Exfoliate Your Skin – Dos and Dont’s For Best Results

Visibly better skin through exfoliation

Exfoliating your skin is important to remove built-up dead skin cells, helping new skin to be revealed. There are different ways to exfoliate and various exfoliators for specific skin concerns. In this blog post you will learn all about exfoliating your skin, so you can choose the right products and know how to incorporate this step into your skincare routine.

What’s the difference between mechanical and chemical exfoliation?

Mechanical exfoliation is actual physical work on your skin. This could be a scrub with small particles, that loosen dead skin cells. Some people also use brushes or other tools with a structured surface to exfoliate their skin.
Chemical exfoliation on the other hand works without physical impact on your skin. These exfoliators cause chemical reactions. They’re typically leave-on products that you apply and leave on to let them work their magic.

Which one is better for your skin?

Ultimately it’s of course up to you, I can only share my own experience. I prefer chemical over mechanical exfoliation because it delivers better results for me.The bigger variety of acids allows you to target different skin concerns, you couldn’t treat with mechanical exfoliation. It’s also gentler on the skin because you can apply them without risk of hurting your skin. Peeling beads or the like can cause small injuries to your skin when you apply too much pressure or the movements are too rough. I want to minimize all potential irritation for my skin, so I mostly stick to chemical exfoliation.

Which acid should I use?

There are different kinds of acids, targeting different layers of the skin. You can use several acids in your routine. Please remember to apply sunscreen because acids can increase your skin’s sun sensitivity.


Short for alpha hydroxy acid.It works on the skin surface. Popular AHAs are glycolic acid and lactic acid. They can help to improve photodamaged skin, normalize over-thickened skin and rejuvenate the skin surface.
Therefore AHAs are good for pigmentation, dry and mature skin.

Here are my go to choices:


Short for beta hydroxy acid. This acid is a second generation AHA. It cleans the pores out from the inside. The most popular BHA is salicylic acid. It addresses many ace causing factors and is also anti-inflammatory. It reduces blackheads, whiteheads and acne breakouts.
Therefore BHA is good for acne prone, blemished skin and blackheads.

Here are my favorites:


Short for poly hydroxy acid. It’s the second generation of AHAs and works by exfoliating the skin surface and increasing cell renewal. It also locks in moisture and even has antioxidant abilities. This acid works more slowly, because its molecules are bigger than from classic AHA and takes more time to penetrate the skin. So it’s less irritating and even gentler on the skin.
Therefore PHA is good for more sensitive skin and rosacea. I haven’t tried a PHA yet so I can’t recommend anything in particular.

How to use AHA and BHA in your skincare routine

I like to use exfoliating toners and liquids by applying them onto a reusable cotton pad and gently swiping it across my face. Currently I’m using the Beau Pro reusable pads from Amazon, you can find them here affiliated. Some actives I’ll use in the morning, some in the evening. I try not to use several acids on the same day or at least not the same routine, even though many sources suggest you can.

Mistakes to avoid

  • Don’t overexfoliate: Seeing results will take time, so take it slowly and stay patient. Don’t increase the strength of the product or your use too soon.
  • Start with low concentration: Work your way up slowly. You don’t want to iritate your skin.
  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen: Acids can increase sun sensitivity, so protect your skin.
  • Only use what and how much you need: Don’t use acids that target concerns you don’t even have. If you’re a teenager, you don’t need heavy duty anti aging actives. Your skin has a natural pace of renewing itself that works perfectly. Limit your products to what you actually need.

Where to buy AHA and BHA

I don’t shop for actives at the drugstore because I haven’t found any effective products there in this category. Sometimes they advertise something as acid but the concentration is often too low to show any effects. So I stick to brands like The Ordinary, The Inkey List and K-Beauty.

How often should you exfoliate?

You should not overdo it. I recommend to slowly build up tolerance and even when the product info claims you can use it daily, start with 1-2 times per week.

What are the results of exfoliating?

The results will of course depend on the type of acid you use, but overall your skin should improve after some time. It shouldn’t be irritated or dry. If it is you should change something about your routine to fix it. AHA should help with texture and make your skin smoother and fresher. BHA should reduce blackheads and breakouts.

What’s next in the 10-step K-Beauty routine?

The next step, if you follow the K-Beauty skincare routine – read about it here– is essence / serum / ampoule. Continue with this step here.

How do you exfoliate your skin?

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