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Know your exfoliant

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Adding exfoliation into your skincare regimen can help bring back your youthful glow.

There are many types of exfoliants on the market and they sit in two main categories: mechanical or chemical. Used once to several times a week depending on your skin type, they help brighten your complexion and reduce pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles.

Mechanical scrubbing

Scrubs are abrasive formulas that you physically work over your skin to remove dead skin cells. Pay close attention to what’s doing the scrubbing, though. Some crushed particles can be quite sharp and scratchy, which will do more harm than good and cause microscopic lacerations on your face. 

What should you look for in a scrub? Go for a product that contains tiny particles of organic matter like milled rice, sugar, salt or beads made from jojoba that exfoliate and then melt away. 

Microdermabrasion is the deepest of the mechanical scrubs and is usually an in-salon treatment.

Chemical peels

These are designed to loosen the bonds that hold dead skin cells together so they can be easily removed, leaving behind smooth, glowing skin. There are lots of skin-friendly acids that can be used, with the main groups alpha hydroxy (AHA), beta hydroxy (BHA) and retinoids (retinol). 

AHAs are naturally occurring acids like glycolic, citric, lactic and malic. The mildest of the peels, AHAs can be used to combat dryness, the signs of ageing, firmness, texture and pigmentation. You can also find them mixed in with cleansers in a lower dosage as part of a daily routine. 

BHAs are salicylic acid-based and on top of the benefits of AHAs, they also work well for acne, blemishes, large pores and blackheads. These extras make it ideal for oily, congested skin types that are starting to show the signs of ageing.

Retinol exfoliants are vitamin A-based and one of the most effective ingredients in anti-ageing skincare. They’ve been proven to speed up cell renewal to even out pigmentation; boost collagen production to reduce fine lines; and unclog pores to help refine your complexion and clear up acne. It’s why beauticians recommend a nightly vitamin A serum. However, if you’re new to retinoids, a slow approach is best. Whenever you’re using a retinol-based product, make sure to follow it up the next morning with sunscreen. 

Words by Melanie Pike