16th Apr, 18

Your guide to exfoliation and how to do it properly

Exfoliation is key for blemish free, glowing skin...

But why?

Skin naturally goes through an exfoliation process. However, this process slows down as we age or disrupted if skin is damaged or excessively oily. Dead skin builds up and complexion becomes rough and dull and causes acne, ingrown hairs and results in generally poor functioning skin. Exfoliating removes this dead skin effectively and the benefits are vast! Fresher, smoother skin, reversing photo-ageing, increasing cell turnover, inducing collagen production, lessening fine lines and wrinkles, keeping acne at bay, make up applies better, pore size reduced and skin is better hydrated and plumped. It also allows for better penetration of skincare products as it’s not being blocked by lingering dead skin cells. Could you ask for any more!?

There are varying types of exfoliants - There's chemical exfoliation as in AHAs or BHAs/ chemical peels and then there's enzymatic exfoliators and also vitamin A. Also there is mechanical exfoliation, as in scrubs or microdermabrasion. They all act differently and you may benefit from one, or all.

Here I will take you through the different types of exfoliants...




Beta Hydroxy Acid is a chemical exfoliant. The most common and often used is salicylic acid or perhaps related substances, such as salicylate, sodium salicylate, and willow extract.

BHAs are oil soluble and great for oily skin and acne. Oily skin allows for dead skin to get trapped in pores, blocking the pore and creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and hello pimple! This is a very superficial exfoliator and will effectively slice through oil to penetrate pores. A derivative of aspirin, a BHA is also fabulous for calming inflamed and damaged skin. In most forms it’s gentle enough to be used daily but always follow packaging guidance.

Be careful not to overuse BHAs as they can be very drying to the skin and make sure your still getting moisture to the skin, if skin becomes too dry your skin may compensate and just produce even more oil - which is counterproductive - thanks skin!!

Also, avoid if allergic to aspirin! And use in conjunction with an effective sunscreen as exfoliating can make skin more sensitive to UV rays...

Looking for the ultimate BHA product?

AlumierMDs Acne Balancing Serum gets serious on acne


  • Hinokitiol - anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.
  • Salicylic acid - oil permeable exfoliant to clear away dead skin cells.
  • Sea Whip - powerful anti-inflammatory.
  • Oligopeptide-10 - antimicrobial.
  • Niacinamide - increases ceramics and fatty free acids in the skin, which are key components of its protective kit barrier.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate - a form of hyaluronic acid that hydrated by drawing water into the outer layers of skin.
  • Honey Extract and Rice Bran Extract - known for soothing and moisturising.



Alpha Hydroxy Acid is also a chemical exfoliant. Found in the form of lactic acid and glycolic to name but a few. Ancient Egyptians were using this method of exfoliation and it's proved its worth and withstood the test of time.

AHAs break down the bonds between dead skin, allowing it slough off easier. It's gentle and also really hydrating which makes it perfect for older or dry, damaged skin making way for glowing healthy skin. If you have acne but are not oily, then this is the product you may be lacking? Dry acne is caused by flaky skin trapping bacteria and making for a lovely pimple. Want to reverse sun damage? Yes! oh and with the dead skin out the way, our serums and moisturisers can actually get to where they need to be, not just sat on top of old skin cells not being able to do anything! And the best part? you don't need to remember to put it on every night! Known in the industry as the lazy persons exfoliator.

All hail the AHA!!

Again AHAs need to be used in conjunction with a highly effective sunscreen as our skin can more sensitive to the suns rays when using exfoliants.

Want my recommendation? - of course...

AlumierMDs AHA renewal serum


  • Lactic acid - exfoliates dead skin cells and enhances cell turnover to improve skin texture.
  • Gluconolactate - exfoliates, hydrates and anti-inflammatory.
  • Arnica - soothing and calming.
  • Allantoin - increases water content in the skin, improving skin smoothness.
  • Vitamin B5 - locks in moisture to hydrate.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate - a form of hyaluronic acid that hydrated by drawing water into the outer layers of skin.



When dull, dry or damaged skin is crying out for love... don't leave it heartbroken. Our skin has its own enzymes, as way of exfoliating dead skin from the surface. However, when skin becomes dry and/ or damaged, these enzymes don't work properly. Dead skin builds up and becomes rough, flaky and inflamed, leaving it perfect for harbouring acne causing bacteria too!! Enzymatic peel to the rescue!

Unlike chemical exfoliants, that can take a few days to take effect, this form of exfoliation offers instant gratification as it gobbles up dead skin in a jiffy and leaves your skin gloriously soft and red carpet ready.

Enzyme products are usually fruit acid based so really gentle but really effective. Treat yourself to an enzyme mask at least once a week and you’ve got yourself a rosy glow in all seasons. Enzyme masks are my go to exfoliant more so in winter as the harsh conditions can wreak havoc with our skins own natural enzyme functioning. I particularly love to perform this treatment a week or so after any professional treatment, like chemical peels or microneedling - just helps to reveal the glowing skin after the healing phase.

Here’s my fave... from AlumierMD of course...

Enzymatic Peel


  • Lactic acid - exfoliates dead skin by breaking the bonds between dead skin cells, helping them to lift away easier.
  • Bromelain - a fruit enzyme found in pineapple, exfoliating and anti-inflammatory.
  • Papain - papaya fruit enzyme.
  • Vitamin B5 - locks in moisture to hydrate.
  • Gluconolactone - hydrating, exfoliating and anti-oxidant.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate - draws water in to the outer layers of skin, plumps and keeps you a glow.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A derivatives can be found in many anti-ageing products. It’s classed as an exfoliant as it increases the rate at which new skin cells are made. It encourages the production of collagen, improving the appearance of sun damage, wrinkles, acne, scars and dark spots, evening out skin tone and smoothing texture. It’s the closest thing to a skincare miracle you’ll find!

There are varying forms and strengths of vitamin A in skin care products, such as retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinol and tretinoin. Some strong, some not so but can all cause a reaction if not used correctly.

Pep up your beauty sleep and apply at night - it’s broken down by UV rays so a bit of a waste in the day.

So if you're not already using this amazing ingredient, make sure you speak to a skin care professional to help you incorporate vitamin A in to your routine and to do it safely.

Be aware this shouldn’t be used during pregnancy and again make sure your using a top spec SPF as this product can make you more sensitive to sunlight.

Can you guess which brand of Retinol I use?

AlumierMD Retinol Resurfacing Serum


  • Microencapsulated retinol allowing for gradual timed release into the skin overnight with minimal irritation (commonly associated with Retinols.
  • MATRIXL™️synth’6™️ - a powerful anti-ageing peptide.
  • Hyaluronic acid - hydrates by drawing water into the outer layers of skin.
  • Niacinamide - increases fatty acids in the skin, which are key components of its protective lipid barrier.
  • Glutathione - a powerful anti-oxidant.
  • Aloe - soothing and anti-inflammatory.


Mechanical Exfoliation

This method involves manually removing dead skin cells by way of home treatments such as ‘scrubs’ or brushes or professional treatments like dermaplaning or microdermabrasion.

That feeling of a good scrub making us feel sparkly clean, it's addictive right? B U T and a big BUT!!!... they can do more harm than good...


Scrub exfoliants can cause micro-tears to the skin which allows bacteria in and grow and actually contribute to acne! Constantly over scrubbing also causes inflammation, of the chronic kind leading to skin becoming damaged, not functioning properly and producing as sensitivity. So look for micro beads which help to minimise this harshness and save it for a once a week affair.

Done properly mechanical exfoliation offers instant gratification as dead skin is removed immediately allowing for that super soft fresh skin feeling which enhances absorption of skin care ingredients.

Scrubs are great for the body where a large area can be done cheaply and quickly and should be avoided altogether in sensitive and inflamed skin.

My favourite method of mechanical exfoliation is crystal microdermabrasion. It’s fine jet of crystals over the skin offers really effective yet gentle removal of dead skin cells and it’s simultaneous vacuum action sucks them away whilst stimulating blood flow so give that instant WOW glow!

Educate, then exfoliate

Exfoliation is so wonderful because, with all its options, there is a product or ingredient for everyone – even those with the most sensitive of skin.

So get to know your skin and maximise your exfoliation and good things will follow...

The Aesthetics Nurse Clinic offers complimentary consultations so what are you waiting for? Book your appointment and find your exfoliation match made in heaven.