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Your Guide to Choosing the Right Exfoliant for Your Skin

by Anant Khare 18 May 2022

Everyone says that exfoliation is a key step towards getting a well-rounded skincare routine. But why so? What makes exfoliating so good for your skin?
Let’s figure it out!

1. Unclogs pores & prevents acne

When you’re exfoliating your skin, you’re actually unclogging your pores. Sweeping away all that dead skin and all the other surface debris (that might remain after cleansing) stops them from entering your pores and causing stoppages in the form of whiteheads and blackheads. It contains them before even they have a chance to appear. This also reduces the chances of acne.

2. Helps other skincare products penetrate deeper

As an exfoliator unclogs and smoothens the skin's surface by getting rid of any dead skin, it makes way for your other skincare products to reach deeper into the layers of your skin. And when your skincare products’ nourishing ingredients penetrate deeper, it’s able to work effectively. So, go ahead and apply that face serum after exfoliating and witness its magic!

3. Creates a radiant complexion

Exfoliating revitalizes the skin by removing all the stubborn dirt and debris from your skin. It helps in evening out the skin texture. They are also helpful for people with acne scars, hyperpigmentation (that just won’t go away, no matter how many anti-pigmentation serums you use) and dark spots. Exfoliating can help you get rid of it all and add a gleaming glow to your skin.

We think that you pretty much got the point! So the next question is, how do we exfoliate? Well. There are basically two types of exfoliation - physical and chemical.
Physical exfoliation happens when you use a grainy-textured substance to massage into the skin to remove the debris manually. It is quite mainstream.
Chemical exfoliation happens when you use a safe combination of acids to chemically dissolve the debris from your skin. Chemical exfoliants exist in different forms like cleansers, scrubs, serums, toners and more. Not all of them will be labelled as an ‘exfoliator’, so you will have to look closely at the ingredients.

The two most common types of chemical exfoliants are


They include water-soluble ingredients like glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid and mandelic acid. They help with enlarged pores, pigmentation, fine lines, texture and dark spots.


They essentially consist of Salicylic acid - one of the most commonly used acids in the skincare industry! They are oil-soluble and they dive deep into your skin and remove the excess sebum. They are good for people with normal to oily skin. They are also ideal for getting rid of blackheads/whiteheads and acne.

The point is each type of acid has a different effect. Now let’s have a closer look at how to decide which exfoliator to buy as per your skin type:

Skin Type

Oily, Acne-prone skin

Excess oil production leads to breakouts. This is common knowledge. Salicylic acid ( a BHA) is best for people with oily acne-prone skin as it removes excess oil and dead skin cells and prevents breakouts. It unclogs the pores and cleans them out. Another thing that we would like to point out here is that salicylic acid can cause drying. Thus, it is advisable to always use a moisturizer afterwards and do not over-exfoliate your skin.

Dry skin

Exfoliants that do not only remove the unwanted elements but also provide some hydration to the skin are the best type of chemical exfoliants for this skin type. You can go for exfoliation masks that are rich in either glycolic acid or lactic acid. Noth help with dryness, pigmentation and even ageing!

Sensitive skin

Finding the right type of exfoliant can be quite a daunting task for this skin type. You might not even know how a particular ingredient might react on your skin! In such a scenario, we recommend that you go for PHAs (Polyhydroxy acid). They are supposed to be less irritating than your AHA or BHA face serums cum exfoliators as they have a larger molecule size and are a gentler ingredient.

Normal/Combination skin

People with this skin type can try any exfoliant based on their skin concerns. Opt for glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid or salicylic acid - it all depends on how your skin is feeling and responding.

We are sure that by now, you would have gotten some idea about the type of exfoliant that will suit your skin type! But before you get started with all that, you need to keep in mind certain things like:

  • ‣ Always start slow with exfoliators. They should be added gradually and slowly. This will allow the skin to get adjusted to them.
  • ‣ Do not forget to do a patch test at least 48 hours before using any product.
  • ‣ Do not use your chemical exfoliants more than twice a week. Do not use any other scrub or exfoliator for at least 24 hours after using a chemical exfoliant.
  • ‣ It is advisable to follow a PM routine with exfoliants, which means that you should avoid sun exposure.
  • ‣ If you decide to use it in the morning, then make sure that you follow it up with good sunscreen. This is because chemical exfoliants can increase the sensitivity of the skin to UV rays.

Salicylic Acid Serum

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