We all need to both cleanse and exfoliate. Why not buy an exfoliating cleanser and do both at the same time?
It saves us both time and money, right? Mmm, not exactly….
There are two types of cleansing exfoliants: physical and chemical. One of them doesn’t work. The other one does, but it’s not that good for the skin. Here’s what I mean.Don't bother with exfoliating cleansers. They just don't work that well.
Cleansers with chemical exfoliants
What are they?
Chemical exfoliants dissolve the glue that holds skin cells together, allowing them to slough off. The most common types of chemical exfoliants are:
- Glycolic acid: it also hydrate skin and stimulate collagen production, so it’s perfect for dry and sun-damaged skin.
- Lactic acid: it’s hydrating and gentle, so it’s the best option for sensitive skin.
- Salicylic acid: can exfoliate the pores from within and treat breakouts, so it’s ideal for oily skin.
Do they work?
Yes and no. If you massage them onto your skin for several minutes, some exfoliation will occur indeed. But, as you rinse the cleanser off, they end up down the drain, too.
These acids work much, much better and faster when they’re allowed to stay on the skin for hours. So, if you want to see some serious and quick results, get yourself a leave-in exfoliant.
Related: Why I Prefer Chemical Exfoliants
Cleansers with physical exfoliants
What are they?
Physical exfoliants mechanically remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. The most common types of physical exfoliants are:
- Apricot kernels
- Plastic microbeads
- Walnut shells
Do they work?
Yes, but that’s irrelevant, in my opinion. These small grains and particles often have uneven, jagged edges that can tear at the skin and scratch it. Apricot kernels are the worst offenders (for the love of your skin, stay away from those St Ives scrubs!).
Plastic microbeads are the gentlest, as the tend to have even, rounded edges that don’t harm skin. But, they’re bad for the environment, which is why there’s talk of getting them banned soon.
Besides, when you use physical exfoliants, you need to spend only a few more seconds on an area to irritate it. No, thanks!
The Bottom Line
Exfoliating cleansers aren’t the awesome idea they seem to be. Do your skin a favour, and cleanse your skin first, and exfoliate it later. With two separate products. It’s a bit more time-consuming and expensive, I know. But, it works so much better.
Do you use exfoliating cleansers?
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