Summer came early this year to Helsinki. We had unusually warm days in May, early June and now there's a heatwave again! Don't want to complain, but we don't have AC's at home and it's impossible to.. well, move or do anything without breaking a sweat. I haven't been wearing a ton of makeup, but piling on sunscreen and sweating my face off has made my skin feel a bit grubby and congested. Masks and scrubs to the rescue!
After posting a recent scrub + mask routine on Insta Stories, my friend Kia asked my thoughts; I got inspired to share them with everyone with additional exfoliating products. You see, I've never been a heavy peel/scrub type of a person, but I've used chemical exfoliants (BHA, AHA) in my daily routine for years. After some searching and testing I've found hits from each category: masks, scrubs and my favorite toner. If you're not familiar with exfoliating, just drop me a message in the comment box and I'll do a more thorough post on the subject.
Why to exfoliate?
Daily exfoliating is a key for smooth and even skin tone in long-term. Exfoliating is basically removing the top layer of dead skin cells from epidermis (top layer of skin), which also happens naturally through cell turnover. Our skin generates new cells from dermis and replaces the old cells on the top, but as we age this cell turnover slows down. Too many dead skin cells can make the appearance of the skin look uneven, dry, clogged or lackluster. By exfoliating we can gently reveal younger and "fresh" cells and improve our skin tone and texture. Treatment products such as essences and serums also penetrate better freshly exfoliated skin.
Everyone can exfoliate (face and body) despite your age and skin type, but for daily use and sensitive skin types I recommend gentle products that help to improve the appearance of the skin over time. Some people tolerate more abrasive products than others (such as BHA), but you can build up tolerance for exfoliating acids over time. Personally I'm a huge fan of gentle exfoliating as a part of my daily skincare routine. I find it has helped me to diminish the appearance of my acne scaring, clogged pores (blackheads) and overall tone. I have dry skin so I try to exfoliate my body at least 2-3 per week to avoid "lizard skin" on my legs. After exfoliating make sure to moisturize and use SPF as the skin may be sensitized!
Favorite Mild Daily Exfoliator: January Labs
I've talked about my love towards January's Daily Brightening Tonic* in this post and I'm currently on my second bottle. The main exfoliating ingredient in this toner is lactic acid, which is a very gentle exfoliating acid with humectant properties. Lactic acid has a slightly larger molecular size, so it won't penetrate too deep causing irritation, but still loosens up the bonds between dead skin cells, revealing more plump and fresh skin underneath. The January Labs Daily Brightening Tonic also has soothing aloe, moisturizing glycerin and sodium PCA with oat kernel extract that condition the skin. In other words, I'd say this toner is very nicely balanced as it exfoliates while treats the skin as well. 150ml / ~29.05€
Step two: A Gentle Scrub
After discovering peeling gels I didn't reach for scrubs for a couple of years, but now I've introduced them back to my weekly routine. Scrubs are exfoliators with particles such as seeds, sugar or beads that rub off dead skin cells. Harsher particles are excellent for thicker body skin, but for the face I recommend looking for a gentle scrub and absolutely no plastic beads! My recent favorites are from eco/eco friendly brands called Yon-Ka and Bybi Beauty. When I'm feeling particularly grimy, sweaty or have worn tons of makeup I want to make extra sure my face is properly double cleansed and exfoliated before adding any treatments or serums.
Yon-Ka is a Parisian spa brand. While massaging their Guarana Scrub* on your skin the texture gets frothy, almost like a milky cleanser, leaving the skin properly clean and refreshed. The exfoliating particles are guarana and organic brown rice, which are a bit large and strong for my taste, so I like to save this scrub for pamper nights and special occasions. I apply it on damp skin with circular movements, avoiding the eye area or excess rubbing when I remove the scrub. If your skin is perhaps oily and resilient, I think you'd enjoy this one. 50ml / ~50€ (check your local Yon-Ka spa for the price)
Bybi's Prime Time Natural Cleansing Scrub* has both abrasive and non-abrasive particles made of jojoba beads, but overall I think the particles are more gentle and smaller compared to Yon-Ka. I take a pea size amount and mix it with little water for a milky texture scrub. The product has hydrating vegetable glycerin, sweet almond oil and shea butter (just to name a few) so the skin won't feel tight or dry after exfoliating. I'd pick this one if your skin is more sensitive or you prefer to scrub multiple times a week. Bybi Prime Time has less exfoliating particles compared to Yon-Ka (so you might use it more), but the price is quite reasonable. 60ml / 33,90€ (Finnish price, less expensive overseas)
Step three: An Exfoliating Masks for 'Special' Occasions
I like to rotate scrubs and exfoliating masks in my weekly routine - combining them on the same day could cause irritation and perhaps over-exfoliating. One of my favorite sheet masks of late is by My Scheming's Mandelic Acid Brightening mask. Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) with twice as large molecular size compared to glycolic, making mandelic acid more tolerable for those with sensitive skin. Therefore I dare to reach for this mask regularly and not worry about over-exfoliating or irritation. According to Beauty Pedia mandelic acid is light-sensitive, but you won't have this problem if you use it in a sheet mask form. My Scheming sheet mask adheres nicely to the skin, leaving my complexion even and well-hydrated! I still need to compare this mask to Naruko's version properly, I have a feeling it might as good if not better.. 1 mask / 1-2€
And last but certainly not least.. the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask*. I've talked a lot about AHA products in this post, but the Resurfacing Mask is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) mask from willow-bark extract. The mask is aloe based and packed with Lactobacillus and other ferment extracts. It feels like a cool, pale peach jelly on the skin. Although I love Tata Harper I didn't expect a miracle or a facial in a jar and I think I got both.. not only my skin is significantly brighter after every use but also feels 'firmer' or 'tighter' without being dry. Sensitive skins might experience some tingling while using this mask, so I recommend a patch test or a sample first. I can't wait to get my hands on the full size! If you want an instant glow in a jar, this might be my first recommendation. 30ml / 65€
What exfoliating products have you been loving lately?
* Products marked with an asterisk (*) have been kindly gifted for consideration.
My thoughts are honest and my own.