Skincare Tips

Summer Exfoliation 101: The Dos, Don’ts & Benefits of Exfoliating

Sweat, sunscreen, chlorine and saltwater are practically unavoidable during the summer, so certain skincare steps, though essential year-round, become all the more important when temperatures rise.

After you swap out your gentle cleanser for a foaming face wash and your heavy cream for a lightweight moisturizer with SPF, get ready to take your summer exfoliation plans to the next level. Why? Exfoliating is a necessary step to avoid this season’s skin woes.

What Is Exfoliating? & Why Should You Exfoliate?

Exfoliation, as defined by the American Academy of Dermatology Association, is “the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin.” This helps with cell turnover, renewal and collagen production, which all naturally slow as we age, to keep skin looking youthful and radiant.

Of course, the benefits of exfoliating don’t stop there, hence the industry hype. Exfoliating also helps unclog pores by removing dirt and debris, which prevents breakouts and keeps skin soft and smooth. Exfoliation also improves skin’s overall appearance both instantly and over time, brightening your complexion by buffing away dull skin.

Beyond the surface, exfoliating regularly also allows for the other skincare products in your regimen to be absorbed more effectively to help maximize their benefits.

Chemical vs Physical Exfoliation

There are two main forms of exfoliation: chemical and physical (or mechanical).

As the name suggests, chemical exfoliation uses chemicals, typically acids or other enzymes, to do the work. Many chemical exfoliants are classified as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). Some commonly known AHAs include lactic acid and glycolic acid, which help to minimize the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, pores and uneven skin tone. While BHAs, like salicylic acid or willow bark extract, help improve the look of blemishes, blackheads, whiteheads and sun damage.

Chemical exfoliants have become particularly popular for several reasons. To name a few, they do all the exfoliating for you (so you just have to follow application directions), they tend to be gentler on thinner skin and they are more effective in penetrating the skin more deeply.

Alternatively, physical exfoliation is the process of exfoliating with a tool or manual exfoliant. Some at-home tools include washcloths, loofahs, sponges or brushes or a manual exfoliant like sand, sugar, jojoba beads, coffee grounds, et cetera. Popular professional methods of physically exfoliating include procedures like dermaplaning and microdermabrasion.

Because physical exfoliants are exactly as the name reads (physical), while they are very effective in removing any dead cells from the surface of the skin, they can’t exfoliate deeper and also may be too abrasive for some.

In other words, if you have thin, fragile and/or sensitive skin, a chemical exfoliant is likely your best option. But, always be sure to spot test when trying anything new!

The Dos and Don’ts of Exfoliation

Now that you know why you should exfoliate and your options, let’s breakdown what you should and shouldn’t do once you get started. Trust us, your skin will thank us for these.

DO #1: Choose an exfoliator that is suitable for your skin type.

Skincare is personal and exfoliators are no exception, so it’s important to tailor products to your skin’s needs. Since oily skin tends to be thicker, a physical exfoliator may be a more effective option for you. On the other hand, since dry skin tends to be a bit more fragile, an enzymatic (chemical) exfoliator is a gentler option. For combination skin, using both chemical and physical exfoliants in your regimen is essential.

PRO TIP: No matter your skin type, always conduct a patch test with the exfoliant to prevent irritation before fully incorporating it into your routine.

DO #2: Exfoliate regularly.

How often should you exfoliate, you ask? Exfoliating at least two times per week—once or twice if your skin is prone to redness and sensitivity—helps remove impurities and dead skin from your skin’s surface to reveal a consistently smooth and glowing complexion. A bonus? By regularly buffing away build-up, you also clear the way for the other skincare products in your routine to deliver their benefits more effectively.

Our Vitamin C Ester Daily Brightening & Exfoliating Peel is an essential if you’re in the market for a chemical exfoliating peel. This lightweight, advanced, no-rinse resurfacing peel helps visibly brighten, tighten and reduce the appearance of skin discoloration and dark spots with the help of our AHA / PHA Super Blend, a powerful complex of glycolic acid, gluconolactone and five fruit-derived extracts. It is ideal for regular exfoliation as it is specifically formulated to be gentle enough for daily use (you read that right).

DO #3: Wear sunscreen every day, especially after exfoliating.

After exfoliation, your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. This is because you are shedding the surface layer of skin that would typically act as a protective layer. By exposing fresh, glowing skin, you become more susceptible to sun damage and it is, therefore, absolutely essential to take extra care to protect your skin with SPF.

Our Hypoallergenic CBD Sensitive Skin Therapy Ultra-Lightweight Calming SPF 35 Veil is the perfect sunscreen for post-exfoliation protection. Gentle, yet powerful, this invisible, non-greasy sunscreen delivers broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection suitable for the most sensitive skin. Plus, it’s formulated with 99% pure Cannabidiol (CBD) to leave the skin feeling soothed, even after you exfoliate.

DON’T #1: Over-exfoliate.

While exfoliation is essential for glowing skin, overdoing it can be detrimental. To avoid over-exfoliating, only use products as directed. Signs of over-exfoliation may include increased sensitivity, irritation, redness, inflammation, dryness, flakiness or even burning.

DON’T #2: Exfoliate after chemical treatments.

Since chemical treatments are maximum strength exfoliants themselves, they work efficiently on their own! To avoid overdoing it, skip out on extra exfoliation post-treatment to give your skin time to breathe. Otherwise, you may experience redness, inflammation and irritation.

DON’T #3: Be rough on your skin when exfoliating.

No matter what, be gentle! Remember: you’re removing the top layer of your skin and want to protect the new layer beneath. To do so, always scrub with care when using physical exfoliants and only leave chemical exfoliants on your skin for as long as instructed.

It’s official! Now you’re ready to buff away the perspiration, SPF and other glow-preventing elements to kick off your most radiant summer skin yet.



Writer and expert