(Photo via @zelens)
Exfoliation serves the purpose of brightening, clearing, smoothing, retexturizing, and resurfacing your skin. It also helps prevent clogged pores, stimulates microcirculation, bringing you a brighter glow, enhanced cell renewal, and improved elasticity. Combinations of alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids (i.e. glycolic, salicylic, and lactic) are part of the expert-recommended steps in a preventative, anti-aging skincare regimen.
By removing the surface layer of dead skin cells, your face is left immediately more radiant; primed to receive the ingredients you apply next. Daily peel treatments also help clear away blackheads, white heads, clogged pores, and breakouts. Over time, it helps reduce scarring, hyper-pigmentation, and unevenness in your skin tone and texture, even helping to prevent future breakouts altogether.
how to Buffer with Ceramides:
It's important to note that not all exfoliants are meant to be applied daily, and plenty of skin experts warn against it. The reason why is that over-exfoliation of certain skin types can do harm to your skin's barrier. When your skin feels tight, dry, and possibly sting-y, a compromised skin barrier could be the problem. A compromised barrier renders your skin susceptible to pollutants and trans-epidermal moisture loss, and is actually the leading cause of super-sensitive skin types. Of course, this can be remedied with the help of ceramides.
The founders of Glow Recipe, Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, consider ceramides to be the "glue" that holds your skin cells together — like the mortar between bricks. You don't want to deplete this skin-component; it is part of the important membrane keeping bacteria out and hydration in. Thankfully, the barrier-restoring ingredients are often found in K-Beauty essences as well as a number of store-bought products, like Id.Az Dermastic Essence ($58) — which is sold out at Nordstrom — or a hydrator like Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich ($35).
Bottles vs. Peel PadS:
While you can get your liquid fix of AHA and BHA's in bottle form — to be applied using cotton rounds (preferably organic) — you can also buy them in conveniently-packaged pre-soaked pads. They are the perfect travel-friendly beauty buy because they're easily taken with you on-the-go.
Rest assured that not all peel pads are non-green-friendly. Plenty of exfoliating masks derive their skin superpowers from botanical sources, like the apple stem cells at work in Juice Beauty, or the berries in Renée Rouleau's fabulous Triple Berry Smoothing Peel mask.
Be gentle with your face when incorporating exfoliants into your regimen. Give the skin time to adjust, and build up a tolerance before you jump into daily use. Since you're buffing away those dulling dead skin cells, you're leaving fresh baby-skin exposed to the elements, so be sure to provide it with plenty of hydration and a solid SPF.
pre-soaked peel pads:
My dermatologist, Dr. Neda Mehr of Pure Dermatology, suggests using a daily peel pad in your regimen. (Incidentally, Kendall Jenner's skin-guru, Christie Kidd PA-C, suggests the same.) It's a great step to incorporate for the multitude of benefits you can derive, whether anti-aging, blemish-clearing, or re-texturizing your skin is your aim.
Tip: You can also apply a gentle peel before a mask or treatment to help boost its efficacy. They help prepare your skin for the incoming ingredients by clearing away dead skin cells and debris that would otherwise block the product. I've even gotten gentle peels before in-office treatments at Pure Dermatology to make sure I get the best results possible.
The Dermatologist's Pick:
Dr. Mehr swears by the gentle formulation of 2/2 pads, which are soaked in 2% Glycolic Acid and 2% Salicylic Acid. She actually sells her own brand of the pads, which I pick up whenever I visit the office. To re-stock in between visits, I find that Replenix 2/2 offers a close match on Amazon. Of course, depending on your skin type and tolerance to these acids, you might reach for stronger formulations. For example, a 5/2 formulation — with a higher ratio if glycolic to salicylic acids — and 10/2 pads exist.
Another great acid exfoliant that is popular in skincare is lactic acid, which you can find in Sunday Riley's holy grail product, Good Genes. I adore this product, but find that it's a little bit pricey for everyday use, which is why I decided to try out First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads for the daytime. They're sensitive skin-friendly, cruelty-free, and sworn-by by my ultimate beauty insider, Ulta expert Lucy Binetti. Other Lactic Acid formulations with more reasonable price points include The Ordinary Lactic Acid, although it sells out like crazy so good luck buying at Sephora. At night, I've been experimenting with Nip + Fab to get my dose of glycolic and salicylic acids.
I've included a few other peel pads to consider below. I really want to try Pixi by Petra's Glow Tonic-to-Go. Her most-raved-about product — Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic — only contains glycolic acid which means it's pregnancy-safe! (Products containing salicylic acid or retinol are not safe for pregnant or breast-feeding women.) The cult-favorite line from the UK is both cruelty-free and available at Target.
Shop my AHA- and BHA-powered + exfoliating picks below!
(Photos via Instagram)
(1) First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($30): Sensitive skin-friendly, cruelty-free, and highly recommended by Lucy.
(2) Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Nighttime Extreme Pads ($15): 5% Glycolic and Salicylic.
(3) Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic-To-Go ($18): Cult-Favorite, safe for pregnant and nursing women.
(4) Omorovicza Acid Fix AHA/BHA Treatment ($115): High end luxury line's new launch that is supposed to rock.
(5) Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Nightly Brightening Pads ($45): Green beauty pick.
(6) Sunday Riley Good Genes ($158): Just an all-around amazing product containing lactic acid that you will get hooked on.
(7) M-61 Power Glow Peel ($28): The author of Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler, uses these ones.
(8) Pixi by Petra Glow Peel Pads ($22): 20% Glycolic Acid!
(9) Replenix Gly/Sal 2-2 Pads ($22): 2-2 pad recommended by my dermatologist! For stronger concentrations, they also come in 5-2 ($21) and 10-2 ($27) formulas.
(10) The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% ($6.79): These are out of stock at Sephora, but you can still get them at Beautylish. The hyaluronic acid component doesn't just plump your skin with hydration, but it helps buffer your skin from the effect of the peel.
(11) Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid ($28): This is another highly-regarded product that beauty muse Chelsea Cronin adores.
Do you have any exfoliating favorites you can share with me? Please do so below!
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