If you have acne, congested skin, blackheads, clogged pores, fine lines...just about any skin in my mind, I think exfoliation is the key to having better skin overall. There are two main types of exfoliation:
1. Physical- What it sounds like. It is the kind of exfoliator that has a physical substance (small round beads, crush almond shells etc) that physically work to exfoliate the top layer of the skin.
2. Chemical-This is where a chemical or enzyme works to "eat away" or exfoliate the top dead skin cells through a chemical or catalyzed enzyme reaction. There are no literal scrubbers to exfoliate the skin (sometimes the scrub has both), but it is the chemicals/enzymes that do the work. Usually this is done through AHA's, BHA's (alpha and beta hydroxy acids like glycolic, salycilic or lactic acids), a retinol or retinoid product, or some enzyme like bromelin or something found in pineapple or papaya that dissolves dead skin naturally. There are actually a ton more chemical exfoliators, but this is just an overview.
What I Use:
Most of the time I use a chemical exfoliator combined with physical exfoliation. My skin can handle both, and my pores can get congested, so a combination of both really help me. If you are dry, you may only have to exfoliate once a week. I do it every day and see a great, positive difference in my pores.
Clarisonic-I used to have mixed feelings with the Clarisonic, but after switching to the sensitive head, I can say I really like this. I use it with my cleanser (the Coalface from LUSH as mentioned earlier) and it does provide an additional light exfoliation to me that has really helped my pores become less congested. It is pricey, but finding the right head (from the normal, which was too much for me, sensitive and delicate), really helps, and I wouldn't be without it now.
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel Pads-One of my first posts was about this system. It is what first changed my skin for the better. It is one you use everyday and it takes months to show serious results, but it worth every penny. Here was my experience:
"I tried one pad on a whim, as it was a sample given in a Neiman's beauty order many, many months ago. I was bored and frustrated with my skin and decided to give the peel a whirl. It is a two step system in which you swipe one pad on your skin (the one with AHA and BHA for exfoliating) ...wait 2 minutes..and then wipe the other pad on your skin (the neutralizing and soothing one with retinal) My skin felt like a baby's butt after this. It was smooth and glowing. Now I can't say it helped my acne or pores after this, but it was so lovely it made me order right on the spot.
I am now two months into the system, and I can say it has shown actual positive results for my skin, acne, post-acne scarring, and pore size/congestion. It took a little while, and I did experience purging, at first (I broke out and had almost worse pore congestion than before in the beginning, so don't freak out if you are doing this regime too..it does get better!) but it was all worth it. My acne is more under control (I don't have that much to begin with but I find I break out less), one particular acne scar I have is actually disappearing (nothing would make it go away!) and most of all my pore size and pore congestion has decreased greatly. I couldn't be more happy with a product, and haven't been at any point in my life."
I am now more than 4 months into this treatment, and it is something I can't live without. Dr. Dennis Gross has never made a product I have tried that hasn't actually done what it says it will. And this has changed my overall skin more than I could ever imagine. I am almost even enough and without spots I can go without makeup outside! It takes a while to see real difference in pore size or congestion though, but if you get a sample and try it once, your skin feel like a baby's butt, and I bet you will be hooked!
Lush Ocean Salt-This stuff is rough, and I like it that way! It is a pure, physical exfoliator that smells like lemon or lime Margharitas (it has vodka in it..no tequila though..haha) and has a pretty rough texture when rubbed on the skin. If you need a serious exfoliating, I would use this. I love it. But if you are sensitive or dry, I would use it only once a week. Some say its drying (I can see that because of the salt), but I actually find it a little moisturizing (leaves a bit of a film on the skin). If you are looking for a hardcore scrub that really gets your blood flowing, go check this out!
Kiehls Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub-If you are looking for a gentle, enzyme peel, this is a great choice. Its Kate Somerville's ExfoliKate minus the ridiculous price tag. It has small grains to exfoliate, but you leave it on for several minutes on your face like a mask and the enzymes from the pineapple and papaya eat the dead skin cells. I find it a bit moisturizing too, so it would be good for sensitive or more dry skins.
Lush Mask of Magnaminty-It is meant as a mask so I use this once a week or a time I need that extra deep cleaning, but has physical scrubbers that exfoliate the skin too. It works lovely, although can be drying if used too often.
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator-The perfect combination of small grains that don't irritate but slough everything off to leave you glowing. Too bad it broke me out when I used it. If you aren't as acne prone as me, try and get your hands on this!
I also use a pimple treatment all over my face from Dr. Dennnis Gross to that provides exfoliation through the chemical type, but that is going to be in my "treatment" section next.
I didn't want to keep this post even longer, but if you want any additional pictures or have questions, please let me know!
What are your favorite exfoliators?