Adding a new skincare product into your routine can pose many questions, uncertainties and doubt. Will my skin freak out? Will the product actually work? Am I doing this right? Whether you have sensitive skin or super normal skin, it is important to know what a product is actually meant to do and how to use it to effectively in order to get real results. Some products such as facial oils and serums are very approachable–even for the skincare novice–featuring familiar ingredients like rosehip oil, argan oil, vitamin E, and nourishing household ingredients like honey. Other skincare products such as retinols and exfoliants can be slightly more intimidating and potentially send you into a black hole Googling whether or not you should really be putting acid on your face. The truth is, when you exfoliate using the proper product the right way, you can dramatically improve your skin’s texture, tone, and health.
We turned to skincare expert and founder of Paula’s Choice, Paula Begoun, to learn more about exfoliating and how to use the Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel, the newest launch from Paula’s Choice that was originally a limited-edition product but has since become a permanent part of the brand’s roster of skincare offerings. See below for your complete guide to exfoliating.
Why is an exfoliant helpful to include in a skincare routine?
Most everyone needs to help their skin exfoliate because over time, due to unprotected sun exposure, pollution, age, and some skin disorders, skin can no longer exfoliate (shed dead skin cells) as it once did naturally when we were young. When skin can’t exfoliate on its own anymore, it causes a thick build-up of dead layers of skin that can result in clogged pores, breakouts, having dry or combination skin, making skin look and feel rough and dull, and impeding skin’s ability to heal and repair itself. The right kind of exfoliant can save the day.
What is the best way to exfoliate?
Many people think exfoliating skin is all about using harsh scrubs or cleansing brushes. It turns out that both are terrible options for exfoliation because they are limited in their reach and can damage skin by causing micro tears in the surface. Even the best scrubs and cleansing brushes (meaning they are gentle and don’t tear the skin) can clean only the very surface of the skin. Cleansing isn’t the same as exfoliating. Healthy skin cell turnover takes place in the lower layers of skin beyond the surface and for the skin to behave in a healthy manner, those are the layers that need help where scrubs and cleansing brushes can go.
What can reach those built-up layers without disturbing or tearing the surface of the skin or causing irritation are well-formulated AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids, including glycolic acid and lactic acid) and BHA (beta hydroxy acid, which is only salicylic acid) leave-on exfoliants. AHAs and BHA not only gently exfoliate the skin, but also increase hydration (yes, leave-on exfoliants are brilliant at increasing hydration), as well as reinforce, strengthen, and soften skin. They improve signs of aging, uneven skin tone, dullness, and breakouts (it is amazing for acne); dramatically reduce clogged pores and pore size and fade post-acne marks. Don’t let the “acid” in the name of these amazing ingredients scare you, especially considering that our skin’s surface is naturally acidic.
What is your favorite part about the new exfoliant peel from Paula’s Choice?
At Paula’s Choice we have many different strengths of AHAs and BHA leave-on exfoliants so you can find the best one for you. We created our Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel, with a clinical strength concentration of AHAs and BHA because for people with advanced sun damage, signs of aging, uneven skin tone, breakouts, or clogged pores, a higher strength treatment used once or twice a week can make even greater improvements.
This unique exfoliant is effective and works fast—without causing irritation. We chose a mix of 25% AHAs (glycolic, lactic, mandelic, malic and tartaric acids) to give skin the benefit of each one’s unique properties to exfoliate and hydrate along with 2% BHA (salicylic acid) for its impact on pores and redness.
Combined, they dramatically (but gently) exfoliate the dead built-up layers of dull, rough skin, unclog congested pores, improve uneven skin tone, and reduce the depth of pronounced wrinkles. The most impressive part is how our formula works so effectively but is still calming thanks to the soothing mix of allantoin, glycyrrhetinic acid, bisabolol and butterfly pea flower extract.
What is your best piece of skincare advice?
There is so much to know about skincare but without question nothing is as important as wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater 365 days a year. This is necessary even when you’re working from home or on a cloudy day because the sun’s UVA rays penetrate through windows and clouds. Don’t fool yourself by saying, well I’m not going to be outside for very long so I don’t need a sunscreen! Research has shown that even just 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure starts aging skin and triggers other skin disorders. Even the best anti-aging products can’t prevent or undo sun damage. This basic skincare fact is one of the reasons we’ve formulated so many sunscreens so you can find the one you will love to use every day!