Chemical Exfoliants: The Answer To Your Skin Concerns
Exfoliation is a highly recommended step in your regular skincare routine that helps clear away dead skin cells and give you rejuvenated skin. Let’s look at the power of chemical exfoliators and the wonders they can do for your skin.
Remember your childhood days when your grandma would rub your body with Ubtan before giving you a warm water bath? And you would emerge looking fresh and smelling heavenly! That is the beauty of exfoliation. Ubtan, an age-old Indian recipe, is made with kitchen ingredients and is a mild exfoliant for your face and body. Today, with the evolution of skin science, we have more potent and chemical based exfoliants that can effortlessly scrub your skin to reveal youthful radiant skin.
Is the word ‘chemical’ making you think again? Fret not! If there is one place where this word fits beautifully, it is with exfoliation. Read on to know what our expert has to say about chemical exfoliants.
Exfoliation is a process that helps you remove dead skin cells, do away with dull skin and tackle fine lines and wrinkles. It is a cleansing exercise for your skin that has anti-ageing benefits. It also helps improve blood circulation. However, it is not to be done every day. Once or twice a week suffices, depending on your skin type.
Types of exfoliants
Mechanical exfoliants: These include an exfoliating brush, sponge or glove. You can lather yourself with soap or body wash and use the mechanical exfoliant to clear bigger segments such as legs, arms and back.
Scrubs: Scrubs are popular over the counter products that are either powder or cream based. You can mix a scrub with body wash or oil and massage it on your face and body. Cream-based scrubs are to be applied directly, massaged in a circular motion and rinsed off.
Both mechanical exfoliants and scrubs can be abrasive to the skin if used incorrectly or often. Your choice of these products should be based on your skin type and the seasonal changes it undergoes. It is also important to choose the right product based on the area that you wish to exfoliate. For the face, do not use abrasive ingredients such as salt or sugar. Be extra careful if you have acne or acne scars.
Chemical exfoliant: These are exfoliants that have enzymes and acids as the key ingredients that help loosen the dead skin cells. Scrubbing or massaging is not required in chemical exfoliation as the ingredients penetrate deep into the skin to do their job. Chemical exfoliants typically contain Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids, and Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs)like beta hydroxy and salicylic acid.
Best suited for you
Chemical exfoliators are of various kinds, ranging from mild to severe. They penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin to give you glowing, blemish-free and acne-free skin. Ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, retinoic acid and azelaic acid are exfoliators that are commonly used in treatment creams. They come in different percentages. The percentage is slightly higher when a dermatologist is using them to treat an indication such as pigmentation, acne, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or tanning,” explains Dr Soma Sarkar, Celebrity Cosmetic Dermatologist and Founder, Dr Soma's Aesthetic Clinic, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
She adds, “For the purpose of maintenance and prophylactic therapy (intended to prevent certain diseases), these exfoliators are used in milder percentages. Basically, it is used to maintain the results after a treatment has been completed.”
While listing the benefits of chemical exfoliants, Dr Sarkar mentioned that they help in keeping the skin supple and glowing, and also prevent the skin from tanning and premature ageing.
According to Dr Sarkar, the best chemical exfoliator is the one with retinoic acid or retinoids. “These basically come in various percentages as well as in microsphere formulations to avoid retinol rash. You should start using it less frequently, like twice a week. Once your skin adapts to it, you can increase the frequency.”
She also warned that whenever you use a retinol-based product, you are likely to get a rash. And the way to treat the rash is with emollients. “Retinoic acid exfoliants will take 3-4 weeks to show results, and once you see the results, they are consistent. Not only does it give the skin a glow, it also helps in premature ageing and prevents dark spots. It is a golden standard protocol that we use quietly actively in our practice,” Dr Sarkar asserts.
Chemical exfoliants might hold the answer to your skin woes. So, if you are interested in giving your skin a much-deserved break, you need to meet up with your dermatologist and ask them for the best chemical exfoliant that would suit your skin type. Use of chemical exfoliants should be complemented with proper homecare, including moisturiser and sunscreen.
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