- 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
- At-home exfoliating washes can also be made using simple ingredients
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 gently cleansing the skin. Unlike facial scrubs, which can only be used once or twice a week, an exfoliating face wash is formulated to be more gentle, and designed for use as an everyday cleanser. They’re also formulated to address specific skin concerns and skin types.
How does it work?
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, seeds and crushed nut shells.
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 or to set aside time outside of your usual skin care routine to use a face scrub. By exfoliating daily, there is little risk of debris clogging pores, thereby reducing your likelihood of developing blackheads and whiteheads due to clogged pores.
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 cause irritation.
Oily and acne-prone skin
People with oily or acne-prone skin can benefit from face washes that effectively dry out excess sebum (the oil produced by your skin) that can block pores, and cause blackheads and other forms of acne.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that is lipophilic, meaning it dissolves in oil and can effectively unclog pores. It chemically exfoliates skin while drying out excess oil. As an anti-inflammatory, it can reduce the swelling and redness that accompanies acne lesions.
Glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) deeply penetrates the skin. It exfoliates and dissolves sebum to reduce the appearance of acne and prevents new lesions from developing.
While not an exfoliant itself, niacinamide is a face wash ingredient that can benefit oily skin. It is a vitamin B derivative that fights acne while smoothing the skin and reducing fine lines.
If you have severe or cystic acne, or active breakouts, avoid physical exfoliants altogether as they can worsen inflammation. Instead, choose only chemical exfoliants.
For those with dry skin, you don’t want to accidentally strip your face of much-needed moisture with a strong product. Dry skin types should be treated with an exfoliating face wash containing nourishing, hydrating ingredients.
Look for products containing hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in the skin and helps retain elasticity and moisture. This ingredient will help counteract the drying effect of exfoliating chemicals and granules.
Another effective ingredient for dry skin is vitamin E. 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 and apricot oil or shea butter can restore moisture to dry skin. These oils have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and can help repair a 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 to areas of oiliness to avoid exacerbating the drier areas of your face.
For combination skin that is closer to dry or normal, use products recommended for those skin types.
Opt for an exfoliating face wash that is oil-free and contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps maintain the overall health of your skin by protecting it from free radicals and by 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, consider a product containing lactic acid or papaya extract, both of which provide very mild exfoliating effects.
If chemical exfoliants are not effective, you can choose a product that only contains a gentle physical exfoliant such as jojoba pearls. Avoid rough particles such as sugar or crushed nut shells.
Additionally, always choose products that are fragrance- and 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 daily as part of a simple, effective skin care routine. People with dry or sensitive skin may wish to use it once per day; oily skin twice a day.
- In the evening, cleanse your skin with the exfoliating 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 if it is dry
- Apply a daytime moisturizer containing at least 30 SPF
DIY Exfoliating Face Wash
As an alternative to commercial products, a homemade exfoliating cleanser can provide similar results but with added benefits. Creating your own custom face wash gives you the freedom to choose specific all-natural ingredients suited to your skin type.
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. These 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.
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)
- Blend all ingredients (except the jojoba pearls) in a blender 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 eye area
- 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, acne-prone and combination skin types benefit from exfoliating cleansers containing oil-reducing ingredients such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid to deeply penetrate the skin. If you have combination skin, apply these products specifically to the oiler areas of your face.
Dry skin types should opt for products that nourish and hydrate the skin. These ingredients include vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and plant oils such as almond or apricot oil.
If you have sensitive skin, choose 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 instead use only gentle physical exfoliants.
Once you’ve found an exfoliating face wash that works well with your skin, use it daily as part of your normal skin care routine.
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