How to use a Skin Exfoliator

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 25, 2013

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Skin being the largest organ  of human beings has the mammoth task of protecting us from harsh conditions in the environment. Therefore, our skin can take a heavy beating  from time to time. In order to catch up with the toxicity, our skin undergoes constant regeneration, which is evident from the fact that an average adult sheds up to 50,000 dead skin cells every minute.

Certain factors like age and dry skin hamper this natural process. This inability of dead skin cells to slough off leads to the appearance of patchy and rough skin and can also clog skin pores, hence, causing acne. 

Exfoliation is a simple process that removes dead cells from the surface and reveals the fresh skin beneath.

Types of Exfoliation

Exfoliation can be mechanical or chemical depending upon their way of action.

Mechanical Exfoliation

Mechanical exfoliation involves physically rubbing the skin with an abrasive substance. Rubbing the skin this way generates friction and helps shed dead cells.

Things you can use for mechanical exfoliation

Crushed apricot kernel or almond shells, sponges, loofahs, pumice etc can be used for mechanical exfoliation. Uptan (paste of besan, turmeric and milk) is a form of mechanical exfoliator that is probably the first cosmetic to have ever existed since Vedic Era. Oatmeal, ground coffee, sea salt are other natural products that can be used for this purpose.

Whom does it work best on?

It is most advantageous for people with oily skin.

Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation involves the use of acids to break bonds that hold the dead cells to the skin thereby,allowing them to ease away. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are the two major types of chemical exfoliators.

Things you can use for chemical exfoliationExamples of AHAs include lactic acid, malic acid, glucolic acid etc. These are derived from fruits such as apples, grapes etc and from milk. Lemon juice, milk, papaya, pineapple etc form natural chemical exfoliators. Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) include salicylic acid. The most common source of BHA is salicin, which isobtained from willow bark.

Whom does it work best on?

AHAs are best suited for people with dry skin. BHAs are oil soluble and therefore, benefits oily skin more. BHAs are generally less irritating to the skin than AHAs.


• Prior to exfoliation, ensure the skin is cleansed.
• Mechanical exfoliation should be done gently to prevent cutting of skin and those with sensitive skin should avoid it.
• People with dry skin should only exfoliate once or twice in a week whereas people with oily skin can do so two to four times in a week.
• To get the best results, chemical exfoliators should be used in right concentrations. According to USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Alpha hydroxy acid based exfoliator should have 10 percent or less AHA concentration with pH 3.5. Beta hydroxyl based exfoliators should have 1.5 to 2 percent salicylic acid. Using a stronger solution may irritate the skin. 
• Chemical exfoliators make the skin more sensitive to sun, therefore, whenever you go out, apply sunscreen.
• Subsequent exfoliation  is necessary for the skin to be moisturized to prevent it from drying.

Exfoliation in accordance with particular skin type/s with due precautions can yield a glowing skin, which is a sign of good health and beauty.

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