- Exfoliating face washes combine cleansing action with gentle exfoliation.
- They are gentle enough to be used every day.
- Choose a product designed for your skin type for best results.
- DIY exfoliating washes can also be made at home.
Exfoliating face washes are a type of facial cleanser designed to keep your skin looking fresh and healthy on a daily basis. The product you choose is determined by the skin concerns you need to address and your skin’s tolerance for exfoliation.
What is an Exfoliating Face Wash?
An exfoliating face wash is a two-in-one product that sloughs off dead cells while cleansing your skin. Unlike facial scrubs, which can only be used once or twice a week, an exfoliating face wash is designed to be used as your everyday cleanser.
How does it work?
Tiny granules and/or chemicals in the product stimulate exfoliation as you wash your face with the product.
There are two modes by which you can exfoliate your skin. Chemical exfoliators such as alpha-hydroxy or beta-hydroxy acids unglue and dissolve the bonds holding dead skin cells to the surface of your skin.
Physical exfoliators remove dead cells by abrading them from the face using small, rough or smooth particles. Some common physical exfoliators are sugar, plastic microbeads and crushed nutshells.
Exfoliating face washes can provide physical or chemical exfoliation, or both.
Using an exfoliating face wash eliminates the need to purchase a separate exfoliating product for your skin or to set aside time outside of your usual skin care routine to use a face scrub. Pore-clogging debris never has the chance to build up, reducing your likelihood of developing blackheads and whiteheads due to congested skin.
Best Exfoliating Face Wash for Your Skin
Some skin types are more sensitive to frequent exfoliation than others. It is therefore important to select a product that won’t strip your skin of its natural protective barrier and create irritation.
Oily and acne-prone skin
People with oily or acne-prone skin benefit from face washes that can effectively dry out excess oil and reduce the congestion that leads to blemishes.
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that is lipophilic, meaning it dissolves in oil and can effectively unclog pores. It chemically exfoliates your skin while drying out excess oil. As an anti-inflammatory, it can reduce swelling and redness in acne lesions.
Glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid or AHA, deeply penetrates the skin. It exfoliates while dissolving sebum, the oil produced by your skin that can block pores and cause blackheads and other forms of acne.
If you have severe or cystic acne, avoid physical exfoliants altogether as they can worsen inflammation. Instead, choose a product containing only chemical exfoliants.
Treat dry skin types with an exfoliating face wash containing nourishing, hydrating ingredients.
Vitamin E has been proven to smooth the skin, making it an effective face wash ingredient for individuals with rough, dry skin.
Plant oils such as almond oil, apricot oil or shea butter can restore moisture to dry skin. These oils have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and can help a repair damaged skin barrier.
If your combination skin is prone to breakouts, you may benefit from a facial wash containing salicylic acid. You can target the product specifically at areas of oiliness to avoid drying out the drier parts of your face.
For combination skin that is closer to dry or normal, use products recommended for those skin types.
Generally, combination skin reacts best to oil-free facial cleansers. Look for products containing vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help maintain the overall health of your skin by protecting it from free radicals and stimulating collagen production.
Finding the right product when you have sensitive skin may require some trial and error to determine what kind of exfoliation your skin can best tolerate.
If your skin is sensitive to AHAs, try a product containing lactic acid or papaya extract, both of which provide very mild exfoliation.
If chemical exfoliants do not work for your skin, you can try a product that only contains a gentle physical exfoliant such as jojoba pearls. Avoid rough particles such as sugar or crushed nutshells.
Additionally, always choose products that are fragrance-free, paraben-free and hypoallergenic to minimize the risk of irritation.
Best Way to Use an Exfoliating Face Wash
An exfoliating facial cleanser can be used once or twice a day, depending on your skin’s tolerance. People with dry or sensitive skin may wish to use it only once.
- In the evening, cleanse your skin with the face wash.
- Apply serum and your nighttime moisturizer.
- In the morning, cleanse again if your skin feels greasy or simply splash water on your face. Apply a daytime moisturizer containing at least 30 SPF.
DIY Exfoliating Face Wash
As an alternative to a store-bought product, a homemade exfoliating cleanser can provide similar benefits. A DIY face wash may be especially beneficial for people with sensitive skin who have difficulty finding products that do not trigger reactions in their skin.
DIY exfoliating face wash recipe
This face wash recipe uses jojoba pearls to gently exfoliate the skin. Jojoba pearls are tiny, spherical beads consisting of hydrogenated jojoba oil. They are not water-soluble, so they won’t break down when combined with the liquid ingredients. Unlike plastic microbeads, they are biodegradable and therefore less likely to harm the environment.
Aloe vera contains aloesin, a molecule that can lighten skin, brightening your face’s overall appearance.
Jojoba oil is highly moisturizing yet noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores and can be used on all skin types. It is also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
If you are prone to blemishes, your skin will benefit from adding tea tree oil to this recipe. Tea tree oil has been proven to reduce acne lesions. It is antibacterial and astringent, so it can reduce oiliness while combating acne-causing bacteria in your skin.
- 1/2 cup aloe vera gel
- 1/2 cup Castille soap
- 1/3 cup jojoba oil
- 1 tsp vegetable glycerin (available at health food stores)
- 10 drops tea tree oil (option for acne-prone skin)
- 3 tsp jojoba pearls (available at craft and cosmetic supply stores)
- Pour all ingredients except the jojoba pearls in a blender and blend for a few seconds.
- Add jojoba pearls.
- Use a funnel to transfer the mixture into a container with a pump dispenser.
- To use, shake well and dispense two pumps onto wet fingers.
- Rub your fingers together to create a lather. Massage over your face, avoiding the eyes.
- Rinse with warm water and follow up with a moisturizer.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
An exfoliating face wash is a skin care product that combines the benefits of a cleanser with a chemical or physical exfoliator.
Oily and acne-prone skin types benefit from exfoliating cleansers containing oil-reducing ingredients such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid that deeply penetrate the skin.
Dry skin types should use products that nourish and hydrate the skin with ingredients such as vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and plant oils such as almond or apricot oil.
If you have sensitive skin, try a face wash that exfoliates with lactic acid, a mild AHA. Some people with this skin type may find that they cannot tolerate chemical exfoliation and should use only gentle physical exfoliants, or vice versa.
Exfoliating face washes can be used once or twice a day as part of your normal skin care routine.
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