Back to Basics – Exfoliators

By Clare O’Hanlon, Business Development Manager, Juliette Armand Skincare

What is an exfoliator?

An exfoliator is anything that helps to remove dead skin cells on our face and body. These include: scrubs, AHAs, Acids, Sugar/salts and they are usually added with a liquid of some form to help disperse it. Exfoliators used on the face should be different to the body as the skin is thinner on the face.

 

What is an exfoliator’s job?

We naturally renew our skin cells every 28 days, but this process tends to slow down as we age. When dead skins build up and up we are left will a dull complexion. We are also left with ageing skin as holes appear through the layers of dead skin and our moisture escapes. By exfoliating our skin we are speeding up the cell renewal process and this leaves us with bright, hydrated skin. All ages should exfoliate their skin but it depends on the type of exfoliator and the content.

 

What kinds of exfoliators are there?

The most common exfoliator is a scrub, these tiny beads can slough of dead skin cells, clear our pores and leave the skin feeling smooth. There are also AHA/acids including lactic, salicylic and glycolic acid these come in different strength forms and treat skins from ageing/wrinkles to acne skins, it is always a good idea to start off on a smaller percentage and work your way up. There are physical exfoliators for the oily congested skins and a leave on exfoliator is available when the skin is too sensitized to scrub it.

 

At what stage in your skin care routine should you add an exfoliator?

As I said before, everyone will benefit from exfoliating but it will depend on your skin conditions. For example a client with active acne will have 6 times more dead skin cells than clients with normal skin so will need to exfoliate more often. Ideally a scrub should be used twice weekly and AHAs in very low percentage can be used in their daily cleanser.

 

How can you pick the right exfoliator for your client?

Aging skin may benefit exfoliation more often, lactic/glycolic acids aims to treat wrinkles, age spot and slack skin. These acids work from the inside out so the results will appear after a few days. An SPF must be accompanied with acids and AHAs. Oily and combination skins will benefit from scrubs as they can retain any excess oil in the beads and clears out the blocked pores. Salicylic acid is a common acid for treating acne as it is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory while a very light exfoliator can be used on normal/sensitive skin once a week so the other products can penetrate well.

 

Are there any dangers to watch out for when using an exfoliator?

A full consultation of your client is very important, you may discover your client’s skin is very red and sensitive, yet she could be using strong acids most days. Irish skins do tend to be sensitive and broken veins appear on the cheeks and nose. These areas should not be exfoliated if that’s the case as the skin is already vulnerable. If a scrub is overused the skin may over produce in oil in a panic. An SPF is important to use because under the dead skin cells is lovely new skin and we don’t want the lovely bright skin to be ruined by the UVA damage.

 

How best can you retail these exfoliators in your salon?

Exfoliating is one of the most antiaging thing we can do for our skins. The benefits are not only to remove the dead skin cells but they actually prepare the skin for the penetration of further products and ingredients. When your client spends money on a moisturizer it may be time wasting layering the cream on top of dead cells. Masks and serums can penetrate deeper into the skin and the client will see more effective results.