If you’re not exfoliating, then you may be missing a crucial part of any skincare regimen. Exfoliating helps remove dead skin cells. The result of proper exfoliation is skin that looks bright, glowing, and smooth—so long as you use the correct products for your skin type and goals and don’t overdo it.
It's important to keep in mind that there are two main types of exfoliants: chemical exfoliants, which contain enzymes and/or acids that help break the bonds between skin cells and therefore loosen them; and physical exfoliants, which contain small particles to buff away rough texture. Despite their name, chemical exfoliants can sometimes be a bit gentler on the skin; it all depends on the type of exfoliants used, their level, and the overall formulation—there are two types of main chemical exfoliants to look out for.
Chemical exfoliants formulated with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic or lactic acid mainly work topically to remove surface dead skin cells and help reveal a smoother, brighter-looking complexion. AHAs are water-soluble and are known to be humectants, so, depending on the whole formulation and on the AHA level, products with AHAs may be suitable for people with dry skin. If your skin runs on the oilier side or is acne-prone, choose products with beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), like salicylic acid, which is an oil-soluble ingredient known to help deep-clean pores. Enzymes—another type of chemical exfoliant—are mostly derived from fruits. Examples are papain and bromelain. As explained by Jacob Tomás del Rosario, Youth To The People’s Director of Field Sales + Education, “AHAs and BHAs are skin smoothing—they help polish the skin, remove any evident texture, help to encourage the skin's natural shedding process, and even the appearance of tonal quality.”
Youth To The People’s lineup of exfoliants offers something for everyone. The Kombucha Power Exfoliant, which was just re-released with a new formula, is a toner and chemical exfoliant Formulated with fermented black tea filtrate, it exfoliates and reveals brighter-looking, smoother-feeling skin. Now formulated with 7% lactic acid (down from its initial 8%) and 3% glycolic acid, it’s suitable for all skin types and can be used one night per week to begin, working up to 2-3 nights per week. Remember to always use an SPF with broad-spectrum 30 or above before sun exposure.
“The previous formula was effective, but it did have a bit of tackiness upon dry down,” explains del Rosario. “Removing 1% of lactic acid in combination with removing the lemon and ginger extracts and adjusting the humectants that were in the original formulation has helped to improve the user experience.”
To complete your regimen, follow the Kombucha Power Exfoliant with YTTP’s Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask, which is worn overnight and contains ingredients like superberry extracts and THD ascorbate.
Another option if you are looking for a chemical exfoliant and hoping to minimize the appearance of pores is YTTP’s Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant, which contains 3% AHA, 2% BHA, and 1% Polyhydroxy Acid (a type of plant acid) and it’s a gentle option. New to exfoliants? Start out using Unity Exfoliant 1-2 times per week, gradually working up to daily or more frequent use.Follow it up with YTTP’s Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream.
For oily, acne-prone skin, consider trying YTTP’s Superclay Purify + Clear Power Mask, which is formulated with salicylic acid (a BHA) as well as green, white, and volcanic clays that all together in the formula help to absorb excess oils. Leave on for ten minutes one to three times per week and then rinse off, then follow it up with YTTP’s Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream.
Finally, YTTP’s Yerba Mate Resurfacing Energy Facial is a powerful two-in-one, containing both fruit enzymes as well as sustainable micro-exfoliants made from bamboo and diatomaceous earth. Use 1-3 times per week, leave on for up to two minutes, add water and gently massage in circular motions, then rinse off.
Regardless of which exfoliant you try, it’s important to use them in moderation and always make sure to moisturize morning and night. And no matter what—and this goes for everyone!—make sure to incorporate the daily application of a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher.
Written by Ariana Marsh for Youth To The People