooth for face and rough for body.
This sort of peeling cosmetic doesn’t need to be rinsed off with water, but is a part of skincare to leave on the skin, includes essences, serums, sheets masks and even creams for face and body. However, some girls tend to rinse peeling essences or gels off, before applying daily care, simply because they don’t want to mix peeled skin particles with skincare products. I for myself, do that the same way.
The best example and the mostly used acid in care products for me is salycilic acid. Nowadays, there’re a lot of lotions, fluids and creams based on salycilic acid for impure skin.
And the eyes? – Yes, there’s a way to peel the under eyes area, but because the skin under eyes is very thin and soft and because not to injure the eyes, the whole process shouldn’t be done at home. For more details consult your cosmetician.
Other types of peelings
There’re many other varieties of mechanical peeling mostly made in beauty salons, because for use at home they are too complicated for lay person to do alone and require the use special technical equipment.
Dermabrasion – beauty salons offer a mechanical way of exfoliation called dermabrasion or microdermabrasion. An electronic device with different nozzles is used to exfoliate the outer layers of the skin. They say it is a very effective way to eliminate acne and injuring scars, fine wrinkles, uneveness of the skin, burn spots, and, and… Thereby the purpose is to injure the skin and give it the signal to restore quicker. Drawbacks of this kind of exfoliation is painful procedure and longer recovery. I saw pictures of after that and was really shocked that I can tell you, I don’t know who’s willing to do something like this.
Jessner Peel – this is a solution of salycilic acid, lactic acid and resorcinol which works not only on the surface of the skin, but also deeper in the upper medium layer. This peel: evens skin tone, brightens pigment spots and freckles, removes blackheads, smoothes fine lines and rejuvenates, removes acne scars and so on. Can be done in beauty salon and at home. But those who decide to try it at home should know the right proportions and applying, otherwise they can face unpleasant complications.
TCA peeling – is a variety of chemical exfoliation with tricholoacetic acid made usually in beauty salons, because it is to strong for lays. The acid is used in several concentrations to burn skin’s surface and fully remove the outlayer of the skin. The whole process should bring the skin to renew after burn with rapidly cell division. Because of its strenghtness, TCA peeling isn’t suitable for everyone and can be done only once (max. twice) a year. Also, the recovery process takes weeks and months.
Ultrasonic exfoliation – have you ever dreamt of a peeling 2.0, without tacky masks or irritating solutions? If yes, then this might be something for you. Exfoliation through a small electrical device. What is it exactly? A device with a spatula which creates skin’s vibration by sending soundwaves and so squeezes sebum and dirt out of the skin. The method is considered to be safe without being irritating and can be done even at home. There’re some devices sold on the market, however, I don’t know how good this device removes dead cells, I haven’t tried it yet.
I named this post All kinds of peelings, but I tried to menthion only the most popular of them. Of course I know that there can be much more and if you know some, so give me feedback and write a comment.
Stay beautiful and healthy 🙂
Recommendation list (to be updated)
Here I’m going to list all the products I have tried and found them good enough to recommend to others. The list will be updated, if I’ll find new good products.
Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser – with BHA for all skin types.
d’Alba Peptide No Sebum Mild Gel Cleanser – with BHA, Citric Acid and Papaya extract. Much stronger than Cosrx cleanser, hence not for dry and sensitive skin and not for daily use.
Aromatika Orange Soft Peel Toner – (here mini version of 30 ml, original bottle of 375 ml) organic and vegan. Wonderful hydrating toner with 3% of lactic acid. For all skin types, but can be questionable for sensitive skin, contains essential oils: eucalyptus leaf and orange peel oils.
Cosrx One Step Original Clear Pads – the classic among peeling pads. With willow bark extract, BHA and tea tree leaf oil. Though it contains “aggressive” ingredients, but is very gentle and does not irritate. Perfect for oily/combination and impure skin.
Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid – with willow bark extract and BHA. Exfoliates and minimizes pores for sure, my experience. As to blackheads, it doesn’t remove them all, but reduces the appearance of them. Hyaluronic acid softens the strong effect of the acids.
Comodynes exfoliating towelettes – with Gluconolactone (PHA) for face and body.
Garnier charcoal sheet mask – with LHA, algae extract and hyaluronic acid. Perfect for oily/impure skin: purifies, moisturizes, improves complexion, not sticky. My favourite for many years.
Marbert Enzyme Peeling Powder – with papaya extract. For normal to combination skin. Very mild, suitable even for daily use.
Peeling Gel (Gommage)
Mizon – Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel – Best peeling gel I’ve used.
Secret Key – Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel
Yves Rocher Body Scrub – my fave for 12 years now. with apricot kernel powder.
Natura Siberica (Oblepikha Siberica) Scalp Scrub (organic) – my first scalp scrub. With Sea-buckthorn and argan oil. I like that the consistency of this scrub is very thin, so it is light to wash it off from hair. The other good point is the low price. Free of SLS, SLES, mineral oil, parabens.
Kocostar Foot Peeling Pack – with lactic acid and glycolic acid.
Holika Holika exfoliating socks – with Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Salicylic Acid and many herbal and fruit extracts. Compared to Kocostar’s socks this one is stronger because of the salicylic acid, but the effect is the same.