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L'utilité d'un exfoliant dans une routine de soins.

Exfoliant: Is it necessary to include one in your skincare routine?

Cleaning, exfoliating, and moisturizing are the steps to follow to rejuvenate your skin. Exfoliation is a standalone step in the skincare routine to maintain a healthy glow. Discover in this article the reasons why it is important to incorporate an exfoliant into your skincare routine.

Published August 22, 2023, updated on February 8, 2024, by Manon, Scientific Editor — 6 min read

What is an exfoliant?

Used in conjunction with a cleanser, an exfoliant is a skincare product whose ingredients are designed to exfoliate the skin. Its role is to remove dead cells that have accumulated on the skin's surface to make it smoother, revive its glow, and even out the complexion. It also deeply cleanses the skin while getting rid of excess sebum. There are two types of exfoliants: those referred to as "mechanical" and those that are "chemical".

  • The mechanical exfoliants :

    This type of exfoliation involves the use of granular exfoliating products, commonly referred to as scrubs. These products lift dead cells from the upper layer of the epidermis through a mechanical action, such as rubbing or circular movements. Micro-grains, such as powders derived from fruit kernels, are often preferred for gently exfoliating the face and chest. On the other hand, larger grains are used to exfoliate parts of the body where the skin is thicker and less sensitive, like the feet or legs. It is recommended to perform this type of exfoliation a maximum of once or twice a week.

    Scrubs with fine grains are suitable for all skin types. However, it is not recommended to use large, abrasive grains on damaged skin, such as dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin.

  • Chemical Exfoliants:

    A chemical exfoliation, unlike a mechanical exfoliation, does not require scrubbing. It relies on active ingredients that work on the skin to remove dead cells and impurities, thus allowing the pores not to be clogged. Formulated with enzymes or fruit acids, the chemical or enzymatic exfoliant is both gentle and effective, providing optimal exfoliation.

    This process utilizes active ingredients such as AHA and BHA, which have diverse origins. The AHAs, or alpha-hydroxy acids, act like proteases by breaking the bonds composed of glycoproteins that connect dead cells to the stratum corneum. The BHAs, also known as beta-hydroxy acids, differ from AHAs in their keratolytic properties. They are capable of detaching and eliminating dead cells present on the surface of the epidermis. These acids can be of plant origin, derived from fruits like pineapple, figs, or apricots, or extracted from yeasts.

Why incorporate an exfoliant into your skincare routine?

First and foremost, it is crucial to remember that the skin naturally exfoliates itself: this is cellular renewal. In the case of a young adult, skin cells regenerate every 28 days. However, this process slows down with age and due to external factors such as pollution, stress, or sun exposure. That's why it may be necessary to stimulate cellular renewal by using an exfoliant. It gets rid of dead cells on the skin's surface and makes it softer and more beautiful with a more radiant complexion.

Here are the main benefits of a facial exfoliant:

  • It detoxifies the skin and promotes its oxygenation to make it healthier.

  • It revives the radiance of the complexion.

  • It enhances the absorption of other treatments used subsequently and improves their benefits.

  • It combats skin aging by promoting cellular renewal.

  • It diminishes and erases blackheads and other skin imperfections.

  • It helps to reduce acne by eliminating excess sebum.

How to use an exfoliant?

The goal of facial exfoliation is to remove dead skin cells. Therefore, above all, it is essential to choose an exfoliant that is suitable for your skin type. Once the appropriate treatment is identified, here are the steps to follow to use it correctly:

  1. On a clean face, apply a dab of exfoliating treatment to the fingertips.

  2. Begin the treatment by ensuring to gently rub the skin while making circular movements, focusing on the area. The treatment should be brief and quick to avoid damaging the skin.

  3. Rinse the product with water.

  4. Apply a moisturizing cream to complete the treatment.

It is essential to moisturize the skin after exfoliating it for protection. Indeed, the epidermis is temporarily weakened since the hydrolipidic film has been compromised. Proper hydration thus provides it with softness and protection.

The frequency of using an exfoliating skincare product.

Even though exfoliation revives the skin's glow, rids it of dead cells and other embedded impurities, it's better not to apply it too often. While it's pleasant to have clean skin, excessive exfoliation can potentially harm the skin, which may react by producing an excess of sebum in defense, leading to an acne outbreak. Additionally, the skin tends to become thinner, more fragile, and increasingly sensitive.

For the face, a weekly exfoliating treatment is generally sufficient. Individuals with normal to combination skin can perform up to two scrubs per week. However, for those with sensitive or mature skin, it is advisable to limit exfoliation to once every two weeks due to skin sensitivity, in order to avoid irritation.


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