skincare 101 : exfoliators

Welcome to the third instalment of [skincare 101]! If you’re new around here, we’ve already covered cleansers (click here) and toners (click here). Today we are going to tackle exfoliators, a crucial step when it comes to healthy skin, especially during winter.

We read about exfoliators and their benefits all the time. We know that exfoliating removes the layer of dead skin cells to reveal a smoother, healthier looking skin. We also know that as a result of this, any product we apply to the skin after exfoliation will penetrate that much deeper, boosting its effects. Even though we know all of this, choosing an exfoliator can still be a little bit confusing and intimidating. There are just so many to choose from – whatever happened to the good ol’ scrub-a-dub-dub?! Hopefully by the end of this post you will have a better idea of what would suit your skin and maybe even decide to pick up one of the exfoliators that I have tried and loved.

Let’s start with simplifying things a little bit. There are two main categories that exfoliators fall into: physical or chemical.

Physical exfoliators, also known as a mechanical or granular exfoliators, their stand out feature being the exfoliating particles that buff away the dead skin cells. These particles can be anything from apricot kernels to jojoba beads. Now, if you have a skin that is more sensitive but you would like to use this type of exfoliator, I would suggest that you find one that has micro spherical particles. This simply means that whatever the particles are, they are perfectly round with no sharp edges and so there is zero chance of them causing micro cuts on your skin. An acneic skin should steer clear of a physical exfoliator; the chance of cross contamination is quite high as you are moving product from one part of the face to the other. The last thing you want to do is spread bacteria. I know that this type of exfoliation doesn’t sound all that impressive, but looks can be deceiving! Take for example Thalgo’s Resurfacing Cream. This is an incredible anti-ageing exfoliator with very finely milled corundum that will serve as a fairly abrasive exfoliation. This is also a great exfoliator for someone to incorporate into their routine if they are trying to combat pigmentation. Just FYI, there is a very specific way to use this product so make sure that your skin care therapist explains that to you! Another great anti-ageing exfoliator (can you tell I’m petrified of wrinkles?) is Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Thermafoliant. Gosh, I could use this all day every day, it’s just such a pleasure. It actually heats up on your skin once you start doing rotaries, resulting in the skins circulation being stimulated. This ensures that active ingredients are delivered faster, giving you a better result sooner. The Thermafoliant is actually a mix between a physical and chemical exfoliator because it contains salicylic acid, but more on that a bit later in this post. Ok, some other physical exfoliators that I love are:

Dermalogica Daily Clean Scrub: yes, I know, this is a men’s product but I love it and it’s mild enough to use two or three times a week. If your man suffers from ingrown hairs, try to convince him to use this in the shower. The rest of the Shave range is actually great, have a peak over here. The Skin Prep Scrub is also amazing to use as a bi-weekly scrub.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Blackhead Exfoliating Wash: this is awesome for a more oily/combination skin (but not acneic). I love the fresh tingly feel from the tea tree oil, it makes me feel like my skin is super clean with no dirt lingering behind. Removing the layer of dead skin cells helps to prevent further congestion and breakouts. If your skin is more dehydrated, this probably shouldn’t be your first choice.


Now onto chemical exfoliators. Sounds a bit scary I know, but I gotta tell you, this is my favourite type of exfoliator, especially because they are often a dual product and I’m all about multi tasking! There are many different ingredients that can make up the exfoliating aspect of the product: papaya enzyme, salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acids are some popular ones. I’m generalising here, but they all work in a similar way: they dissolve the layer of dead skin cells and the stronger the active ingredient, the more skin cells it will dissolve. If you have a congested, problematic skin, these exfoliators are for you! Sensitive skins just need to be slightly wary of the percentage of active ingredients, but if it’s mild, you’re good to go. One of my personal favourites is the Dermalogica (yes, I’m a Dermalogica junkie) Gentle Cream Exfoliant. This is one of those awesome multi tasking products – it functions as an exfoliator as well as a mask. My skin always feels so much smoother and my breakouts seem to be slightly less and more under control after I’ve used it.  Here are some other chemical exfoliators that rock my world:

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix: simple, easy and quick to use. Read my review over here.

Theravine Pinotage Exfoliating Enzyme: I reviewed a whole bunch of Theravine products over here but this exfoliator really stood out to me. My skin felt super after using it and I could see a difference in it’s the texture.

If you feel like your skin is just looking a bit bleh, grey and winter-like or it’s just not it’s happy self, an exfoliator is such a game changer. Even if you are currently using one, maybe change it up a bit and experiment with a different brand or ingredient. Exfoliation is also the best way to make sure that your serums are working to their full potential, but more about those next week, so don’t forget to subscribe to Mascara & Mimosas to make sure you get notified when that post goes live!

We’re halfway though this series now, have you found it informative or helpful? Is there anything that you would like to see me cover? Let me know by leaving a comment below, it’s always so good to hear from you.



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    [review] : Renew Clinic + Lamelle Chemical Peel |
    June 9, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    […] week I did a [skincare 101] post on exfoliation (click here if you missed it) and I thought that this would follow on brilliantly. Sarah from Renew Clinic […]

  • Reply
    [body] : products on high rotation |
    June 9, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    […] I’m not going to give you that lecture, but you can go read a post I did about exfoliation over here if you would like to. The way I like to do things is slightly different to the norm. Before I hop […]

  • Leave a Reply

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This