Exfoliate 101

I got a lot of questions about exfoliation. I guess because there are so many people saying different things about it, so it's no wonder why exfoliating is such a confusing part in a skin care routine.

Ok, so what is "exfoliate"?

It is basically removing dead skin cells, and here are 2 methods of doing it:

1. Physical/mechanical tool - think brush, loofah and scrubs. Basically using something physical to remove a layer of the skin. 


2. Chemical exfoliation - a.k.a chemical peels. Chemical exfoliators have AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) like glycolic acid and lactic acid, and/or BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) like salicylic acid. AHAs are meant to treat the upper layers of the skin for problems with pigmentation, sun damage etc, whereas BHAs treats the inner layers for pore problems (blackheads etc), and milia.


Now the question is: WHICH ONE?

Before we get on to that, it is important that you know that chemical exfoliants are not all bad. In fact, it is said to be more gentle than physical ones like scrubs. Some may think that physical exfoliator is damaging but actually, it can be gentle too. Just as long as you pun jangan la gosok muka sampai berdarah! Hehee!

Always remember that when using scrubs, use the last two fingers (ring and baby fingers) to exfoliate the skin. And when using brush or loofah, make sure to use the right type of brush and also cleanser that is gentle.

If you have dry skin, you can choose either physical or chemical exfoliants. If you choose to use the chemical ones, AHAs are more suitable.

BHAs are more suitable for people with oily and acne prone skin. However, it is okay to mix the two together, depending on your skin concerns and also with the right method of layering. You can learn about layering the chemicals HERE =)

If you have sensitive skin, try to find something that is super gentle, whether it be physical or chemical exfoliants.

There isn't any rule that "if you have such and such skin, then you must only use such and such product!". If someone said that to you and is not a certified dermatologist, you can just smile and ignore haha!


So how often should we exfoliate?

For safety, 2 to 3 times a week is fine. It also depends on your lifestyle or work. If you work or you live in an environment where smoke, dust and pollutants are dense, it is okay to exfoliate daily, but only with a gentle exfoliator.

I personally exfoliate daily with a gentle one, and i use deep scrub once a week. And then, i also make it a point to take a week off from using skin care and exfoliate, just so that my skin can also repair itself on its own.

Exfoliating is good but try not to overdo it because we don't want to disrupt our skin's natural ability to shed dead skin cells. 

I hope this helps you distinguish and choose which method you want to go with!


  • There are loads in the market nowadays. I use the st ives oats scrub =)

  • Hi Kak Maria,
    Can you suggest the gentle exfoliator to be used daily. I would love to know.


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