Exfoliation is a key part of almost everyone’s skincare routine, especially if you have acne or blemish-prone skin, but why is it so important? What does it actually do? And how can you easily, effectively, sustainably, and cost-efficiently fit it into your summer skincare routine? These are some of the questions I will be trying to answer for you in this blog post.
What is exfoliation and how often should you do it?
First things first, let’s start with the obvious one; facial exfoliation. How often you should exfoliate your face depends largely on your skin type and it might take a little bit of trial and error before you find the perfect balance for your skin. Generally speaking oilier skin types can benefit from more exfoliation (around 3 times per week) and dryer skin types prefer less (around once per week). This is because the purpose of exfoliating your skin is to remove excess oils, pollutants and dead skin cells. So of course, more oil requires more exfoliation. Additionally, if you have drier or more sensitive skin then exfoliation can be an irritant to the skin causing it to become drier and more sore, as opposed to fresh and glowy like we want!
After all of that talk about facial exfoliation we can’t forget about the rest of our body. Exfoliating is just as important for achieving silky soft skin on the rest of your body as it is for your face. Again, how often you exfoliate your body should be guided by your own skin type, so experiment a bit to find out what works best for you. In most cases, the skin on your body will be a bit tougher than that on your face and so can handle a bit more of an abrasive exfoliating routine. Not too much though – it’s still very delicate!
How to Exfoliate your Face
There is a wide range of ways in which we can achieve this exfoliation that are primarily split into two categories; chemical exfoliation, and physical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation is achieved by applying products to the face that strip away that excess oil and dead skin cells without having to use something to physically scrub them away. There’s more information on the science behind how chemical exfoliation works here if you’re a bit of a skincare guru!
Physical exfoliation, you guessed it, works by scrubbing those dead skin cells away with something slightly abrasive. This can be achieved through using an exfoliating tool, like a loofah or a konjac sponge, or by massaging an exfoliating product onto the skin that contains small particles that are abrasive on the skin. Both physical and chemical exfoliants can have varying degrees of intensity, but chemical exfoliants are usually regarded as being more suited to sensitive for dry skin.
Chemical Exfoliants for the Face
The first thing to note about chemical exfoliants is that they don’t have to be intensive chemical peels. When we talk about chemicals we just mean a compound or substance, not necessarily the kind of thing you might see being poured out of a test tube in a science lab!
Our favourite chemical exfoliant at Valley Mist is our cleansing grains. Designed to be both both as good for you and for the planet as possible, our cleansing grains come in a powder form and become a foaming wash when you add water. This cuts down enormously on the size of the packaging and the carbon costs involved in water transportation, making them better for the planet and easier for you to fit in your bathroom cupboard, or suitcase! Additionally, they are packaged in an infinitely recyclable (and returnable via our glass returns scheme) glass jar, with an aluminium lid, reducing the need for plastic bottles and plastic waste.
In terms of ingredients, the cleansing grains contain: clay to smoothly exfoliate; the miracle ingredient salicylic acid to prevent blackheads and unclog pores; D-Panthenol to reduce redness and inflammation; coconut milk to moisturise and condition the skin; and essential oils of lemongrass and red mandarin refresh you whilst lifting and invigorating your mood. Although specifically designed to help combat acne and oily skin, this gentle wash is suitable for all skin types, simply adjust the number of times you are using it per week depending on what works best for you.
Physical Exfoliants for the Face
As mentioned before you can use a product containing small abrasive particles or an exfoliating tool alongside your chemical exfoliant or normal facial wash/cleanser instead if you prefer. We stock two absolutely wonderful natural products for this: the konjac sponge, and the mini loofah. Both of the these products are entirely natural, biodegradable and sustainable as they are made out of plants. The mini loofah tends to be a bit more abrasive than the konjac sponge, so I recommend sticking with the latter for your face, and besides it has the most wonderful, silky smooth, skin feel that will make you want to make your skincare routine last all day! On the other hand, the mini loofah is a fantastic option for exfoliating your lips and getting rid of all that dry skin.
Again, our mini loofah‘s can be a great choice when it comes to body exfoliation, or we also have larger loofah’s available in the shop that are perfect for reaching around your back in the shower. There are also plenty of natural recipes involving things like coffee grounds or sugar that can be used on your body (though be careful with letting these go down your drain).
However, the part of our body that can handle (and often needs) the most intense exfoliation, is our feet. For these we can use a natural pumice stone, which is 100% natural and suitably abrasive, without being too harsh. At Valley Mist we stock two kinds of these: the black natural pumice stone which is cut from black lava volcanic rock (and personally I think it’s absolutely beautiful – there’s not many instances in which I would like to hang a foot exfoliator on my wall, but this is one of them!); and the natural pumice stone which is also cut from volcanic rock, but is slightly softer than the black version, making it slightly less abrasive.
Or, alternatively (and this is probably my favourite option), if you’re heading away on a beach holiday this summer, or even live by the beach year round, then why not carry out a little bit of foot exfoliation whilst you’re sitting in the sand?
Personally, I’ve found that the best way to do this is to sit in the edge of the sea, so that the sand you’re surrounded by is suitably wet enough to massage into the skin. Then simply grab a handful and get massaging it into your feet, particularly around the ball and heel of your foot, as this is often where the hardest skin can build up.
Of course, you should double check the sand that you pick up first (making sure it’s free from any sharp shells or litter), but otherwise, our feet are in the sand anyway, we might as well use it to our advantage! Furthermore, this is the ultimate definition of a beauty treatment that really leaves no impact on the environment other than footprints in the sand to be washed away by the next tide!
Should you exfoliate before or after shaving?
It is usually far better for your skin to exfoliate before shaving. Shaving opens up your pores and exfoliating after this is likely to irritate your skin further, leading to shaving rashes and general redness and stinging. However, if you exfoliate before shaving the gentle exfoliation can help to loosen any ingrown hairs that may be trapped under the skin, leading to a much smoother shave.
To round off…
I hope that these exfoliating tips will come into use for you over the summer – if you do try any of them out feel free to let us know and tag us on social media, all of which are linked below! Otherwise, we hope you have a wonderful summer leaving nothing but footprints in the sand.