Enzyme exfoliators vs Scrubs

Continuing with the topic of exfoliating..which is the best exfoliant for you?

There are 3 kinds of exfoliators:

Scrubs- Aka a "mechanical" exfoliator, they are abrasive and have particles in them that literally scrape the dead skin cells off.  

Acids- Peels are made up of chemicals that melt away dead skin cells over the process of a few days. 

Enzymes- This exfoliant is king. Usually worn as a mask for a few minutes, enzymes gently dissolve dead skin cells. 

How to determine which exfoliator is best you? Well, it depends on what you need, so let me run you through a few different scenarios.

Let's say you haven't been the best about exfoliating, choosing to spend your money on makeup instead, for the last few years.  You've spent the summer enjoying the beach and rooftop brunches, so a peel would probably be your best bet to kick start your new skincare regime.  Go to an esthetician for this, and skip spending money on an at home peel.  They simply don't compare to the real deal. Anything that's available to the general public, has been "watered down" to be made dummy proof or less effective so that no one burns themselves at home.

Peels are great and everyone should do one at least once a year (right after summer is best) Unless you have some sort of skin disease, there is a peel out there for everyone. Health + Beauty offers PCA Peels which are great for all skin types. 

Scrubs are best used for the body and not the face, period.  They are simply too abrasive, they cause microscopic tears in the skin and can keep pigmentation spots firmly planted on your face. There is one exception, very mature skin or seriously sun damaged/smoker's skin. Like Magda from "There's Something about Mary".  Even then, I wouldn't recommend St. Ives for her.  Instead i'd tell her to use it on her bathroom tiles if they need a good scrubbing- keep that stuff away from your face. 

Then there's the one exfoliator that is the best for everybody, sensitive skin, dry skin, combination skin, acneic skin. That's the enzyme exfoliator, this one does what a chemical peel can do without the downtime, it does the job more gently and it's simply not possible to over exfoliate with it, leaving you with skin that is supple, renewed and less likely to develop acne. 

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How often should I exfoliate?


First you need to understand why exfoliating your face matters.  There are 2 layers to the skin. The top layer, is made up of dead skin cells and the layer under that actually has 2 layers to it- one has hair roots in it and that last layer has brand new skin cells along with sensory nerves. 

That top layer of dead skin cells is what you're exfoliating off allowing that last layer with brand new skin cells to come to the surface and make you look great! I should also mention that all those products you use on your face penetrate a freshly exfoliated face way better than on someone who isn't exfoliating very much at all. 

Exfoliate too often and you're exposing those brand new cells too soon which will result in pigment spots, dry skin, and possibly some redness from irritation.  Take too long to exfoliate, or worse, never exfoliate and you'll end up with milia (hard oil deposits that look like hard white bumps), acne and/or what I refer to as "leathery skin". 

How often you should exfoliate depends on your age and skin type.  Babies have a very fast cell turnover, which makes sense because they are growing. Teenagers, still have a quick turnover rate  so they don't need to exfoliate too often, but they do need to keep their skin clean. 

  1. Age 18-30 Exfoliate 1 a week or once every other week
  2. Age 30-40 Exfoliate 1 a week
  3. Age 40-50 Exfoliate 2 x a week and (possibly) add a retinol cream if you have pigmentation 
  4. Age 50+ Exfoliate 2 x week and (possibly) add a retinol cream

Of course this is just a guide and isn't set in stone, you'll have to try it and see what works best for you.  My many years of being an esthetician has taught me that most people fall on one end of the spectrum, either over exfoliating or under exfoliating.  Skincare isn't just about sanding off old skin, what you're doing after counts just as much.  I'll definitely talk more about that on this blog.  

If you liked this post, share it with a friend or with someone who really needs to exfoliate lol.  If you have any questions or comments, leave it below.