Is it a good idea to exfoliate acne prone skin? Well, when I was a teenager I struggled with my skin. I hated having to deal with breakouts as often as I did and I tried everything to avoid them. One day, while visiting my very wise Grandmother, she said to me, “Sweetheart, I know what will help your skin. Take a a warm wash cloth and gently scrub your face every night and it will clear up.” I was about 14 years old at the time and of course I already knew everything and I wasn't going to listen to Grandma (bad idea!).
Guess what? A couple years later, I finally followed Grandma's advice and she was right!! Although I wasn't using a wash cloth I was using a trendy little facial scrub that all my friends were using back in the 90's (typical teenager!!) called the Buff Puff. (Funny story, I've looked for the Buff Puff years later and could never find one again.)
Exfoliation is an important part of healthy skin care. The great thing about it is that it can be done in a completely natural way without the use of any harsh chemical products. The question I often get is whether or not exfoliate acne prone skin or if it is too irritating and should be avoided? All I can do is tell you my own experience and for me it was highly beneficial.
There are two ways to exfoliate acne prone skin (well, any kind of skin really). There is physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation both of which can be done with totally natural ingredients.
This is the type of exfoliating that Grandma was talking about. It's really what proved to me that it's a smart idea to exfoliate acne prone skin. Keep in mind that it's not a smart idea to go overboard with this method. Gentle exfoliation is the key word in this conversation. A warm wash cloth does work well to exfoliate. In fact, it's a method I use often when I wash my face with the oil cleansing method.
While I was never able to find my favorite little scrubby sponge called the Buff Puff again I've actually found something even better. It's called the Konjac Sponge. It's a super soft and gentle sponge that contains charcoal to help pull toxins from the skin. I really enjoy this little sponge and it's been part of my routine for the last six months.
Another way to get a physical exfoliation is by using salt, sugar, or ground up grains to scrub the skin. In my experience salt has been too harsh for my face but other more gentle scrubs have worked well.
My new and most favorite thing right now is a facial scrub I developed (Sweet Orange Facial Scrub) with the purpose of offering a gentle physical exfoliating scrub that also cleans pores (with clay), helps to heal current breakouts (with raw honey), and has an additional chemical exfoliate (white willow).
There are many food items that naturally contain fruit acids and enzymes that help to exfoliate skin. There is no need for expensive prescription or over the counter creams for this purpose. Stronger prescription creams are most likely too strong and doing more damage to your skin.
Here is a list of food items that can be used for chemical exfoliation:
- Salicylic acid: white willow bark, meadowsweet, strawberry
- Lactic acid: yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables, blackberries, tomatoes
- Citric acid: lemons, limes and oranges (do not use if you plan on being in the sun afterwards)
- Glycolic acid: sugar
- Trans-Retinoic acid: rose hip seed oil
- Papain enzyme: Papayas
- Malic acid: apples, vinegar
Exfoliation is an important part of your skin care routine whether you have acne prone skin or not. I've found that including this in my skin care rotation really helps to keep my skin clear, smooth, and youthful. The only caveat is to be sure not to overdo it, especially if you have acne prone or sensitive skin. Also, if you are already using other prescription or chemical products be careful of mixing things without checking with your dermatologist.
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