Ask any skin expert about the best way to achieve smooth, bright, even skin and the first thing you’re likely to hear is that regular exfoliation is key. While your skin naturally exfoliates itself about every 28 days, there are numerous factors at play that can delay this process (like age, arid environments and cold, winter air). So to keep skin healthy, it’s important to exfoliate on a regular basis.
But not all exfoliators are created equal and there are numerous ways to nix those spent skin cells. Physical exfoliators (think cleansing brushes, facial scrubs or polishes) physically remove dead skin from your face and work primarily on the surface. Liquid exfoliators go above and beyond (or is it below and beyond?) and dive deeper into the skin’s surface to really even skin tone and rev up radiance.
What are liquid exfoliants?
You’ve probably heard about alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids (commonly referred to as AHAs and BHAs). AHAs and BHAs work to break apart bonds between skin cells and help slough them away at a much deeper level than your standard polish or physical exfoliator.
Liquid exfoliators also help with:
● Evening skin texture
● Clearing out congested pores
● Reducing visible signs of discoloration
● Prepping skin to absorb active ingredients in serums, treatments and moisturizers
● Boosting cellular turnover
This last one is especially important, as cellular turnover slows down naturally as your skin ages, leaving your skin looking and feeling more uneven in texture (and, well, dull). A liquid exfoliator accelerates that process so that cellular turnover occurs at a more frequent rate. Over time you’ll notice fine lines are minimized, overall skin texture is smoother and areas of pigmentation are reduced because you’re replacing those skin cells with fresh, new ones.
How to select the right liquid exfoliant for you
Choosing the right liquid exfoliant for your skin depends on your skin type and your desired results. Here are three of our favorites.
For non-reactive skin, a low-dose glycolic acid is tried and true, offering a variety of benefits without irritating the skin. For best results, start with a milder solution like GlycoSolution 5%, which contains an effective blend of glycolic acid, sodium PCA (designed to balance hydration in the skin) and an amino acid complex. Over time you can build up to GlycoSolution 10% or 15% for continued and enhanced results.
A solution that exfoliates and moisturizes at the same time? Yes please! Lactic acid, an AHA, combined with kakadu plum (which has the highest recorded amount of natural vitamin C in food) brightens and gently resurfaces while binding moisture to the skin. That means it’s great for more mature, dry or sensitive skin types.
How to use liquid exfoliants
If you’re nervous about using AHAs and BHAs, don’t be! As with everything, there can be too much of a good thing, so the best way to begin using liquid exfoliants is to start slowly (a couple of times per week) and gradually ramp up your use, both in frequency and concentration.
Once your skin is accustomed to exfoliation, we recommend an exfoliation frequency of about 3 to 4 times per week. A slow, graduated method will help your skin adjust to the active ingredients, so you effectively get into the deeper layers of the skin without experiencing dryness or irritation.
Finally, it’s important to note that when you’re using a liquid exfoliant with AHAs or BHAs, sunscreen is a must! New cells—which you’re exposing for that radiant and fresh complexion—are highly susceptible to sun damage, so always be sure to thoroughly apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, even in the winter.