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why your skin needs exfoliation

Why Your Skin Needs Exfoliation

Pollution, makeup, UV rays, humidity, and unhealthy lifestyle habits. Your skin has so many potential irritants to deal with every day! Exfoliation can help combat hyperpigmentation, dryness, dehydration, and dullness that these daily stressors can cause.

Hmm... Why is exfoliation important?

In a nutshell, exfoliation is the process of removing the dead cells from the outer layer of your skin to encourage a clearer complexion and stimulate skin cell renewal.

You can do this either with a physical exfoliation method - like granules, a scrub, or a textured mitt - or a chemical exfoliation method which may include alpha hydroxy acids and enzymes.

For many skin concerns the best approach will involve both chemical and physical methods.

We recommend reading our guide to the Different Types Of Exfoliation. The guide will help you understand more about physical vs chemical exfoliants and how to make the best exfoliator choice for your skin.

Exfoliation can help with daily skin stressors

During the day, your skin is busy defending itself against a range of environmental and lifestyle stressors it comes in contact with - from air pollution to heavy makeup.

Regular exfoliation is essential in helping combat and prevent some of the skin concerns caused by these irritants. Let’s take a look at what your skin faces every day.

Skin concerns: Dullness & hyperpigmentation

Daily Causes: Air pollution And UV rays

Air Pollution

In urban areas where pollution levels are high, there’s trouble in the air (literally!) for your face.

Don’t underestimate the serious impact pollution can have on your skin - from irritation to accelerating the signs of ageing.

Toxic nanoparticles from traffic pollution and other types of air pollution can enter the skin causing free-radical damage and chronic inflammation. This leads to hyperpigmentation, dullness, and the premature formation of fine lines and wrinkles.

Pollutants deplete the skin of hydration and essential vitamins too, leaving it dehydrated and in need of nourishment.

UV rays

Our biggest skin stressor is exposure to UV rays. It’s a pretty tough one to avoid entirely - you need to be extra vigilant in guarding your skin against the effects of sun damage as much as possible.

Leaving your skin unprotected against UV rays - especially UVA - is the number one cause of premature ageing. It will fast track the appearance of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation - including age spots.

How exfoliation can help with dullness & hyperpigmentation

Skin exfoliation can improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation by helping to diminish discoloration - over time revealing a more even skin tone.

While exfoliation may help improve the appearance of sun-related hyperpigmentation, the best skincare move you can make is to prevent it in the first place. Protect your face with SPF 30+ every day, no matter the weather.

A dull, lacklustre complexion (thanks, traffic fumes!) can also be perked up with exfoliation. You’ll remove the dead, dull skin cells on the surface plus other toxic debris helping reveal a brighter complexion beneath.

Best types of exfoliants for dullness & hyperpigmentation

Physical exfoliants

Icelandic volcanic sand is a mild exfoliator that can gently assist renewing the outer layer of skin to help support a fresher, smoother looking complexion.

We recommend: Hydrating And Ageless Volcanic Sand from esmi Gentle Foliant range. This formulation pairs the physical element of volcanic sand with the power of cranberry enzymes to encourage a clearer complexion.

Chemical exfoliants (Acids)

Kojic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and linoleic acid work to help lighten pigmentation issues, smooth out skin texture, and brighten.

Skin concerns: Rough, dry skin

Daily causes: seasonal changes & hot water

Dry, cold air

One of the most common skin conditions to come along with cold weather is dry, flaky skin. Even oily skin types can experience dry patches due to seasonal changes.

When faced with the dry, cold air of winter, skin can quickly lose its glow and become dull. It’s usually a result of dehydration - both on the inside and outside. Heightened sensitivity can also be a problem if skin isn’t properly cared for during the colder months.

Hot water

Skincare 101: always cleanse with lukewarm water. Hot water will damage your skin barrier as it strips away the protective lipid layer of your skin.

This protective layer is responsible for sealing moisture in while keeping bacteria and irritants out. A damaged skin barrier can’t hold onto moisture and as a result, skin becomes itchy, red, and dry.

How exfoliation can help with dry, rough skin

If your skin is dry, inflamed, and flaky it’s clearly already in distress mode. While exfoliation can help improve the situation, you need to go about it the right way (gently!) or your skin will suffer more damage.

Gentle exfoliation can assist dry, rough skin in two important ways.

First, it lifts the old, flaky skin cells from the surface which helps improve the appearance and texture of the skin.

Second, by removing the build up of dry cells, exfoliation allows the hydrating and moisturising properties of your skincare to better penetrate the skin and act more effectively on the surface.

As dead skin cells build up on the surface, it makes it difficult for the ingredients in your skincare products to do their best work! Dry, dehydrated skin can actually receive the hydration and moisture support it needs from active ingredients without a layer of old cells standing in the way.

Best exfoliants for dry, rough skin

Physical exfoliants

Bamboo extract has mild exfoliation properties that can encourage cell turnover to reveal younger, softer skin. Ideal for a weakened or sensitised skin barrier, acne-prone, and dry skin.

Jojoba beads and rice powder are also effective yet gentle face exfoliators. They’re soft on skin types needing extra care during exfoliation.

We recommend: Rose And Bamboo facial exfoliant from esmi Gentle Foliant range. The delicate exfoliation action of bamboo extract works in harmony with the power of mixed fruit enzymes. An excellent exfoliator for sensitive skin and a dry, damaged complexion.

Chemical exfoliants (Acids)

Lactic acid is derived from milk and offers the gentlest exfoliating action of all alpha-hydroxy acids. This makes it a great choice for sensitive and dry skin.

Skin concerns: Congestion & breakouts

Daily Causes: Humidity, Makeup, Skincare Habits


Humidity and acne-prone, oily skin do not get along!

On humid days, the skin is enveloped in moisture and heat. Pores open up wider and sebaceous glands work overtime producing excess oil. It’s the perfect storm for pores to become blocked leaving skin congested and breaking out.


Is your makeup the main culprit in your congested pore concerns?

Many makeup formulas are loaded with oil and considered ‘comedogenic’. This means the chances of the ingredients blocking pores - which then leads to congestion and acne - is high.

If you wear heavy oil-based makeup, your skin has to deal with an extra blanket of oil covering (suffocating!) it throughout the day. It’s easy to see how quickly pores become clogged.

Discover our range of non-comedogenic mineral-based foundation and BB cream. The formulations allow skin to breathe and be nourished with minerals including silica, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for skin conditioning.

Not cleansing properly

A less than consistent cleansing routine can also leave your skin congested and breaking out.

Cleansing in the morning and evening is essential to remove everything that finds its way onto your face and into your pores during the day - including dirt, sweat, makeup, oil, and toxins from air pollution.

How exfoliation can help with congestion & breakouts

Chemical exfoliants can penetrate your pores to dislodge and dissolve dead skin cells and debris while promoting skin regeneration.

Physical exfoliation also clears build-up from within the pore but rather than dissolving debris, dead skin is manually sloughed away.

Best Exfoliants For Congested, Breakout-Prone Skin

Physical exfoliants

The ultra-fine consistency of exotic Polynesian sand provides gentle exfoliation to assist in the removal of pore-clogging debris and encourage a clearer complexion for oily skin.

We recommend: Fresh Sea And Salty Sand facial exfoliant from esmi Gentle Foliant range - our best face exfoliator for oily skin! This exotic Polynesian sand physical exfoliator combined with the additional exfoliating power of papaya enzymes gently but effectively exfoliates away dead skin cells.

Chemical exfoliants (acids and enzymes)

Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and papaya enzymes are good choices for oily skin types with large pores prone to congestion and breakouts.

We recommend: Detoxifying Exfoliating Charcoal Serum

This exfoliating charcoal serum will gently detox and purify for a clearer, smoother complexion.

A final word on exfoliation — Do it the right way!

We can see how exfoliation helps skin defend itself against and recover from the stress it faces on a daily basis.

However, it’s absolutely essential that you exfoliate properly - choosing the products and ingredients suited to your skin and concerns.

Over exfoliation, or exfoliating with the wrong product, can lead to excessive irritation of the skin and excessive dryness.

If you’re exfoliating aggressively, initially you may see an improvement. Ultimately though, things can get much worse in the long run.

To understand how to exfoliate your face correctly, read our guide on Different Types Of Exfoliation.

Have any questions about the best exfoliating products for your skin type and concerns? Our team of skincare experts is here to help! Book your free consultation.

why exfoliation is important