For the love of pores, keep it simple!

**WARNING**

This post will be highly opinionated, and is primarily based on my own experiences (and whatever semblance of logic I have left). If you take personal offense to what I have to say, I’d suggest never using the internet ever again.

I know just how easy it is to get enticed by the allure of trying a new skin care product. Even when I think of how silly it sounds, I still can’t shake the idea that there is one product out there that will be my holy grail product, and I will never have to worry about zits, dryness, or redness again. Sure, there are fabulous products out there, but they are often on the exact opposite end of the shelf you had been gawking at for the past 2 hours and 45 minutes.

It won’t be long before skin care brands sell cleansers that promise to make our boobs bigger, butts tighter, and our brains grow these cyborg sidekicks that read minds. The point is, cleansers do NOT need to be these powerhouse products they are turning into. The purpose of a facial cleanser is to gently, non-abrasively remove oil and dirt from our skin’s surface. We do not need all of the extra frills that many cleansers claim to have, whether it be a cleanser that claims to provide a deeper clean, keep your skin clean even after you’ve washed, or cleansers that contain some degree of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

It is not that you never want to use products that contain ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or other skin-enhancing ingredients, but you aren’t going to see much of a benefit from these products in a cleanser. The product is only on your face for about 30 seconds, or less, and then it is washed off. So, smartypantses, why add extra ingredients to something, when it is totally unnecessary!?

Save the zit-zapping ingredients, and whatever other remedy-specific ingredients your skin requires, for the treatment products you apply after you cleanse. For example, toners, acne gels, moisturizers, serums, or even masks, and peels. These products sit on / absorb into the skin over an extended period, after you’ve cleansed, so you they have time for the ingredients to actually treat your skin woes.

Stick to cleansers that describe themselves as fragrance-free, gentle, a cleansing milk / cream instead of a gel, hypoallergenic, non-irritating, or for acne-prone skin. Many of the cleansers I’d suggest are not cruelty-free (Cetaphil, Spectro Jel), but there are cruelty-free options too (the Acne.org cleanser, for example). I’d suggest checking out Acne.org’s review section: it is a fabulous community!

Chemical Exfoliation: Not as Radioactive as it Sounds

Stay tuned for an update on a new favourite in my skin care collection: Andalou Naturals’ Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask!

This is the side of exfoliation that gets me extremely psyched! It definitely is not as intense as it sounds, and can actually be quite gentler than the mechanical methods of exfoliation I mentioned in my previous post.

Chemical exfoliation refers to the use of certain chemicals to facilitate a sloughing off of dead skin cells, and these chemicals also promote the regeneration of new skin cells. When you see words like brightening, or regenerating, it is often referring to the chemical exfoliation process. This is the ideal method of exfoliation if your skin is dry, sensitive, acneic, or if you’d like to get rid of red/brown spots from acne!

NO SCRUBBING REQUIRED!

The most common chemicals used to provide chemical exfoliation are AHAs, and BHAS (alpha & beta hydroxy acids). To find these ingredients in products, you want to look for ingredients called glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or lactic acid. Acne.org offers a10% AHA 6 oz tube (or 16 oz) for a pretty decent price (not to mention their version of AHA is fragrance and dye-free, and specifically formulated for those with acne-prone skin).

AHAs work by encouraging the skin to regenerate itself, and using them will result in a thinner outer layer of skin, that reflects light better and ensures dead cells aren’t sitting on the surface, dulling your complexion.

There are unique benefits to using either of the AHAs mentioned, but they all work on the skin in similar ways. Salicylic acid, a BHA, works very well at exfoliating our pores. It is used in 2% doses for spot blemish treatments, but used in other concentrations in products to promote exfoliating of the skin.

From what I have read (and I did research for this article – I will specify my sources below), lactic acid is the most effective of the AHAs, as well as being less irritating. It must be said, though, that what works well for one person may not work at all for another.

A warning for those interested in using AHAs – they can make your skin sun-sensitive, so it is either best to invest in a good sunscreen / makeup with SPF, or to only wear your AHA products at night.

Retinol (or Vitamin A), is also a commonly used product in products that claim to be anti-aging, exfoliating, or brightening. It can be harsh if used too often, but definitely effective in a mask or treatment that you use 3 times a week!

Be sure to pick up a papaya, pineapple, or pumpkin fruit enzyme mask, if you’d like to try a gentler form of chemical exfoliation! Alba makes a really great one (IT IS CLEAR AND GREEN, HA!), that I really enjoyed.

You need not grab that facial scrub to get the super smooth and soft skin you so-eagerly desire!

Sources

The Dermal Institute: http://www.dermalinstitute.com/us/library/20_article_Methods_of_Exfoliation.html

Discovery Health: How to Exfoliate Skin: http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/cleansing/tips/how-to-exfoliate-skin.htm/

Exfoliation (Cosmetology): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exfoliation_%28cosmetology%29

Acne.Org’s take on AHA: http://www.danielkern.com/product-p/aha-6.htm